Excerpt of Debut Novel

On graduation day, I was approached by one of the managers at a company who I was interviewing with after making a speech, my cap and gown still on with my honors cords swinging in the bright sun, and my medal for environmental volunteerism. I wasn’t valedictorian, but I was chosen to write a speech because of some of my research and work. The recruiter from the company came up to me and said, “you remind me of my daughter, she was just like you, very ambitious, she passed away at a young age.” I had spoken with him before and wasn’t sure how to respond. I was kind of baffled and shocked. I also wasn’t sure if he was going to try and sell my life insurance.  I had barely spent any time with him. He was tall, and had a button down shirt on, he also looked too young to have a daughter close to my age. He stared at my smiling. What a strange thing to say! I can’t imagine. Were they that desperate?

“Thanks, I think,” I finally responded giving him a strange look.

“I know that sounds weird, but after your speech I figured I would just share that with you,” he said.

“Ok, no it’s not weird! I appreciate you sharing that. It must be very difficult to lose a child,” I did feel for him. He seemed so sincere now. “No one has ever told me that,” I added. My family started walking towards us, thankfully. My face must have shown a thousand expressions of relief.

“Mari!! Congratulations!!” my mother walked up smiling and waving like crazy. “We cheered when you crossed the stage!”

“Haha thanks, Mom!”

I told him I was still unsure about the move. He continued telling me how the opportunity was cutting edge and I could go anywhere afterwards. Then he changed the pay to a salary much higher than what we previously discussed.

I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta and studied bioengineering. I loved biology and her Dad was an engineer, it was an obvious place for her to go. Her Mom was a math teacher, so the odds were definitely against her. She was thankful though, watching some her artist friends struggle to make things work. She did well in school for the most part, high school was a little bit challenging once she saw how cut throat and competitive her classmates were, they embraced the capitalism and an eye for an eye and every man or woman for themselves was alive and thriving. She went to a Catholic school with the It was 2010 the year she graduated from HS and was glad she had time in college to watch the economy recover. And it did somewhat.

I decided to accept the offer. I couldn’t stop thinking of the economy and I had no other offers yet. I was hoping to wait it out, but the economy wasn’t really going anywhere. People with graduate degrees were even struggling. I wanted to have the job security, and thing with my personal life changed so I figured a move could really help.

I wasn’t scared of the small town, and it would be an ideal opportunity, afterwards I could move pretty much anywhere. The experience was worth the move. The company kept networking through Tech and a few other schools and there was one other classmate going, and he bragged to everyone about it. But it seemed it was forgetting where it was.  I thought, well I could live there for a little bit and get great experience then move. I would have fewer distractions, lots of space, low cost of living. I also had attended a summer training session and met a few people that lived there. They seemed friendly and welcoming.

The end of July came around quickly, and I needed to move to my new house near my new job. I drove along the highway with few cars passing and even fewer gas stations, several speed traps, and hiding cops. I turned up the music in my car and cruised along checking out the scenery–the farmland reminded my of the projects I worked on in school. I was getting excited, to be able to work first hand on some cutting edge technology. As I came close to the Florida-Georgia state there were two things – bugs and heat–but also beautiful rolling farmland, and a clear sunrise and sunset, with anything blocking the view of the horizon. After living in the city for college, I never quite realized how different the change from night and day could be. Although I had studied often on farmland testing soils, most mornings were spent at my computer, testing hypotheses, consumed by the research. Most of the other work was in North GA, and it was a little different there. My phone started ringing, it was my ex-boyfriend. I pressed decline and turned up the Eric Clapton, the electric Layla song.

He usually described my as beautiful, but I would rarely agree. I guess part of it was self-esteem or the ugly duck syndrome. He would play with the curls in my dark hair or kiss the freckles on my nose, he knew how to give compliments, staring at me never breaking eye contact. We were so in love for years, but it turned negative quickly. Another reason the move was a good idea.

 

“Oh hi, honey!” my new landlady waved from behind the fence of the house I would be living in. She was as Southern as they come, short grey hair,

 

The past pulled at her the same way the day pulled at the night the sunset tearing across the horizon, but the dark night sky always won and a new day would come again soon.

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