Rising, a short story by Joan Spilman

“If you would learn to cook,” my grandmother tells me, “you wouldn’t be so impatient.”

“I know how to cook,” I tell her, drumming my fingers against the table top. The clock above the stove says ten of ten. I look out the kitchen window and see my husband standing at the edge of the vacant field next to our house. He wants to burn the brush so he can plant a garden, but this morning I’ve asked him to leave.

“What do you call this?” I wave my hand over the breakfast table, but it’s a meaningless gesture. Scattered before me are crusts from Pop Tarts, and half-eaten bowls of Cherrios. It looks like we have kids.

“I don’t mean stuff you get out of boxes,” Grandma replies. “I mean food.”

“That’s what I mean, too. Food. I cook. I’m fat. So is Tim.”

“Someone as skinny as you ought to be shot for saying they’re fat,” she says, taking a sip of her decaffeinated. “The two of you are as skinny as rails. Both of you. I’ve never seen two people harder on themselves. You should bake bread. Make custard.”

“Grandma, I’m a size ten and that’s not small. You think women are supposed to have hips and breasts, but that’s not how it is anymore.”

My grandmother and I stare at each other in the sunlit kitchen. The cabinets and walls are white on white, and this morning everything is brighter than I want it to be. I fiddle with the granite salt and peppers shakers I bought when Pier One closed. My grandmother blinks behind her glasses. She eats breakfast with me, with me and Tim when he’s home, every morning since her stroke last fall. I pour out a little salt and shape it into a mound. She’s an unpredictable old lady, this woman who raised me, and sometimes she can see further than I want her to. I stand up and begin to clear the table. If she wants to think I’m impatient, let her. Actually, I’m nervous. Tim and I were up arguing past dawn.

“I’m going to call my sister Helen and get her recipe for dilly bread. It’s the best stuff you’ve ever tasted. You ought to make it.” Grandma pushes back her chair and rises, one hand holding the edge of the table, the other grasping her walker. She is short and squat, determined as a bulldog, and I want to be like her when I ‘grow up.’

“I have to go,” she says. “I didn’t come here to stay.”

I follow her through the house, pass her, push open the screen and take deep breaths of country air. She’s right. I am impatient. Not even noon, and I wish it were evening. Monday morning, and I wish the week were gone. I’m wishing my life away because I want a new one — one I can start living right now.

Grandma takes the steps slowly, her rubber pronged walker going out in front. Her body trembles as she leans against it. Her house, what we call the home place, sits fifty yards and to the left of ours. She’ll make it. There’s a lot of fight in her, gumption, but in the hospital she was afraid. I squeezed her hand, the one with feeling, and talked her fear away. I told her she was part of my life and I didn’t give up easy. I told her to forget about Heartland Home for Seniors and what that smart ass doctor said. He kept wanting to consult with my husband. “Consult with me,” I said.

Tim was in Tulsa welding pipes when it happened. I was at Miller Elementary, teaching school. It was the third week in September. I told the principal to get a replacement, that I needed a year off to take care of my grandmother and I might have a baby, too. Mr. Simms was nice about it; the substitute was hired in less than a week. My students gave me a party with lots of ice cream, and I took an unopened carton of Neapolitan home to Grandma. It dribbled down her chin as I fed her, but I kept spooning and after a while she smiled at me. I hired LaVeda, a retired aide, to stay with her during the night, got rubber balls for her to squeeze, and two months later, a walker. Tim called me every day. He asked if I missed teaching, and when I told him, “Yes, but not as much as I want a baby,” he said he’d been thinking the same. ” I never want to lose you,” he said, and his voice was so full of want and longing. I thought, you’ve had more than a few, but that’s not what I said.

“Why would you lose me?” I asked. “Where would I go?”

“Just listen, Louanne, this is no way to live. We’re apart all the time. A man should be home with his family. I’m going to give teaching another try.”

That was good news, but I didn’t want to push it. We’d been two young educators, eager to change the world. I took to teaching like a fish in water, but six years in, Tim wanted to be out in the open air with his ideas. When he told me he didn’t think he could spend the rest of his life confined to a classroom, I wasn’t blown away. I knew he liked to roam as much as I liked the freedom of my four walls. When we got married, it was understood that I’d never leave West Virginia, for only when things are the same do I see new horizons. I take in new situations slowly as well. So when the woman called from Tulsa, I reeled. My world, looking different, seemed to be falling apart.

“You want to talk to my husband?” I asked, blinking. Roused from sleep, I’d taken the call on the upstairs extension, and now I fell back on the bed. “Why?”

There was a breathy silence. “Let me see if I got this straight,” she said, finally. “Is this Tim Harper’s house, the welder? He has two tattoos, one on his back, and drives a green Chevy van?”

My heart was pounding. I had this awful feeling. “Yes,” I said, carefully. “This is where he lives.”

“I want to talk to him.”

“I’m sorry. He’s in Tulsa.” I looked at the clock. It was 1:22 a.m.

“Honey,” she said, flatly, “I’m in Tulsa, and he’s got unfinished business here.”

“He’s not here yet,” I lied, while groping on the night stand for the pad and pen. My hands were shaking, but my voice was firm. “If you’ll leave your name and number, I’ll have him call you when he gets in.”

“He knows my number.”

“What’s your name?”


It was 12:28 in Tulsa, Central Time. Tim picked up the receiver on the second ring.

“Calm down, Lou,” he said, after I’d been embarrassingly hysterical. I’d planned on being sarcastic and calm, but the minute I heard his voice my resolution fled. “I have to get up in five hours and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You lying bastard. I’m talking about Marie.”

“Who?” and then, “Marie? Marie Nowinsky?”

“I didn’t know her last name until now.”

He’d blundered, but was brave about it. An intake of breath, and in my mind I could see his Adam’s apple bob up and down. “What’s she got to do with anything?”

“If you don’t start telling the truth, I’m going to call her. She left a number.”

We were both lying now.

“‘She’s a barfly who’s always hanging around.” He was angry, defensive. ” We speak. That’s about it.”

“I’m hanging up the phone now.”

“No, wait . . . . okay? Okay. But you’ve got to believe me . . .” He hesitated so long that I thought the line had gone dead. “It happened once and a long time ago. Louanne, she’s just a girl who hangs around bars. Everybody knows Marie. She came up to me one night and started talking. We’d both been drinking, but nothing happened. Not really, I mean, we went out to the parking lot. It was over in minutes. Seconds, I swear.”

“Tim, she knows about your tattoos!”

“She told you that?” The line exploded. “I ought to kill her. Calling my wife. I ought to…”

I hung up and sat on the edge of the bed, weak at the knees. The phone rang and kept on ringing. I took it off the hook and went outside to sit on the porch swing.

The chains groaned as if they’d snap. I thought of all the weekends he’d come home and how I’d run to meet him. I was glad I didn’t have a baby, and then, perversely, wanted one so I rip it from his heart. Streaks of pink appeared on the horizon, and I began to rationalize. If he’s telling the truth, I thought, it isn’t so terrible. He’s a man, out on the road and lonely. If that’s all that happened, I could live with it. Better find out for sure, a voice inside me said.

Marie Nowinsky. Funny, but I didn’t expect her to be listed. I suppose she didn’t seem real. But the operator, a young male, rattled off her number.

“Ma’am?” he asked as I struggled silently with the information. “Did you get that? Are you there?”

I waited until mid-morning to call her. Marie was still groggy; she was a cocktail waitress, working double shifts. I told her my name, but she didn’t remember so I forgot about introductions. “The wife of the man you’ve been sleeping with,” I said.

“I’m not calling to get the facts straight,” I continued. “I’ve already talked to my husband so don’t try to put terrible thoughts in my head. I know how you met, and what you did.” I’d like to forget this next part, but I was angry, hurt and angry, and she was cheap. “You’d better be careful screwing strangers. Tim’s clean, but sooner or later you’re going to get a disease.”

When she replied, she sounded tired. “Look, honey, you can believe what you want, but Tim’s no stranger. I met him his first night out here, and I don’t do one night stands. Just tell him to wire the money and you’ll never hear from me again.”

“What money?”

“The money I loaned him for a new set of tires. His other set got slashed.” Now, it was her turn to prove something, “He always parked in front of my house.”

The line went dead.

It was my turn to feel tired. I didn’t do much for the rest of the day, kept check on Grandma and watched T.V. First time in Tulsa. Tim had been cheating on me for two years.

“It’s no good, anyway,” Tim says as he comes in from the garden. “The ground is too wet. I couldn’t plant if I wanted to.”

“Tim, don’t start. It won’t do any good.”

“Don’t start what? All I said was the ground is too wet.”

“And I told you there wouldn’t be a garden. Not this year.”

“And who’s going to tell her?” He jerked his thumb toward the home place. “You? You want to give her another stroke? Look, Louanne, I may be the biggest S.O.B. in the world, but this S.O.B. makes the mortgage payments. There’s a job coming up in Chelyan, ten miles away. I called the union hall and got my name put at the top of the list. I’m staying until fall.” He goes to the den and comes back again. “Why are you doing this? I thought everything was settled.”

I begin to load the dishwasher. I don’t answer. What can I say, except back then it was autumn and I buried my feelings. Now it is spring and I want to be free. I don’t want to be in the kitchen scraping plates while Tim pours over seed catalogs.

“Louanne, don’t do this.” He comes and stands behind me. His breath is on my neck, and any other time his hands would be squeezing my nipples while I’d laugh and swear he was an aggravation. “I’m sorry.” He takes a deep breath and presses closer. His belt buckle fits in the small of my back. “I said I was sorry then, and I’m sorry now. And I promise,” he presses even closer; the buckle is going to leave a mark, “it will never happen again.”

I don’t answer. He steps back.

“What am I supposed to do?” he shouts.

“You can do what you want,” I reply. “I don’t care.”

I wasn’t always this unforgiving. I wasn’t always this unkind. When he pulled in from Tulsa, I gave in. I was easy. I stood at the door intending to be self-righteous, but when I saw him out in the yard, hanging around his van as if it were a life preserver, something inside me changed. “Come in, come in the house,” I told him, and when he came in, I saw he was crying and I cried, too.

“Did you love her?”

“God, no! Why would you asked that?” he groaned. “I love you, Louanne. I love you and I’ve messed up our lives. Nothing will ever be the same.”

Hopelessness scares me to the core.

“Don’t say that,” I told him. “You’re a good man.”

“No, I’m not. I’m a loser. I’ve never done anything I was supposed to do. I should never have left teaching. I should never have. . . oh, god, I don’t know how I could have done this to you.”

He began to sob, a heaving sound I couldn’t stand and wanted to stop.

“Tim, you’ve done a lot of good things for me.” I hesitated. Poor timing but I’d always wanted to tell him. “You take good care of Grandma. Not many men would.”

He looked up; the awful sound had stopped, but tears still clouded his eyes.

“I’ll understand if you never want me to touch you again.”

As soon as I thought he was able, I led him upstairs.

But now it’s my turn to weep, and Tim isn’t sympathetic. I want to shout and storm, and he acts surprised.

“That was months ago,” he says, clutching my shoulders. “Why are you acting this way now?”

“Because I handled it too well.” I twist from his grip. “Because I thought if I were loving and forgiving our lives would change. I believed something wonderful would happen.”

“We can still have a baby,” he says.

“I don’t want a baby. I don’t want to have your baby. I’d rather have sex with. . .” I close my eyes while a parade of candidates whiz through my mind. I fasten on an older man, dressed in white with a white cap shouting “Ciao, Luana” out a car window, “. . .the Pope! I’d rather have sex with Pope Francis!”

“Where did that come from? We’re not even Catholic.” Tom starts to laugh, then stops. He reads something in my face that I have no words for. “Okay, you can have your divorce. Just don’t start fooling around until it’s final. It doesn’t take much to be better than me.”

I leave the kitchen and he leaves the house. For the rest of the evening, I busy myself with little things: washing my hair, putting new contact paper in the pantry, straightening out the bedroom drawers. In the antique highboy, I find a pair of feet pajamas like a kid would wear, and I remember my wedding shower and how my girlfriend Marsha gave them to me as a joke. In all our years of marriage, I’ve never worn them, but tonight, I put them on and slide into bed. The sheets are cool and clean and I keep them scented, but tonight I know I won’t sleep. I’m awake when Tim comes into the bedroom, but when he tries to touch me, a pitiful, fumbling gesture I don’t like to think about, I burrow deep.

“I’ve got the recipe for dilly bread,” Grandma tells me in the morning. She has it written in sprawling longhand on the back of an envelope. “I called Helen. You’ll need yeast, flour, sugar, baking soda and a cup of cottage cheese. She said to be sure to warm the cottage cheese. If you don’t, the dough will go stiff and you won’t be able to do a thing with it. Two and a half cups of flour and some dill seed . . . hello, Harper.” Grandma looks up when Tim comes into the kitchen. They have an easy relationship. He calls her by her first name; she calls him by his last. She does all the things I don’t do and women of her generation think essential: irons his shirts, hems his trousers, cans apples in the summer so he can have homemade apple pie. The divorce will be hard on her, I think, but then I shrug. It will be hard on us all.

“That’s a long list, Stella.” Tim straightens. He’s been leaning over her shoulder but when I nod toward his chair, he throws up his hand.

“Not hungry.”

“Don’t tell me you’re on a diet, too, Harper,” says Grandma. “I’d like to see you get as old as I am. Then you wouldn’t care about your weight.”

“New recipe?” he asks. He’s trying to change the subject and it works. Grandma responds at once.

“It’s a recipe for dilly bread. Helen came across it in an old shoebox. She saves everything.” Grandma looks down and begins to rattle on. Tim lights a cigarette, and I watch him puff. “And a tablespoon of instant onion and two of sugar and a pinch of salt. And don’t forget to dissolve the baking soda in hot water.” She stops. There is silence. The sun cuts through the layers of smokey air. Tim crushes out his Marlboro.

“Sounds good, Stella,” he says, finally.

Grandma looks bewildered, like a child who’s been tricked. I’ve seen this look on her face before. In the hospital, mostly in the evening. The physical therapist told me not to worry. “It happens with stroke patients. We call it sundowning. They get confused. Expect her to have good days and bad. Expect her to cry and be moody. Don’t be alarmed at outbursts, accusations.”

I’ve never feared for anything until now.

“Tom, I’m going to try the recipe this afternoon,” I say, forcing our gazes to meet. “I’m going to have the bread with supper.”

He lights another cigarette. “That’s okay with me. If you’re going to be busy, I’ll just eat lunch in town. I’ve got to get some stuff done to the van.”

“Where you going, Harper?” asks Grandma.

This time he forces our eyes to meet.

“I don’t know yet.”

I rise to kiss him, but when he turns his head, aiming for my mouth, I step back.

“See you about five?” Tim asks.

“Make it later,” I reply. “I wasn’t planning supper until after six.”

Grandma sits quietly. Tim forgets to tell her goodbye. I notice she has set her coffee cup down on the recipe, and I move it gently before it stains. She looks up, still puzzled.

“After I clean up the kitchen,” I tell her, “I’m going to start on it.”

“Start what?”

“The dilly bread. I’m going to make it for supper.”

“Oh, of course.” She lifts herself out of her chair. “I’ve got to get going. I’ve got work to do. I want to feed the cats and sponge off before my programs.”

I walk with her to the door. Again she goes down the steps unaided, but not because she has gumption. Today she wants to be left alone. I know she’s had a stroke. I know she’s past eighty, but watching her take the square-cut stones that lead to her house, I’m reminded of one of those sullen children who don’t want to come in from recess.

I sigh and go back to the kitchen. I scrape the plates and study the field. The ground is not completely dry, but if Tim really wanted to burn it, it would go. This was the summer he was going to have a garden, this was the summer I was going to can — not just beans and tomatoes but everything. I wanted to fill the pantry with fecund summer. I wanted to pickle beets and make chow-chow. I wanted to have a strawberry patch and make preserves. I wanted to clean the house from top to bottom, rebrick the fireplace, paint the shutters blue. The school counselor told me this was a nesting syndrome, that some women get this way before starting a family. “I don’t know about that,” I told her. “I just want to do it.”

Now I’m not of that mind. My grandma has to remind me about cooking, the dust in the living room is half an inch thick, and the roof in the spare room leaks. I wonder what kind of place Tim will get when he leaves. I hope he gets stuck in a seedy dive.

I get out the bowls. I let the soda dissolve in hot water. I mix together flour, yeast, soda and cottage cheese. Then I put it in a well-oiled bowl and cover it with a towel I wiped my hands on. I stand at the sink, waiting. I’m like this dough rising, I think: at first no reaction but six months later and I’m angry as hell. Tim knows it. Lately, he’s been looking at me as if I were a stranger, and that’s good because that’s how I want to be seen. He’s always known me as a familiar woman; right from the start I loved him, and so I came at him with no guile. But ever since Marie and Tulsa, in all these months of trying to be the same, another woman has been growing inside me. She takes me places — to town, to my grandma’s, sometimes to Tom’s bed again — until I see what she sees. The familiar woman is gone, and last night I heard this new one say she wanted out.

I put my hands in the bowl and find it stiff and lumpy. Too late I remember to warm the cottage cheese. I finally pick the dough up in a blob and take it to the trash can. I spend the rest of the day reading and digging out old lesson plans. Although toward five, I make up a chicken vegetable casserole. Although toward six I slap open a can of crescent rolls. Tim is preoccupied over dinner. He doesn’t mention the absence of dilly bread.

“Louanne, I’ve been thinking,” he says, pushing some broccoli around on his plate. “If it’s another man you’re wanting, I think I could handle it. I never thought I’d say something like this but if you . . . ” He trails off, looking as confused as Grandma. I could help him, but I don’t. “I mean, I know two wrongs don’t make a right.” Suddenly his voice is loud. “If it’s revenge you’re wanting, go ahead.”

“Tim,” I say, “I don’t want revenge. I don’t want to fool around.” The words come out slowly, painfully, because they’re true. It hurts to be this open. “I want things to be the way they were before –” I stop, refusing to give a name to the mistake that divides us. “And they can’t be. No matter how many times you say you’re sorry.”

He gets up from the table. He keeps his back to me. I think he’s crying, but the feeling in my breast is as heavy as lead.

I stand up and throw on a jacket.

“Where are you going?” he asks, back still to me.

“I want to check on Grandma. She was acting a little funny today.”

Grandma has her drapes pulled and her house is dark when I enter. It is a large house; six children were raised in it, one of them the mother I don’t remember. Pneumonia victim, aged twenty-two. My father remarried a few months later and moved to Colorado. He still sends a card at Christmas. Sometimes, I send one, too.

I pass through the living room, dining room and find her in a closed off porch back of the kitchen. The T.V. is on, but the sound is so low I know she can’t hear it. She’s sitting on the couch, half-talking, half-singing a cradle tune. A heating pad is between her legs. She turns, sensing a presence.

“Martha Lou?”

I should expect this to happen. Still it’s a shock to be called by my mother’s name.

“No, it’s me. Louanne.”

Grandma is looking directly at me.

“You were my pick,” she tells my mother.

“Are you all right?” I ask loudly.

“Of course, I am,” She blinks, clicks the heating pad down a notch, and suddenly she’s my grandma again. “I was napping.”

“Well, I came to check.” I hover in the doorway. I wonder if she knows I’ve heard her singing, and then I realize she probably doesn’t care.

“Come in and sit for a while,” she tells me. “You’re always in a big hurry.”

I sit. She looks out the window, and when she turns back again, I’m startled.

“It’s not my fault is it?” she asks. Her voice is her own, but her eyes are wild, searching me. “It’s not my fault Harper’s going away? You should go with him. Go to Tulsa or Denver or wherever he wants. Don’t let an old woman like me stand in your way.”

“Grandma, listen –“

“No, you listen. LaVeda would be happy to move in and stay. She’s a widow, too, and calls every other day.”

I take both of her hands. One is curled tighter than the other, and I pry it open, searching for words to say. “Okay, I listened. Now, you listen to me. You’re not the reason. Tim’s not the reason either . . . not anymore. Maybe it’s my fault. I guess I can’t –“

“Your grandfather wasn’t always a mortician,” she tell me abruptly. “He had to go to school to be one, you know.” She tries to look me in the face, but I turn my head, thinking, oh, boy, what a time to ramble. “He went to school in Cincinnati. He was so smart, they had him teaching classes while he was still a student. He knew the meaning of every word in the dictionary, but all that summer he didn’t write to me. I wrote and wrote and worried my head off. There weren’t any jobs for women then, and I already had two children to raise. Your great-grandma Fraizer was alive then. She started coming over every morning, faithful as you please. She got me in the kitchen, got my hands in flour. I learned to make pies, cakes, biscuits. Light bread, too. Your mother and Uncle Fred played marbles in the cellar.” She closes her eyes, and I strain with her, wondering what she sees. “I thought Mom Fraizer was crazy, wanting me to bake at a time like that.” She sighs, but not from weariness. “Your grandfather came home in late September, two weeks after graduation. I never asked her name, and he never told me.”

The room is warm because she’s got on the gas heater. Under my arms and bra, I begin to sweat.

“Grandma, I tried that recipe you gave me. The dough was stiff, and I dumped it out.”

“Warm up the cottage cheese like I told you.” She lets go of my hand and reaches for her quilt. “And turn up the T.V. when you leave.”

I go back to the house and decide to wash the supper dishes by hand. Tim is in the garage, banging around. I use lots of water, trying to splash out the sounds of his tools loading, the thump of his suitcase against the bed of the van. I know the meaning of those sounds, yet when he comes in the kitchen, I’m startled. When he says my name, the wash cloth drops into the sink and water splashes my top.

“Look at me,” I say, pulling out my water-soaked front. “My reward for honest labor.”

But Tim isn’t smiling. He has something to say. “Louanne, this isn’t working. I thought if I stuck it out a few more months you’d forgive me, but you won’t. You’re going to hate me forever. I’m tired of being hated. I’m tired of that look in your eyes.”

And suddenly I hate him very much. Hate him not for lying and cheating but for giving up. But if he doesn’t know that, there’s no way I can tell him.

“So, you’re heading back to Tulsa?”

“I might,” he shrugs. “But it’s not what you think. That’s where the long-term work is.”

I turn to walk out of the kitchen. Tulsa. I wish he’d lied to me. But before I can get clear, he takes my arm and turns me around.

“Is this what you want?” he asks.

It’s my turn to shrug. “Whatever.”

“So, that’s it?”

“Grandma thinks this is her fault,” I blurt out.

“I’ll talk to Stella after breakfast, Then, I’ll leave.”

It’s an odd evening. I know I should be thinking about my future, but I don’t. I watched back-to-back reruns of the Waltons. Tim stays mostly in the kitchen, smoking, and a couple of times I catch him staring out the window at the field. We’re quiet until right before bedtime, and then we have a small spat. Tim tells me he’s going to send extra money until I start teaching whether I like it or not.

“I don’t,” I tell him, “want your money.”

“I know you don’t, but I’m sending cash so there’s nothing you can do unless you want to burn it, and you’re not dumb.”

I refuse to answer.

“I bet you marry in six months,” he snaps. “A real quick turnaround.”

I keep my face toward the T.V. screen. John Boy has fallen through the barn roof and his right leg is crushed. I watch with pleasure as he’s carried out on a makeshift stretcher.

“Goodnight,” Tim says, but I don’t answer. I hear him go upstairs and into the spare room and know no more will be said. Once Tim is in bed, he’ll be sleeping. He isn’t one to brood.

It’s chilly, so when I go out on the porch swing, I wear a sweater. I sit in the swing and try to lunge out as far as the steps. The chains protest. I think about Tom and me, and me and Grandma; I meditate on Tulsa and little lumps in the bread. The wind turns colder and I wrap my arms around me, but when the air creeps up my sleeves, I give up. Inside the house is quiet. Perhaps because it is late, perhaps because I don’t like to be alone in darkness, I find myself standing in the spare bedroom at the foot of Tim’s bed. His arm is flung out, and as I move to cover him, I stumble over the boots he left lying by the side of the bed. They’re stiff and muddy, and suddenly I see him walking in the garden, kicking around in the leaves. I wonder what he saw in all that rubble. I could wake him and ask, but I stand watching, picking up his rhythm as he breathes.

The linoleum is cold in the kitchen, the sudden flip of the light hurts my eyes. I get out bowls and grease a pan and measure dill seed. I dissolve the soda in hot water and warm the cottage cheese. Soon I’m kneading, pressing, pounding out the dough until it’s flexible, wondering at the energy of my fingers in the bread.

Only after it’s over do I realize I’m exhausted. It’s a hard job to be up all night, baking bread. I doze in the den, waking to the sound of the timer, to the clean, familiar scent of bread in the air. I open the oven door and, yes, it is perfect. The loaf has risen, the crust is golden brown. I slit it with the knife to check the inside. The knife makes a deep cut, and the blade comes out clean. I open my hand and balance the blade on my palm, undecided.

What if Tim can’t forgive me? No, for right now that doesn’t matter. One step at a time is all I can manage. I hope when I ask him to burn the field, he’ll know what I mean.

I hope you enjoyed my story, Rising. This will be my last until March, 2020, as I’m taking a break to finish the fantasy novel “Flight: Book One of the Outer Flower Trilogy,” excerpts of which are included in earlier blogs. Now for the shameless pitch: This Will Never Stop, my book about four West Virginia women whose pathologies carry down four generations, is currently for sale via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Thrift Books, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and Walmart e-books. Also from the publisher, Xlibris. TWNS has received excellent reviews from Kirkus, Book Life, Book Trib and seventeen 5 starred reviews from readers. One reviewer (Book Trib) called it not only a novel but a sociological study, and I’m inclined to agree although, while writing, my focus was on the women themselves. However, the characters (Lorraine, Carmen, Jenna and Lizzie) brought their surroundings with them, and in doing so, revealed a sub-culture all its own — the small West Virginia town.

Thanks for reading!

Joan S.

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