Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe

This is the story of the marriage of Bud Morrison, a life long shrimper and his wife Carolina. The book starts on September 21, 2008.   The story of their marriage is told through flashbacks to different times during their marriage but always back to September 21, 2008. They met when Carolina came to McClellanville, SC to teach. During the first six years of their marriage they worked together on the shrimp boat. Then Carolina got pregnant and stayed off the boat. She feels that is when things started to fall apart.  Will their love keep them together? What happened on September 21, 2008?

Summary from the author's site:
On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small shrimping village off the coast of South Carolina, a boat goes missing. The entire town rallies as all are mobilized to find the lost vessel. Throughout the course of one day, flashbacks of Bud Morrison, the captain on board, and Carolina, his wife, reveal the happier days of a once-thriving shrimping industry juxtaposed with the memories of their long term marriage. 

Chapter One
 September 21, 2008   4:00 am
McClellanville, South Carolina
             For three generations the pull of the tides drew Morrison men to the sea.  Attuned to the moon, they rose before first light to board wooden shrimp boats and head slowly out across black water, the heavy, green nets poised like folded wings. Tales of the sea were whispered to them in their mothers' laps, they earned their sea legs as they learned to walk, and they labored on the boats soon after.  Shrimping was all they knew or ever wanted to know.  It was in their blood.
            Bud Morrison opened his eyes and pushed back the thin, cotton blanket.  Shafts of gray light through the shutters cast a ragged pattern against the wall.  He groaned and shifted his weight in an awkward swing to sit at the edge of his bed, head bent, feet on the floor.  His was a seaman's body-hard weathered and scarred.  He scratched his jaw, his head, his belly, a morning ritual, waking slowly in the leaden light.  Then with another sigh, he stiffly rose to stand.  His knees creaked louder than the bedsprings and he winced at aches and pains so old he'd made peace with them. Standing, he could turn his knee to let it slip back into place with a small pop.
            A salty wind whistled through the open window, fluttering the pale curtains. Bud walked across the wood floor to peer out at the sky.  He scowled when he saw shadowy, finger-like clouds clutching the moon in a hazy grip.
            "Wind's blowin."
            Bud turned toward the voice.  Carolina lay on her belly on their bed, her head to the side facing an open palm.  Her eyes were still closed.
            "Not too bad," he replied in a gravelly voice.
            She stirred, raising her hand to swipe a lock of hair from her face.  "I'll make your breakfast."  She raised herself on elbows, her voice resigned.
            "Nah, you sleep." 
            His stomach rumbled and he wondered if he was some kind of fool for not nudging his wife to get up and make him his usual breakfast of pork sausage and biscuits. Lord knew his father never gave his mother a day off from work.  Or his kids, for that matter.  Not during shrimping season.  But he was not his father and Carolina had a bad tooth that kept her tossing and turning half the night.  She didn't want to spend money they didn't have to see the dentist, but the pain was making her hell on wheels to live with and in the end, she'd have to go anyway. 
            He'd urged her to go but she refused. It infuriated Bud that she wouldn't because it pointed to how he was unable to provide basic services for his family. This tore him up inside, a kind of feeling only another man would understand.
            They'd had words about it the night before.  He shook his head and let the curtain drop.  Man, that woman could be stubborn.  No, he thought, he'd rather have a little peace than prickly words this morning.
            "I'm only going out for one haul," he told her. "Back by noon, latest."
            "Be careful out there," she replied with a muffled yawn as she buried her face back into the pillows.       
            He stole a moment to stare at the ample curves of her body under the crumpled sheet.  There was a time he'd crawl back into the scented warmth of the bed he'd shared with Carolina for over thirty years. Even after all that time there was something about the turn of her chin, the roundness of her shoulders, and the earthy, fulsome quality of her beauty that still caused his body to stir.  Carolina's red hair was splayed out across the pillow and in the darkness he couldn't see the slender streaks of gray that he knew distressed her.  Carolina was not one for hair color or make up and Bud liked her natural, so the gray stayed. Lord knew his own hair was turning gray, he thought, running his hand over his scalp as he headed for the bathroom.
Read more here.
Pages: 369
Published: 2009

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