...about a sample of Tugger's Down.
Today's sample is from my novel Tugger's Down (ISBN 978-1450527934)
This is a small excerpt from Chapter Fourteen. (To read the first three chapters, click here.)
Regina answered the doorbell and received a box from a young woman who rushed back to the FedEx delivery van. She carried it to the kitchen and used a steak knife to slit the cardboard. And pulled a package from the box. It was wrapped in ecru silk, tied with a black ribbon. She untied the ribbon, pulled the folds of silk loose and uncovered a packet of papers, hand-stitched together on one side to form a booklet. The diary.
A small sheaf of loose papers lay on the diary. She recognized the top sheet of paper—her mother’s stationery, embossed with her initials, SAF: Sylvia Adams Farnsworth. And she recognized her mother’s careful, measured handwriting. Proper. Understated, with a minimum of flourishes. She checked the clock. The bus would deliver the children from school in three hours. She had time to examine the diary before she had to start preparing dinner.
She got a coke from the refrigerator, carried the diary and the papers to the family room. She sat on the end of the sofa by the floor lamp, took a sip of the canned drink and set it aside. She decided to start with her mother’s note. She read:
“Dear Regina, In accordance with eleven generations of family tradition, I am delivering this diary into your care, as you are the eldest daughter of an eldest daughter. This diary was penned by our ancestor, Prudence Cromwell, in 1692. I’m sure you are quite aware of the significance of that date.”
Regina frowned. 1692. The date meant nothing to her. Maybe she could find something about it online. She laid the diary and papers on the coffee table and went to the computer in the alcove. She turned on the computer, opened a browser window and typed “1692” into the search box. And was presented with a page of results. The first link listed was “Salem Witch Trials 1692.” And the next was a Salem link. And the next.
The witch trials? That can’t be what she means.
She continued clicking through pages of results. And found link after link to sites about the horrendous time from Salem’s past. She clicked a link at random and spent the next hour reading about the happenings in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.
Although the website debunked the idea of witches and gave reasonable explanations for the events in Salem, it listed information about the trials and the people involved. Another website chronicled the bizarre behavior of some young girls who swooned, had fits and thrashed around. It offered reasonable medical explanations for such occurrences.
But reading those descriptions, visualizing what must have happened in Salem, set a tight band around Regina’s head and brought a dull pain to the base of Regina’s skull. She was overwhelmed by a sense of déjà vu, although she couldn’t understand why.
It’s all nonsense. Knowing how Mother feels about anything to do with the spirit realm, she couldn’t be referring to this.
She switched off the computer and returned to the letters. By the time the children arrived home from school, she’d finished reading Mother’s letter to her, and Grandma Tessie’s letter to Mother, and six other letters from eldest daughters to their daughters.
But she returned to Grandma Tessie’s letter from time to time, a deep sadness draping itself over her, bringing her close to tears.
She hadn’t been close to Grandma Tessie, and she regretted that. And she wondered why, wondered if her grandmother’s obsession with occult matters had played a part.
She had to have been a lonely old woman. Mother wasn’t close to her. And she made sure Ollie and I didn’t get close to her either.
A thought occurred to Regina. What if her loneliness had led Grandma Tessie to commit suicide? What if she, Mother and the rest of the family had been partly to blame.
Regina recalled the morning she got the call, when Mother’s hushed voice announced in a detached tone that Grandma Tessie had been found dead at her beach cabin. Dead. Of a self-inflicted gunshot.
No. It couldn’t have been anything we did or didn’t do. Surely.
She shook off her melancholy and continued reading with self-control and determination. Three letters were left to read when the children arrived, and she had to set them aside. She rewrapped the packet, tied the black ribbon around it and carried it to her bedroom. She put the silk-shrouded bundle of papers into the bottom drawer of her dresser where she kept her sweaters. And as she arranged the sweaters to conceal it, she chided herself. But an odd disquiet settled over her as she closed the drawer.