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37
Issue 37, April-June 2013
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
Book of Lies
by Gerry Wilson
Followed by Q&A

Downhill

Poised at the top of the ski slope, Robin looked down. Her husband, Howard, waited a few yards below her. This trail was a blue. For beginners, he had assured her. 

Howard shouted, “Angle across the slope, not down it!” 

Robin took a deep breath and pushed off with her poles. She picked up speed.

Howard was skiing alongside. “Okay! Now, make a V with the skis.”

She locked her knees, nudged her ski tips together, and made the wedge. 

“That’s good! You’re making a right turn, so lighten up on the right ski and shift your weight to the left.” 

She tried to do what he said, but her skis drifted apart.

“Weight on the left ski!” 

“I know!” Instead of making the turn, she skidded sideways down the slope and landed in a drift near the trees.

Howard skied to where she sat. “For God’s sake, don’t cry!” 

“I’m not. My nose is running.” 

One ski had come off. Robin released the other and jabbed her poles into the snow. When she tried to stand, Howard grabbed her arm, but she jerked away and struggled to her feet. “This part I can do. I’m going in.”

“You’ll catch on.”

“I don’t think so.” She wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “You should go ski with Carl.”

At eleven, their son Carl was a natural. He’d been making parallel turns since his first day in ski school. He was skiing with friends while Howard tried to teach Robin what a private instructor hadn’t been able to do in three lessons. 

Howard took off his gloves and goggles and rubbed his eyes. “You sure?” 

“Yeah.”

He put the goggles and gloves back on. “Okay, then.” He skied away from her, making clean, sharp turns down the slope and a sweeping stop at the bottom. He headed for the lift and didn’t look back.

Robin hated the cold and the snow. She hated feeling clumsy and watching Howard eye pretty women in spandex, flying headlong down the slopes or draped on the leather couches around the hotel fireplace. She hefted her skis and poles over her shoulder and trudged through the snow. People skied past her. One guy stopped and asked if she needed help. She forced a smile and said no. 

That morning, their younger son David had cried and begged not to go to the ski school, but Howard had made him go. Robin could see the lodge below and the little kids on the bunny hill. It wasn’t hard to spot David. He would go a few feet and sit down. She couldn’t see the look on his face, but she didn’t have to. She would take him out of the school and they would do something fun. He was only six. He had plenty of time to learn to ski, if he ever really wanted to. 

Back at the hotel, Robin and David drank hot chocolate in front of the lobby fireplace. She tried to call her sister, Laurel, but got no answer. The room phone was ringing as she unlocked the door. When her brother-in-law, Paul, said her name, she knew. Something had happened to Laurel.


The Drive Home

They checked out of the hotel as soon as they could pack. The trip home to Memphis took eighteen hours. Around four in the morning, Howard was all over the road, driving across the reflectors that divided the lanes, weaving into the breakdown lane. It made Robin crazy. She insisted she drive. It was better than thinking. The rush of passing eighteen-wheelers slammed their Honda like hard gusts of wind. She kept a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and tried not to picture her sister dead. 


Molly

Robin left Howard and the boys to unpack the car and went straight to Laurel’s house. 

“I’ll come over as soon as I get cleaned up,” Howard said.

“Please don’t. Stay with the boys. What can you do?” She walked away before he could answer.

Laurel and Paul’s tiny bungalow sat on a tree-lined street in a quiet old neighborhood. One of Laurel’s friends met Robin at the door. Paul sat in the den, ashen and shaky. He stood and hugged Robin and held on for a long time. 

When he let her go, she said, “Where’s Molly?” 

He looked around. “Playing. Somewhere.”

Robin found Molly under the dining room table, curled up with her favorite blanket, sucking her thumb. Robin crawled under the table. “Hey, Molly.” 

Molly looked up at Robin. “I can’t find my mommy.”

Robin pulled her onto her lap. “I know, baby. I know.” 

She held Molly and breathed in the baby shampoo scent of her hair. Robin wanted Laurel to walk in that room, to look under the table, and say, “There you are! I’ve been looking for you!” Laurel’s absence knocked the breath out of her. She held on to her sister’s child and cried, silently, so Molly wouldn’t hear.


Stories

What Paul told Robin: he had called Laurel from the hospital around noon, and she’d sounded so good. Not depressed at all. He called a couple of hours later, and when nobody answered, he thought Laurel had taken the children out for a walk. When he kept trying and still got no answer, he asked another intern to cover for him and went home. He found Laurel in the tub, naked, submerged, and three-month-old Jack, his head nestled face down between her breasts. There was an empty bottle of antidepressants on the floor. He should have counted the pills, he said. He should have locked them up. The coroner had come and gone. Robin’s death would be ruled a suicide, Paul said. “But the baby’s death is considered a homicide. Can you believe that?”

What Robin told herself: she shouldn’t have gone on the ski trip with Howard. It hadn’t fixed the marriage. It hadn’t fixed anything. 


After

Paul asked Robin to take care of Molly until he could find a nanny willing to stay nights. Molly could go back to daycare, but he was on call every third night and every other weekend. Robin had known it was what she wanted before Paul asked. She couldn’t bring Laurel back, but she could take care of the child.

Paul would finish his internship the end of May. He had applied for an internal medicine residency at several hospitals, all out of state. He would take Molly with him, or he might send her to live with his parents, a thousand miles away. Either way, she would lose Molly. For now, though, Robin could have her.

She called her school’s principal to ask for an extended leave of absence. He told her not to worry, to take all the time she needed. She didn’t discuss it with Howard. When he came home from his law office the next afternoon, Robin was sitting in the den reading to Molly. He didn’t seem surprised. 

“Hi, Punkin’,” he said to Molly, went to the kitchen, poured himself a bourbon.  


Paul tried three live-in nannies. Each time, after a week or two he brought Molly back to Robin. By then it was May, and he had accepted a residency in St. Louis, three hundred miles away. 

He asked Robin to keep Molly a while longer. “I’ll take her as soon as I get settled and can find decent help.”

When Robin hesitated, her voice choked with tears, the yes stopped in her throat, he said, “If you can’t do it, I’ll work something out.” He got up and looked out Robin’s kitchen window. Carl was pushing Molly on the swings in the back yard. “I want her. You know I do. It’s just . . .” He turned and raised his hands, helpless. “God, she’s so much like Laurel, you know?”

So Paul moved, and Molly stayed. It was Laurel she missed. “I saw Mommy,” she’d say. 

The first time, Robin was stunned. “You did? Where?” 

Molly saw her mother everywhere: in the backyard sandbox, on the swings at the park, in Molly’s room at night, telling her stories that Molly repeated to Robin. Molly never mentioned her baby brother. Then one day, she simply stopped talking about Laurel. Robin gathered all the photos she could find of Laurel and Molly together, and Paul, too, from before Molly was born to the most recent ones that included Jack. They were happy pictures, Robin thought. She put them in an album and used it like a picture book to tell Molly stories, sometimes real, sometimes invented. She hoped the stories would help Molly remember Laurel, but if she were honest, she knew the stories were really for her, for keeping Laurel alive.


The First Summer

Sunlight on water. Relentless wind, flotillas of thunderheads, rain in the afternoons. Molly digging in the sand where the waves make foam, Robin beside her. Carl and Matt flying kites, swimming, catching crabs. Just Robin, the boys, and Molly, empty spaces where Laurel should be, and Howard too, living in an apartment since the first of July. Finding himself, he said. 


Stepmother

The summer Molly turned six, Paul brought his fiancée Claire for a visit. Claire was everything Laurel had not been: tall, model-thin, outgoing. She dressed well. She sold real estate. There were trips to the zoo, the parks, movies. Robin told herself she had to give Claire a fair chance. She waited all week for Paul to tell her when he and Claire planned to take Molly. Finally, the day before they were leaving, she asked him. 

“Not right away,” he said. “We’ll need some time.” After the wedding in August, a month went by, and another. 

Robin had resigned from her teaching job a couple of months after Laurel died. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to put Molly in daycare. The divorce had been civil, and Howard was generous. Robin could afford to stay home, but she felt guilty; her own sons had gone to daycare while she taught and stole a few hours here and there to paint in a little rented studio. She justified her choice to stay home with Molly. Her boys had had her; Molly’s mother was gone.

After Molly started kindergarten, Robin taught a couple of art classes three mornings a week at a community college. She bought new oils and canvasses, and on the other mornings, those long hours without Molly, she painted for the first time in two years. The paintings she finished, she hid away. One of them started out as a portrait of Molly but had turned out to be Laurel at five instead, unsmiling, wistful, looking off at something beyond the canvas. 

When Molly entered first grade, Robin took a job teaching art at the Catholic high school. She liked having a routine. It would be good when Molly went to live with Paul and Claire.

Molly didn’t leave, though. Paul and Claire had decided a move over Christmas would be easier. Then Christmas became just another visit, and when Paul brought Molly home, she was subdued. She had reverted to sucking her thumb. 

Robin confronted Paul. “It’s not fair to Molly. When is she moving?” It’s not fair to me, she thought. Paul was selfish, selfish.

He looked miserable. “Molly’s not happy there. I keep hoping—”

“You hope what? You take her and you love her. She’ll adjust.” 

“Look, it’s complicated. Claire’s . . .” He smoothed his hands on his trousers. When he didn’t look at Robin, she understood.

“You mean Claire doesn’t want her.”

He shook his head. “Claire says having Molly will be like having Laurel in the house. She says I’m still attached to Laurel.”

Robin felt a guilty rush of satisfaction. She hadn’t liked Claire from the beginning.

Paul said, “She’s given me an ultimatum. It’s her or Molly.”

“And you choose Claire? How can you do that?”

“I told you, it’s complicated. I love Claire. I know it sounds trite, but it’s a chance at a new life.” He picked up a photo of Laurel off the table and one of Molly next to it. “I’m not sure I can do it. Ever.” 

He left without saying goodbye to Molly. He said it was better that way.



Molly at Seven

Molly was under her bed. Robin tried to coax her out while Paul waited downstairs to take her to St. Louis for her summer visit. Six long weeks. “I don’t want to go!” Molly said. 

“Sweetie—”

“I don’t like Claire!” 

“Molly, don’t be that way. Your daddy will be so disappointed if you don’t go.” 

“I will, Molly,” Paul said. 

Robin hadn’t heard him come in. She mouthed, “You try.” 

“Come on out, Molly.” Paul got down on the floor. “Well, I guess I have to stay right here until you come out, baby girl.”

Molly kicked the bedsprings above her. “I’m not a baby.”

“Oh? Big girls don’t crawl under the bed and hide from their daddies.” 

Robin stood back and watched. Paul was halfway under the bed now, talking to Molly. Robin couldn’t hear what he was saying. Finally, he crawled out, then Molly. 

“That’s my girl,” he said. He gathered her into his arms and brushed tears off her cheeks. “Hey, it’s going to be fine. You can talk to Aunt Robin and the boys every day.” He looked up at Robin. “Right, Aunt Robin?” 

“Right,” she said, but it irritated her. She had never been Aunt Robin; with Molly she was just Robin.

Molly’s things were already in the car. Paul carried her down the stairs. The departure happened as Robin had imagined it: she and Carl and David on the porch waving and smiling, Molly’s forlorn little face pressed against the car window. It’s only six weeks, Robin reminded herself. And yet she closed her eyes and imagined Molly moving away from her like a lesson in perspective, lines converging until she became a finite point on the horizon and then disappeared entirely. 


Molly Now

Molly takes a half-gallon of ice cream from the freezer and eats out of the carton. 

“You’re late,” Robin says. “Where were you?”

“I was at Beth’s. I told you. Test tomorrow.”

Robin sighs. “Okay. Get to bed.”

Molly puts the ice cream away and tosses her spoon in the sink. She walks around the island. It seems she’ll do anything these days to keep from touching Robin. She runs up the stairs and slams the door to her room. 

Robin supposes she should have expected a rebellious streak. It’s harder now that it’s the two of them, with Carl in grad school and David away at college. Paul’s moving back hasn’t helped. He and Claire and their two young daughters live in a fine house only a couple of miles from Robin’s. They have let Molly decorate her own room in that house, but Paul hasn’t asked Molly to move in with them permanently. Robin expects it any time. 

“Anything I want,” Molly tells Robin. “Paul says I’m getting a car when I turn sixteen.” 

Robin isn’t surprised when Paul calls and says he needs to talk to her. They arrange to meet for lunch at a nice restaurant on Saturday. “My treat,” he says.


At the restaurant Paul orders each of them a glass of wine. They make small talk, and Robin wonders when he’ll get around to what he really wants. Then he tells her. “Molly wants to move in with us.” He shakes his head. “It won’t work. She’s better off staying with you.”

“For God’s sake, Paul. What’s all this about then—the room, the clothes, the money? No wonder she thinks she can move in. You’ve been courting her.”

“It’s not about anything. I want her to know I love her. I’ll take care of her.” He drains his wine glass. 

Robin sets her own glass down. “You know she’ll blame me if you don’t let her.” She thinks, Claire. Claire’s to blame.

He leans back in his chair. “I’ll tell Molly. I’ll explain everything.”


The following Thursday, the attendance secretary at Molly’s school calls Robin and tells her Molly was in her morning classes, but she didn’t show up for her sixth period. “She’ll have to be disciplined for this, Mrs. Stevens,” the secretary says and hangs up.

The knot of anxiety builds in Robin’s chest. She waits until after four to call Molly’s friends. Nobody’s seen her since lunch. 

Robin calls Paul’s office and leaves a message. He calls back a little after six, and Robin tells him Molly’s still not home. 

He says, “Don’t you think she’s probably at a friend’s house?”

“Don’t you think I’ve called everybody I know? Come on, Paul.”

“Let’s not overreact. Did you call Claire?”

She has not. He says he will. He calls Robin back. “She’s not there, either. I’m leaving here to make rounds. I’ll keep my cell on. Let me know when she gets home.”

Robin slams the phone down. She goes around the house and turns on every light. She imagines the house a beacon in the dark, calling Molly home. The door to Molly’s room is closed. Robin opens it and finds the light switch. The room is a shambles. Something smells. Incense? Pot? She opens drawers, takes things out, puts them back. She’s about to leave when she notices the photograph album she had made for Molly all those years ago, when she first came to live with her. The album is open on Molly’s bed, the pages empty, photos in the trashcan beside the bed, all torn into tiny pieces. So much for the stories of a little girl and her happy life. 

Lies. All lies. 

She dumps the torn photos on the bed. Fragments of Laurel here, Paul there, Molly, baby Jack. She drops them back in the trash, gets up, turns off Molly’s light, closes the door, and goes downstairs. She grips the banister. She feels lightheaded, her knees like jelly.


Molly’s Absence

Robin waits in the den, turns on the TV, turns it off. Gets up, goes to the kitchen, makes tea, doesn’t drink it. Around ten, she hears a car. She looks out. It’s Paul and Molly. He puts his arm around her, but she pushes him away. When Robin opens the door, Molly brushes past her, slings her book bag down in the hall, and heads up the stairs.

“Wait just a minute, young lady,” Paul says. “You come back here!” 

Molly doesn’t slow down. A door slams upstairs, and Robin and Paul stand there looking at each other. 

“Come in,” Robin says. “It’s freezing.”

Paul drops onto the couch without taking off his coat. He has snowflakes on his shoulders, in his hair.

“Where was she?” 

“She wouldn’t tell me. She said she failed a geometry test, and that’s why she left school. She was at our house by the time I got there. She’d walked. All that way in the cold.” He runs his hands over his face. “She was so agitated I thought she might be on something. She said you’d be furious and she couldn’t come back here, so could she stay over. I told her no. I said you were worried sick, and she can’t treat you this way after all you’ve done for her.”

“Oh, Paul. Why am I always the bad guy?” Something, not sound or movement—a shadow, maybe—makes her turn. Molly stands in the doorway. 

“You went in my room,” she says. “Don’t you ever, ever do that again!” Molly starts back up the stairs, stops halfway, turns. “Why are you still here, Daddy?” Then she’s gone.

Robin has never heard her call Paul that. 

After he leaves, Robin curls up on the couch. She has no intention of falling asleep. What if Molly slips out? But Molly wakes her at six-thirty. She’s dressed for school. 

“Will you write me a note?” she says. “Say I got my period and messed up my skirt. I was embarrassed. That’s why I left.”

Robin writes the note. “Want some breakfast?” 

Molly shakes her head. She pulls a paper out of her backpack. “You need to sign this.” 

It’s the geometry test. An F. So she wasn’t lying about that. Robin signs it and doesn’t comment. “Promise me you’ll come straight home.”

“Sure.” Molly stuffs the test paper in the backpack, grabs her jacket, and she’s out the door. Robin watches her run for the bus that’s rounding the corner. Robin calls her own school to tell them she’ll be late.

Robin grounds Molly. There’s some hysteria Friday night over the grounding, and Molly locks herself in her room. Robin leaves trays outside her door that remain untouched.


Truth

Sunday night, Molly comes downstairs. She’s drying her hair with a towel. Robin says, “Let me do it.” She’s surprised when Molly sits down and hands her the towel and a comb. Robin works the comb from the ends to the scalp to get the tangles out, like she used to when Molly was little. 

“There,” Robin says when she’s done. 

Molly gets up and goes to the window. 

Robin looks out too at the February darkness. “I think I’ll make hot chocolate. Want some?” Molly nods.

Robin makes hot chocolate the old-fashioned way—cocoa, sugar, whole milk. She brings two mugs on a tray. “Sit,” she says, and Molly does. Robin grips her mug to keep her hands still. It’s time. “There’s something I need to tell you, Molly.”

Molly starts to get up. “I don’t need another lecture.” 

Robin puts her hand on Molly’s arm. “Please. Stay.”

She tells her then that Laurel’s death wasn’t an accident, that she killed herself and the baby. While Robin talks, Molly stares at her hands. “She was sick, Molly. None of us knew just how sick,” Robin says. “You look like her, but you’re nothing like her. Not that way.”

When Molly looks up, her gaze is cool, unemotional. “How do you know I’m not?”

“I knew your mother. I know you.” 

“You think you do.” Molly shakes her head. “You thought I didn’t know what she did?” 
When Robin finds her voice, she says, “Nobody knew. We told everybody it was an accident. Everybody.”

Molly bites at a hangnail. “Daddy told me.”

Robin can’t breathe. “He what?”

“He told me. I was visiting in St. Louis, the summer I was thirteen. I threw a tantrum and broke one of Claire’s precious vases. He got angry. He said I was going to be like my mother. He told me what she’d done and how she did it. And then he cried and said he was sorry. He was pathetic. I asked him what he was sorry for—for telling me? And he said no, he was sorry about her and about me. He made me promise not to tell you I knew.” 

Molly gets up and crosses to the fireplace and stands with her back to Robin. Robin doesn’t know if she can believe her. She wants to call Paul, but he would probably lie. 
“We tried to protect you,” Robin says.

Molly turns and faces her. “And you try to be my mother, but you’re not.” She takes a sip of her hot chocolate, sets it down. “Paul and I talked last night. Claire’s taken the girls and gone back to St. Louis. He says I can stay with him. For a while, at least.” 

There’s a rushing in Robin’s head like wind. Claire, gone

“I’m going. You can’t stop me.”

“I know that. I wouldn’t try. Just please tell me one thing. The pictures in your room— tell me why you tore them up.”

Molly looks beyond Robin at the dark window. “I wanted to be rid of her.” 

Robin’s mind reels. “Why now, if you’ve known for two years?”

Molly shrugs. “At first, after Daddy told me, I’d take the pictures out and go through them. I tried to imagine what my mother would be like if she’d lived, but I couldn’t. I kept imagining what she did and how she took the baby with her.” Molly’s chin trembles. “Why didn’t she take me, too? Why, Robin?” 

“I don’t—”

Molly crosses the room and stops in the doorway. “And you know what else? I don’t know if Daddy told me the truth. What I don’t understand is why you never did.”


Call

Molly’s been at Paul’s a month when she calls Robin at two on a Saturday morning. “Come get me,” she says. “Daddy’s gone ballistic just because I came in late.” 

“I can’t do that,” Robin says.

“What do you mean, you can’t?” Molly says. 

Robin takes a deep breath. “You need to work things out with your dad.” 

Robin hears Paul yell, “Give me that phone!” Then, “Hello? Who’s this?”

“It’s me, Paul. Molly called me.”

He sighs. “You don’t need to be mixed up in this. I’ll call you tomorrow.” But he doesn’t.


The Last Summer

David comes home for the summer and gets a job working in a restaurant kitchen, but he’s in and out of the house with his friends. He watches a movie with Robin occasionally, and he gives her a peck on the cheek when he leaves the house. Robin is happy for the extra cooking, the ringing phone, the music drifting down the stairs. 

David asks her how Molly’s doing at Paul’s.

“I don’t know,” Robin says. “I don’t see her.” She’s peeling potatoes. She looks up. “It’s okay. That’s where she needs to be.”

“Huh,” he says. 

In a couple of days, David tells Robin that Molly wants to have lunch. “How’s Thursday?” he says.

“With me? I doubt she wants to see me.” 

He hugs her. “I’ll be there, Mom. It’ll be okay.”


Robin’s been waiting at the restaurant ten minutes when her cell phone rings. 

“Hey,” David says. “Molly there yet? I tried her cell, and there’s no answer.”

“No, she’s not. Where are you?”

“I have to work the lunch shift. I can’t come.”

“Oh, David. You knew you couldn’t be here, didn’t you?”

“No, Mom. Honest. Tell Molly I’ll call her. Gotta go.” 

Robin looks up and there’s Molly, standing in the entrance. Robin waves at her and Molly turns like she might bolt, but then she pulls out her cell phone, walks over, sits down, and fiddles with it for a full minute before she snaps it shut. 

Robin says, “Hi, Molly. David’s—”

“Not coming. I know. I just got his text.” Molly cocks her head. “What do you think? Is this a setup to get us together?” She waggles her fingers in the air like a sorceress. 

“I don’t know. Anyway, here we are. How are you?” 

Molly rolls her eyes. “Claire’s back. Did you know that?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“But it’s okay. In fact, I sort of like her. She’s stylish, you know?”

So this is what lunch is going to be, Robin thinks, one sting after another. They order. They eat. Robin asks about school and gets yes and no answers. 

Then Molly says, “I have to tell you something.” The emphasis on you

“Oh? What’s that?” 

“I’m going away to school in the fall. I thought I should be the one to tell you. No more secrets, right?” Molly looks expectant.

“If it’s what you want, Molly, I’m glad.” But Robin’s not sure it’s what Molly wants. It has Paul written all over it, or maybe Claire.

“I’m seeing a counselor. It’s one of Dad’s conditions for living with them. The guy’s actually pretty nice. I’m working through some stuff.”

Robin feels dull, stupid. Why can’t she come up with something to say?

Molly says, “I’m not in trouble. My grades are good. I just want to . . . go somewhere, you know? Away from here.” Molly looks at Robin, and for a moment her expression changes, and Robin sees the little girl hiding under the table, wondering where her dead mother was. 

When they part, Molly hugs Robin tentatively. Robin sits in her car for a while before she can drive home. When David comes in late that night, she’s lying on the den couch in the dark. 

“What’s wrong, Mom?” he says. 

“Don’t turn on the light,” Robin says. “Sit.” He does, and as hard as it is, she tells him the whole story. When she’s done, she feels emptied, and oh so much lighter.


The middle of August, David goes back to college. Molly goes, too, to a boarding school in Virginia. Molly calls Robin to say goodbye. At least there’s that.

Robin wanders through the house. She goes in each child’s room (no longer children, any of them), dusts Carl’s sports trophies, straightens David’s books. It’s Molly’s room that’s lifeless. Robin is ashamed that she misses Molly most. 

At night the empty rooms yawn dark and open like mouths. Robin closes all the doors. She turns on the TV for the noise. She sleeps little and forgets to shower. She stands in her studio and stares at an empty canvas. 

She calls Carl. “I need to see you,” she says. “Is next weekend okay?” He says yes too quickly, and she wonders if David called him. No, she thinks. She’s the game player, not her sons. 


Molly and Laurel

October. A letter from Molly postmarked Chatham, Virginia. Blank paper. A photograph of Laurel at the beach, holding two-year-old Molly. Sand like snow, water the color of topaz. Laurel’s smile, the visible swell of her belly. Robin’s sharp intake of breath, the rush of tears. On the back, in Laurel’s handwriting: July 1997. Underneath that, in Molly’s hand, “You should have this.” 






A lifelong Mississippian, Gerry Wilson grew up in the red clay hills of the north. Her story, "Pieces," appeared in Prime Number 19 and in Prime Number Editors' Selections: Volume 2. Her work has also been published in Sabal: Best of the Workshops 2011, Good Housekeeping, Blue Crow, Halfway Down the Stairs, Arkansas Review, and Crescent Review. She’s been awarded writing residencies at the Ragdale Foundation and the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts. Gerry lives with her husband and a neurotic Siamese cat in Jackson, Mississippi.


Q&A
Q: What can you tell you us about this story?
A: What happens if one’s life becomes a lie, no matter how well intentioned that lie is? That’s where “Book of Lies” comes from: a tragedy begets a lie that can’t be sustained.

Q: Besides Prime Number, what are some of your favorite literary magazines?
A: The Missouri Review, Southeast Review, Bellingham Review, Poetry . . . 

Q: What would your ideal writing day be?
 A: I’d wake up with a breakthrough idea after I’ve been stuck for a while. The idea stays with me until I can write it down, and then everything flows from there. I work all day, and I’m not just shoving words around. This is good; it’s working. Somebody else cooks and brings me my meals, cleans up, does laundry, and takes away my Internet so I can’t check email or Facebook. Perfect.

Q: What’s happening outside your window right now?
A: Right now, it’s pouring rain. There’s a dove nesting in the ligustrum right off our deck. She has remained steadfast, even through a hailstorm last week, so we should have baby doves soon. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have a couple of short stories in the works. I’ve also started a novel based on “Book of Lies.”