Monday, April 28, 2014

"Monday, Monday"

Elizabeth Crook's novels include The Night Journal, winner of a Spur Award from Western Writers of America and a WILLA Literary Award from Women Writing the West. She has written for magazines and periodicals including Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly. She lives in Austin with her family.

Crook applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Monday, Monday, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Monday, Monday the story is moving along at a clip. My character Shelly Maddox, who in the opening chapter was wounded by Charles Whitman in his 1966 shooting rampage from the Tower at the University of Texas, has fallen deeply in love with Wyatt Calvert, the graduate student who helped to rescue her from the searing heat of the south mall plaza as she lay bleeding to death that day. Wyatt is married, but the bond formed between the two of them while he held her and tried to stop the bleeding is extraordinary, and they have finally, against their judgment and better instincts, all these months later, given into a love affair.

By page 68, Shelly, home in Lockhart for the summer, has begun to fear she is pregnant with Wyatt’s child. Wearing a wedding ring she inherited from a great-aunt and pretending to be married, she drives to Austin to the Planned Parenthood on Sabine Street, where she is examined by the doctor. In the opening lines on page 69 she is speaking with the doctor:
“But do you think I’m pregnant?” She tried to sound happy about it.

He didn’t appear to be fooled. “Let’s wait and see,” he told her.
She walks back to the campus, unsure what to do next. She wants to go to the art building and see if Wyatt is there, but she can’t think of what she would tell him. She believes his life will be ruined if her fears are true.

Halfway down the page, there’s this:
Later, when she was back in Lockhart, the wait became terrible. She felt nauseated and feverish and tried to tell herself this was only due to her emotions. But every passing day confirmed her anxieties. She worked on the books at the hardware store and went home exhausted to fall on the sofa and watch TV with her parents, fearing that the ease and contentment of everyone around her was only based on their ignorance of a secret she wouldn’t be able to keep for long. Already she felt like a moral outcast.
By the end of the page, she has returned to see the doctor. The story continues like this:
He told her to take a seat and looked at her curiously. He was a balding man with a nice manner. “You don’t have to answer this, but I have a suspicion that you’re not married.”

“The test came back positive?” She knew by the look on his face.

“Yes, my dear. It did.”

He asked if she wanted to talk. She sat in the chair and looked at him and tried to manage her thoughts. But everything had gone sideways. She tried to stand up and the room became dim.

“Sit for a minute,” he told her. “Take some deep breaths.”

She stayed for nearly an hour, and cried, and admitted she wasn’t married, and that she didn’t know what to do…..
This is a turning point in the book. Shelly is twenty-two years old, physically disfigured from her wounds, deeply in love with a married man who already has a child, and confronted with the terrifying question of what to do now.
Visit Elizabeth Crook's website.

--Marshal Zeringue