Connie Nixon is no stranger to making lists. In fact, she has rewritten the list of her deepest desires no fewer than forty-eight times. And each Sunday, for as long as she can remember, she's tinkered with it. But actually doing something about her desires is a different story--until the night she comes across a box belonging to her estranged daughter...and makes a stunning discovery. It turns out that her seemingly straitlaced Jessica is part owner of one of the most successful sex toy shops in America.
Shocked by her daughter's secret life, Connie tucks her list in her back pocket and does something utterly impulsive: she hops on a plane to New York City to track down Jessica--and winds up on the wildest adventure of her life. Because with her daughter's help, Connie's about to let her own inner bombshell see the light of day.
Now, for the first time ever, things are flying off Connie's list. Like reconnecting with her daughter. And getting tipsy before noon. And the most startlingly extraordinary desire of all: falling in love.
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August 14, 2007
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Excerpt from The Sunday List of Dreams by Kris Radish
1. Stop being afraid.
Connie Nixon's house starts talking to her at 9:51 p.m. on a Wednesday.
She has just finished pawing through her heart and examining the long lines of desire that parade through her body like an endless roll of string and tangle in a knot inside her chest. Her left hand is holding the knot, loosened briefly by means of the pen in her right hand that has translated her dreams into the list. The 48th list. Connie Franklin Nixon's list of dreams.
Connie's list-making tonight has been assisted by one and then two glasses of red wine-a really nice dry cabernet from Australia-and she is trying to decide if she should have another glass. This would push her way over the halfway mark, as far as her usual alcohol consumption goes, and into a semi-critical "what the hell" state that she associates with the early stages of drunken folly, Saturday nights on her sister's back porch and the good old days, which did not last long enough.
Three seconds of hesitation is enough and Connie Nixon rolls over, lets the pages of her list fold against each other, drops the pen, grabs the gorgeous dark red bottle off her book-laden nightstand and pours the wine into the rounded, clear glass so close to the top that she has to lean over and sip it before she can actually pick up the glass.
That exact moment is when she hears the house speaking.
"What?" she whispers out loud. As if she is answering the walls that seem to be speaking. "What did you say?"
She pauses. Her top lip is swimming in wine and her bottom lip has wedged itself against the smooth glass, her breath in a holding pattern. Six years alone in this house have left her on more-than-intimate terms with every squeak, roof sway, late-night foundation settling creak, gutter birds, falling limbs, and an assortment of other sounds that are as familiar to Connie as a rushing waterfall might be to someone on an enchanted vacation. Even before those six years, when the girls were still romping through the house, climbing in through unlocked windows after curfew and sliding their tricycles, bicycles, cars and motorcycles into the garage door from dawn to dusk, there was a rhythm to the sounds, a symphony of life, a ballet of movement that signaled a house settling in around its family, the arms of the walls wrapping them close and keeping the rain and snow off the beds and dressers and the kitchen table.
The sound Connie hears now, however, is a distant voice, a faint indistinguishable rumble that tangos itself into a kind of hum. It is highlighted by a hint of music, as if someone has left a radio playing at the far edge of the basement. It echoes and sways as if it is about to snuff itself out and, when Connie pauses, unmoving, not frightened but a bit confused about its origin, the sound does not change or grow or stop or turn into something else. "Maybe," she speculates. "Maybe the list has started to speak."
Connie drinks half the glass in one gulp and swings her legs off the edge of the bed. Accustomed to sleeping in whatever she happens to be wearing at the moment she falls into bed, Connie makes certain that if she has to avert disaster she can do so with at least partial dignity. When she looks down, she sees that she has on an old navy-colored t-shirt that will at the very least come to her knees when she stands up and, peeking out from the left side, where she has her foot raised, a pair of cotton underwear, original color unknown, present color something just this side of an old gray sock, frayed like hell along the edge of the stretched elastic.
Peril, disaster, trauma, the unknown-none of those things totally frighten Connie Nixon. She adores silence, most unexpected events, the way the simple shift of the wind can change everything. Death rolls into her hands on a daily basis at her hospital-she says "her" as if she owns the place and indeed she has worked there as if she has owned it for 33 years, night and day, tirelessly, with passion and compassion. Her real fears, the ones she has acknowledged, have been translated into the list she now holds in her hand.
"Ha," she thinks, standing quietly at the side of her bed and totally focused on the sound she hears. "What could this be?"
She pauses there, unafraid, hands on hips, listening. The whisper of sound returns. Connie smiles to herself because she thinks the walls may be singing. When she lifts her head, she can see her reflection in the mirror that has hung above the old black dresser for 28 years. "I'm not dead and just imagining this," she tells herself out loud. Mystified by the now-constant humming, Connie listens hard. She decides to check every corner of the house.