The end of Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy’s conscious life is ushered in by a flash of light on a plain in Afghanistan. While he languishes in a veterans’ hospital, Thomas’s devoted wife, Margaret, is raising their son on a dairy farm in rural Maine. She receives an invitation to Washington, DC, to meet the President of the United States as he signs a bill in support of wounded veterans with war veteran and West Point graduate Charlie King as her appointed escort. Charlie and Margaret’s shared circumstances inspire them to confide in one another. Suddenly, the pair creates a private world all their own, leaving the effects of war behind them. Margaret’s vows to her husband linger, raising a series of harrowing choice.
She wore the black gown. Black always worked, Terry said when she fished the dress out of her closet, and Charlie could not say what the other colors might have looked like— a pale peach-colored gown with a wider skirt and tight bodice and a cream-colored gown that was longer and more fitted through the hips— but he thought the black absolutely suited Margaret. It more than suited her; it surprised him by how easily it had transformed her. She had disappeared into the bathroom a mother and had stepped out— well, how exactly? He couldn’t say. The peach, he realized, might not have flattered her coloring; and the cream would have made her pale and mothlike. The black looked beautiful on her and as he stood he could not help but smile.
“You look lovely,” he said.
“I had no idea these gowns . . . they’re really quite extravagant.
Are you sure Terry won’t mind me wearing one?”
“Believe me,” Charlie said, “these are hand-me- downs from her friend Trish. Trish has plenty of gowns, I promise you.”
“It’s a Vera Wang,” Margaret said in a nervous whisper, and Charlie saw her eyes go a little wide. She looked down at the dress and combed it against her thighs. She looked charming. She was charming in her modesty and lack of pretension. She had been excited about the gowns and had made the entire outfitting attempt fun.
“That’s what Terry said,” Charlie said from his position near the bank of windows, “and the other two . . . one’s a DK and I forget . . . the peach one is a Gucci knockoff, I think. Trish goes to a dozen balls a year and she can’t wear the same gown every time. Honestly, you really don’t need to worry about a thing.”
Charlie felt grateful for the fuss about the gowns. They had been a convenient icebreaker all the way around, preventing the first moments together from becoming too conspicuously datelike. And now the dress— a black ballerina-style gown, halter top, with simple lines that Charlie admired— felt to be the culmination of a satisfying project.
“I feel like I’m driving a Mercedes after being in an old pickup,” Margaret said. “We don’t wear many gowns in Bangor, Maine.”
“Well, you look very natural in it,” Charlie said.
“You look very handsome, too,” Margaret said. “In all the fuss about the gowns, I didn’t properly compliment you.”
“Thank you,” Charlie said.
He wore a tuxedo; it was a good-quality tuxedo he had bought in a secondhand store on Avenue B. Terry, in fact, had pointed him to it nearly a year before, when he had come for his first interviews with the Foreign Service office. He had attended two formal affairs— a dinner at the vice president’s mansion and an opera premiere— and had been glad to have the tuxedo in his closet. Besides, he actually enjoyed dressing up a little. Why live in Washington if you didn’t become involved in the social life at least to some degree? He cut a decent figure, he knew, and it felt like make-believe to wear a tux. As long as he didn’t take it seriously, he enjoyed the experience.
To find out what happens with Margaret and Charlie, read MARGARET FROM MAINE, by Joseph Monniger
Joseph Monninger is the author of Eternal on the Water and The World as We Know It, as well as several award-winning young-adult novels. A professor of English literature, he lives in New Hampshire. Visit him online at http://joemonninger.com
Links to find/buy the book:
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781470838515
HUGE GIVEAWAY: (19) Print copies of MARGARET FROM MAINE – Open US/Canada only Rafflecopter giveaway
Click here to follow the tour http://wp.me/p20ttU-12E