Allison Taylor has lived in Manhattan for three years now. That’s long enough to know that the odds are stacked against finding a taxi at the rainy tail end of rush hour—especially here, a stone’s throw from the Bryant Park tents in the midst of Fashion Week.
Yet she perches beneath a soggy umbrella on the curb at the corner of Forty-second and Fifth, searching the sea of oncoming yellow cabs, hoping to find an on-duty/unoccupied dome light.
But impossible? The word is overused, in her opinion. If she weren’t the kind of woman who stubbornly challenges anything others might deem impossible, then she wouldn’t be here in New York in the first place.
How many people back in her tiny Midwestern hometown told her it would be impossible for a girl like her to merely survive the big, cruel city, let alone succeed in the glamorous, cutthroat fashion publishing industry? A girl like her . . .
Impoverished, from a broken home with a suicidal drug addict for a mother. A girl who never had a chance—but took one anyway.
And just look at me now.
After putting herself through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and working her way from an unpaid post college internship at Condé Nast on up through the editorial ranks at 7th Avenue magazine, Allison finally loves her life—cab shortages, rainy days, and all.
Sometimes, she allows herself to fantasize about going back to Centerfield to show them all how wrong they were. The neighbors, the teachers, the pursed-lipped church ladies, the mean girls at school and their meaner mothers—everyone who ever looked at her with scorn or even pity; everyone who ever whispered behind her back.
They didn’t understand about Mom—about how much she loved Allison, how hard she tried, when she wasn’t high, to be a good mother. Only the one girl Allison considered a true friend, her next-door neighbor Tammy Connolly, seemed to understand. She, too, had a single mom for whom the townspeople had disdain. Tammy’s mother was a brassy blonde whose skirts were too short, whose perfume was too strong, whose voice was too loud.
Tammy had her own cross to bear, as the church ladies would say. Everyone did. Mom was Allison’s— hers alone—and she dealt with it pretty much singlehandedly until the day it ceased to exist.
But going back to Centerfield—even to have the last laugh—would mean facing memories. And who needs those?
“Memories are good for nothin’,” Mom used to say, after Allison’s father left them. “It’s better to just forget about all the things you can’t change.”
True—but Mom couldn’t seem to change what was happening to them in the present—or what the future might hold.
From the book NIGHTWATCHER by Wendy Corsi Staub. Copyright C 2012 by Wendy Corsi Staub. Reprinted by permission of Harper mass market, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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