In an excerpt from Chapter One, of An Accidental Life, we meet Sara Taylor, the mother of a teenage girl named Bree. As she ponders her life and her choices, she feels defeated.
Sara Taylor felt the sun on her face and turned over grumpily. She didn’t see much point in getting up, but now that she was awake, she could feel the familiar craving; she reached for the almost empty pack of cigarettes on the nightstand. Leaning over, she pulled one out, searching around for her lighter. It was tucked under her pillow. When she lit the cigarette, inhaling deeply; she slid into a half-sitting position and glanced around the room for clues, trying to piece together the previous night’s scene. She could see an empty wine bottle on the floor under the chair, and she noticed her pants and shirt lying in a heap on the floor near the edge of the bed.
She felt a momentary flash of memory involving a guy she had met in the bar. Shuddering, she clutched the sheet around her nude body and headed to the doorway. Glancing toward her daughter’s room, she could tell that she was already long gone. Grateful not to have to face her in her present state, she leaned over the bathroom sink and quickly scrubbed yesterday’s makeup from her face. She stared at herself in the mirror in horror.
She would be thirty-four on her birthday near the end of the month, but today, she looked much older. Her thin face had the beginning of crow’s feet around the eyes and her sallow complexion reminded her of long days and nights with too much to drink and not enough sleep. When she tried, she could still look presentable, with enough makeup and some sexy clothes. She relied on her slender body to help her attract men and earn tips from her customers. When she had a job!
Remembering that her downward spiral had started right after she lost the last job, she almost slid back under the covers. But she had to do something. She had applied for welfare and food stamps again right after the job ended and had put in her application for unemployment. She thought she might start getting benefits soon. In the meantime, she needed to do something fast! Without looking, she knew that her refrigerator and cabinets were almost bare.
In the kitchen, she saw that Bree had finished the last of the cereal and milk. She found a few slices of bread and popped one into the toaster. She had a few grounds of coffee, enough to make a couple of cups, which she really needed in order to jumpstart her day. She measured the grounds into the filter and while the coffee dripped, she smoked her second cigarette.
She stared straight ahead, remembering the past few years, which had started out so great, back when she first left her parents’ home…Even when Michael had taken off on his Harley right after he’d found out she was pregnant, she’d refused to let her spirits drop. She had started receiving welfare back then and had shared an apartment with another girl. Between the two of them, they had managed. Later, after Bree had been born, there had been a time of depression. Then everything had started to get better…for awhile. Bree had been a sweet baby and an agreeable child. And there had been new men and lots of parties.
But a teenage Bree was a different story. She sighed as she remembered something her own mother had said to her many years before: “You’re going to reap what you sow,” she had warned with a stern look on her face. Sara’s parents, Vivian and Joseph Taylor, had been strict and very religious. They hadn’t known what to do with her, and whenever Sara thought about them, she saw those disappointed faces and heard those harsh predictions. “You’ll be punished at Judgment Day,” they had shouted at her.
So now Sara thought she might be getting payback for her own teenage years. In defeat, Sara poured her cup of coffee and tried to think of a way she could somehow turn her life around.
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