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Posts tagged ‘interactive novel’

My name is Darby. I am an alcoholic.

Actually, my name isn’t Darby — that’s just the name that Laird Harrison used in his book about our childhood. But this also isn’t an AA meeting; in fact I don’t know who is reading this, so I might as well keep this fake name to protect the shreds of privacy that are left to me while making my one important point. Read more »

My life has taken a weird course in the past few weeks, and it has felt crazy to write about it. But I thank you for being there and listening and offering so much advice:

The night Charlie denied his affair, he fell asleep next to me, but I got up and turned on our computer. I was afraid that the next time he logged on, he would delete all the evidence.

What I wanted most, what had kept me reading all this dreck, was to see what Charlie would say about me. Read more »

I am in a safe place now. I’ll explain later how I got here. But for now, let me try to catch you up on the madness of my recent life.

Shortly after I got Zulya’s address, I went to Boston for a business meeting. I’d told Charlie I was spending two nights there, but I found myself unable to focus and I ended up heading back the next day. As the train clacked back to New York, I refrained from calling to tell him about my change in plans. I made up all sorts of reasons — I didn’t want to disturb him. My cell phone was low on minutes. I might stop for food and couldn’t give a reliable ETA. Of course none of them was the real reason. But why should I have to make excuses to him? Wasn’t he the one who had to account for his behavior?

It was almost eleven when I opened the door to my apartment. The TV was on in the living room and in its glow, Lucia stirred from the bed she’d made on our couch. “Oh, Adrienne. I fell asleep!” She sat up, rubbing the side of her head. “Your meeting is cancelled?”

“I had to come back for something. Where’s Charlie?”

“He asked me to stay. Some customer needs him right away.”

“What time is he coming back?”

“He doesn’t know. Maybe not today.”

This was it then. The room began to pulsate.

Read more »

On the run

Lucia arrived not long after Dante woke up. She hustled the kids off to school.They were hardly out the door when the phone rang. I froze with my hand above the receiver. Two rings, three, four. Then I could hear Charlie’s baritone Read more »

My next couple of posts will get us caught up to where I am now. Back in New York, the morning after I confronted Zulya, a crash in the kitchen woke me. Dante, still wearing sweatpants over pajamas, was looking at a shattered peanut butter jar on the floor. A plate next to him on the counter held a slice of bread heaped with a half cup of jam. “I broke the peanut butter,” he said when I came in.

Read more »

Taking refuge

Trying to keep my eyes on the road after I arrived in California last week, I groped in my handbag for my cell phone. With a thumb, I scrolled to the entry for Matt. A lot of people in Pleasant Valley go to sleep at ten or earlier, and I prayed as I listened to one, then two, then three rings, that Matt and his wife weren’t among them.

“Hello?” It was a woman’s voice.

Read more »

I woke up the day after I arrived here because Chloe, crosswise on the bed, had put her foot in my mouth. Daylight filtered through beakers and vases on the windowsills. I sat up.

“Good, you’re awake,” said Matt. Read more »

I offered to take Matt and Penny out for dinner the night after I arrived here, but the two of them adhere to the Dean Ornish diet; they had almost given up on restaurants because they usually just end up ordering salad anyway. Factoring in the kids’ predilections made it impossible. Instead, Penny made an inedible quinoa casserole. When I wasn’t picking up quinoa grains from the carpet, or restraining Dante from making a mast and sail with a broom and afghan, I watched my hosts with fascination. Read more »

OK, I guess it’s my turn. As the “Matt” character in Fallen Lake, I’ve relegated myself to lurking up until now, reading Adrienne’s posts with bemusement, especially as related to me. Unlike her, I don’t take offense at Laird Harrison’s whole enterprise in writing “Fallen Lake.” While he takes poetic license in his account of these events in my childhood, I think he describes the essential outline accurately.

But I now see the necessity to set the record straight because Adrienne has misrepresented some points from our discussion of the other day.

I’m not a genetic determinist. Human behavior clearly results from the complex interaction of genes and the environment. On a more basic level, we human beings are simply patterns of matter and energy that belong to larger patterns, influencing and influenced by other patterns.*

My wife, “Penny,” looking over my should tells me that I will have completely lost my audience with the previous sentence. The point I want to make is that Adrienne’s impulse to blame the decision of our parents to join in a “group marriage” for various behaviors of their children is misguided. Take for example the obsessive compulsive diagnosis I received at age 11. My therapist based it on theories with no experimental foundation that were slightly evolved from Freud’s concept of the “anal retentive” character. Recently gene studies have shown associations between variants in glutamate system genes and OCD  (including SLC1A1 in five independent studies). My mother needlessly blamed herself for my “condition,” which was merely the result of my rather unusual attempt to understand the world scientifically at an early age.

Forgive me if I continue in that effort.


*Seen in this light, the classic “nature vs. nurture” debate is resolved, since these are fundamentally cultural distinctions, with more metaphorical than material significance. Does this knowledge deprive us of what philosophers call “free will?” I don’t think that’s a very important question either. What’s important is that the pattern I call “me” is compelled to act on the other patterns around me in such a way as to try to preserve those patterns as long as possible in something close to their current form.

Ivor’s yowl

Chubby and crew cut, with big glasses, Andy looked more like the Michelin man than the athlete I had pictured as Ivor’s companion. But the calm, gentle way he took my hand, made me like him right away. Read more »

“Not a commune.” Ivor looked embarrassed. “Okay, this is going to sound weird to you but I had this fantasy that Julie and the kids and Andy and I would all move into some kind of village somewhere that we could live in separate houses on the same block and the kids could play in between. One of those places where the whole neighborhood acts as the parents. Somewhere we could both see them every day without having to get a court order.”

“Does anyplace like that still exist?” Read more »

Meeting Laura

Hearing Charlie lecture me made me want even more to torture him with doubt. But I didn’t want Ivor or Matt or any of my family to have to deal with police officers. I dialed Charlie’s office number, figuring at one in the morning New York time, he wasn’t likely to be there. “Charlie,” I told his voice mail. “It’s me. Kidnapping? Bullshit. The kids are safe. You’ll see them when I’m ready.” I hung up. Read more »

Dear Readers,

The last couple of weeks have brought such incredible changes to my life, I hardly know how to begin describing them. It started with a trip back across the country to a place different from anywhere I’d ever been. Read more »

We followed Leif outside and into a second building, constructed with modern wallboard and wood planks. Half the roof was taken up by big black solar panels. “This is our common house,” Leif said. Inside was a kitchen equipped with a restaurant-sized refrigerator and gas range. A woman was washing lettuce. Her dress was a kind of shapeless beige shift, embroidered with a Greek key pattern. Something was bubbling in a huge kettle on the stove. “Corinne,” said Leif, “this is Adrienne, Dante and Chloe. They’ll be staying with us tonight.” Read more »

Another day passed and another after that. I hadn’t slept so much in my adult life – an early bed and then long afternoon naps. At first I worried that the kids wouldn’t have enough to keep them busy. Read more »

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