In this excerpt from An Accidental Life, Melody Vaughn lives through one of the worst times in her life…all over again.
As the shadows lengthened, hinting of twilight, Melody still sat in the chair by the window, the half-empty cup of tea before her. It had long ago gone cold. Her heart had turned into a stone, weighing heavily in her chest.
Next door, Hugh had noticed when the social workers left and waited for Melody to appear. Hours later, he had neither seen nor heard from her. He had busied himself straightening up his little house, then puttered around in the garden for awhile. Now he had just finished developing some film in the dark room and uneasiness crept into his awareness. Something was very wrong!
He approached the A-frame cottage, and as he neared the house, he could see her outline in the window. She was sitting so still. She didn’t react when he neared the house, so he rushed to the front door, alarmed. He rang the bell, but when she didn’t respond, he turned the knob and entered.
Melody heard someone entering the house, but kept her gaze fastened on the twilight shadows. Almost imperceptibly, she shifted as she felt the presence behind her, and then shuddered when she felt the arms around her. As his presence gradually seemed to melt the block of ice inside, she turned slightly. As he continued to hold her, she began to sob.
They sat like that for awhile: Hugh, with his arms enfolding her, protecting her from the world at large; and Melody, clinging to him, her face on his shoulder while the tears flowed. Finally, he led her away from the window and over to the soft, beckoning sofa. “It’s okay,” he kept repeating. “Everything is going to be okay.” His voice soothed her, and she felt a calmness descend. Finally, she looked up at him and their eyes connected. And she somehow knew that he would understand it all.
Sighing, she began to talk, everything spilling out in a rush. She took him back there, to that time in her life and to that young girl she had been.