Clean Margins: Linda Rocker
Nine women whose lives were impacted by the actions of others each learn some important lessons. Not all will result in s positive outcome. Some will reach inside the mind and soul of the person hoping to set free whatever is harboring the anger, resentment and fears. Each caught within the web of lies, betrayal, deceit and hidden secrets that are about to be revealed. Those that are too late to change their fate will hopefully find some redemption when the final solution comes about. Their lives were anything but perfect and how as the margins within the pages of this review are typed and appear to be uniform on both sides and clean, clear and devoid of words- sometimes what appears to be perfect is really not clean or clear cut.
Clean Margins is the title of the first of nine uniquely written stories, which are extremely thought provoking and spotlight one woman within the pages of the story. Each woman although different in some respects yet in others they are all intertwined in some way and the same. The first is a woman who is terminally ill and is hoping for some last moment dignity as she comes to terms with her husband’s infidelity. Her memories of their marriage revealed and the truth about her diagnosis possibly holding the key to his feelings and their future. The harsh realities she is facing, her final decree of him allows readers to know that sometimes in order to reconcile yourself and your feelings the margins or walls you live within become filled with stains and tears. The second story is titled Waiting. After many years of marriage a wife contemplates her life and takes time to reflect on her life. Thinking about the how she feels about him in the present, what would happen if he was gone and then her feelings from the past, the woman waits for him to alight from the bathroom after completing his usual rituals. Things change, the lines have narrowed and a simple routine will change the dynamics of their lives. But, waiting for him she does not realize the length of time and the end result will surprise readers. Within the margins of this story we hear the voice of a woman who reflects on her life, airs her complaints and learns the true meaning of isolation and loneliness. Both women in stories one and two find out hat happens when their lives take a turn in another direction and changes the course of their existence and time here in a unique and painful way.
The third story you might find humorous. The Crusader: enter the restroom of an upscale bookstore and hear the voice of an irate woman berating someone who alights from a bathroom stall and leaves evidence of what she did there on the seat. With no intention of cleaning it the woman tries to leave the restroom only to be stopped, blocked and screamed at by our narrator. The interaction was crisp, sharp and cutting. The reaction of the woman was quite startling. How many times have you entered a restroom and found the same thing? What did you do? Find out where this woman was when she was relating the story and the reaction of the person. Priceless!
Maternity is the true story about our author’s mom, Harriet. A short prologue taking place in 2012 and flashing back to 1915 and leading up to the dramatic conclusion in 1986 author Linda Rocker tells the heartbreaking story of a young girl whose life changed because someone decided she was not worth it. The secrets revealed, the deceptions uncovered and her true parentage explained as the final outcome still rocks her family today. A young girl decides to give up her child because her parents are ashamed and want nothing to do with an illegitimate child. The events are revealed, her life unfolds and young Jennifer’s whole world crumples. When the child is born and Jennifer returns home the cold reception she receives could create ice on a hot summer’s day. Living her life in the present yet it seems like she was doomed to a life in purgatory not really knowing where she belonged. But, what happens and how she is reconnected with her daughter- Harriet, the author’s mother is the story told within pages 27-53. A story so compelling, heartbreaking and sad you need to read this for yourself to understand the impact of the events even in the present. Following the story the author brings the events to life by including a family photo album on pages 55-65. The author continues with The Bargain a short but powerful story about two people destined for a downfall. A woman so insecure that she does away with the bond that will tie them together for life. His treatment of her, his manner and speech would alert anyone to his true feelings about his naïve woman. Will she open her eyes before its too late or will she like some of the others be held victim to the tears, stains and lies that are written within the margins on this page. The Setting is a powerful story of revenge, deceit and lies as Judge Nancy Kelley passes judgment on Flora Morikami and decides the fate of her unborn child leading to a courtroom scene that many right of lifers would stand up and take notice of. The hardness of the judge and her unyielding manner lets readers know that there is more to her judgment than is revealed. Ignoring the jury, the lawyers and the defendant her verdict is revealed, the fate of the child and defendant sealed. A young mother whose fate was predetermined even before she arrived in the courtroom and whose voice will not be silenced. The final outcome and the harsh reality surrounding the birth of her child will bring many questions to light and require that readers decide for themselves whose decision was right: the mother or the judge and some might questions the law, the judge or both. Flora waiting many years and could not let go of her anger, vengeance and determination to get even with the judge. What happens will surprise readers and the end result you won’t believe. Sometimes appearances are not what they seem and final outcomes realities or just illusions?
The Brides’ Dance and Fate are the next two entries followed by Ghost Stories which rounds out the collection. As one mother is overprotective of her son and wants him to live in what many might think is a plastic bubble free of germs and danger what is learned that sometimes fate has written the life of someone in their own way and although you might try to change it you can’t.
Nine stories, each so different yet interlocking and intertwined as each woman learns the result of their actions, their lies, deceits and betrayals. The main story t will surprise you as you read about Harriet the author’s mother will definitely make you wonder why no one came to her aid, why Jennifer was allowed free reign and how the final margins within the pages of each of these stories are no longer clear but filled with many questions and doubts. Nine well written, well-crafted and compelling stories that paint different pictures of the tragedies within the lives of nine women. Hear the voices of each narrator, create your own mental picture of the events and you decide whose margins are clean: if any!
Fran Lewis: reviewer