Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

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Acknowledgement

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pp. vii-viii

My heartfelt thanks to Abby Freeland and West Virginia University Press, Derek Krissoff, Than Saffel, Jason Gosnell, Sharon Thompsonowak, Melissa Hill, Melody and Doley Bell, Louise Bell, Michelle Bell, Elese Adams, Susie and William Adams, Lucille and Kenneth Cook, Kristin Caid, Julie Artz, Patricia Gibson, Pam Van Dyk, Pamela Reitman, Parul Kapur Hinzen, Jenny Lynn, Andrea Short, Pamela Jeffrey, Keri Prince,...

Part 1: Tinley Greene, April 1998

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Chapter 1

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pp. 3-7

If Mr. Haughtry comes crawling down the driveway in his big gold Buick, it will mean they haven’t found Mama and Daddy. It’s dark in the old chicken shed and nobody knows where I am. When I bend down, I can see through a hole in the wood—the fig tree, the gravel driveway, the road with fields on both sides, green and slippery in the rain.

If I see my mother’s little hatchback, then it’s easy. Some of the roads could have been washed out and they took a while to get back. Daddy will shake his head and say, “I’m awfully sorry everybody was...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 8-10

As I trudge up the hill to the Haughtrys’ house, my stomach clenches in a knot and I weigh whether I could sneak down to the trailer instead. Maybe I could crawl into my bed and hide like a little kid. Even though it doesn’t make sense, a half-formed idea flickers—that my mother and father are at home waiting for me.

I pause, letting the rain trickle down my back and remembering the way our trailer wobbles, especially if you close a door hard, like the whole thing might tip over. And cooking smells sink into everything—the...

Part 2: Sadie Caswell, October 1998

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Chapter 3

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pp. 13-16

The last time our son, Mark, and his fiancé, Maddie, came up to the house for Sunday dinner was in October, a couple months before they were supposed to get married. Maddie was the kind of girl everything is easy for, the way breathing is for the rest of us. When Mark met her, there wasn’t any way of knowing how it would all turn out. But no matter what he did, he loved her. That was something he tried to tell me the last time I saw him.

Mark had gotten a good job out of high school working with the logging company. He and a boy from...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 17-23

When Maddie flew into the kitchen asking about the noise, Mark asked if his daddy could take her home. He wouldn’t even look at her. He kept moving his eyes anywhere but where she was standing while I yelled out the back door for Clive.

Blood dripped off Mark’s hand and he let me wrap the dishcloth around it. I asked him what in the world was the matter, if something had happened at church or at dinner. He shook his head and wouldn’t say anything. When I got out the broom, Maddie offered to help, but...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 24-29

Clive wasn’t much for arguing and carrying on. Most days he did his thing and he let me do mine. But after Mark left for work that day, Clive came inside and stood by the kitchen sink, holding out his arms, one to the other, like he was measuring to see if they were the same length. I started filling up the sink with hot water. He could stand there if he wanted to, but he wasn’t going to keep me from doing what I needed to do. When I shut off the water, he finally started talking.

“I guess there’s something going on with Mark and Maddie then.” He got out his bandana and...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 30-36

When I got back to the house, a crow squawked at me from a tree branch. Our mother had always said that meant bad luck, but I didn’t know what was coming and I probably couldn’t have stopped it even if I did.

Around noon Clive came in for dinner and then he left for the stockyard. He didn’t say what he was going about, whether he was buying or selling. I guess he never did tell me that kind of thing, not that I ever asked him either. He reached for his cap on the hook by the back door...

Part 3: Tinley Greene, Mark Caswell, and Clive Caswell, September–October 1998

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Chapter 7. Tinley Greene

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pp. 39-42

As I head up to the Haughtrys’ house, I practice what I’ll say to Mrs. Haughtry. Now that I’m a senior I can start applying to college. The guidance counselor said I might qualify for a scholarship, but for now I have to fill out the financial aid form and I need Mrs. Haughtry’s help.

Even though I can’t do much work around here because of school, the Haughtrys have let me stay at the trailer. Mr. Haughtry said I should move into their house, but Mrs. Haughtry assured him I’m fine where I am....

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Chapter 8. Mark Caswell

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pp. 43-45

“Is anybody in here?” I clear my throat and peek in. Toward the back of the dark shed, a man looks up, his arm clenched around a girl. When he sees me, he lets go of her arm and she scurries to the corner where an old rake leans against the wall.

“I was heading up to the house,” I try again, “but I thought I heard somebody in here.”

The sound of the man zipping up his pants makes me shiver. I don’t know what I’ve walked in on. I wasn’t even supposed to be here. I’m not...

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Chapter 9. Tinley Greene

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pp. 46-51

The boy holding my elbow looks like he’s built out of something different than the rest of us—like some part of him is made from the sun. We run past the fig tree in front of the Haughtrys’ bedroom window toward a truck I’ve never seen before. It’s dark green like a Christmas tree, this truck I’m going to ride away in—shiny and clean with the sun glinting on the metal parts. The figs rotting on the ground give off a sweet smell. Down the road, cars pass by like they would any other day—people heading to the feed store or the corner stand where gourds and pumpkins...

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Chapter 10. Tinley Greene

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pp. 52-58

Mark comes by the next morning, just as he promised.

“Did you sleep okay? I forgot that you’d need stuff like a toothbrush and soap and things like that.” He holds up grocery bags, two in one hand and one in the other. “Can I come in? I got some things, stuff for breakfast and the others I just guessed. I mean I didn’t really know what kind of toothpaste you’d want.” He frowns. “Maybe I should’ve waited and taken you with me, but I had the idea and I thought I’d go on to the store while I was thinking about it.”...

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Chapter 11. Tinley Greene

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pp. 59-62

Driving back to the gray house, there’s no sign of the Haughtrys and I remind myself to breathe easy. Already I ache to be back with Mark again. I remember telling my mother about the first boy I ever liked, Greer Campbell. He sat next to me in sixth grade, and when we were supposed to be doing worksheets he would pull out a book from his backpack and hold it under his desk reading. He’d look up at me and smile like the two of us were in a secret club. One day Mama was rolling out dough for biscuits in the Haughtrys’ kitchen and I told her that Greer knew all the...

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Chapter 12. Tinley Greene

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pp. 63-66

The next morning I hear a knock at the door and I don’t know whether to open it or pretend I’m not there. It’s early and I’m in my robe because I’ve just gotten out of the shower. Daddy’s truck is in the driveway and whoever it is will know I’m there, so I pull the door open. Mark is standing there, because who else would be? Nobody else knows where I am. It’s like the two of us are the only people in the world. His hand hangs in the air like he was about to knock again and he laughs when he sees...

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Chapter 13. Mark Caswell

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pp. 67-70

The second time I do wrong by Maddie, it’s late afternoon and I have dirt caked under my fingernails and sawdust mixed with sweat in my hair. But Maddie has never been a bit bothered by me showing up after work and this girl isn’t either. Both of them are good through and through—Maddie, who I’m set to marry in December, and this girl who needs me.

After what happened last time I shouldn’t have come back here. I should have found Tinley somewhere else to stay. We could’ve gone our separate ways....

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Chapter 14. Clive Caswell

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pp. 71-72

When I saw Mark’s truck over at the gray house, I couldn’t think of what he might be doing there. And the light blue truck parked next to his—I didn’t recall ever seeing it before. Maybe I should’ve stopped and gone in. But Mark was a grown boy and I thought—I knew—he could take care of himself. When I was his age I wanted to figure things out on my own, even if I made a mistake or two along the way, and Mark deserved the same.

Not long after that, I was up at Dell’s body shop having him replace the brake pads on my truck. Dell gave me a cup of coffee while I waited...

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Chapter 15. Tinley Greene

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pp. 73-75

“I don’t know, Tinley. About any of this,” Mark had said, standing in the bedroom doorway. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“What are you talking about?” Still in my bare feet, I followed behind him through the living room and watched him go out the front door. When I called out after him, he shook his head.

He didn’t come the next day, or the next. The guys he worked with left their laundry in front of their doors. When I picked it up, I imagined running into Mark with one of his friends, coming over to...

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Chapter 16. Tinley Greene

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pp. 76-78

Everybody knows where the church is, not far from the Haughtrys’ house. A red brick building with a little porch and a pointy white steeple, and a square red brick building beside it where they must have birthday parties and things like that. The parking lot looks full so I find a spot in the gravel lot across the street.

Waiting on Mark to come out is too hard. I decide I might as well go inside. All these years living here and I don’t think I’ve ever been inside. I remember passing by the church and thinking everybody in town went...

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Chapter 17. Mark Caswell

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pp. 79-81

We’re almost to the truck in the church parking lot when Maddie touches my elbow and I let out a yell same as if a bobcat snuck up on me in the woods.

“Are you all right?” She squeezes my arm and I blink. Once. Twice. Maddie is still there, still squeezing my arm. Pale, pink, pretty, perfect Maddie. Her hair smells like honeysuckle. I don’t see Tinley anywhere. Breathe. I’ve got to breathe.

“I’m all right. You just startled me, that’s all.”...

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Chapter 18. Tinley Greene

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pp. 82-86

If I went up to the house, I could talk to Mark and find out what’s going on. But I keep picturing Maddie Spencer on those church steps—all coolness and strawberry pink and perfect teeth when she smiled at him. In the truck mirror I look nothing like her. I’m red-faced and my dishwater-colored hair needs combing and won’t ever lay down flat like hers or be as blonde as hers. And I can’t go up there and have them stare at me—Mark pushing back his chair and putting his napkin on the table, looking all surprised that I’m there....

Part 4: Tinley Greene, Clive Caswell, and Sadie Caswell, October 1998–June 2001

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Chapter 19. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 89-90

I told Willa I’d get to the bridge as quick as I could and I slammed down the phone. I don’t know how I got in the car, but I was still wearing my old house dress and I hadn’t even stopped to put on shoes. The gas pedal was rough under my foot and I pressed down on it harder, speeding up as I passed the Watsons’ home place, then around the big curve and by Solid Rock, the red brick church and the fellowship hall beside it. The closer I got to the bridge, the more the mountains pressed into me on the one side, making it harder and harder to breathe. I...

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Chapter 20. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 91-94

Behind me a car pulled off the road, but I didn’t turn around. It didn’t matter who it was. The next thing I knew, a girl ran up to the bridge, screaming Mark’s name. Her face was red and sweaty. A stranger, some girl I’d never laid eyes on before.

“I tried to follow him and I saw your car so then I followed you.” She shook her head and wiped her nose. “Why is Mark’s truck here? Where is he?”

I made myself breathe in and out. But I couldn’t make myself answer her. She wasn’t anything to me...

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Chapter 21. Tinley Greene

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pp. 95-97

Mark’s mother screams at me and, even though I cover my ears and pretend to be somewhere else, I still hear her. Part of me wants to scream back at her, but mostly I want to wrap my arms around her and tell her I understand. That I loved Mark too. That I can’t imagine him being gone. Someone pulls her away and somebody else from the sheriff’s office says he needs to ask me a few questions about how I came to be there.

“I went by the house he lives in now, but Mark’s truck wasn’t there,” I explain, remembering how desperate...

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Chapter 22. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 98-101

Libby and Warren got up to the house late that night. As soon as they came in the door, I grabbed Libby by the arm and buried my face in her chest. She held on to me until I pulled away to get them something to eat.

For days after Mark died, Clive didn’t go outside. I’d never known him to be inside so much, not even when there was snow on the ground. But after Mark died, Clive sat in the den watching the television.

Even though people from the church brought casseroles, I stuck them in the freezer and made things...

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Chapter 23. Tinley Greene

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pp. 102-105

The funeral home parking lot is full of cars. The announcement was in the paper: visitation for friends and family, four o’clock at Markinson’s Funeral Home, 122 Church Street, and I knew Mark would want me to be there.

It’s a short white building between the flower shop and the gas company. The sidewalk with high black railings slants down from the doors to the street. When my parents died, there wasn’t a visitation. I only remember being outside at the county cemetery, the grass wet with...

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Chapter 24. Tinley Greene

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pp. 106-107

Mark is gone and he stays gone, but somehow people still walk around and talk and do the same things they did before he left. It feels impossible, all of it. I don’t know how I can do anything, even something like putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I hold my arm out and stare at it. What is it doing there? What is it good for, and how is it still attached to my shoulder when everything else around me is coming apart, or ought to be?

When I think about how maybe it was my fault, how I might have made him so upset because I didn’t want to let him go, my...

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Chapter 25. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 108-110

Our mama used to say when you lose one thing, you gain another, but I’ve never put much stock in that. The way I see it, things are going to happen when they’re going to happen, when the good Lord wills it. Sometimes you might have a whole handful of good things all at once, so sweet you can hardly stand it, and other times, things are ripped away from you and you feel so empty you think there’s nothing left to take, not until the next thing is taken away.

All I could see was that girl Tinley. Sometimes I saw her on the bridge screaming at Mark and Mark shaking...

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Chapter 26. Tinley Greene

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pp. 111-113

It seems like all I do is sleep. For days, I sleep so much that I’m confused about what’s real and what’s a dream. I wake up to eat what I can, usually a little bit of peanut butter right out of the jar. The saltiness coats my tongue and throat and it’s the only thing that feels good when I’m awake, that and the cold water I drink after. Mark keeps asking me to come with him and I close my eyes, not knowing what to do or how to get from one day to another.

One day, I’m lying in bed and I hear a noise at the door. I don’t have the energy to get up and I wait to see if it’s one...

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Chapter 27. Tinley Greene

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pp. 114-118

As soon as I come out of the bathroom, hoping to avoid Mrs. Barnes, she appears, asking if I’m going to clean it again.

“Yes, ma’am. Of course I was planning to. I’m sorry about that. I don’t know—I haven’t been eating right, I guess.”

She stares at my chest and stomach and then shakes her head. Something in her face softens. “Can’t be helped, I guess. Not with you in this situation.”

She’s not making any sense, but at least she isn’t upset. Back in the kitchen, I pick up the mop again and finish...

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Chapter 28. Tinley Greene

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pp. 119-121

“Here.” Mrs. Caswell throws dollar bills at me and they flutter to the ground. “You get that baby taken care of and it’ll be like none of this ever happened. Except I won’t ever have him back, you understand that. He’s not ever coming back.”

“I don’t—I don’t want your money.”

“You get this taken care of. Maybe down in Greenville. I don’t know where. You figure it out. And I don’t want to hear another word from you. I can’t hear anything else you’ve got to say.” She flicks her hand...

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Chapter 29. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 122-124

That girl’s truck tore back down the driveway. I stood just inside the house listening to it, feeling the cool wood of the door behind me and making sure the truck didn’t stop until she got all the way to the road. My hands were clenched into fists, thinking about what she’d done to Mark. How she messed everything up right when he was doing better.

When I was sure she was gone, I tried to do what I needed to around the house. I pulled the cushions off the couch to clean them, but by the time I dragged the vacuum cleaner up from the basement, my legs were...

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Chapter 30. Tinley Greene

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pp. 125-130

“Where are you headed?” the man asks and when I shrug, he says he’s going back down to Haird—almost at the South Carolina border, smaller than Garnet and without a grocery store or mall or movie theater. I remember on one of our Sunday afternoon drives seeing a sign for it between tall gray rocks slick with water.

“I’ve never been,” I tell him. “But I’ve heard it’s real pretty.”

“You want me to drop you off somewhere on the way?”

“Well, the thing is, I don’t have anywhere to go.” I try not to think...

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Chapter 31. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 131-134

The next day, I woke up and realized some of Mark’s things were still down at the rental house where he stayed sometimes with the boy from work. As soon as I got dressed, I went down there. The boy who answered the door said his name was Cliff. He was one of those boys who can’t keep still. He kept pulling up his pants and messing with his hair. When I asked him if I could get Mark’s things, he walked me down the hall.

“Let me know if you need any help. I guess I can carry stuff out for you or whatever.” He shrugged and I thanked him and said I could get...

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Chapter 32. Tinley Greene

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pp. 135-139

When I wake up the next morning, a chill hovers over the cabin and I pull the blanket tighter around me. “They’re letting me stay here,” I whisper to Mark’s ghost beside me. “They want to take care of me—me and the baby.” I don’t know what it means that people are always having to let me stay or tell me to go—the Haughtrys after Mama and Daddy were gone, Mark at the gray house, Travis and Leigh.

First thing, I walk around the whole camp, the rows of cabins, the lake hidden in the trees with a wooden dock and fog lifting up around...

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Chapter 33. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 140-144

The bed in Libby and Warren’s guest room had a good firm mattress. A white and yellow quilt and two feather pillows. A white cotton dust ruffle. There was a dresser in front of the bed—solid oak—with a matching mirror hanging on the wall. The blinds on the window kept out the light from the street outside, the street light and the cars going by. Otherwise I guess I couldn’t have slept. I wasn’t used to any light getting in from outside at night unless it was coming from the moon. Libby said I might’ve slept fine with it that way. She said sometimes you surprise yourself. It was...

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Chapter 34. Tinley Greene

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pp. 145-149

Dr. Trantham says I can have an ultrasound to find out if I’m having a boy or a girl, but it’s an extra fifty dollars I don’t have and I won’t ask Lynette or Leigh and Travis for it.

“It’s not medically necessary.” The doctor shrugs and closes the folder he’s holding. “So you can decide and let the gal at the front desk know.” On my way out, I tell her in a bright voice—like it doesn’t matter—that I don’t have the money for the ultrasound, and she goes to answer the phone that has started ringing....

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Chapter 35. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 150-154

I wouldn’t have thought that Mark was what held me and Clive together. We’d had all those years without him, before he was born, and we stuck together then. But sometimes when a piece is wrenched off, the whole thing comes apart at the seams. The pieces don’t fit together any more. You can’t see how they ever did.

Libby couldn’t understand how something could get so broken. “You need a little time, that’s all,” she kept chirping. But she and Warren never had to go through what Clive and I did, what nobody should have to...

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Chapter 36. Clive Caswell

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pp. 155-157

The other day when Vinson was over here working, we got to talking about Sadie and when she might come home.

“I was surprised she didn’t ride back with you.” Vinson looked toward the house like any minute Sadie would carry us out some sandwiches and tea. It was already turning hot, especially in the middle of the day, and the truth was, I could’ve used a drink of something cool myself. But I hadn’t thought to bring anything out. If Sadie had been home, she would’ve made up a cooler for me before I went out. I didn’t notice some...

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Chapter 37. Tinley Greene

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pp. 158-160

When the baby is born, it’s all wrong. I’m by myself in the hospital except for the nurses who keep coming in to move tubes and turn dials and pick up paper spat out by a machine. The baby is a girl, not a boy like I expected, and she has blue eyes, not green. She comes screaming into a world that isn’t real, that I feel like I left a long time ago.

She cries and keeps crying and opening her eyes that are blue and not green. She doesn’t want my breast, only the little bottles a nurse left with plastic wrapped around the top. And I hurt all over, not just inside, but...

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Chapter 38. Tinley Greene

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pp. 161-166

The next day, the nurse with red hair and pink lipstick comes back again. She tells me I need to figure out the baby’s name before we can go home.

“I told her I wasn’t keeping the baby.”

“Oh my goodness, what do you mean? Honey, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“The other nurse. The one who was in here yesterday.”

“Sheila?”...

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Chapter 39. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 167-171

After Clive left, Libby and Warren didn’t have any other people coming to visit, not until Thanksgiving when their daughter and her husband would come down. There was no telling where I would be by then, but I wouldn’t hang around Libby’s, not with all those people around— hugging everybody and talking all the time and sitting around the table holding hands when they said grace. It would just remind me of everything I didn’t have.

Even though Libby told me I should think of the guest room as my own, I didn’t do much more than...

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Chapter 40. Clive Caswell

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pp. 172-173

With Sadie still gone, the women from the church kept bringing casseroles. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate them, but I missed Sadie’s cooking. I lost a fair amount of weight and my back stiffened up, ached worse than it ever had. I might have gone to the doctor except I didn’t have the time.

Besides, I decided not to put much stock in doctors once I remembered how we’d taken Mark to be checked out, back when he was younger. The doctor said he was fine, just a growing boy....

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Chapter 41. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 174-177

After we passed the sign for Haird and the old mill, I told Libby to go through town so we wouldn’t have to cross over the bridge. For once she did what I asked without saying a word about it.

On the way up to the house, most things we passed looked the way I remembered. It was August by then, and everywhere you looked there was a dried-out feeling. The rain gauges in people’s yards were dusty and the river was low. I counted up the time I’d been gone and it must have been five months, give or take. Enough time for some things to change....

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Chapter 42. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 178-181

I heated up some beans for supper and went to bed early. As tired as I was, I should have gone right to sleep but you can’t make a body do that any more than you can keep milk from turning. The longer I lay there, the more I wondered how things could’ve been different for Mark. If Tinley hadn’t come around, then Mark would have walked down the aisle to marry Maddie, taking his place beside her at the front of the church sure he’d found what he was looking for.

I put myself back at the logging yard the last time I saw him. Pushing him and trying to get him...

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Chapter 43. Tinley Greene

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pp. 182-184

Sometimes Rebecca opens her blue eyes really big. She looks like she’s trying to see the whole world at once. Other times she opens her fingers like she wants something to hold onto, and I look around for her pacifier or a soft toy. When I hand her the pacifier, she throws it down and I try the cloth kite that crinkles when you fold it, but she grunts and pants because it’s not the right thing. It’s not what she wants. I look around for the next thing to try. I put my finger on her cheek saying wait a minute, sweetie, just one minute and she reaches for my finger. She grabs onto it,...

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Chapter 44. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 185-189

Those doctors didn’t know what they were talking about, especially the young one with the droopy pants. He couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag. They talked about all the tests they had to do, when anyone with a lick of sense would’ve known Clive had simply worked too hard. He was ten years older than me and most seventy-three-year old men wouldn’t be able to do all that Clive did—plowing and caring for cattle and splitting wood and everything else. Clive had been doing all that for years and he would never think of stopping. What good did it do to run all...

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Chapter 45. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 190-195

The Kellers and the Honeycutts and Pastor Mason came by the hospital and Clive talked to them, but you could tell he didn’t feel like visiting. He was only being polite, the way he was brought up. He’d finally owned up and told the doctors that he was hurting, mostly in his stomach—not to where he couldn’t stand it, but fairly bad sometimes. I’d never known him to say a thing like that.

One day before Dr. Wilkins left Clive’s room, I asked him about it. “He shouldn’t be hurting bad, should he? He’s never been one to...

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Chapter 46. Tinley Greene

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pp. 196-198

Whenever Lynette Barnes comes out to see us at the camp, she asks how Rebecca is eating and sleeping and what we need. She always brings things for us—formula and diapers and food from her garden. One time she asks if she can meet Travis and Leigh, and I jump up from the porch. “Let me go find them.” Let me show you my family.

Leigh is out back unpinning blankets from the clothesline and folding them over her arm. I take a stack from her and she follows me around to the porch where Lynette waits. They nod at each other and Leigh asks if...

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Chapter 47. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 199-203

After I met with the doctors, I went on back home instead of going to see Clive. I had a lot to do up at the house. The trashcans needed emptying, and I rinsed them out with bleach and set them out in the yard to dry. After that, I cleaned out the cabinets and refrigerator. When the wind died down, I burned the trash. I washed the bed linens and the towels and went through the mail and took checks to the post office to pay the bills. Vinson Keller called, and I told him what needed to be done outside and he promised to take care of it....

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Chapter 48. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 204-206

After I called Vinson Keller, he came by first thing the next morning with some boys he knew to get the trees in the ground. Since I would have been in the way, I stayed back at the house.

“Y’all come back down here when you’re finished and I’ll have some food ready,” I told him.

Vinson raised his eyebrows. “You don’t need to do that.”

It would’ve been easier to stay by myself, to leave the money for them out on the porch and not have to talk to anybody. But they had come out...

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Chapter 49. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 207-210

I found Willa Dunn’s address in the church directory and, on the way over there, I pictured how Clive would look showing that orchard to some little girl, to our grandchild. It didn’t make a bit of sense, especially when I didn’t know if Tinley was telling the truth about being pregnant, and if she was, whether she even had the baby. But I couldn’t help myself any more than I could stop the moon showing up at night.

Willa came to the door in an old pink housecoat and slippers. As soon as she saw me, she grabbed my elbow and pulled me...

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Chapter 50. Tinley Greene

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pp. 211-213

After the camp closes for the summer, the weather gets cold even before Thanksgiving. Leigh tells me not to worry about keeping the cabins cleaned up, and we stay indoors where it’s warm. I could move back to my old cabin, but the baby needs to be somewhere warm. Leigh carries Rebecca around with her all over the house, and sometimes it seems like she leaves the room with her as soon as I walk in.

One day when it’s almost Christmas, Leigh asks if she and Travis can keep the baby for the night. “That way you can sleep the whole night...

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Chapter 51. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 214-218

Come Sunday, I put on a good dress and went up to the church. Walking in there and seeing people turn their heads was like stepping into a cold river in the middle of winter. I didn’t want to sit with anybody in particular so I found an empty seat in the corner of the back row and kept my eyes down. It wasn’t long before somebody behind me reached up and touched my shoulder.

“Sadie, it’s so good to see you back up here.” I nodded without turning around, without even trying to figure out who the voice...

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Chapter 52. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 219-222

When I told Lynette I needed to find Tinley, she shrugged. “It’s not my place to be giving out her personal information.”

“Please—I only want to talk to her.” She went around the side of the house and I followed her. She kicked a little rock with her foot until it went under the bushes. “Lynette, I can’t do right by Tinley unless you help me find her.”

Lynette kept walking, her open-back shoes kicking up dirt behind her, and I decided I might as well come out with it. “Was she really...

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Chapter 53. Tinley Greene

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pp. 223-224

After we leave the camp, I consider venturing into Greenville, but instead find myself drawn back to Garnet. Despite all that’s happened there, it’s still home. Winding around the familiar roads, I can breathe better, like the air has more life in it. I remember how Leigh used to tease me when I said Garnet was full of ghosts, then shudder at how she and Travis made us leave, how twisted and bitter things ended up—another hope dashed.

As long as I stay in town and out of the countryside, Garnet almost feels like a new place—still familiar but with less to weigh us down. I find a tiny...

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Chapter 54. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 225-228

Sometimes you get yourself worked up over nothing. Our mother always told me and Libby that the hen never cackles until the egg is laid. What she said went through my mind when I couldn’t find Tinley. She wasn’t where Lynette told me to go. I ought to have known she might not be there.

The camp was surrounded by scrawny pine trees and hardly any signs to tell you where to go. Finally I found what looked like the owner’s house, a log house newer than the rest, beside what looked like...

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Chapter 55. Tinley Greene

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pp. 229-232

The first time Landry starts to kiss me, I grab his chin and press my lips harder against his and he opens his mouth, except it’s Mark’s mouth, not his. I’m lost in imagining he is someone else until Landry pulls back and asks me if I’m okay. I nod and pull him toward me again.

“Are you sure?” he whispers, his fingers warm on the back of my neck and we’re kissing again, but it’s Landry then. When I try to find Mark again, he’s gone. He has left me again....

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Chapter 56. Clive Caswell

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p. 233

I guess she won’t realize it at the time, but the way I imagine it, an afternoon with her grandmother will be one of her favorite memories. Even after she’s grown up, even if she moves away from Garnet, our granddaughter will sometimes find herself back on the hill coming up on the rows of trees.

On this afternoon she is still a little girl. Her grandmother will tell her that sometimes apple trees take up to eight years to bear fruit, but these have only taken six. Our granddaughter will nod and reach up for...

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Chapter 57. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 234-236

When I was getting ready for bed, the phone rang and I answered it in my nightgown, shivering and wishing I had something on my bare feet. Thinking they wouldn’t call this late unless something had happened.

“Mrs. Caswell, It’s Dr. Wilkins. I’m sorry to call so late.”

“I’m here,” I told him. I waited for him to say what he was calling about, but part of me knew what he would say before he said it. He must have talked for several minutes because my legs got tired from standing up. We had a little table in the upstairs hallway with the telephone on...

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Chapter 58. Tinley Greene

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pp. 237-239

After her first birthday, Rebecca starts doing everything at once. She talks and walks and points at things, wanting to know what they are. She wants me to say the word for everything. Up, down. Inside, outside. On, off. Hungry, full. Awake, asleep.

She gets bigger every day and she watches me and tries to do what I do. It’s going to be different from now on. I’m going to stop talking to people who aren’t real. I’m not going to let my daughter see me whispering under my breath or forgetting where I am. Everything around me will...

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Chapter 59. Tinley Greene

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pp. 240-243

Landry has a fancy wine opener that’s weighted at the bottom so it won’t tip over, even when he puts a bottle of wine on it and brings down the metal arm to take out the cork. Whenever he’s asked if I want any, I’ve said I’m not interested, that everything is confusing enough without knocking it further sideways. And he laughs and says that’s okay. But tonight I say yes, I want to try it, and Landry smiles and sets another glass on the counter.

The wine tastes like syrup and smoke all at once, and it’s cool at first and then warm going down...

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Chapter 60. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 244-245

Once I found the number for Patrick Maybin’s office in the phonebook, I called and made an appointment. I hadn’t been up there since Mark died, when we had to change all the papers. Back then I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on. It was enough to keep the breath going in and out, enough to sit still in the leather chair in Mr. Maybin’s office with the heat coming in through a vent on the floor. Half-asleep.

This time I was wide awake. The office had glass doors with the name of the firm, Corbett & Maybin, painted in gold letters. The lobby floor...

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Chapter 61. Tinley Greene

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pp. 246-247

Whenever Landry talks about leaving for Wisconsin, I tell him that I’ll miss Garnet. Maybe I’d like to visit another part of the country sometime—just not live there.

“You won’t have to worry about running into people,” he reminds me. “The Haughtrys or the Caswells, none of that. You can finally put it all behind you.”

But when I imagine putting this place behind me, I have nightmares about it being destroyed or disappearing. I imagine...

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Chapter 62. Tinley Greene

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pp. 248-251

After we get through the holidays and the weather warms up, Landry starts asking if I want to set a wedding date.

“Now that we’ve sold the house and we’re finally on our way, we need to figure it out.” He nods toward the stack of moving boxes. “What about September? The weather will be nice then and once we’ve moved and settled in, it’ll be easier. We’ll know our way around, where all the good spots are. We could do it the first Saturday in September.” He flips through his calendar that looks like a spiral notebook. “That could work....

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Chapter 63. Tinley Greene

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pp. 252-258

The ice melts and Rebecca and I find a new place to live, a tiny house outside the city limits between Garnet and Wyeth’s Mill. The way it’s tucked into the woods below the road you’d think the house is hiding, but it’s not. It’s painted bright blue, nothing hidden about it, the kind of haint blue my mother used to say kept bad spirits away. I’ve seen it on porch ceilings before but never on a whole house—not until now when Rebecca and I live in this house protected on all sides....

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Chapter 64. Sadie Caswell

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pp. 259-262

I had a lot to do if I was going to be ready in time. Wash the floor of the porch. Oil the chains on the porch swing. Plant flowers in the pots by the front door. Inside, I needed to mop the floors and go over the furniture with a dust rag and straighten up most everywhere. When I was done with all that, I called Willa and Lynette to see if they needed anything at the store. Willa said she could use some face cream and I told her I’d pick some up.

At the shopping mall, I had to wait for a big crowd of teenagers to...

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Author's Note. The Story Behind the Story

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pp. 263-264

Although Garnet is not a real town in western North Carolina, it bears some similarity to Hendersonville, where I was born and raised, and nearby places where I’ve visited grandparents and other relatives: the town of East Flat Rock, and closer to the South Carolina border, the communities of Zirconia and Tuxedo along Green River. I don’t know of a road in the area named Maranatha, but the name, which roughly means the Lord, or hope, is coming, seems to fit the character of the place....

Discussion Question

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pp. 265-266

About the Author

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pp. 267-268

Backcover

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