Caroline Leavitt is a longtime literary idol of mine. A mutual publishing friend suggested Caroline's novel PICTURES OF YOU as a comparative title for my own work. Since learning of this, Caroline has been nothing but lovely and generous to me. I bought her newest release, IS THIS TOMORROW, a couple days ago. I can't wait to read it. Redroom.com chose to highlight it by publishing a one page excerpt. I am not sure if nonmember can view Red Room, so I am posting it here for you. Enjoy!
"Red Room Editors Gina and Huntington selected a page from Is This Tomorrow (2013), by Caroline Leavitt, to share with you today:
She came home to find him in her kitchen, her son’s best friend, Jimmy Rearson, a twelve-year-old kid home from school, with a crush on her, reading all the ingredients on the back of a Duncan Hines Lemon cake mix.
“How’d you get in here?” Ava asked. No one, except for her, locked doors in the neighborhood. It wasn’t that she had anything to steal, but still, there was Brian, miles away, breathing down her neck with a custody threat, telling her he got a lawyer and she’d better get one, too, because he was going to file to revisit their agreement.
“Your lock was easy,” he said.
He watched as she rustled around the living room, looking for her purse. She’d wasted her whole morning running to a lawyer to talk about Brian’s custody threat. It was five years since Brian had left them, barely sending money, and all of a sudden he was telling her that she now posed a psychological and physical danger to their son.
She told the lawyer how Brian used to have a drinking problem. He’d abandoned his son—and her—after things at his job went bad. He hadn’t even seen Lewis in nearly five years, so how could he possibly think about wanting custody now?
“Circumstances change,” he said. “You said he has a full time job, but you only work part time, which puts him in a more stable financial situation than you. It could look like a better environment for a kid.”
“You’re joking. My environment is just fine.”
“Is it?” He rolled his pen between his fingers. “You said he thinks you have a lot of men coming over. Can you prove you don’t? Can you show that your bills are paid on time?”
Ava thought of the careful way she went through her bills every month. She had a whole separate bank account of money she was saving so she could buy her house instead of rent it. “I have savings. I have a house.”
“You rent the house. And banks don’t like giving mortgages to women. If you can’t prove your finances are sound, we may have a problem.”
She came home, feeling sick, and there was Jimmy, staring at her. She was a grown woman with grown up problems and suddenly she was in no mood for Jimmy’s quiet devotion.
“Lewis will be home soon from the dentist,” she said. “You can wait for him at your house. I can walk you home.” She reached for her newspaper, glancing at the headlines. Communists and the pale baked potato face of Eisenhower warning everyone about nuclear disaster. We have to be safe.. She had seen Khrushchev on the TV news ranting about Stalin and all she had thought of was Lewis when he was five and how he had had a tantrum in the middle of Better Dresses in Filene’s because he wanted to go home.
Last week, the paper had reported a car had swerved onto a curb in Belmont and frightened a little girl. The kids seemed riled up by the news, especially Jimmy, who kept asking Ava how much faster could a man run than a child? “What do they do to you when they have you?”
“That’s not going to happen, so don’t you even think it,” Ava told him.
They both stepped outside. Everything looked wilted in the heat. “Where is everyone?” Ava wondered aloud. Why was everything so empty and still, as if the air itself had stopped in place?
And then Jimmy ran, all arms and pumping legs, her son’s best friend in the world. She was shamed to think that sometimes he was the best company she had. He tore out across her lawn, to his house. When he got to the door, he turned and waved with both hands, grinning.
Later, that’s what she told the police. How happy he was. How he smiled.
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