Eight Women on a Journey That Will Change Their Lives as Lovers, Wives, Mothers, Daughters, Friends Just after midnight in a small town in Wisconsin, eight women begin walking together down a rural highway. Career women, housewives, mothers, divorcées, and one ex-prom queen, they are close friends who have been meeting every Thursday night for years, sharing food, wine, and their deepest secrets. But on this particular Thursday, Susan, Alice, Chris, Sandy, Gail, Mary, Joanne, and Janice decide to disappear from their own lives.Their spontaneous pilgrimage attracts national attention and inspires other women from all across the country. As the miles fall away and the women forge ahead on their backroads odyssey--leaving small miracles in their wake--each of their histories unfolds, tales of shattered dreams and unexpected renewal, of thwarted love affairs and precious second chances.In luminous, heartwarming prose, Kris Radish deftly interweaves the women's intimate confessions into the story of their brave, history-making walk.
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November 30, 2004
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Excerpt from The Elegant Gathering of White Snows by Kris Radish
Just a glass. Balanced for a moment as brief as a breath. Like a confused dancer undecided about a direction here on the edge of the ancient yellow Formica counter. A speck of light filters through the crystal etchings on this last, best glass, one of three remaining after years and years of life following the goddamned wedding.
Susan watches the glass, her hand stretched out in a flat welcome, her stomach moving in waves as the glass falls and Susan, always anticipating the next movement of everything, moves with it.
"Shit!" She screams as the glass punches through the soft skin in the folds of her fingers. "Shit! Shit! Shit!" The blood gushes, covering the spot where she used to wear a ring and then down onto wrists that are as thin as the stem of the broken glass. Before a drop of blood hits the floor, before Susan can raise her hand, before a thought can form, the women come running.
There is a concert of unrehearsed movement on the kitchen floor. Alice runs for the dishcloth; Chris is on the floor cradling Susan in her arms; Sandy is looking to make certain the good bottle of wine has not spilled. Joanne and Janice are crouched like frogs close by, their hands dangling between their legs; Gail guards the small door between the kitchen and the living room, and Mary is poised to grab more towels and maybe, if the cuts are deep enough, those big bandages she knows Susan keeps on the shelf behind the kitchen sink.
"Is it deep " Chris asks, extending her fingers around the tiny bloody wrist where a red-colored stream begins moving over her own fingers.
Everyone waits. There is a silence that reaches toward Susan, who answers by pushing herself into Chris's chest, bending her head so she can lie against her friend. Then there is the unspoken gesture of Alice slipping the stained dishcloth into Chris's free hand, and Chris placing it around the bloody wrist once and then twice like she is wrapping a holiday gift.
"Hey," Susan stutters, a whimper visibly rising from her stomach through her chest and toward any opening it can find. "I'm fucking pregnant, fucking, fucking pregnant."
There it is, suddenly as plain as the long splinters of glass. Forget the blood, forget the crystal glass, forget every damn thing. Everyone moves closer, except Sandy who reaches for the bottle of wine, grabs the plastic cups off the side of the table and then sets them down in a circle around the bottle of wine.