Category/genre: Adult Women's Fiction
Author: Mo Parisian
Chosen by editor Katie McCoach
To say that life isn’t going as expected for Grace Foster, is a massive understatement. After a brief but explosive meeting with her boss, Grace flees for the last place she thought she’d ever find solace: her mother’s home. A beautiful home on the shore of Lake Michigan appears to be the perfect hideout, or is it the same battle ground she left ten years ago?
Julia Dunham, Grace’s mother and best-selling self-help author, has never understood her daughter’s stubbornness but is hopeful they can mend their strained relationship. Armed with a newfound appreciation for her mom, Grace begins to follow the steps in her mother’s latest best-seller to rebuild her life. Will what she learns give her the courage to let go of the past and move forward? Or will running become what her life is really about?
"Every ending is also a beginning. We just don't know it at the time.
"Every ending is also a beginning. We just don't know it at the time.
I've had such a strange feeling about you lately.
These are the words rolling through my head as I finish up my third mile.
She didn’t call to nag, but this is precisely what it feels like after my mom phoned this morning.
My mother, bestselling self-help author of eight books, including A Mother's Guide to Living, has always believed in Tarot readings, healing beach walks, and a nine-year cycle of life.
I have always believed in reality.
Since I was a little girl, I have always known that hard work and a good attitude will get you farther than wishing something to be true. Simple as that. Your life is exactly what you've made it, and failing to plan is planning to fail.
When my mom called me this morning just to "check in" because she had a funny feeling, I quickly dismissed her. She rarely called to check in, and we've always had this understanding that my life was about my ability to control my surroundings and not her pop-fluff theories. I never bought into it, even when I would hear stories about how she had changed someone's life.
If only I could get her out of my head now.
My run was slower than usual, and I needed to finish up since my boss had texted and asked me to come in early. I was already ten minutes behind in my mind, and being late is never an option.
My husband Andrew left long before I got up, and I was ticked my morning was cut short. He was a high school Biology teacher and left the house by seven every morning so he could get to school for students needing extra help. On the weekends, he still got up and went for a run at that time.
I worked the late shift at WKND as the weeknight news producer and rarely saw the clock that early in the morning. We were an NBC affiliate, and I loved my job and the people I worked with. It was fast paced, high-energy, and demanding. Andrew often joked that my job was perfectly suited to me, since that's how he would describe me.
We met in college, Michigan State University, both coming from small northern towns in Michigan. We loved East Lansing so much we decided to stay after we got married, while Andrew continued on to get his Masters. My first job at WKND as a copywriter, didn't pay well, but it was enough to cover the bills and a small studio apartment. Somehow I always knew life would work out for us. We each had a five year plan that included our career goals. Kids weren't on the list yet, but lately I had to admit my clock was starting to tick at twenty-eight. Maybe it was because all of my friends were starting to have families, and I envied them just a bit.
Tim, my manager, was standing at the desk chatting with Sherry when I finally rushed through the reception area.
"Hey, Gracie," He said, looking at his watch. "You were fast getting here."
"Well, you made it sound important,” I said. A look of dread masked his face as I talked. I'm getting fired, I thought to myself. What the hell is going on?
"Well, let's head back to my office," he said, glancing at Sherry who also had a grim look on her face. "There's a couple things we need to go over in private."
My mind raced to past mistakes and ratings. It was always about the fucking ratings. We had been in the second spot for the past year. Sure we dropped a bit, but we were way ahead of the ABC and Fox news stations.
He closed the door behind me, telling me to have a seat. My heart couldn't stop racing, and I thought I was going to throw up.
"Well, I'm sure you're wondering why you're here," He started. "I really don't know how to tell you this, so I am just going to spit it out."
Tim had been not only my boss, but my friend. He was the one person here that has had my back from day one, even when I made countless mistakes at the beginning. He taught me what the anchors wanted in copy, what the producers wanted from a piece, and helped me put it all together. He also looked like he was going to throw up.
"Can I ask what I did?" I figured I'd make it easier on him at this point.
He looked at me confused, "What you did? What do you mean?"
"Well, it feels like you're firing me, and I can't figure out why," I said.
His face relaxed for a moment, "Gracie, I'm not going to fire you. But something has come up, and I wanted to give you a head's up on a story we're running tonight."
A story? Why all this secrecy about a story?
"Okay, shoot. I'm in the mood for something big."
He shifted in his seat and stared at his desk calendar. "Well, it seems that we have several sources for a story at Patterson High School."
“What is it?" My excitement kicked in. Andrew worked at Patterson, and not only was this going to be a good story, but it sounded like I was getting a first hand at the gossip. Andrew loved that.
"Ah, Jesus, Gracie," he sighed. "There are, uh, several young girls accusing one of the teachers of sexual misconduct."
"Ha! I knew it! It's Peter Markson isn't it?" My heart was racing again, but in a good way. I wanted to get over there and look into this.
"Uh, no Gracie. Actually, Andrew has been named as the offender." He looked me in the eye for the first time since he sat down.
"Wait," I said, trying to process it. "What? Andrew is accusing girls?"
He looked down again. "No, Grace, the girls are accusing him. One has even claimed they've had an affair for a year and she's pregnant. That's how this story broke."
"Please tell me this is a joke," I whispered.
He walked around his desk and sat next to me, "Oh Grace, I wish it were, but it's going to be the lead story on every news locally and will most likely be picked up nationally by Friday. From what I've heard, this is going to be another Letourneau, and I can't believe I have to be the one to tell you this."
The room began to spin. I didn't want to be here, and have him look at me with so much pity. A chill ran through me when I realized that everyone I knew would hear this story by tonight.
"What the fuck," I said, bewildered. "What the hell am I supposed to do?"
He shook his head, sad eyes looking at me, and I wanted to smack them out of his head. "Why don't you take a day, a week even, to figure out what is going on," he said. "This is still just information from the students. No one has heard Andrew's side of the story, yet."
"Have you tried to contact him at all?"
"I found out yesterday afternoon, and have left three voicemails and sent two texts," he said standing. "He's not responding."
Thinking back to last night, I tried to remember if he was different. The funny thing was, nothing seemed out of the ordinary when I came home. He was watching TV, the Late Show, his hand propped up behind his head as usual. I asked how his day was, he said uneventful, and quickly rolled over when I got into bed. I just figured he'd had a long day and needed some sleep.
He was gone when I got up.
"What the hell," I shouted this time. I stood and started to pace. What was I going to do? I pulled out my cell and called him. "I'll get to the bottom of this."