ebook

Words Get In the Way

Nan Rossiter

ISBN 9780758278180
Publish Date 3/27/2012
Format ePub
Categories Fiction General

From the author of The Gin & Chowder Club comes an exquisitely heartfelt and uplifting novel that explores the infinite reach of a mother’s love—and the gift of second chances…

The modest ranch house where Callie Wyeth grew up looks just as she remembers it—right down to the well-worn sheets in the linen closet. But in the years since Callie lived here, almost everything else has changed. Her father, once indomitable, is in poor health. And Callie is a single mother with a beautiful little boy, Henry, who has just been diagnosed with autism.

Returning to this quiet New Hampshire community seems the best thing to do, for both her father and her son’s sake. Even if it means facing Linden Finch, the one she loved and left for reasons she’s sure he’ll never forgive. Linden is stunned that Callie is back—and that she has a son. Yet in the warm, funny relationship that develops between Henry and Linden’s menagerie of rescued farm animals, Callie begins to find hope. Not just that her son might break through the wall of silence separating him from the world, but that she too can make a new start amid the places and people that have never left her heart…

Praise for The Gin and Chowder Club

"Eloquent and surprising... I love this story of faith, love, and the lasting bonds of family." --Ann Leary, author of Outtakes from a Marriage

“Nostalgic and tender…summons the passion of first love, the pain of first loss, and the unbreakable bonds of family that help us survive both.” —Marie Bostwick, New York Times bestselling author

Chapter One

Callie knelt beside Henry’s bed. He looked so peaceful, so different from the frustrated little boy she lived with all day. She reached over and lightly brushed the wisps of blond hair from his forehead. She watched him breathe, his lips slightly parted; she marveled at the smallness of his perfect hands and stroked his smooth cheek. Henry murmured and pulled his beloved Travelin’ Bear closer until the worn stuffed animal was tucked tightly under his chest. She whispered his prayer for him, as she always did, leaned forward, kissed him gently, and breathed in his sweet little boy scent. Finally, the tears she’d been fighting all day spilled hotly down her cheeks. She slumped against his bed, buried her face in her arms, and cried into the soft cotton sheets. She listened to the thunderstorm rumbling into the valley and, for the hundredth time that day, silently pleaded,

Please don’t let this be true. Please make Henry better. Just make it go away. Don’t punish Henry for the things I’ve done.

Callie stayed beside Henry’s bed for a long time before finally pulling herself up and collapsing on the bed in the next room. She was exhausted, but sleep eluded her as she stared into the darkness and replayed the foolish encounter that had changed her life. At the time it had seemed so innocent. Afterward, though, she knew there had been nothing innocent in the events that led to that night.

It was a sunny Tuesday when they’d first met for coffee to discuss her thesis. The following Friday, it had been a beer at an outdoor pub on Church Street to celebrate the arrival of spring. And on Saturday, he had appeared handsome and smiling to take her to dinner at a quiet inn on Lake Champlain. They’d sat on the porch and watched the lights around the lake begin to flicker and sparkle as the sun streaked radiant flames of color across the sky. They’d shared a bottle of Merlot and talked about her plans for graduate school and his hope for tenure. Then he’d ordered a second bottle, and Callie had begun to wonder what he was thinking. She had watched him toy with the gold band on his finger and thought of Linden. What would he think if he saw me now? She had pushed the thought away.

He had paid for dinner, carefully eased the cork back into the second bottle, and discreetly smuggled it out under his tweed jacket, and then he’d jovially draped his arm over her shoulder as they’d made their way back to his car. Driving a short distance, he had pulled into the parking lot of a secluded beach. When he’d opened the back of his Volvo wagon and produced a wool stadium blanket, it had suddenly seemed too convenient. Callie had felt an unsettling wave of apprehension. This has already gone too far. At the same time, she hadn’t tried to stop it.

They’d sat on the blanket and he’d laughed as he struggled with the bottle between his legs and she’d laughed too as she tried to help by holding it while he pulled on the cork. Finally it had eased out, splashing a spot of red wine on his khaki pants. He had run his finger around the top to wipe off any stray droplets and, with a smile, passed the bottle to her. She’d hesitated, smiling too, but finally she’d taken a sip, her heart pounding.

As they watched the lights dance on the water, he’d slipped his jacket off and dropped it over her shoulders. Passing the wine back and forth had reminded Callie of high school. And then he’d brushed his hand along her thigh and teased her about having only one dimple and, feeling light-headed, she’d grinned mischievously, slowly running the tip of her tongue around the lip of the bottle.

He had watched with raised eyebrows. “Where’d you learn that, Miss Wyeth?”

“Learn what?” Callie had asked, feigning innocence.

“Hmmm, what else do you know?” His eyes had sparkled as he’d lightly traced his finger around her dimple and along her lips, and Callie had closed her eyes and let him.

Callie hated the memory, but sometimes it slipped into her mind, and she couldn’t seem to stop it. Two months later she’d discovered she was pregnant, but when she tried to reach him at the college they told her that he had taken a job in California. Whatever happened to tenure? she’d wondered bitterly.

Callie finally drifted off, but it seemed like it was only moments before she awakened to the sound of crying. In the early morning light she found Henry rocking back and forth on the floor. She scooped him up, felt him shiver in her arms, and pulled the blanket around him. He continued to whimper, and she whispered softly into his tousled hair, “It’s okay, Hen-Ben, everything’s going to be okay.” Her words of reassurance were as much for herself as they were for him.

She glanced around the room at the pile of boxes and sighed. She knew the unfamiliar surroundings weren’t helping Henry, but there was nothing else she could do. Without childcare she was unable to work, and she had no money left. In the half light of dawn she stared at a box labeled “Henry / LEGOs” and relived the last few months.

During that time she’d noticed a change in Henry but she’d convinced herself it was nothing to worry about. He’s just quiet, that’s all. Some boys just develop more slowly than others and, besides, Henry knows how to use words. . . . He already started to. Callie tried to remember the last time Henry had actually spoken. That’s okay, she had told herself, he’ll learn when he’s ready. All of Callie’s self-reassuring, however, had gone right out the window when Mrs. Cooper had voiced her concern too.

Mrs. Cooper was the matriarch of the daycare near the college—the daycare where Callie had been leaving Henry since he was six months old. After he was born, she’d been unable to continue her studies and had instead taken a job in the financial aid office. She’d always felt blessed and thankful to have found such a wonderful home away from home for Henry, and she could still see the faded green carpet and the pattern of shadows from the windows that crisscrossed the floor of the large playroom every afternoon when she picked him up. On that last afternoon Callie had been waiting for him by the door when Mrs. Cooper had taken her aside. She remembered the concern in her voice as she’d quietly told her that she’d been watching Henry for several weeks and been praying for a positive sign.

“Henry is so quiet,” she’d said, “and often he just seems lost. Lately, he shows no interest in playing with other children. Instead, he just stands at the rice table and pours rice from one cup to another or lets the rice pour through his hands. If another child interrupts him or borrows one of his cups, he becomes very agitated. Just today, another boy took the cup he was using and gave him a different one. Henry became very upset and erupted into an inconsolable tantrum. He threw all the toys that were on the rice table as well as handfuls of Legos. When he finally calmed down,” Mrs. Cooper continued, “I asked him to join our reading group, but he refused and just sat in the corner, rocking back and forth. I’m so sorry, Callie, I wanted to be sure before I said anything.”

Callie had been staring at the pattern on the carpet when a passing cloud drifted in front of the sun. She’d nodded slowly, tears stinging her eyes. “I think you need to have Henry tested, dear,” Mrs. Cooper had said kindly, giving her a hug. “Please let us know how you make out. We will be keeping both of you in our prayers.” Callie realized then that Mrs. Cooper was saying she would no longer be able to look after Henry.

Callie pressed her cheek into Henry’s wispy hair and realized he’d fallen asleep. She laid him down and tucked the soft blanket around him. As tired as she was, there was no point in going back to bed. Besides, she could get so much done if he kept sleeping so she slipped quietly from the room that had once been hers, left the door open a crack, and shuffled barefoot to the kitchen to see if her dad had any coffee. She opened the cabinet next to the sink where her parents had always kept it, and there it was, in the same spot as always, a dark blue can of Maxwell House. The sight of the familiar can in its proper place gave Callie an odd feeling of comfort. As she reached for it, though, she became acutely aware of the emptiness of her parents’ house. The people she loved most in the world were no longer there and never would be again, to make coffee, to cradle warm cups in their hands, to chat over breakfast, to talk about the day ahead, and then hurry out the door to school, to work, with a kiss and a promise.... Love you! Keep the faith! See you tonight! Their lovely voices echoed through her mind. Callie looked out the kitchen window of her childhood home and tears filled her eyes. She had never felt more alone.

About Nan Rossiter:

Nan Rossiter was born in Mount Vernon, New York. She grew up in Pelham, New York, and in Barkhamsted, Connecticut. From a young age she loved to draw. After high school, she attended Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a BFA in illustration.

After working in the freelance field and creating art for internationally recognized companies such as Viking, MasterCard, and UPS, Nan began writing and illustrating books for children. She is the author-illustrator of several children’s books, including, most recently, The Fo’c’sle: Henry Beston’s "Outermost House".

Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband and two handsome sons,. When she’s not working, she enjoys hiking with her family or reading a good book.

Average Customer Review

Based on 1 review


Customer Review

“Tears and Heart-Tugging Got In My Way” (Tuesday, May 29, 2012)
Reviewer: Nancy Narma

Callie Wyeth feels like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s a single Mother whose beautiful three-year old, non-verbal son, Henry, the gift from a relationship with a married college instructor, has been diagnosed as Autistic. This news comes on top of Callie’s decision to return and to reside in her childhood home as her widowed Father has placed himself in a Nursing Home. Moving back to her quiet hometown in New Hampshire brings back many old memories every where she turns…especially in the old ranch house where thoughts of family celebrations and the wintry night that claimed her Mother’s life are coupled with feelings of fear and shame. There had been a long absence before she came home after Henry’s birth to see her Father, bringing Henry and the truth with her, hoping her Father would not reject them. As she unpacks her belongings, her mind drifts back to the heartbreak she caused and wonders if she will see Linden Finch. What will he think? Will he be repulsed by the whole situation? Will she have enough courage to tell him the truth? Will he forgive her? Whatever the outcome, her first priority is Henry. Not only was her life changed, but also his as he did not finish college as his parents had so hoped, and he coped with his heartache by leaving everything and everyone behind and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. During his adventure, Linden found ( or they found him) two neglected/abandoned yellow labs who would soon be his loyal friends and named them “Kat” (short for Katahdin) and “Springer “, both for mountains at the beginning and end of the trail. Upon returning to civilization, he rented a small farm and adopted all varieties of unwanted or neglected animals. It was on a trip to a local hardware store that Callie and Henry bump into Linden and he and Henry remarkably bond. With Callie going back and forth to the nursing home, and asking no questions about her life, Linden offers to watch Henry, This was a Godsend, especially during a stressful time with her Father experiencing a mild stroke and is transferred to the hospital. Will Callie’s life get settled? Will she calm down and understand Henry as much as Linden does? Are Maddie Coleman and Fairbanks special angels sent here to help and guide Henry? I truly loved this book. Parts of it brought me to tears and the majority tugged at my heart most ferociously. It also taught me things about autism I had not realized. Anyone who has been touched by autism should read this book and take hope in a brighter tomorrow.What a powerful story Ms. Rossiter has woven! She has also included the first four chapters of her first novel, “The Gin and Chowder Club” to wet your reading appetite—and I am looking forward to going back and reading the entire volume, hoping it won’t be long before another comes our way. Make sure you have enough room on your shelf--you don’t want to miss this one! Nancy Narma


Write a Review