A KIND OF MAD COURAGE: HIDE AND SEEK
The first time my daughter disappeared she was five. I’d taken her shopping, silently hoping that she’d choose something pink and frilly to fulfill my fantasy of dressing up my little girl. But I’d gotten better at simply smiling when she tugged me towards the jeans and t-shirts she insisted on wearing. One minute her soft little hand was in mine, and I was stroking my thumb over her delicate skin. The next, I was holding nothing, and she was gone.
“Emily?” I’d tried not to panic because I knew she liked to disappear. It would take me an hour sometimes to find her when she wanted to play hide and seek. Emily could curl herself into a tight little ball and be completely hidden from sight in the tiniest of corners.
Nothing. Not a giggle nor the deep inhalations from her small chest when she was trying to hold her breath. “Emily!”
Sweat had popped at my temples and the cold fist of fear squeezed my heart. What if I couldn’t find her?
“I’m here, Mommy!”
Emily’s high, joyous voice rang out from under the racks, and I’d raced toward her, feeling both incredibly relieved and very angry.
“Emily! Do you know how scared I was? You have to stay with Mommy at all times. You can’t run off and hide like that.”
Emily had cocked her head at me, her long blond hair, full of tangles that she didn’t let me brush out, shining under the fluorescent store lights. She’d furrowed her little brow and said, “But, Mommy. I was right in front of you the whole time.”
Now, at sixteen, Emily still hid from me. And usually when she was right in front of me. Gone were the tomboy clothes of her childhood. Today, she wore skinny jeans so tight I had no idea how she breathed and an equally close-fitting purple ribbed turtleneck. Still beautiful and blonde, but now tall and willowy, taller than I could have ever hoped to be. At five foot two, I had to look up to speak to her, which placed the power balance in our relationship firmly with her.
All proceeds from the sale of A Kind of Mad Courage go to the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation. The book is available on Amazon in both digital and paperback versions.
Here is a short excerpt from my debut novel if you’d like a brief look at Jamie Ross’s crazy world.
“Leah wants to come over and do a thorough spiritual cleansing. There are ghosts that haunt the new owners or tenants of the house, and she says you need to make friends with them.”
“I’m just getting to know my roommates. Maybe the ghosts can wait for a bit.”
“Leah says you need to do it immediately before they feel you’ve taken over their space.”
I bet the ghosts are pretty damn happy considering they get a live sex show every day. Unless they’re Mormons.
“Okay, I’ll call her now. I just wanted you to know that I’m okay.”
I hang up and I’m about to call Leah and Katie, but when I peer at Andrew, who’s back on the bed, I see his shoulders are shaking, and he’s wiping tears from his eyes.
“What?” I snap at him.
“You have to make friends with the ghosts?” Deep rumbling laughter rolls through him again.
“Don’t you have anything better to do than listen to my phone conversation?”
“On a cellphone, you can hear everything. It’s just so funny. Hello, ghost, why don’t you come in? Would you like a martini or perhaps a dry sherry? Oh, serve yourself, you know where everything is.”
He goes on in this vein for two minutes. And for once, I start laughing, too. Most of the time, I can’t see the humor in Leah’s wacky ideas, but with Andrew falling all over the bed and laughing, and me smiling at him, I do. “She’s not totally insane, you know,” I tell him.
“I never said she was. I think she sounds really cool.”
“Well, I have to call her too so try to contain your laughter for a few minutes.”
I call Leah, and while she repeats the necessity of a ghost e-vite, Andrew pretends not to listen. But his hand is covering his mouth to smother the giggles, and I can just imagine what he’s thinking.
He’s my boss, and he knows way more about my family than Horace and Adrienne who have worked beside me for years. This might not be my brightest career move. And then, he makes retching noises when he hears Leah say, “Maybe your boss would like some of your fish oil pills. Driving for a long time can do terrible things to your equilibrium and liver. Or pick up a bottle of Nu Greens and give that to him for breakfast.”
“Leah, stop. I can’t talk about this right now.” C’mon, I need to have some professional dignity.
“Oh? Can I talk to him?” she asks.
But Andrew hears that and holds out his hand for the phone. I furiously shake my head at him, but he wrestles the phone away from my grip. My stomach is churning at what Leah might say. God, she may ask him about his sex life for all I know.
“Uh huh, yes, I will, no I don’t, garlic pills for Jamie? Yes, I’ll remember. No, I feel good. I have a naturopath. My girlfriend doesn’t go to her, but I see her regularly. Am I regular?”
“That’s it! Give me the phone!” I yell.
If you enjoyed that excerpt, Finding Lucas is available in e-book and paperback.
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