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“. . .so thought-provoking and real and beautiful that I believe it has changed me forever.”
–Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt and A Parchment of Leaves
Copyright © 2005 Frank Turner Hollon
All right reserved.
Michael Brace opened his eyes. It was 3:30 in the morning, and he awoke for no reason. There was no sharp sound, or flash of light, or bad dream. He just woke up in the middle of the night and stared into the darkness for a few minutes from the living room couch. His wife was asleep in the other room. It had been a long time since they shared a bed. The house was small and modest with a long hallway leading to a kitchen and two bedrooms. Michael preferred the couch over the guest- room. At thirty-seven, Michael Brace was mostly a stranger.
It was summertime in south Alabama. Michael’s eyes adjusted, and he could see the ceiling fan above spinning. He sat upright and felt the familiar twinge of pain in his knee. Michael walked quietly to the glassed-in porch and sat down in a white wicker chair. He looked out across the slick bay waters to the city of Mobile on the other side with its sparkling lights. The moon was nearly full. A streak of moon-white light stretched across the waters in a single bright line, ending in the dark horizon underneath the white circle pressed against the black sky.
Fifteen years earlier, before Michael and Suzanne were married, life was different. Michael turned his head to look down the long hall. There was lightin the kitchen. Next to Suzanne’s bedroom door stood a black umbrella. She got headaches. Pounding, consuming headaches that sometimes lasted for days. The umbrella was a signal that still had a purpose: a demand for silence. Suzanne Brace was inside the room curled up in total darkness, unable to think beyond the dull pulsing pain in her skull.
Michael turned his eyes back to the shallow bay waters. He spent his childhood in the small town of Fairhope swimming and fishing the waters of Mobile Bay. He kissed his first girl at the end of the Fairhope pier and watched his first jubilee as a small boy on the beach behind his huge family home. Staring at the bay brought only calm, a contrast to the view of a black umbrella just a head-turn away. For a moment, it seemed to Michael Brace the bright white beam of the moon’s reflection on the water actually came in his direction, starting from the other side, cutting through his chest at the present moment, and then continuing behind him down the hallway toward the next morning.
Michael remembered the time when he and Suzanne drove around town naked. It was before they were married, around two o’clock in the morning on a summer night. They’d had a few drinks. Michael couldn’t remember whose idea it was. They stripped off all their clothes and raced out to the car. They drove around in his blue Volkswagen Bug until the sun came up, completely naked, drinking beer and laughing out loud. Michael could still remember clearly. He smiled in the dark.
Behind him there was a noise. Michael turned his head to see Suzanne’s bedroom door slowly open. She stepped out into the hallway, her bare feet light on the hardwood floor. Suzanne put her hand against the wall and guided herself down the hall toward the kitchen. Michael turned his body slightly in the chair to watch. The light in the kitchen allowed him to see the outline of his wife. She wore only a white T-shirt that hung just at the bottom edge of her ass. Michael tilted his head downward just a bit to see all he could see. She was a beautiful woman, slender, but with gentle curves and hazel skin.
Suzanne stepped into the kitchen. She stood in front of the stove and then moved to the right, outside of Michael’s vision. He heard the water from the faucet, and then Suzanne stepped back into sight. She placed a silver pot on the stove. Suzanne’s long black hair was in all directions. It seemed an extension of her headache.
Michael watched. Suzanne edged the silver pot off the heat. He could see her looking down at the red-hot eye and watched her put her hand just above the heat and then pull away. Suzanne had a fork in her other hand and placed the tines on the hot stove. She held it there, and then slowly and deliberately Suzanne took the fork from the heat and pressed it against the palm of her hand. Michael’s face twitched with the anticipation of pain. He expected a scream, but there was none.
Michael watched as Suzanne clenched her hand back and forth as the blisters rose. For a moment she had forgotten her headache. For a moment there was something more important. Pain sets its own priorities.
The smell of burnt skin drifted all the way to the porch only a few minutes after Suzanne poured her hot tea and closed herself away in the bedroom. Michael remembered how Suzanne once described the pain in her head with such honest detail that he could almost feel it himself. He wanted to understand, but it was like imagining colors he’d never seen.
On their first date, Suzanne told Michael she wouldn’t talk about her family. She never did. There were no phone calls, no Christmas cards, nobody knocking on the door for her birthday. Michael had met a man once in a bar in Florida who had gone to high school one year with Suzanne. He remembered her because she was pretty and because she was only in school for one year, and then no one heard from her again. Besides a few general memories, the man didn’t know anything else about Suzanne except she had a little sister named Elizabeth. Michael had once loved the fact that Suzanne was a mystery in a town where mysteries were usually very far away. He didn’t feel that way anymore.
Excerpted from The Point of Fracture by Frank Turner Hollon Copyright © 2005 by Frank Turner Hollon. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted December 7, 2005
Once again Frank Hollon has written a book about a side of humanity most do not want to think about. In the 'Point of Fracture', Hollon exposes us to a person whos life has been so shattered, she can only see one way out. Hollon does a great job at keeping the reader drawn to the story but is not too quick to expose all the story. The reader must wonder if they know such a person as described in the book. It causes one to think just what may be really going on in someones's life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2011
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