Echoes In The Walls

Echoes In The Walls

by Katrina Morgan

ASIN: B004N6283Y

Publisher Xlibris Corporation

Published in Self-Help/Motivational, Nonfiction

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Book Description

This true story chronicles one family's decision to sell a brand new home in suburbia to tackle the renovations of a ramshackle 1840's farmhouse. Their idyllic dreams turn to nightmares very quickly as what can go wrong, does.

Laugh aloud as they battle raccoons, bats, bones and things that go bump in the night. The ninety day time frame turns into a harrowing, hilarious, roller-coaster of a ride.

"Morgan describes each catastrophic event with gusto. Some scenes are hilarious enough for a sitcom. "

--Blue Ink Review, April 2011

Sample Chapter

I leaned closer to the mirror, not really believing how deep and dark the circles were. I smeared makeup under my eyes, attempting to disguise the discoloration. With my hands up to my face, I couldn’t help but notice the details. My nails were jagged, and dirty. The chorus of calluses running across my palms had nearly grown together, forming large, leathery appendages. Mottled bruises ran up and down my forearm, mixed generously with cuts, scrapes and Band-Aids. “Jesus, girl.” I said to my reflection. What the hell had happened to me, and how did it get so bad?

I’d lost at least ten pounds and so had John—weight we could ill afford to give. We hardly recognized ourselves anymore. John actually looked worse than I did, since he wasn’t comfortable applying makeup. We both avoided mirrors and calendars as much as possible. I shook my head trying to remember the last four months and how the insanity had begun.

Perhaps it had been the bitter cold blowing malcontent through chinks in our walls. Or, maybe it was the moving into a new century and the self-examination such a milestone brings. Whichever, the year or the cold, January had found us edgy, unhappy and myopic in our view of each other. We felt closed in by the prolixity of our neighbors and our own incessant restlessness. Something needed to change.

We were living in our sixth house and still hadn’t found a place we wanted to call home. The first few houses had been purchased with the idea of remodeling and turning ordinary homes into places that would make us proud. We’d sold them, and our dreams, for profit, forgetting why we’d started such adventures. We’d bought bigger and better, following society’s map for success. We’d always upgraded but kept them carefully neutral in case something better came along. The current address, despite having been recently built, was no exception.

Cautiously, carefully, we unfolded an old dream. We’d meant to protect it, had folded it away for safekeeping, but like an old newspaper, its edges were yellowed, brittle with eighteen years of lying dormant.

Homes for Sale booklets were stacked on the kitchen counter. The newest one was splayed open on the table while John sat with elbows propped, holding onto his forehead. It was nearly impossible to concentrate with the noise and confusion.

We had seven children at the house--our own three and four additional neighbor children we were watching for a sick friend. I was wild-eyed and frazzled with trying to get kids, aged two to seventeen, fed, showered and settled in for the evening.

“I can’t find my pillow,” someone complained. Was it Michael or my friend’s son? Being nearly joined at the hip, their eight-year-old voices and mannerisms were barely discernible.

“Who spilled Kool-Aid on my homework?” The girl, Aimee, glared suspiciously at her brother and Michael.

Pulling at my sleeve, my chunky two-year old Spencer demanded attention, “I need a ‘nack.”

The other two neighbor children, also toddlers, came running at the prospect of food. Spencer wedged himself between them, and me establishing his territory.

“Deanna! I could use some help down here!” I yelled up the staircase, desperate to find my daughter. As one of the older teenagers in the neighborhood, she pulled down a fortune in babysitting fees. She watched these particular kids all the time. Surely she’d know what to do, or at the very least, could come downstairs and help.

She bounded down the steps, long minky hair swinging around her shoulders. She laughed at my expression. “Having some trouble there, Mom?”

“Yeah. You could say that,” I answered while disengaging Spencer and my friend’s baby from my legs.

Usually patient with his own children, John had less tolerance for anyone else’s. The additional four and the constant noise were making him crazy. “God, we have got to get out of this neighborhood. I swear it’s something all the damn time!”

The phone rang. Once. Twice. Three times.

“Get the phone, John!” I called from the bathroom where I was supervising teeth brushings. “Jeez! What’s your problem?”

“Hey, Rick!” I heard John’s greeting and knew he’d be involved in yet another long conversation with our realtor. We’d spent almost two months crisscrossing the county, looking for our dream house, something old with acreage, something being sold “As Is” and needing renovations. Rick, however, was losing patience with our picky requirements and inability to commit.

“This one sounds pretty good, more like what you two have been looking for. I haven’t seen it though,” Rick warned, erecting a quick caution sign, as he listed dimensions and features.

“How old?” John asked, obviously surprised. He paused, listening. “Free? Cool. That sounds more like it!”

I popped my head out of the bathroom, straining to hear the one-sided conversation better. He sounded excited and my pulse quickened.

Because it was nearby, and, I suspect, because he was fed up with the whole bedtime torture process, John announced, “I’m gonna drive out and see this one. It’s not far from here and it sounds pretty good. I’ll be back in a bit.” He aimed a kiss in my general direction, “You’ve got the kids, right?”

I just nodded and rolled my eyes. It’s not as if he’d been involved. It was 9:30 p.m., everyone was late for bed, and I was too harried to argue. An hour later, with the house finally, blessedly quiet, John rushed inside.

“Oh my God, hon. This is it. It’s awesome!” He gushed before the kitchen door clicked close. “You’ve got to go see it now!”

“Hello?” my voice dripped sarcasm, “We have seven kids here. I just got them to sleep. I can’t leave. What if their mom calls?”

“I’ll stay here and watch them. Just go!”

I knew the house had to be quite something if he was willing to supervise all of those kids, even if they were sleeping. His excitement was contagious though, and I was hurriedly looking through a mountain of coats trying to find mine. John was attempting to draw me a map but having difficulty. He kept jumping up from the table and running hands nervously through his blue-black hair. He was describing things about the house in between bursts of energy.

Having found my coat, I was head-first in the closet, searching for matching gloves.

“There’s a porch too. You’ll love that, I bet.”

“What?” I backed out, trying to hear his muffled speech, and caught my hair on someone’s Velcro strap.

“Why don’t we wake up Deanna? She can watch the kids and I can go with you.”

“Ha!” I spun around and pointed playfully at him, “I knew you wouldn’t stay with the kids.” I was still stuck to the Velcro and trying to remove my long, blond hair a strand at a time.

He tried to help, “No, seriously, I just want to see what you think when you see it.”

Deanna was summoned grumpily from her warm bed. “I just fell asleep,” she complained on a yawn. We set her up on the couch, tossed the remote in her general direction and ran out the door before she could ask too many questions.

John pulled into the driveway, picking out sections of the house with the beams of the headlights. My breath caught, and I knew that house was the one I’d always tried to find.

Trying to be statuesque, despite leaning slightly toward the back yard, it seemed solid, dependable, and just large enough to be comfortable. Sitting in the middle of the property, it emanated a sense of pride; sure of its place in the world, even if everyone else had forgotten. Not understanding the nuances, I finally, in all our married life, saw myself at home. I looked at John to gauge his reaction.

Catching my glance, he asked, “It’s great, isn’t it?” He looked like a little boy, eager and ready to play. I nodded, strained against the seatbelt, and squeezed him into a hug. The gesture was awkward and rusty, and I wondered at how we’d grown apart, not talking, not touching. Maybe this house, this venture would infuse new life into our marriage.

In the dark and frozen mix, John and I held hands as we crept up to the house and peered through her windows. With noses pressed against the grime, we saw past the large piles of junk in the foyer and began to toss around our dreams enthusiastically. “Oh my God, there’s a curved staircase! The boys will love it!” I envisioned them sliding down the rail. I squinted against the darkness, trying to see beyond the foyer to the rooms on either side.

John grinned beside me. “We could have this cleaned up in no time.”

We gave each other high-fives and our pact was sealed. The house came with just enough acreage to make it interesting, boasted a pond and “free gas.” It was too good to be true and, hugging each other, we turned circles of excitement on the old porch.

In doing so, we woke The Old Woman that the house had become. Sleep had become a welcome companion. There, she could dream of happier times. Opening tired eyes, she grunted in surprise to find strangers glorifying her. Catching pieces of our enthusiasm, she tried on a slow and creaky smile. As she watched, she caught strains from a long-ago waltz and remembered being dressed beautifully and twirling to music and laughter. She sighed at the memory, afraid to give in to such longings. She’d waited so long, dismayed to feel herself drooping and decaying. Over the years, she’d opened her doors to many strangers, only to have them walk away, unwilling to bring her back to life. I think I might like to dance once more. She listened more intently.

“I want to see more!” I shoved against the door, noticing it wasn’t quite closed.

John stopped me. “It’s too dark. Someone might see us and call the cops. We’ll come back and see it tomorrow.” He was already pulling me toward the car.

I followed him reluctantly; my head turned backwards trying to see every detail. We drove like idiots back to the neighborhood, talking excitedly and interrupting one another. Not noticing the late hour, we called Rick and made an appointment to see the old house first thing in the morning.

Hearing our enthusiasm, Rick cleared sleep from his voice and readily agreed.

Unable to close our eyes, John and I tangled into one another, laughing and unencumbered by the mundane any longer.


Excerpted from "Echoes In The Walls" by Katrina Morgan. Copyright © 2011 by Katrina Morgan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Katrina Morgan

Katrina Morgan

Finding innovative ways to entertain an adult audience is something Katrina has done for decades. With a background as a corporate trainer, and years organizing civic events and fundraisers, she understand the importance of not only capturing an audience's attention using humor, but also maintaining their interest with stories of flawed characters and a conversational tone. She is currently working on three additional books.

View full Profile of Katrina Morgan

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