Authors: Bethany Pierce
Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #General, #Religious, #ebook, #book
Copyright © 2010
Cover design by Andrea Gjeldum
Scripture quotations are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Pierce, Bethany, 1983–
Amy inspired / Bethany Pierce.
ISBN 978-0-7642-0850-8 (pbk.)
1. Authors—Fiction. 2. Authorship—Fiction. 3. Women college teachers—Fiction. 4. Adultery—Fiction. I. Title.
For my grandmother,
who taught me the art of optimistic thinking.
“Find something you love to do,” my father told me, “and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Optimistic advice from a man who spent fifteen years selling insurance, a job he detested for fourteen. Eventually, my father did follow his passions, out of insurance and into the arms of a local attorney who loved him, presumably better than my mother, and made six figures.
If my parents had anything in common, it was the shared belief that life was good. When Anne Frank’s
Diary of a Young Girl
left me in a rage, my mother recommended that I read something nice; it was best not to think about things I couldn’t change. She believed in marriage, despite her divorce. She had no pain in childbirth.
In our home, glasses were half full; when God shut doors He opened windows; and you could be anything you wanted to be when you grew up, even—and especially—the president of the United States.
Mostly I wanted to be an astronaut. I studied constellations and memorized planet names and orbits. I hung upside down from the school monkey bars to practice zero gravity and studded my ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars. Grandma’s new refrigerator, a black shiny monolith with blinking green and red lights, functioned as Ship’s Main Computer. Alone in the kitchen, I’d push the flat plastic buttons, whispering, “Red alert!” and “Fire torpedoes when ready!”
“You all right, Sugarpie?” Grandma would ask when she spied me in conversation with the ice dispenser. She later voiced her concerns to my mother: “You’d better get that girl’s teeth checked. All she wants to do is eat ice.”
Mom had heard worse. Only a week before I’d subsisted five days on little more than freezer pops and baby food to train my stomach for an all-liquid diet. “Moon food,” Mom called it, pureeing peas into paste for my dinner. “Moon?” I asked. I had my sights on Mars.
When I was informed we couldn’t afford Space Camp, I realized it was best to have a few backups. A girl has to keep her options open.
My top ten careers in descending order of importance, as outlined at age ten:
4. Showboat singer
5. Prima donna in manner of Mariah Carey
6. Forensic scientist
7. Olympic gold-medalist figure skater
8. Wedding cake baker
9. Bank teller
10. Famous novelist
I spent my childhood rehearsing to be an adult, tripping over legs that grew faster than my ambition, testing my abilities with scientific objectivity.
I got motion sick on the merry-go-round, which eliminated astronaut for good, taking pilot, stewardess, and Olympic figure skater (all that twirling) with it.
I had a nice voice but was never properly recognized as a budding talent. Though I campaigned diligently for the part of the Virgin Mary in the Christmas pageant, Mrs. Blythe, the children’s church director, favored piety over talent and lacked the imagination to accept a redhead as Mary. She refused to give me the solo three years running, discouraging my chances of parochial celebrity and, by extension, obliterating any hopes of international acclaim.
I got a
in chemistry, the only letter other than
I’d ever received on a report card. I decided I hated science.
What talent I had in reading recipes could not surpass my pleasure in reading fiction. Lost in a
when I should have been watching the butter I was warming in the microwave, I melted my mother’s favorite Tupperware bowl instead. The microwave was replaced, my kitchen privileges were suspended, and I never earned that coveted Girl Scout cooking badge.
At fourteen I received my first checkbook. Consequently, banking lost its appeal.
By the age of fifteen I had eliminated every career possibility but one.
For better or for worse, the love of writing stuck.
That he showed up to our first date wearing a pink-collared shirt and that he looked prettier in pink than I did should have told me everything I needed to know about Adam Palmer had I been paying attention.
“I just think if you consider all the factors at play here, it seems time we consider where exactly we’re going with this relationship,” he said now, less than three months later.
Outside the window to our left, students spilled onto campus, flooding the sidewalks. It was the turn of the hour: Adam had a class to teach in ten minutes. I realized he’d timed our break-up to allow himself quick escape.
“It’s just that I need more time for my work right now, and I can’t give you the time you deserve. I can’t give you what you want.”
Adam always bought me lunch at the cafeteria, where we both had faculty discounts. I flattened my meatloaf with the butt of my spork. The sporks were new on campus, part of the ongoing save-theearth incentive: SPOONS + FORKS = HALF THE WASTE!!! The Committee for Earth Health used twelve thousand fliers to educate the student body on the importance of hybrid flatware.
“And I know you have your convictions: I respect that. You have to see that I respect that,” he was saying. “I’ve tried to see the world through your eyes.” Here, I assumed he referenced the Saturday afternoon he’d agreed to volunteer with me at the church soup kitchen, from which he walked away eager to transcribe a conversation he’d had with a homeless veteran. “You can’t make this stuff up!” he’d declared, eyes bright with fresh inspiration.
“I’ve tried to walk in your shoes,” he said. “But you haven’t done the same for me. I need to be with a woman who can look up to me for my convictions, my beliefs.”
I frowned. “You don’t have beliefs. You’re an atheist.”
“I believe in nothing. I need you to respect that.”
I set the spork spinning on the table. “I respect you for that.”
“You resent me for it.”
“So what is it I want exactly?”
He watched my little operation with annoyance. “What do you mean?”
“You just said you couldn’t give me what I wanted. I’m curious: What is it that you think I so desperately want?”
He thought a moment. “I’m not ready to settle, Amy.”
Had he meant settle or settle down? He could have left the
out on accident. But he was a writer. He chose his words carefully.
“I’m not ready to settle down either,” I protested.
He gave me a patronizing smile. “You were born settled.”
I stared at him, surprised: I hadn’t thought him capable of hurting me.
“It’s no specific desire,” he went on uncharacteristically flustered, trying to revise or at least mitigate the severity of his last statement. “It’s all desires. Cumulatively. The things you want and the things I want for our work, our future. They don’t add up.” He snatched the spork from my hand. “Will you
The people at the table behind us turned to see what was going on. I blushed to my scalp. It wasn’t a good look for me.
“I’ve been feeling it, too,” I said with resignation.
In fact, I’d meant to initiate this conversation a month ago, but vanity had fueled my procrastination. The novelty of dating Adam had worn off within the first three weeks, but for the two months that followed he’d been a nice accessory, something to wear on my arm at faculty mixers and gallery receptions. A first-time novelist still riding the critical praise of his debut work,
Home Is Where the Heart Lies
, he had a magnetism at social gatherings, an air of importance that transferred to me when we were in public.