Title: Winding Way
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 84,000
Erin Gorham, thirty-two and almost engaged, realizes she doesn’t speak her boyfriend's languages of Upper Crust and Golf. She’s fluent in Middle Filling and Hanging Out. Her boyfriend doesn’t understand, but he can’t say much from the rearview mirror as she drives from Texas to Maine, fed up with him as well as her long-absent father who pushes to reconcile after years of drinking.
Leela, Erin’s new landlady, can’t keep her nose out of the pickled skeletons in Erin’s closet, and her son Paul is no Upper Cruster. Leela soon learns about Erin’s father and tries to shove Erin out of the pilot seat, determined to steer father and daughter together. Pushing back, Erin discovers that Leela's got a closet of her own, bursting with a daughter disgusted with Leela’s alcoholic past.
Leela wants desperately to see Erin reconcile, hinging her personal hopes on its outcome. Erin wonders if she should return to Texas, but she soon falls in love with Paul who seems only interested in helping his mother. Erin would make them all happy if she reconciled, but just like she doesn’t speak Upper Crust, she doesn’t speak Dad. Ultimately Leela must find her own peace, and Erin must find out if Paul's interest is deeper than her closet.
Erin Gorham spotted a puckered face rising over the windowsill, piling the curtain into a frumpy hat. Narrowed eyes locked on Erin as she pulled into the driveway. The older woman’s features bunched like plastic wrap, as if wondering who let out that awful stink.
Guiding her rental over the popping gravel, Erin parked alongside a compact car bearing the bumper sticker, I BRAKE FOR TAILGATERS. She returned the glare, and the woman dropped out of view.
The cheerful yellow Cape didn’t fool Erin, no, not a bit. A fresh backdrop for the dancing ribbon of daffodils—it was just a show. Erin imagined the interior of that lovely cottage to be the opposite, rancid with years of living and frying. Curtains, like the one falling back into place, steeped in it, the carpet sticky as Velcro, pocked with hidden treasures like her great-grandmother’s pale chunks coughed up from the inner recesses of her throat.
Erin stepped out and pulled her jacket together against the blustery chill. She marched for the tiny porch wrapped in the bones of a honeysuckle still hibernating. The daffodils bobbed under the window, receiving nods in return by others lining the edge of the woods. Hawks soared overhead, and chickadees sang from the birches.
Minus the inhabitant, the setting was better than most she’d seen all day. Erin rather liked the traditional look Maine did so well. But a gold-covered turd was still a turd, and Erin was desperate enough to take a sniff.