Nadette Rae Rodgers lives and writes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her passion for writing developed at a very young age — she published her first novel, Illusion, at age eighteen. The below excerpt is from Echo, the second book in Rodgers’ Illusion Trilogy.
Don’t miss out: Rodgers will be presenting on the main stage at Passages & Prose on October 7th!
From the publisher: “Addison Smith lived a life of crazy dreams that haunted her sleep and bled into her waking life. But after waking up a few months ago in the hospital and being told she was asleep and in a coma the whole time, Addison has a lot of questions…”
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
I jumped up from my spot in the big, cozy chair in the front room and raced down the hall toward the back of the house where the noise came from. As I neared the family room though, I realized it wasn’t a scream I had heard. It was just Aunt Carrie, who has quite the loud laugh sometimes.
I crept up toward the doorway to the family room and pressed myself against the doorframe, angling so they wouldn’t see me.
The two of them were sitting on the floor in the center of our family room, Aunt Carrie falling over laughing so hard and my mother trying to compose herself, wiping away the tears that come anytime she truly, really laughs.
“Annie! What were you thinking with this hair?” Carrie squeals and shoves an old picture in front of my mother’s face.
“Everyone had that hair then! It was the thing!” my mom argued back.
“But why did you curl it like that? God, it’s awful!”
“Excuse me! You didn’t have the best haircuts in the world, if I’m remembering correctly.”
“Oh, Annie, you were always jealous of my hair,” Aunt Carrie replied with a laugh.
“Oh yes, especially in that one picture you mailed Mom and Dad that one Christmas.”
“Which one?” Carrie asked, no longer laughing, seemingly worried about her past hair choices.
“The cornrows!” my mom shouted, pointing an accusing finger at her younger sister.
“Oh, right,” Carrie replied quietly.
“They had the little beads and everything! Where were you again?”
“I don’t remember,” she said, sounding genuinely unsure.
I craned my neck to see what was sitting on the floor between them. It was an old file folder box, the cardboard clearly falling apart on the edges.
“Would you look at this!” my mom cried, holding up a strip of photos from a photobooth.
“Aw,” Aunt Carrie sang, leaning over to get a closer look. “That was your first kiss, wasn’t it?”
My mom got this dreamy look about her as she stared at the row of pictures. I wished I could see them closer, look at each one, see what she looked like then.
“Bob was quite the romantic,” she said with a smile. “We had just gone on a picnic, and then he took me to this photo booth that really only the younger kids went in. Then he just kissed me.”
“The minute you came home that night I knew you two would be together,” Aunt Carrie told her.
“How’d you know?”
“You couldn’t wipe that smile off your face for hours — no, days! Then you saw him again and that same smile was back.”
“Oh right, like you didn’t come waltzing down the hall super late at night with that same smile. I know you snuck out to see your guy!” my mom accused.
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, come on, Carrie!”
Aunt Carrie, ignoring this, dug around in the box and pulled out a hand-painted mug that said “Best Sister in the World.”
Then Mom reached in and squealed with delight. “Caroline Moore!”
“What?” Aunt Carrie looked up from the mug and then fell silent, her face shifting suddenly.
“You kept journals?” My mom pulled out journal after journal, all made of worn leather tied with ribbons to hold all the pages together.
“Where did you get those?” Aunt Carrie demanded. I took another step forward, itching to see what was inside that leather binding.
“In the box, Carrie, lighten up! I probably know everything in here anyway,” Mom pointed out.
“Those are stupid. Just dumb poems and notes I wrote before. Not journals. Nothing important.”
“I want to read it!”
Just as my mom began undoing the little bow, Aunt Carrie leapt over the box and snatched the journals from my mom. “Just leave it, will you?”
I had never seen Carrie like that before. She was always so happy-go-lucky. Mom apparently hadn’t seen this side of her often either.
“Oh, uh, all right. I’m gonna go get that wine now. I’ll be right back.” Carrie just sat there as her sister stood up and brushed her hands on her pants.
I ducked around the corner before my mom got to the doorway.
What does Aunt Carrie have in those journals?
I didn’t know, but I had to find out.
“Goodnight, honey bee!” Aunt Carrie said as she kissed my forehead later that night.
“Goodnight, Aunt Carrie,” I replied and walked halfway up the stairs. I peered back around the banister, and when I was sure she had gone into the guest room, I crept back down the stairs and into the family room.
The box was still there, but it had been pushed off to the side. When I lifted the lid, however, the journals weren’t inside.
What did she do with them? I wondered.
I saw two white garbage bags standing by the door, waiting to be carried outside. Tomorrow was trash day. Smart. Aunt Carrie must’ve tossed the journals in here while my dad went to get the recyclable things. Luckily, he wasn’t back yet, so I untied the one. Nothing.
I could hear heavy footsteps getting closer. Dad was coming. I quickly untied the other.
Bingo! There they all were, lying on the top. There were four of them. Small, leather journals. All the exact same except for the color of the ribbon tied around it. One blue, one yellow, one red, and one purple. I re-tied the garbage bag and ducked up the stairs, all four books tucked under my arm.
Once in my room, I sat cross-legged on top of my covers and fanned all four notebooks out in front of me. Is there an order to these? As blue was my favorite color, I decided to start by reading the one with the blue ribbon.
I glanced over at my alarm clock.
Perfect. I squeezed my eyes shut, held the tiny blue ribbon, and prayed a silent prayer. Please, please, let me find some answers in here. Please.
Little did I know just how much I would find within these pages.
This excerpt from Echo is published here courtesy of the author. It should not be reprinted without permission.