Posted on February 6, 2015
Sometimes, what doesn’t wind up in a story tells you as much about a character as what does. When I was finding Beverly Wilson, murder victim Ben Cromwell’s grandmother, I wrote a longish section that described some of her motivation for moving to Falling Waters, WV. The section didn’t make it into the novel, mostly because it wasn’t necessary. But just to give you a taste of what Beverly is like, and why Detective Sam Lagarde might have fallen in love with her, here’s her back story.
Planting and weeding in the small garden behind her townhouse was the closest thing she could find to being with her husband Tom on their property in Burkitsville. Known only in the wider world because of the Blair Witch movie, Burkitsville’s quaint 18th century obscurity had been their haven for decades. Tom farmed and she was a farmer’s wife. She had loved that life, everything about it. She loved being a wife and friend to a tinkerer, someone who would wake up at 5 a.m. with a solution to a problem in his head, throw on his clothes and head out to his workshop to put pieces of metal or wood or leather together in a way that would make a broken thing work, whether it was a broken tractor motor, a disintegrating lock on the gate, or the furnace pilot light. She loved the freedom of having hundreds of acres of her own land to roam. She loved the freedom her husband gave her to do whatever she wanted inside their house. She gave him similar freedom to do whatever he wanted with crops, livestock, and crazy schemes to teach city people about farming. She loved the cooking and cleaning and gardening. She loved bringing up her children in that home, even though she could see that by the time they were fifteen both her son and daughter were itching to be somewhere else, anywhere else. Her son was off in the wider world now, roaming around Europe, South America, and Asia with a backpack and a sturdy companion Beverly found herself liking more every time she spent time with him. Her son was not going to tie himself to property, at least not now, maybe not ever.
He once said to her, “Mom, you and Dad never had a vacation. You could never leave the farm. Some cow was always in labor or Dad was negotiating for another few hundred acres. Didn’t you feel trapped?”
Answering him, she realized that she had never felt trapped. Being with Tom on the farm was the life she craved. It was everything to her. Her husband’s long, agonizing sickness and death took that life away from her. She could not work the farm alone and she didn’t want to bring in some stranger as a partner. It was best to sell it all and move on. Now she could have all the vacations she wanted, except that she didn’t want to go anywhere. Maybe someday she would. Her son was always bringing her books and pamphlets about the amazing sights in other countries. She could not see herself going alone. To whom would she turn to share her joy in watching the light change in the late afternoons over the Mediterranean Sea, as her son had described to her?
For more Beverly, you’ll have to read the book when it comes out.