Henry David Thoreau said, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” I think at some point in our lives, we all feel a little lost. But, it’s the people and relationships surrounding us that help lead us back to who we are. Unfortunately some people have a very difficult time accepting those helping hands that are reaching out to them. This is the case with Lucy, in my new novel, “In Search of Lucy.” She spent most of her young life sacrificing her own needs to care for her half-sister and deal with their alcoholic mother. Now abandoned by both of them, Lucy struggles to find her own purpose in life; a struggle that is laden with wretched memories and regret. With no family, no relationships and an unfulfilling job Lucy becomes depressed, cynical and self-destructive. At times she’d even contemplated suicide as the only way out.
When she is just about to hit rock bottom, Lucy finds out that her sister is ill and needs a kidney transplant. Lucy is found to be the only match and has no choice but to live, trapped in a lonely existence to save her sister’s life. And, she must battle with her emotions; her bitter resentment for her sister’s heartless departure and her longing to be needed again by the person she once loved most in the world. With the help of new found friends, Benny and Anne, and a struggling romance, Lucy sets out on a journey to reunite with her sister and search for the answers she needs to find her own identity.
for a peek into Lucy’s world, see excerpt from the novel:
|In Search of Lucy|
People say if you hear something about yourself enough times, you begin to believe it. Lucy experienced more than her share of negative criticism and hostility throughout her life. Her mother Linda had gone from a sweet loving mom to a bitter, cruel woman. And, as many victims of abuse blame themselves, Lucy carried her anger, guilt, and sadness around like a bullet proof vest. It kept her safe from being hurt, yet made her stiff and impenetrable. She wondered if there was something more she could have done to help her mother. Maybe if she had been more supportive and less defensive. On the other hand, she wondered how her mother could have done that to her. How could she turn things upside down and then just leave? With no one else to turn to Lucy did her best to cope and handle the situations that came up. To her that meant protecting Katie, even if it also meant that Lucy would take the brunt of the backlashes from Linda.
Lucy could see now that a turning point came when she was in High School. When she was around sixteen, she was basically taking care of herself and Katie. There were times when Linda didn’t even come home at night. She’d leave some cash on the table, tips from her waitressing job she was barely hanging on to. Often times they’d wake up in the morning to her passed out on the couch. On two occasions, child protective services received anonymous calls and a case worker was sent to the house. Both times Lucy was able to convince them everything was fine, even though Linda wasn’t even home for one of the visits. Another ghastly example of the country’s economic crisis; overworked social workers.
One particular night when Linda didn’t come home until about two in the morning, Lucy awoke to the sound of Linda talking loudly to herself. Lucy realized that she had been looking at the bills that were on the counter. She was swearing about a bill from a hospital they had taken Katie to. Katie had been very sick and wasn’t getting better on her own. When she took a turn for the worse, Lucy convinced Linda to take Katie to the hospital where they ran a few tests. The insurance company was not covering the entire balance and sent the remaining amount to Linda.
Lucy could hear the yelling getting closer, then farther as if Linda were pacing. “These damn kids! What the hell do they ever do but cost me money.” Then there was shuffling around, noises in the kitchen, more yelling, glass breaking. Lucy became expert at knowing what each sound meant, especially when Linda was drinking. What worried her this time was that Linda sounded much more agitated than her normal sloppy drunk disposition. She prayed that Linda hadn’t been doing more than just drinking. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time she had been concerned about that.
Lucy had been lying there for about an hour until she was sure Linda was done with her ranting, and fell asleep. The next day Lucy got Katie up early and the girls left for school without even having breakfast. Lucy also arranged for Katie to go home with her friend after school just in case things hadn’t blown over at home by the time they got there.
When Linda woke up around one in the afternoon, she wondered where the girls were. She actually thought it was Saturday and not Thursday. She spent the next couple of hours fuming. By the time Lucy walked in around three-thirty, Linda reached her boiling point. She was sitting in a chair just staring at the front door.
“Where the hell have you been?” Linda held without moving a single muscle. Her dishwater blond hair was no longer sprinkled with gray, it was drowning in it. Lack of proper health and nutrition exacerbated the cruel pilfering that age was already executing on Linda’s facial features. Instead of looking sophisticated and beautiful as most would have expected from her, she was haggard and beat down.
“School.” Lucy said as she passed Linda and headed for the kitchen.
“You liar!” Linda jumped up from the chair and followed Lucy into the kitchen. “What could you possibly be doing at school on Saturday… and where’s Katie?”
Trying to sound calm, while feeling the complete opposite inside, Lucy said, “Today is Thursday, mom. You can check the calendar if you don’t believe me.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m an idiot! Where’s Katie?” Her breathing was fast and heavy.
“She’s at Kelsey’s house.” Lucy set her things down on the table and then moved back toward the living room. She struggled to keep her voice steady. “Her mom picked them up after school so they could work on a project.”
Linda grabbed Lucy’s arm as she was walking by her. “You call her and get her back here right now!” Their eyes met only for a second, but it was long enough for Lucy to see where this was going.
“No!” Lucy jerked her arm away and ran toward her bedroom. Her mother chased behind, but Lucy was able to shut and lock the door just before Linda grabbed the knob.
“You little—! You better open this door right now!” Linda banged on the door with a closed fist. “Don’t you dare think you are in charge here. You’re just a stupid little girl!”
Lucy slid down the back of the door with her hands over her ears. She knew the cycle, and she knew this outrage would eventually turn from anger to sorrow and then eventually, sometimes, pity. It was a standoff and with her will, she knew she would win. She thought of prisoners in solitary. How long would they sit, staring at that door waiting for it to open? She’d wait forever if she had to. She wouldn’t crack under pressure.
“I’m your mother… and you have to… listen to me.” Linda banged a few more times but her head couldn’t handle the noise or the force. Her arm fell to her side. “You’re not in charge of Katie, she’s my…baby!” Her body slumped to the ground and propped against the door. “I’m in charge,” she cried. “I’m the mom around here.”
They both cried, Lucy silently, on either side of the door for twenty minutes before Linda made the first move. She went to the kitchen and began cleaning the mess from last night. Then she reached in her pocket, pulled out a wad of cash and plunked it on the table. Lucy stayed in her position against the door. Her face and eyes were still wet, but she was passed the emotional storm. Now she had to figure out what to do next. She could hear the rustling around going on in the other room but found herself still glued to the floor. After a few more minutes, there was a door slam, and then silence.
Still hesitant, she waited in her room until she felt safe, and then opened the door a crack to peak out. She knew her mother was gone because that was the only thing Linda could do when she felt guilty. Lucy went to the living room and then into the kitchen and noticed the money on the table along with a small white piece of paper. She walked over and picked up the paper which had only two words on it, Forgive Me.
Lucy began to cry again as she crumpled up the paper and threw it in the trash. She couldn’t take a chance that Katie would see it. As bad as things were, both Linda and Lucy tried hard to make things seem normal when Katie was there. Walking sullenly back to the living room, Lucy collapsed on the couch. She grabbed a pillow and pulled it tight against her as she closed her eyes in complete exhaustion.
Lucy never felt more alone than she did at that moment. Not only did she believe there wasn’t a sole out there that could help her, she was also very confused about her life and where it was going. Was that how things were supposed to be? How much longer could she go on like that? She couldn’t have known that it would be six more years of being on that emotional roller coaster.
Now the ride was over, but the aftermath was still very unstable. How could Lucy figure out who she was, or who she could become, if she didn’t even know who she used to be? She couldn’t find a place in her own family let alone the world. At times Lucy was a daughter, a sister, and a mother, but now she was nobody.
Look for more about me and updates on my next book at http://www.liafairchild.com or follow me on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/#!/liafairchild and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lia-Fairchild-Author-of-In-Search-of-Lucy/183156165059188
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i would like to thank Lia Fairchild for guest posting today and to you as well for stopping by.