The man she had loved for almost twenty-five years leaned over and kissed her goodbye as if this Tuesday morning were the same as all the ones that had preceded it. But instead of following him to the door as she usually did, Angelina kept a hand on the edge of the sink, her eyes on the North Georgia Mountains, and her ears on the anticipated click of that door closing behind her. Inside the kitchen, water burst from the faucet and speckled her black sweater. Out the back windows, the mountains that often disappeared in the distance today seemed close enough to touch. Over the weekend, after depositing their youngest daughter at the University of Mississippi, where Iris would begin her new life, Angelina and Will had celebrated their empty nest by renting a one-room cottage at Lake Lanier and having sex in as many places around the room as they could think of. And while the sex and the celebration and the cottage were her choice, when she closed her eyes at night in that rustic wooden bed, her heart was holding onto this day when, for the first time in a lifetime, she would have an empty house.
In the 2010 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in the novel category, The Painting Story placed on the Short List for Finalists and Between Here and Gone placed as a Semi-Finalist. Here are the opening paragraphs of the novels:
The Art of Her Life (The Painting Story)
The picture seems complete, and yet I’m not in it. Framed by the white door molding, Mark, whom I heard arrive a little while ago, sits on the floor in front of the TV in jeans and a dark green shirt. Caroline, a yellow bow in her long hair, reclines in his lap. Fat little Elizabeth, in red overalls, stands behind him, the same height as his head, running her hands through his thick red hair. I’m the observer, the spectator, the viewer. And all pictures, and paintings, need viewers—to appreciate and search for what lies beneath them.
The buildings of downtown Atlanta reach into the evening sky. Their metallic surfaces shimmer above me. It’s Saturday, and most are probably empty. Nevertheless there they stand. Impressive monuments. Vacant shells. The road curves to the left. Overpasses take the place of the sky. Now the buildings are on my right. The sun, on its way down behind them, illuminates their silver color. Silver like my new Yukon. A ’97. With cup holders and a CD player. The kids were so excited about the CD player.