Today Carol McClain is the guest of Wednesday Writers and she’ll sharing a book excerpt and talk about the major themes that run through her women’s fiction book The Poison We Drink and their importance in our own lives. Welcome, Carol!
As a single mom in rural New York, the absence of intimacy handicapped my life. I’m not talking about the love of a husband, but the closeness of a friend. I struggled not just as a mother, but a Christian. When I stumbled, I had no one to pick me up. With questions about faith, family, or work, I had to plot my own course. Much of this time was spent in self-correction.
I had friends. However, church, jobs and their own families kept them busy. Often, I felt as desolate as the abandoned dairy farms that dotted our area. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 became my prayer. Without help, I would continue to fall.
The title of The Poison We Drink, had originally been Threefold Cord. The three friends in this novel would never find forgiveness, release and happiness without each other.
Of course, from the title, you can guess the second concept that has been woven into my life. The aphorism “bitterness is the poison we drink hoping our enemy would die” resonates with my life philosophy. The lack of forgiveness which morphs into bitterness destroys our lives. It consumes us while our nemeses live their own lives unaffected by our pain.
We must forgive, as Jesus did on the cross, not because the wrong done to us was acceptable, but because not forgiving will destroy us.
Those principles define the major themes of The Poison We Drink, a woman’s fiction set in Albany County in central New York–a locale I’ve loved for years.
The Poison We Drink
By Carol McClain
Twenty-four-year-old hairdresser Torie Sullivan has given up on life. When her boyfriend betrays her, she careens her car into a ditch in a drunken fury.
After paramedic Adam Benedict rescues Torie from her mangled car, he learns she’s the middle school bully who brutalized him. A week later, he discovers she lives in a lean-to in Hookskill Nature Preserve. Despite his hatred, his innate compassion won’t allow him to leave Torie in the wilds. He offers her a room in his miniscule cabin.
After Torie’s first night at Adam’s, tragedy strikes his life, and he can no longer house her. His girlfriend, Maya Vitale takes Torie in. Though first-grade teacher Maya’s past isn’t as sinister as Torie’s, she, too, hides a shameful secret.
In The Poison We Drink, the lives of three disparate friends collide and reveal the toxic pasts that threaten to poison their lives.
Only by forgiving the unpardonable can they be set free.
(Unsaved Torie has broken up with her boyfriend, and is drunk. The barkeep tries to keep her from driving but she refuses to listen. This is where this excerpt picks up).
She snatched the keys from the blacktop as Collin exited The Stadium. He loped down the steps and banged at her passenger window.
“If you drive away, I’m calling the cops.”
The glow from the streetlight haloed Collin, like an angel. If angels existed.
“Torie, no man is worth it. Consider AA. You don’t have to be like your mother.”
She bit her lip. Mumbled. “I’m not like Jean.”
Tears threatened, but she wouldn’t be a cry baby. Hadn’t cried since middle school when… She clenched her teeth and inhaled, let the air fill her lungs. Her mother thrived on self-pity and man-lust. Not her.
With an exhale, Torie pulled away from the curb. Behind her, brakes squealed, and a horn blared. She stepped on the gas, peered into the rearview mirror, and let the black SUV eat her dust.
“I don’t need no cab,” she told Collin as though he sat beside her. “I’m cool and in control…”
…Speed, and anger at Collin, lost their magic. Collin had been a friend — sometimes stern, but always fair. Her eyes watered.
The real culprits resurrected — Selene and Trey. The imprint of Trey’s hand on her wrist, inviting her into his bed still burned like a brand. Lying next to him, Selene smirked. Her friend knew Torie loved Trey — the first man she dared to not simply date, but to love.
It did no good. He preferred her fat friend. Her stunning, voluptuous, charismatic, sarcastic best friend. Torie’s fingers dug into the steering wheel.
Her stomach tossed. She had scruples. Unlike Jean. Unlike everyone else. Still, the treachery of the two people she trusted most rushed back and blinded her. Collin’s rot-gut booze failed her. Her memories remained raw.
Collin was right. She ruined every one of her friendships. Maybe she was–
Her eyes blurred, and her nose ran. Her thought would stay unspoken. Torie fished through her Kate Spade purse for tissues then tossed it to the back seat. Her iPhone fell to the floor. Contorting her arm behind the console, Torie attempted to retrieve the phone.
The car hurled itself to the right. The crunch of the shoulder gave way to the bumpy grass. It caught the tires and yanked her down a steep slope. The headlights illuminated tree branches as they grabbed the car, rasped their fingers along its sides as though shoving her down the slope until spider webs of pain showered over her. The Rabbit slammed into a stone wall.
Want to read more? Carol’s book is available wherever books are sold online.
About the Author:
Others say weird.
In truth, McClain’s wacky and wonderful.
As a youth, she believed herself an odd-ball, and craved to be like others. She even practiced writing in clichés because her classmates did, and if they thought the phrases were cool, they had to be.
Fortunately, that phase passed, and she now celebrates her own diversity. She plays bassoon, creates stained glass, enjoys high ropes, loves to run and, of course, she writes.
For thirty years she attempted to teach teenagers the joys of the English language. Judging from the prevalence of confusion with their, they’re and there–not to mention your and you’re, she hasn’t succeeded. She’s now on a quest to make magic with her own words.
You can contact Carol at http://carol-mcclain.blogspot.com