Emerging Writers. Nancy Revealed, by Angela Rieck
The River, a short story published on Hummingbird in October 2017, was the genesis of a soon to be published novel by Angela Rieck bearing the same name. We are thrilled to present another chapter Nancy Revealed—first on Hummingbird! Please see the links below to access the two chapters from the novel previously presented, and “backstory” notes from Angela.
Nancy walked slowly back to her gallery. Deep in thought, the cold rain had turned to a drizzle keeping her world dismal and gray. It seemed appropriate.
The carillon bells pealed out from the brick Episcopal Church steeple. Any Protestant who attended enough funerals or services would recognize the melody, Abide with Me, Nancy sang the first verse to herself.
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide
When other helpers fail and earthly comforts flee
Help of the helpless, O abide with me
Warm tears flowed down her cheeks.
She picked up her pace on the main street in the picturesque town of 1500 peaceful souls. Like most of the Eastern Shore, it was changing, the upper-middle class was driving up the housing prices and driving out the blue-collar families. The town’s quaint charm, upscale restaurants and shops attracted the retired affluent who enjoyed being a few blocks from the harbor. In the winter it was quiet, but in the summer, tourists filled the streets with energy.
Nancy shook her head. Her pathetic need for human contact had just caused her to try to befriend a lonely woman 20 years her junior. Nancy’s desperate quest for friends had been unsuccessful. Women that she approached quickly saw in her face a brief lifting of her shroud of grief, baring her emptiness, her detachment and loneliness. They fled, running from that bottomless pit of need perhaps recognizing that their lives were a heartbeat away from becoming hers.
But today, she found a woman as profoundly damaged as she was. And in her fog of loneliness, this woman hadn’t seen the empty void behind the mask.
Nancy tightened her hood up to keep her hair from getting too damp and stuffed her hands in her pockets. She continued walking, past the dark, closed shops, ignoring the few cars that sloshed through the puddles.
Nancy was observing a life that she had never seen coming. As a lobbyist, her job had been to match wealth with power. But it sickened her. It is said that legislation is like sausage, don’t look at how it is made, appreciate the end result. She knew better, she had compromised her soul for a life with Gordon, only to have it ripped from her.
Her children didn’t know about the shroud that she lived under, the veil of intense grief. She was detached, her moral compass torn from her. Her husband’s ashes could move with the tides; but she had to rise every morning, had to push through every day and slog through each sleepless night.
Nancy thought about Gordon as tears tumbled down her cheeks faster than the rain. She never cared that he couldn’t make a living, just being around his intellect made her feel smart. He was an old soul, a deep thinker, a gifted artist. They had a plan, she was going to make the money and he would help her find her artistic voice, help her find talents that she had kept shackled in pursuit of soulless cash.
Now, she had nothing, no career and certainly no talents. Her drawings in art class were pathetic, simple stick figures. She tried to learn the ukulele but even her highly compensated teacher had not been encouraging. So she gave up her search and filled her world with other people’s talents. She wiped the tears off her cheeks, steeled herself and headed back to her cold, empty gallery; she had made it through a morning.