The Forgotten Roses by Deborah Doucette
Publication Date: February 24, 2014
Rebecca Griffin has everything she could ever want – or so says her big-hearted, opinionated Italian-American family. But now her marriage is unraveling and her teenage daughter is hurtling toward self-destruction. While Rebecca struggles to hang onto her husband and save her daughter, she learns of the mysterious death of a young woman long ago at a local prison. As Rebecca’s mother, Eva, reveals their family’s connection to the girl, Rebecca is drawn into the story – it haunts her. A search for answers takes Rebecca from her small idyllic New England town, to the congested streets of East Boston and the tight-knit Italian neighborhood where most of her family still resides. As she tries to dig up the facts of the young girl’s life and violent death, the puzzle pieces in Rebecca’s life begin to take shape and she faces the difficult truth about her husband, Drew. Rebecca, her troubled daughter, Dana, and an enigmatic figure from the past, unknowingly embark on a collision course one desperate autumn night when the answers they seek come to light in the most forgotten of places from the most innocent of messengers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deborah Doucette Deborah Doucette began her writing career as a free-lance journalist, subsequently writing a non-fiction book, Raising Our Children’s Children, slated for re-release in 2014. She is a blogger for the Huffington Post, an artist, and mother of four. She lives in a small town west of Boston with her red standard poodle Fiamma (Italian for flame) surrounded by her art and enjoying the comings and goings of her twin grandchildren. She is currently working on a new novel.
The Forgotten Roses is available from Follett Library Services, YBP, Coutts, Brodart, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Book Distributors.
The Forgotten Roses
“Twisted.” That is the word Rebecca’s mother, Eva, will use to describe
the shoes. It’s a word, an image that will drop into Rebecca’s memory; a haphazard seed, taking root. “Twisted,” Eva will declare wringing her hands as if she were squeezing the life out of a wet washcloth. Rebecca will picture black lace-up oxfords with thick soles and a hard raised heel– prison shoes. In her mind, they are contorted, cartoonishly, into corkscrews.
Rebecca will imagine the girl in the shoes when they were new, shiny. Or, maybe they had been worn by others before her and were beat. Perhaps they were too tight and pinched the girl’s toes, or too loose and caused her to shuffle her indignity across the floor Rebecca will ponder. Rebecca will see her in a loose, rough cotton shirtwaist with button tabs where the waistband should be. A dress the color of schoolroom walls, holding areas, of bus station lavatories–numbing and anonymous. Her dark hair spread out stark and alarming against the Vaseline green of the fabric; shocking in its refusal to lie flat and quiet, it coiled and curled wildly, too obvious, dangerous. She will picture the girl as stocky and square and sturdy in her shoes. And angry. Her face, Rebecca will think...her face is...? Familiar.
Rebecca’s mother stands in front of the white porcelain sink in her new kitchen. The last project Rebecca’s father completed before his addiction
Deborah J. Doucette to nicotine claimed him. The last time her mother would flirtatiously wish for something, the last time Joe would take up the challenge. That was the essence of what they were to each other. Even at the end, Eva was his princess, his damsel in distress, his girl; Joe was her rescuer always, her hero.
The white countertops, cabinets, white tile floor–every surface shiny as a silver dollar–were her mother’s idea; he grumbled that the color was impractical. “It’ll look like a goddamn hospital.” He glowered, menacingly and threw his tools around, kicked an old cabinet door, splintering the dry wood, causing his children to scatter like mice to the four corners of the house. Eva stood by passively, patiently. She cajoled him, babied him, pampered him, and got her way as usual. It was a lot of work for Rebecca’s mother, this vision of husbands and wives, this version of marriage. She labored much more strenuously plotting, playacting, and preening than he did at sawing, nailing, and painting. Eva would sigh in the end, smiling like Mona Lisa.
Oh God...Beauty and the Beast, Rebecca would think mockingly as her eyes reflexively rolled in their sockets. The beast magically changes into a prince through Belle’s saintly patience, simpering affection, and blind love. Rebecca was certain that’s the way Eva saw her role, and what prompted these tidbits of advice imparted ever since Rebecca could remember: “Never contradict a boy. Play hard to get. Play dumb. Always let them win.” Rebecca ignored the advice. She loved racing the boys at recess when she was a little girl and often won. How the boys felt about it was of no significance to her whatsoever.
Rebecca hated the games her mother played; “I won’t do it,” she told her mother, once she was old enough to figure out what was going on. After a while, she lost patience with Eva. “That is so insulting! Archaic! Times have changed you know.” Eva would shake her head, lifting one shoulder in a half-hearted shrug. “Men never change,” she had said. Now, with the way things have gone in her marriage, Rebecca thinks maybe Eva was right.
Eva tips her head back as steam rises, billowing up from the pot of
pasta she emptied into a colander. Her short black hair, professionally coifed once a week and carefully maintained in between, is in some danger of wilting. With the back of her hand, she pushes at a few curls that try to relax over her forehead; they won’t dare reappear there. She’s wearing her house uniform: shapeless worn shift, clean, but irreparably stained, and canvas sneakers with holes frayed through at the toes, the bleached-white laces tied into a tight bow and double knotted. This is what she cooks, cleans, and gardens in. She does laundry in it, mows the grass in it and wears it while carrying on lengthy, involved telephone conversations with her sisters. Over the years, her children have given her designer loungewear, sweat suits, and brand new Keds. No one knows what becomes of them. Throughout Rebecca’s childhood, they all thought this getup was the reason she scurried into the bedroom to hide when anyone knocked at the door.
In truth, Eva had no use for neighbors, distrusted strangers. She had her family and that was enough, that was everything. Her Anne Klein’s and Ralph Laurens, her silks and linens, her expensive leather pumps and matching handbags wait in dark, perfumed closets for bi-weekly shopping excursions with her sisters, and for lunch at restaurants with invariably disappointing fare, “I make better at home.”
She tosses the pasta with the tomato sauce begun early this Sunday morning, simmering for hours with olive oil, garlic, basil, bay leaf, oregano, meatballs, a few sausages. A ritual that keeps the world, for her family, turning on its axis. The kitchen workspace is small, two short steps from the stove on one side to the sink on the other. Stir, taste, lift, pour, tip back, shake the colander, empty contents into the deep bowl, two steps back to the stove, ladle in a little sauce, toss. A ballet as old as generations.