meet author Blair McDowell
today at the Boost!
She's here to chat about the approaching holiday season...
There is no lonelier time of the year than Christmas for someone away from home and alone. It seems that the rest of the world is composed of couples or family groups. Restaurants are filled with party revelers, shoppers in happy clutches hurry from store to store chatting and laughing, their arms filled with bags and boxes. Recorded carols spill out onto the sidewalk adding to the joyous cacophony.
You weave your way through all this. Isolated. Unseen. You think this is what it must be like to be invisible. This is what it is to be alone and far from home at Christmas.
The reasons for your aloneness could be one of many. You may have chosen to take a job in a distant city. Perhaps there has been a recent divorce, or even a death in your family that has left you alone. You survive. That’s all anyone can do. The rest of the year, being alone is bearable.
At times even pleasant. But at Christmas time survival somehow is much harder. At Christmas, aloneness is almost intolerable. No one to laugh with. No one to trim a tree or share an eggnog with. One feels a bit like the proverbial boy with his face pressed against the window of the candy shop.
What to do? Go back to the lonely apartment and eat a dinner of scrambled eggs? Stop in a restaurant and sit at a table for one, watching other tables of twos, fours and sixes eating and laughing together?
I remember one Christmas like that in my life. In my case it wasn’t because friends didn’t invite me to join them. It was because in the depth of despair over my husband’s death I didn’t want to be around happy people celebrating new beginnings. I didn’t want anything to intrude on my misery.
Looking back, I realize that wasn’t a very healthy or productive way to handle things.
Last Christmas, when I had long ago shaken off the shackles of grief and rejoined the human race, I started thinking about how a young woman might cope with being alone on Christmas Eve in a city far from friends and family. What would she do instead of isolating herself from the human race as I had? I started writing. The result was the short story, Abigail’s Christmas.
Abigail was much smarter than I was. She knew that it was important in life to keep going. And to accept the unexpected as a gift.
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When her father dies, Brit McQuaid inherits a villa on the beautiful island of Corfu, a villa she knew nothing about. He also left a cryptic note asking that she deliver a package to a woman on Corfu with whom he was once in love, while married to Brit’s mother.
This launches a journey for Brit, taking her from San Francisco to Greece and Italy. Along the way she meets a sizzling Greek archaeologist who not only helps her unravel a powerful secret from the past, but shows her the path to her own future. After this adventure, Brit’s life will be changed forever.
From the distance there was an ominous rumbling. Andreas went to the door. Great thunder clouds were blotting out the horizon, moving rapidly toward them. The sky was almost black. A streak of lightening illuminated the sky, followed closely by a loud clap of thunder. Then the rain came in great sheets.
He turned back to Brit to discover that she had turned quite white.
“I’ve never liked thunder storms,” she confessed. “When I was little, my father told me that Zeus was angry, and was throwing thunderbolts. He always assured me they were not being thrown at me, but, to this day,” she gave a small mirthless laugh, “to this day, I always want to run and hide when I hear thunder close by.”
Andreas pulled her close. “I’ve done nothing that could anger Zeus. Just stay here safe in my arms until the storm passes.” He kissed the top of her head. “Brit, I love you so. Why do you keep resisting me?”
Brit nestled her head against Andreas’ chest. “After what happened last night between us, how can you possibly say I resist you. You are without a doubt the most irresistible man I’ve ever known.”
He shook his head in frustration. “That’s not what I mean, and you know it. I’m not looking for a short affair, however sexually satisfying. I want marriage. I want a home, a wife, children.”
Brit pushed him away with a short, sarcastic laugh. “That’s the woman’s line, Andreas. That’s what the woman always says, isn’t it? I want a home, a husband, children. But I’m not saying that to you. You have never heard me say those words to you.”
Her voice took on a harsh, angry edge. “You’re too young to even know what you want. You think you’re in love with me? What will you think when I’m forty and you’re only thirty-four? When I’m sixty and you’re still a man in his prime?”
Andreas looked at her, shock written on his face.
With a sob, Brit turned and ran outside into the storm. Swearing, Andreas ran after her. By the time he reached her they were both soaking wet. He scooped her up effortlessly into his arms and walked swiftly with her the rest of the way back to the villa. There he stripped off her wet clothes, dried her body and her hair roughly with towels as her teeth chattered, and dumped her unceremoniously onto their bed, covering her shivering body with a thick down duvet. Then he stripped off his own wet clothing and joined her. Wordlessly he made love to her, bringing her body quickly to the heat only passion can create.
When they lay, exhausted and still, he murmured, “I will want you when I am eighty-five and you are ninety-one. I will go to my grave wanting you.”
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