MAKING CONNECTIONS: Below is another short excerpt from my new novel (coming out Sept. 3). This snippet is written from the point of view of one of the two main characters, Callie Masterson, when she and her sister Mellie are adults, the former, married and living in NYC, the latter working in Hollywood. Callie is reflecting on her own daughter Thallie’s recent visit to South America — a trip that helps set the course of not only the 18-year-old’s future life but also that of her grandmother, Elena Masterson, with whom she has formed an indelible bond. This scene takes place as Callie and Mellie await the return of the two travelers from their adventures South of the Border.
Thallie’s postcards home were full of the people, places and politics of Colombia which, this last, she described as thorny and ever-shifting. The poverty in and around the hill town of Barichara, Mother’s birthplace, moved her too and her comments thereon occupied an entire letter, along with snapshots of a dilapidated church, the ramshackle house where Mother had lived as a child, and a strange-looking tree in a clearing. More eyebrow-raising though—and this David and I agreed upon—was our daughter’s near-boundless admiration for her Grandma. She is the most fun, fascinating person ever. Everyone here says so!
“Well, that takes the cake,” Mellie said when I read her the line.
I couldn’t tell if my sister was amused or, like me, faintly ashamed that we two had never given her, our own mother, her due. She mumbled it again two weeks later when she flew in to Atlanta to await along with us the arrival of the Delta flight from Bogotá. As the two travelers came down the ramp, our collective jaws dropped. Not so much at the sight of Thallie, who looked as pretty as ever, bouncing along with a brightly colored shoulder bag and a matching straw hat, but at the sight of Mrs. Elena Masterson. With a stylish new haircut, brighter makeup and high-heeled sling-backs, Mother looked 15 years younger.
“Where did you say that Ponce De Leon Fountain is supposed to be?” David quipped on our way to the parking lot, luggage in tow, Thallie skipping about in front of us, Mother not far behind her.
Nearly as surprising was how impossible it was to shut up the two travelers in the car, regaling us with highlights of their sojourn—the food, the night spots, the places they visited, the friends they made. Like this one man, Luis, whose name kept popping up between the tambien and the pero.
“Whatever else happened down there, it would appear,” Mellie opined late that night when the two of us were alone, “that Mother, at—what?—68, has taken a lover.”
END of EXCERPT