Everyone keeps secrets. In each family, a few closeted skeletons lurk in a sordid past that would sooner be forgotten. Whether we hold secrets close to protect ourselves or others, hiding something from loved ones can cause stress, miscommunication, and a list of golden opportunities ripe for a domestic suspense novel.
My own domestic suspense story starts here:
My sister, Patty, and my daughter, Courtney, planned to fly to Wisconsin, visit my mom and drive my late brother’s Subaru back to Colorado. But I worried about the fifteen-hour drive and offered to help. It would be fun to travel with them and see my mom.
I am a beast at driving long distances and could have been a Mack truck driver — I’ve heard they have a shortage right now. After a few miles, my brain hits the zone and monkey-jumps from plot points to increasing stakes with new ways to wreak havoc on unsuspecting characters. While revising the draft of my latest novel, I search for the next fast-food chain along the endless highway. I looked forward to the adventure.
We flew out that Friday with my secret simmering inside.
When we arrived, my mom fished with a few pertinent questions. I skirted around the answers like a skater on thin ice at Lake Wingra.
We spent Saturday morning relaxing in the kitchen with coffee and Wisconsin’s sweet manna from heaven — Almond Kringle. Again, she asked questions, and I distracted her by diving into the second purpose of the trip — unpacking boxes of antiques procured throughout the years to amass our own collections of family heirlooms. If everything went as planned, my secret would be revealed Sunday evening.
My mom lives in a massive Victorian. With the light from stained glass windows to guide me, I uncovered treasures tucked in the corners of the high-ceilinged attic. Then Patty, Courtney, and I worked our way down to racks of plastic containers in the musty unfinished basement of the one hundred and twenty-year-old house. We brought box after box to the kitchen, where we unpacked precious items, considered them, and then reorganized and repacked them again.
Whew! I found all kinds of fantastic finds.
I don’t know of any skeletons in her closets, but ghosts thrive in the rambling Victorian. Memories of my brother, Joe, and my dad surrounded me in photographs, my dad’s paintings, and the treasures we discovered. When I was young, I focused on the future. Now that I’m older, I try not to dwell on the past. I breathed through the loss of family to gain footing in the present, and it worked. Back at you, time!
We continued our quest on Sunday, and the packed boxes grew in numbers. By late afternoon, my eyes darted from the clock in the kitchen to my fitness watch. Time slowed.
That night at dinner, I wondered if something had gone wrong. I fidgeted. Pulled out my cell phone. Checked to make sure the sound was turned on. What was taking so long?
As it crept closer to 9:00, my hands perspired. My knee jumped up and down. I picked up my cell. Was it working? When we first arrived, we had trouble making calls and had to move the router. Maybe there was something wrong with it again.
I set down my phone again.
The phone rang, loud and clear. I snapped it up and answered.
It was my son, Kelly.
I thumbed the speaker:
“I proposed to Leksy!” he said from a studio in Los Angeles. “We’re getting married!”
We all screamed and then talked at once.
Now that the secret was out, I could breathe again.
Kelly’s plan to surprise Leksy at a photoshoot in Los Angeles worked!
I looked around my mom’s Victorian, still filled with memories of loved ones, and thought, Finally. Our family is growing.
I’m a kid again, looking forward to what the future might bring. — I’m sure it will be filled with all kinds of domestic suspense.