COMEBACK GIRL: A NEW Daily Serial

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Home is where the hurt is.

Hello.  I’m Jane Hunnicut, aged twenty-eight.
I grew up in Accident, Alabama but I’ve lived the past few years in London, England with the man I followed there from college.  To say I’ve distanced myself from my upbringing would be a bit of an understatement.  I love being a city girl and I’ve had my share of good fortune, but lately I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump.

I’m a novelist whose first book sold gangbusters, but the second book—notsomuch.
My relationship with my fiancé was flying high… until it wasn’t.
And to top it all off, my best friend disappeared... like before.
When I was at my lowest, the phone rang and in an instant, my life changed—
my family needed me.

After escaping the suffocating situation of my childhood, I am reluctant to return, especially since I’m already late on a big deadline.  In the small town where I grew up, I never quite fit in, but now after years away, I’m really going to stick out. And I’m not ready to face the ghosts of my past.

Meanwhile, my family and friends in Alabama think my life is perfect.

I’m in dire need of a comeback.  But my plan didn’t include coming back home.

Something tells me my life is going to get worse before it gets better.

 


 

 The COMEBACK GIRL daily serial will run July 1 - December 31, 2018.  The current day's episode will display for 24 hours (approximately 4am eastern to 4am eastern).  Set a reminder on your phone, fridge, or calendar so you don't miss a single day of COMEBACK GIRL!  And please share with all your reading friends! 

(As with the previous serials, 6 monthly e-novellas will be available for readers who want to catch up, read ahead, or binge read!)

 

 


 

July 16, Monday

I HAD RUN OUT OF wearable clean clothes, was down a wool sweater, a pair of fleece leggings, and a strapless bra.

And since the washer and dryer were completely blocked by a wall of cardboard filing boxes marked “The Accidental Post” (the town’s defunct newspaper), I decided to pile all my laundry into Mom’s car and drive to the laundromat, and run some other errands, too.

I had gone about a half mile on the road before encountering a frantically honking oncoming vehicle and realizing I was driving on the wrong side of the road.

I really had been gone a long time.

The town of Accident was like something you’d see in a William Eggleston photograph—the buildings, cars, and streets are long past their prime and half-heartedly patched until everyone simply gave up and called it “eclectic.”  There was no rhyme or reason to why some businesses exist (does the town truly need two cobblers?) and why some don’t (bookstore, anyone?).  There was no metered parking and you’re just as likely to see someone cruising town on horseback as a car.

Driving through the shabby streetscape flooded me with good and bad memories—mostly bad.  Someone once said writers are usually conflicted about the place where they grew up—presumably the internal struggle gives rise to the storyteller—and I’m no exception.  On the one hand, living in an insular place with few entertainment choices fertilized my imagination.  On the other hand, I always imagined being somewhere else.

I found a parking spot close to the laundromat and carried in an armful of clothes.  The air was sweet with fabric softener and thick with lint.  I found an empty washer and dumped the clothes inside, then went to the stooped attendant to get change.  The woman looked too old to still be working, but that would probably be me someday.

“Thank you,” I said, studying the new designs minted on American coins since I’d left.

She smiled.  “You’re Sharon Hunnicut’s girl, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m Jane.”

“I’m Joann.  I heard you were in town visiting your poor sick mother.”

“That’s right,” I murmured.

“Tell her we miss seeing her in here.”

Ah—so Mom had been blocked from using her washer and dryer for a while now.  “I will,” I said.

While the clothes were on a wash cycle, I walked a block over to the Accidental Diner, the social hotspot, and grabbed a seat at the counter.

“Hi, there,” a tired-looking woman said.  “What can I get for ya?”

I ordered an egg sandwich and orange juice from a sticky menu, then handed it back to her and fished my hand sanitizer out of my purse.  The alcohol stung my hands, but it was worth the pain.

“Hey, you’re Jane Hunnicut,” the woman said, her face alight with recognition.

“Yes,” I said warily.  “Do I know you?”  She was wiry with dark hair, and tanned within two degrees of melanoma.

“I’m Tamara White,” she said in a sing-songy voice.  “I used to date Tyler.”

“Oh… right,” I said, deciding not to mention Tyler had dated countless women.  “Nice to see you.”

“Nice to see yew,” she said.  “I’m sorry to hear about your mom.  Someone requested prayer for her in church yesterday.”

“Er… thank you.”

She flashed a sad smile, then wheeled away.  I could feel other diners looking over to try to figure out who I was.  I  heard, “the Hunnicut girl,” and murmurs of sympathy.  I willed them to stay away and fussed with my phone to look busy until Tamara slid a plate of food in front of me.

“There you go,” she said, beaming.

I nodded and took a huge bite of the sandwich so I wouldn’t have to talk.  Someone plopped onto the stool next to me.

Will smiled and touched the brim of his hat.  “Hi, Jane.”

It was the first time I’d seen him in clean clothes.  He looked somewhat… good.  I chewed and swallowed.  “Hello.”

“How’s your mother?”

“The same when I called this morning.  But thank you for asking.”

He signaled Tamara for a coffee order to go.

“Will you let me know if there’s anything I can do?” he asked.

I nodded, wondering if he had a bulldozer.

“Any word on Trudy?”

I was touched he remembered her name.  “Not yet.”

He smiled.  “Don’t give up hope—she might find her way home yet.  People and dogs always do.”

I frowned.

“By the way, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

Oh, no—he was going to ask me out, and I would have to hurt his feelings.  I mean, he was weirdly cute with that absurd cowboy hat, but I didn’t need the trouble.

“Weren’t you a friend of that Valentine girl who went missing a few years back?”

Okay, a curve ball.  “Yes… Deidre.”

“Right,” he said, nodding.  “What happened to her?”

I wiped my mouth with a paper napkin.  “She ran away.”

“And no one ever heard from her?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

“Not even you?  Don’t you find that strange?”

I gave a little shrug.  “Deidre had a bad homelife, so she probably wanted to forget about this place.”

He made a thoughtful noise.  “Too bad.”

Tamara handed him his coffee order, and he pushed to his feet.  “Gotta run—Bill Tedder has a mare who’s probably going to foal today.”

So I knew where his arm would be most of the day.  “Give thanks for extra-long gloves.”

He laughed.  “You’re funny, Jane—you should consider writing comedy.  Later.”

I frowned at his retreating back.  It had so been a mistake telling him I was struggling with my book.

And for all he knew, I did write comedy.

I finished eating, bounced back to the laundromat to toss my clothes in a dryer, then headed to the hardware store with my supply list.

The white-haired guy manning the counter was the same man who’d worked there when I was a kid.  I found it oddly comforting… and a little creepy.

“Hi, there, little lady.  What can I help you with?”

I took a deep breath and tried not to think about my dwindling cash reserves.  “I need rags, brushes, buckets, bleach, heavy-duty garbage bags…”  ~



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