Hi! I am so thrilled about the response to LYING BENEATH THE OAKS! You guys have been amazing and so supportive. Some readers have told me in their reviews that they wish there was "more," that they wanted to hear more about Molly than what we could fit in the published story. CAUTION: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven't read LYING BENEATH THE OAKS, please stop here and come back when you have.
(Did you stop? You're not going to ruin the story for yourself, are you? Good.)
Originally, each of the story's chapters were separated by little snippets of Molly's life when she was a teenager before she left Michigan. The book flowed better without them, so I took them out, but I'm happy to share the first two of them here, right now. I'll do two each week until I run out. Again, last chance to bow out before you run across some spoilers! Thank you all so much for reading, and here you go (have mercy on me -- these are unedited and unpublished):
SIXTEEN YEARS AGO
Shameka held out a hand to me.
“Come on, lazy ass. Mr. Rice is going to kill you if you say you can’t change for gym again.”
I waved her hand away, clutching the splintery locker room bench with the other. She meant well, but I flinched at hands outstretched toward me. They never meant good things. I couldn’t change for gym, not today or any time this week. If I did, they’d see. Thank Whoever for Michigan’s cold weather. I needed the coverage of the jeans. The long sleeves, too. The lowered grade didn’t matter. My highest hope was a diploma and a good retail job.
Shameka was as close a friend as I had, but that wasn’t saying much. To have a friend, you had to talk. Had to share pieces of who you were, and I could never do that. I’d offended her today. Her smooth skin wrinkled as she absorbed the rejection and turned away.
“Okay. Fine. Do what you want.”
I watched her go, unblemished legs on display in the school-issued shorts. Friendship required regular watering, and I’d long since been wrung dry. She was patient with me, but soon she’d move on. With so much I couldn’t say, I took more friendship than I could give.
It was the giving that really mattered.
I knew that, even while I held it all in.
SIXTEEN YEARS AGO
“Slut. Where you been?” Her voice, ruined by cigarettes and other things, hissed from the stained Barcalounger in the corner like smoke. She sat drinking in the dark, coiled to strike. The sticky sweet scent of peach Schnapps combined with menthol Camels, burnt fish sticks, unwashed body, and overflowing garbage, making me gag.
“Great. Give me the money. We need groceries.” Groceries weren’t what she wanted. The Schnapps bottle lay empty on its side on the floor.
“I don’t have it, Ma. I don’t get my paycheck until the end of the month.”
The air shifted. In the dim light, she stood, hidden strength in her slack, wasted body. I put the ancient sofa between us; I knew better than to let her get close enough to reach me.
An ugly bark of a laugh sent the smell of her decayed teeth and the Schnapps into my face. I could smell my mother anywhere.
“You wanna play that way? You got a real job with a paycheck? Play away. You better get me $50 by tomorrow. I need it. I don’t give a shit how you get it. Told you before: them boobs ain’t for nothing.”
I only had one thing anybody would pay $50 for.
It was a game I played.
How long I could keep from selling it.
THE DARKEST FLOWER:
LYING BENEATH THE OAKS: