We hope you enjoy this exclusive look at the first 500 words of Steven Manchester’s upcoming book Pressed Pennies.
Seated on a rolled carpet, Abby Soares stared at the bare walls like a new patient at the asylum. Once a friendly forest green, the paint was now dingy and faded—except where family pictures had recently been removed. She shook her head. “What a mess,” she muttered. The words traveled through the empty room and echoed down the hall. It was the loneliest, most sorrowful sound. She stood and dusted off her backside. As she reached the door, she looked back once. “Good-bye,” she pushed past the lump in her throat. There was silence.
A burly man loaded the final boxes into the moving van and glanced over toward Abby. “That’s the last of it,” he called out, and then looked toward the horizon. “We should get moving. We’re losing light.”
She nodded and started for the backyard. It was the moment she’d dreaded most—helping Paige say good-bye.
Beneath the thick gray skeleton of a twisted sycamore tree, her eight-year-old was seated in an old tire swing. Abby needed a deep breath to keep the tidal wave of emotion at bay. Since Paige could walk, she’d spent her childhood playing beneath the beautiful tree. This would be the last time. As Abby approached, she searched her daughter’s porcelain face. Paige was in pain, the kind that needed a lot more than a Band-Aid and a Popsicle. Abby had tried, but there was no way she could have spared Paige this horrid moment. The bitter breakup with Paige’s father, Patrick, along with the weasel’s abandonment of their daughter left her no choice. For nine trying months, she did everything she could to keep the house, but it had become too much. It’s a small price to pay for peace, she finally decided. They had to start anew. She crouched before Paige. “Ready to go, babe?”
The slightest squeal escaped Paige’s lungs. She quickly looked away to avoid her mother’s gaze.
Abby wrapped her arms around her little girl. “We’ve talked about this, Paige. It’s for the best, remember?”
Paige exhaled deep, but still said nothing.
Abby swung the tire around until she was staring straight into Paige’s big brown eyes. “It’ll be exciting,” she promised. “There’s a whole new world just waiting for us out there.” With a smile, she stood and extended her hand. “So what do you say…just the two of us? Take my hand and we’ll tackle it together, okay?”
Paige grabbed her mother’s hand and slid out of the tire swing. A tear traveled the length of her cheek. “But what about this place…my room and our yard. We’ll never…”
“Memories,” Abby said. “No one can ever take our memories from us.” She dropped to her knees and hugged Paige tight. “But we have to stop living in the past, babe.” She nodded. “The time’s come to see what’s ahead of us.
After a long embrace, Paige wiped her eyes. “Okay,” she whimpered. “Let’s go then.”
Abby pushed the locks of chestnut hair away from Paige’s eyes and gazed into her soul. “I breathe for you, ya know,” she whispered.
Paige nodded, and the slightest grin forced its way into the corners of her pouty mouth. They locked pinkies.
“Just the two of us,” Abby said.
“Just the two of us,” Paige repeated.
Hand in hand, they stepped out of the past and into their future.
Pressed Pennies hits stores on May 13, 2014. You can learn more about it at our website.