Rachel Price had only one happy memory from her childhood, playing outside on a cold, snowy day. A call from an old friend sets her on a path to see her entire childhood in a new light and forces her to make a decision about her future, and her daughter’s. Here's an excerpt.
“He’s going to kill me.”
“Oh, he is not. Don’t be so melodramatic.” Lily gave me a withering look and snapped a tight crease in the towel she was folding.
I watched my daughter add the neat hand towel to the growing pile of clean laundry, and found myself marveling again at the graceful curve of her neck, the spark in her denim blue eyes. Lily was a wonder: smart and beautiful and spunky. But she was also wrong. If I followed through with our secret plan, Cyrus might very well kill me.
“He’s going to be furious,” I said.
Lily shrugged. “So? Stand up to him, Mom. What’s the worst that could happen?”
I could think of a dozen different scenarios, and none of them were pleasant. But what did my eleven-year-old daughter know about the complexity of a sad and loveless marriage? How could I expect her to understand the give and take of my relationship with her father? I gave. Cyrus took. It was a simple equation. One that I knew by heart.
“It’s complicated, Sweetie.” I tucked the final washcloth into a square and began loading the piles of linens into the laundry basket for distribution throughout the four bathrooms in our palatial house. We had more bathrooms than family members, but I considered the sprawl of our ungainly residence a blessing: it gave me many places to hide. Guest rooms and dark hallways. Sometimes closets. But Lily didn’t know about any of that.
Cyrus and I only fought when our daughter was asleep, and though our infractions usually consisted of nothing more than vicious words and savage insults, I couldn’t stand the thought of her hearing the ugly things her father said to me. I had vowed long ago that Lily would never suffer the truth of my messed-up marriage, and I had kept my promise. I drew Cyrus away, made sure that there was never a reason for his anger to light upon our daughter. It worked. I was an exemplary lightning rod.
“Well,” Lily put her hands on her narrow hips and arched her eyebrows at me, “I think you have to do it. Mr. Wever needs you. How can you say no?”
“I can’t say no,” I sighed. “I’ll do it. But you have to promise me that you won’t let it slip to Dad. It’s our secret, right?”
Lily crossed her heart with a slender finger and fixed me with an impish grin. She was mature for her age, but the glint in her eye reminded me that my daughter was still a little girl - and one that thrilled at the mere thought of a secret. It struck me that her enthusiasm for my short-term assistance in Max Wever’s tailor shop had more to do with the promise of intrigue than a selfless desire to help an elderly man in need. My heart broke a little at her unblemished view of life: Lily still believed in innocent secrets, the heady rush of a good mystery, and happily ever after. I wasn’t about to disabuse her of those sweet notions. Little girls should be allowed to dream.
“You’re going to miss the bus,” I said, hoisting the laundry basket into my arms. I leaned forward and kissed the cheek that Lily proffered. “Remember: I want you to come straight to Eden after school.”
Lily giggled. “That sounds so silly.” She affected what I assumed to be a bad impersonation of my voice: “Come to Paradise after school, Lily.” She dropped the phony inflection. “I can’t believe Mr. Wever named his tailor shop Eden Custom Tailoring.”
“It was my idea,” I said. “A long time ago.” A lifetime ago.
“Subtle,” Lily joked.
“How do you even know what subtle means?” I shook my head at her. “Be serious. I want you to come straight to the shop. But don’t take the bus there, okay? Get off at your regular stop and then walk.”
“Should I duck behind trees?” Lily struck a Charlie’s Angel pose. “Double back to make sure no one is following me?”
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“Now you’re being melodramatic.” I pursed my lips and tried not to regret my decision too much. “Just try to keep this under wraps, please? You have to believe me, Lil. Your dad would not be happy if he knew that I was going to help Max. He likes me home, you know that.”
“I know.” Lily grabbed her backpack off the table and slung it over her shoulders. “I’m a good secret keeper.”
You’re not the only one, I thought. And before I could further expound on the covert nature of my temporary appointment at Eden Custom Tailoring, Lily flounced out of the room. I heard the tap of her light footsteps in the entryway, and then the slam of the front door. It seemed symbolic to me, a final drumbeat that echoed through our cavernous house with finality. That signified an end.
But also a beginning. Because even though I was afraid to admit it, I felt like a door had been cracked in my soul. It was a tiny opening to be sure, but there was the hint of something new in the air, something unexpected.
I stifled a shiver, and shot up a prayer that Cyrus would never find out.
Reprinted from "The Snow Angel" by Glenn Beck © 2011 by Glenn Beck. Used with permission of the publisher, Threshold Editions, a division of Simon & Schuster.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive