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Authors: Erika Robuck

Receive Me Falling

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Receive Me Falling

 
 
 
 

RECEIVE

 

ME

 

FALLING

 
 
 

A Novel

 
 

ERIKA ROBUCK

 
 
 
 

Elysian Fields Press

2009

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Published by Elysian Fields Press

Elysian Fields Press (USA), Crownsville,
Maryland, 21032,
U.S.A

 

Copyright © 2009 by Erika Robuck

 

All rights reserved under
International and Pan_American Copyright Conventions.
 
Published in the United
States by Elysian Fields Press, Maryland, U.S.A.

 
 

Robuck, Erika

Receive Me Falling/Erika Robuck

ISBN 978-0-9822298-0-4

 
 
 

Without limiting the rights under
copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by
any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise),
without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above
publisher of this book.

 

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are either the products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.

 
 
 
 
 
 

For Scott

“Thus was this place,

A happy rural seat of various
view;

Groves
whose rich Trees wept odorous
Gums and Balm,

Others whose fruit burnisht with
Golden Rind

Hung amiable, Hesperian Fables
true,

If true, here only, and of
delicious taste:

Betwixt them Lawns, or level Downs, and Flocks

Grazing the tender herb, were
interpos’d,

Or palmy hillock, or the flow’ry
lap

Of some irriguous Valley
spread her store,

Flo
w’rs of all hue, and without
Thorn the Rose;

Another side, umbrageous Grots
and Caves

Of cool recess, o’er which the
mantling Vine

Lays forth her purple Grape, and
gently creeps

Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring
waters fall

Down the slope hills, disperst,
or in a Lake,

That to the fringed Bank with
Myrtle crown’d,

Her crystal mirror holds, unite
their streams.

               
               
     
Paradise
Lost
, Milton

 
 

—And now, ye pow'rs! to whom the brave are dear,
Receive me falling, and your suppliant hear.
To you this unpolluted blood I pour,
To you that spirit which you gave restore!
I ask no lazy pleasures to possess,
No long eternity of happiness;—
But if unstain'd by voluntary guilt,
At your great call this being I have spilt,
For all the wrongs which innocent I share,
For all I've suffer'd, and for all I dare;
O lead me to that spot, that sacred shore,
Where souls are free, and men oppress no more!

 

               
               
      
The
Dying Negro, A Poem,

                       
       
       
Thomas Day &
John Bicknell

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RECEIVE ME FALLING

 

Nevis
Island

February 1831

 
 

The
slave woman fell over the cliff’s edge toward the black swirl of water that
churned over the boulders reaching up from the sea.
 
Her mistress crawled to look over the
ledge.
 
The stones bit her shins and left
smears of blood on their jagged surfaces.
 
She was unable to locate the body amidst the swells and rocks, unable to
see through her tears, and the night, and the rain.

           
Somewhere in the slave village, the
woman’s mother knew her only daughter was gone.
 
In spite of the humidity, she shook in the hut with the rain dripping through
holes in the thatched roof, patting her head and shoulders, and running down
her legs into mud puddles.
 

She heard the scream—a sound she had heard
before.
 
Over the years, other slaves
preceded her daughter over the cliff seeking escape, peace, deliverance,
liberation.
 
She heard the cry which now
paralyzed her, because it came from her own, and it would haunt her forever.

 

1

 
 
 
 

Annapolis
, Maryland

Present Day

 

Meghan
stared down from the boat club railing at the river, revealed only in quick
reflections from the low light over her head.
 
There was no moon, and the wind filled her ears, muffling the sound the
water made as it slapped against the pilings.
 
The light over her head swung and flickered off briefly, before turning
on again and casting an odd, yellow haze over the dock, like the light in an
old basement.
 

           
Inside at the party, the governor
had dropped his drink, sending shards of martini glass over the surface of the hard
wood, and up Meghan’s leg.
 
When she had
bent over to pull the glass from her calf, she had felt the effects of the wine
on her empty stomach, and thought she’d be sick. It was good to get outside—in
spite of the chill—away from her engagement party.
 
She reached down and pressed a crumbled
napkin to the cut on her calf, grimacing as she saw the smear of blood through
her and Brian’s names on it.
 

A high sound, like a woman’s cry, pulled Meg’s
attention to the bridge that hung in the distance, higher than the pier where
she stood.
 
The cry was lost in the
wind.
 
It made her uneasy, and she rubbed
her arms to smooth the chill that rose more from the noise than the wind.
 
She looked up expecting to see the steady
traffic moving from Annapolis to the eastern shore
of Maryland,
but saw that the bridge was empty and dark.
  

           
Meg scanned the water under the
bridge, and thought she caught a movement in the grassy area at the shore.
 
Then the sound again—a woman crying.

           
“It’s almost over.”

           
Meg jumped as her mother, Anne,
touched her shoulder and turned her toward the boat club.
 

           
“You look tired,” said Anne.
 
“And Brian looks miserable.”

           
Meg looked back under the bridge,
but saw nothing.
 
A low rumble of thunder
started over the bay.

           
“I was hoping he’d end up having
fun,” said Meg, “but I’m afraid you’re right.”

           
“Then why are we doing this?”

           
“Because it’s what you do after you
get engaged,” said Meg.
 
“Isn’t it what
you and Dad would want?”

           
“What about you and Brian?”

           
At thirty-three, Meg had already
seen most of her friends get married.
 
Before they had gotten married, they had big engagement parties.
 
It had not occurred to her to do it
differently.
 
Meg had taken her parents’
silence on the matter of the party as acceptance, but now she could see that Brian
was right.
 
The big party was all
wrong.
 

           
Lately, Meg was finding herself in
situations that she’d orchestrated to fulfill some fantasy she had about who
she was supposed to be.
 
She loved the
idea of pulling off a big event, but was finding out more and more that she
hated attending the big events.
 
She knew
it was a result of her job working for the governor, and wondered how she had
so carelessly disregarded Brian’s disdain—and now her own—for large, impersonal
gatherings.
 
She wondered how she had let
it get this far.

“I’ll have the bartender make a last call
announcement so we can all get out of here,” said Anne.
 
“Your father needs to be put to bed anyway.”

           
Anne kissed Meg’s cheek and led her
back into the party.
 
As Meg stepped
through the door and into the boat club, she caught Brian’s gaze through the
crowd.
 
His look fell somewhere between
annoyance and misery.
 
A lobbyist who
worked with Meg’s office had her arm through Brian’s, and Meg could see that
the drunken woman was falling all over him.
 
She felt a pang of guilt.

“Are you okay?” asked Meg’s father, as he put his
arm around her and pulled her into a seat at the bar.

           
“I’m fine,” she said.
 

           
“I think we cleaned out the bar.”

           
“That’s usually a sign the party’s
over,” she said.

           
“Your mother will get them out of
here.
 
Look, she’s putting a coat on the governor.”

           
Meghan watched her mother guide the
guests to the door.
 
A sharp gust of wind
blew in cold rain and the smell of early winter, and sent a pile of napkins
fluttering to the ground.
 
Her mother
closed the doors quickly and smiled at Meg.

           
“One couple down.
 
Sixty more to go.”

 

 

Meg
dreamed of water.
 
She was looking over
the railing of her dad’s sailboat at the black water in the Severn
River, and saw fireworks reflected in its surface. Each time one
dissolved, another appeared over the lightly rippled surface of the river.
 

Then she was looking at the Atlantic
Ocean.
 
She was standing in
the sand, barefoot, staring out at the whitecaps under the stormy sky.
 
She watched lightning hit the water far out
at sea, and felt the wind knocking her off balance.
 

Then it was raining.
 
Great, gray sheets of rain.
 
The ocean dissolved, and Meg could only see
the rain.
 

When the phone rang, it took her a few moments to
lift her head off the pillow and look at the alarm clock.
 

           
4:13

           
 
Meg sat up and rubbed her eyes as the ringer
stopped.
 
Out of her waking confusion
came fear.
 
Her stomach became unsettled,
and she climbed out of bed to her dresser to see who had called.
 

Only bad
news came in the middle of the night.

 
Just as Meg
was about to pick up the phone to check her caller ID, someone knocked at the
door.
 
She pulled on a sweatshirt and
looked out the window to see who was at her door at
four o’clock
in the morning.

           
Two
police officers.

           
Her fight with Brian came rushing
back to her.
 
They had left the
engagement party not speaking.
 
He was
angry at the showiness and impersonality of it.
 
He didn’t know half the guest list.
 
Was it her parents’ wedding or their wedding?
 
He dropped her off and sped away into the
storm.

           
Oh
God.

           
“Miss Owen?”

           
Meg nodded, unable to find her voice.

           
“Are you the daughter of Richard and
Anne Owen?”

           
Meg nodded again.
 

           
“There’s been an accident.”

 

 

Brian
was there within minutes.
 
He wanted to
drive, but Meg needed to feel as if she had control.
 
She watched the streets slide by: Duke of
Gloucester, West, Parole—their names steadied her nerves.
 
Familiar names.
 
Brian stared at her, saying nothing.
 
There was nothing to say.
 
The accident was over.

Her parents were dead.
 

           
When they reached the morgue Brian
did the talking.
 
They were led into the
basement of the building.
 
The hallway
was sterile blue from the underground lighting.
   
An old man with stringy white hair cleaned
the waiting room floor with a heavy gray mop that slid over the tile in a
whisper.
 
Meg watched him take a bite
from a half-eaten candy bar and stuff it back into his pocket, getting sticky
lines of caramel on his work pants.
 
He
looked at her without interest and then back at the wet lines he made on the
floor.
 

Through the polished glass on the wall, Meg could
see the two bodies on side-by-side tables.
 
It was, indeed, her parents under the sheets.
 
Their faces looked puffy and chalky, and like
they had been on the losing side of a boxing match.
 
Meg felt like she was outside of herself in a
dream, watching the drama unfold.
 

Yes,
those are my parents. My mom and dad.
 
 

In all the unreality of that moment, it was only
when Meg had seen her mother’s right toes sticking out of the bottom of the
sheet—naked and tagged like some wax figure on display—that she lost her
composure.
 
It seemed wrong that her
dignified and elegant mother should come to such an end.
  
Meg saw that her mother’s toenail polish was
chipped, and she was fixated by that.
 
She felt sure that it had to have happened during the accident, because Anne
Owen did not walk around with chipped nail polish.
 
Meg said as much to Brian, and he looked at
her like she was crazy.

She didn’t know what to do with these bodies that
looked like her parents, but weren’t her parents.
 
She didn’t want to leave them there, but she
couldn’t get away fast enough.
 

Meghan let Brian drive her home.
 
She knew that she no longer had control.
 
He came in with her and wrapped himself
around her while she cried through Sunday.

 

BOOK: Receive Me Falling
6.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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