Title: Book of Mercy
Author: Sherry Roberts
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
FREE for Kindle May 23 and 24!
***Finalist in 2012 Midwest Book Awards for Literary Fiction***
***Awesome Indies Seal of Approval***
A town banning books.
One woman stands against the censors—and she can’t read. Can she win?
There’s more worth fighting for than you can ever imagine.
Most women don’t learn they’re pregnant and then drive for fifteen hours trying to outrun the idea. Antigone Brown did. Today the open road called to her like a siren. It whispered: Today’s your birthday. You’re thirty years old. And you’re going to have a baby. What if she’s just like you?
Much to her husband’s despair, Antigone unwound on curving country roads, unraveling problems as yellow lines disappeared in the rearview mirror. Normally, the road healed. Her stress melted into the hot asphalt like ice cream. Her fears receded.
Not this time. This trip the pressure inside her had built with each passing mile. She drove through the warm night, hair flying, radio blaring, with the top down on the convertible, until she could drive no more. Finally, she whipped into a roadside park, with a spray of gravel, and braked in front of a pay telephone. She switched off the motor.
With an exasperated sweep of her hand, Antigone flung to the floor the bewildering assortment of documents from her doctor—prescriptions for vitamins, orders for lab work, handouts on prenatal care. They made her want to scream. So she did. Convertibles were perfect for a good scream. Her voice abruptly silenced the early morning twittering of the birds, but a few moments later, they were back at it again, conversing about the spring day, worms, whatever the talk was at their breakfast tables. As it grew lighter, she looked around and was struck by her aloneness. There was a single picnic table tucked back in a copse of maples. And that was it. Two-lane road, no traffic, no farms in sight. Just her and the birds.
Antigone staggered from the car, leaving the door ajar, ran to the edge of the road, and peered up at a road sign. As she slowly sounded out the words, she remembered: the smell of the girls’ school bathroom. She was huddled on the cold tile floor, hiding, rocking, reciting the alphabet song over and over again. “A-B-C-D-E-F-G . . .”
“I’m falling to pieces right here on the side of the road,” she grumbled. The mischievous letters on the sign continued to jump around, leapfrogging over each other. Maybe, she thought, crazy baby hormones had short-circuited her. All the little things she, a woman with dyslexia, did to cheat chaos, like singing the alphabet song, weren’t working. How would she survive without her normal tricks? She rubbed her eyes and whispered, “No alphabet songs for my baby. Please.”
She needed Sam.
Abruptly, she turned and headed for the telephone kiosk, old and abandoned. Without even looking at the buttons, Antigone punched in the numbers. No dial tone. She slammed the receiver down and redialed. Nothing again. She banged on the side of the phone box with the receiver.
“You need to put in some money.”
Antigone whirled and squinted into the dusky light. At last, she saw a figure lying on the lone picnic table.
“Of course.” Antigone dug in her pockets, but they were empty except for pellets of deer food and the small green stone she always kept in her left pocket. She glanced at the picnic table. “Do you have any money?”
“Do I look like an ATM?”
She searched her pockets again. This was the kind of thing that made Sam crazy: his wife on a lonely road, no cell phone, talking to strangers.
“Maybe there’s some change in your car,” the stranger yawned.
“Good thinking,” she said.
“Don’t mention it.”
“There’s nothing funny about censorship, but Roberts weaves a touching/humorous tale. . .” — Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN
“It’s going to make you think. And laugh. And get angry. And maybe even cry a little.” — For Books’ Sake
About the Author:
Sherry Roberts writes novels that combine humor and unforgettable characters as they explore issues of the day. Book of Mercy features a mother-to-be who wages a battle against censorship in her town. Maud’s House explores what happens when a small Vermont town loses its creativity.
She also has written a book to improve your writing skills called WriteTips. Sherry has contributed essays and articles to anthologies such as the St. Paul Almanac 2013 and national publications including USA Today. Her short fiction has been published in newspapers, literary magazines, and O. Henry Literary Festival Short Stories. She lives in Apple Valley, MN. Visit Sherry’s blog: www.sherry-roberts.com.