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9780312310363

Nature Lessons

Nature Lessons
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  • Condition: Good
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  • Comments: Spine creases, wear to binding and pages from reading. May contain limited notes, underlining or highlighting that does affect the text. Possible ex library copy, will have the markings and stickers associated from the library. Accessories such as CD, codes, toys, may not be included.

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  • ISBN-13: 9780312310363
  • ISBN: 0312310366
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press

AUTHOR

Brasfield, Lynette

SUMMARY

Chapter One Chagrin Falls, Ohio October 1995 A cool breeze carried the smell of fall's first fires into our half-packed living room, setting motes tumbling in a late-afternoon shaft of sunlight. Elbows on my knees and chin on my fists, I sat on a cardboard box and stared at my mother's unopened letter, which I'd propped against my stone warthog's back right leg. A South African stamp had been stuck upside down on one corner of the envelope. I knew my mother's letter would bring news of enemies: her letters always did. Beneath me, the box began to crumple, inch by slow inch. Like my life, I thought. Perhaps I'd slip gradually off the edge and dissolve into a puddle of unhappiness on the hardwood floor. In time, I'd evaporate upward, leaving only my clothes behind. When my ex-fianceacute; Simon arrived on Monday to pick up the last of his things, he'd find my empty Levis, red sweater, and scuffed tennis shoes huddled within a Stonehenge of packing crates and wardrobe boxes. I'd have disappeared into another dimension. In Africa, where I'd been born, people believed such things could happen. When I was a child, our family's Zulu maid, Prudence, had told many stories of magic and metamorphosis: of shape-shifting snakes, and dwarfish zombies calledtokoloshes, and mysterious middle-of-the-night vanishings. She had faith in a world within our world-one teeming with ancestral spirits who debated the wisdom of intervening in family squabbles, played tricks on humans to alleviate the boredom of eternity, and appeared in dreams once in a while to offer advice to their earthbound progeny. I listened, now, but heard only my neighbor scraping leaves from his gutter and a cardinal whistling in a tree. Were ancestors patriotic? Had they ridden the trade winds home when, five years before, I'd sworn the Oath of Allegiance and become an American citizen? Or left in a huff when I saidbarbecueinstead ofbraaiand watched baseball, not cricket? A magenta leaf parachuted into the room, skidded across the floor, and came to rest next to the envelope. I bent forward to pick up the letter, remembering what Prudence had told me: without descendants, ancestors could no longer inhabit the spirit world. Forty, unmarried, and childless in Chagrin Falls, I was endangering their continued existence. I had no brothers or sisters to make up for my inattention to procreation as I careened through short-term relationships: Gareth the violinist in New York, Ned the editor in Houston, Danny the carpet-cleaning entrepreneur in St. Louis, and Tran the computer programmer in Seattle. Not to mention the fianceacute;s who'd book-ended the eighties-Terry the accountant and Eduardo the chef. And now Simon the cardiac surgeon, my third fianceacute;, who'd lasted nearly a year, and had been gone a month. The Three Fianceacute;s. It sounded like a bad movie. Or a singing trio. Layers of transparent tape-topped with a red geranium of wax-sealed the envelope. I stood and headed to the study, where a clock, supine on the floor, told the ceiling it was three thirty. A beret-wearing skeleton named Mortimer slouched next to the gold first-place trophy I'd won for my podiatrist-promotingDo Bunions Make You Cry'ad campaign. On the desk, Simon's plaster-of-paris viperfish grinned at my clay hyena. Our combined household had looked more like a fish-and-fauna store than a traditional home. Which had pleased us both. We were globally compatible. I tilted the French shutters and gazed outside. From the same vantage point, five weeks before, on a late-September Saturday, I'd watched Simon greet his ex-wife Cilia as she dropped off Tess, their four-year-old daughter. Simon was a large, rumpled, good-looking man with hazel eyes, dark hair, and eyebrows like caterpillars. Cilla was tall and pale and once again slender, though she'd had a baby less than a moBrasfield, Lynette is the author of 'Nature Lessons', published 2004 under ISBN 9780312310363 and ISBN 0312310366.

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