Allegra Huston On Writing Plus Read An Excerpt From Say My Name

A few days ago, I got an email via my website, from a woman who had recently moved to Taos and picked up my book on a whim. She wrote:

“I felt such a kinship with your characters and their journey. Yes, the erotic explorations Eve experiences are compelling, but Eve’s personal arc in the novel was so startlingly similar to what is happening to me right now as a 50 year old woman having “run away”  that I feel a little unhinged by it in the best possible way. I actually copied a particular passage into my journal from chapter 12 , ‘Do I need someone to be of use to justify my existence? Do I need someone to desire me, in order to feel alive?’ Startling. Transformative. Thank You. Revelations are actually pretty rare so I appreciate it so much when they come.”

This is why I write! – To speak from my heart out into the world, in the hope of connections exactly like this. Thank you, Tess, for opening your heart to Eve’s and mine.

***

She thinks often about whether she loves Micajah, whether she is in love with him, and what the difference is. He keeps surprising her with some new angle to love him for; yet how much of it is her own desire to be in love, since that’s how these stories go? Like all little girls, she grew up into the creed that love is what we live for.

She feels a glow when she thinks of him, and not an hour passes now that she doesn’t… But she can live without him.
She can imagine being happy without him. What she cannot imagine is ever being in love, in the way she used to believe in love, again. When she was young, being in love meant all or nothing, bliss or misery—more misery, now that she looks back on it, because the bliss was shot through with both fear of loss and a gnawing hunger that even the man she loved could never really satisfy. Something he said would flood her with joy, but most things he said were in some way disappointing. One caress would transport her; the rest of the time, his caresses fell obscurely short.

It wasn’t Larry’s fault, she thinks. I told him I loved him, and he believed me. It was my fault that I didn’t know I wanted more. He wanted more too. He just realized it before I did…

She remembers a morning when she was alone in the kitchen. It was a weekend, Saturday or Sunday, she can’t remember. Larry had already begun meditating in the mornings. At first, Eve had felt hurt that he did not come down to breakfast with her but disappeared into the guest room, to his altar. They were still sleeping together then, in the same bed and in the other sense, too. It was cold, a winter morning, and she made oatmeal. She warmed up some frozen blueberries in the microwave and added them, with real maple syrup. She felt a rare rush of happiness as she poured it. Its liquid sweetness would suffuse her, make everything all right. She served the oatmeal in a porcelain bowl and her spoon rang on it as she ate, its bell-like vibration hanging in the air.

She heard Larry on the stairs. He would probably want some too.

He went straight to the cabinet, not looking at her. Eve felt relieved that he was getting his own breakfast, and guilty that she felt that way. She heard a drawer open and close behind her. She hoped his silence was companionable. There were more silences than there used to be, particularly in the mornings, which Eve ascribed to the meditating. Wolves did not waste words, shoot off their mouths, make empty conversation. They did what needed to be done, looked after their own, were loyal to their pack but guarded a fierce independence of spirit. This new confidence and determination would be good for Larry.

Clang! Larry banged a spoon, hard, against a bowl, an inch from her ear. Eve jumped in her chair as if she’d been hit. He Larry put the bowl back in the cabinet and the spoon back in the drawer, then walked out of the room and out of the house. He’d been mean to Eve before, but she’d always found a reason to excuse him. This time there was none. Her upset roiled with the injustice of it. The sounds of her breakfast had evidently disturbed his meditation, but wasn’t the point of meditating to develop calmness?

For weeks, Eve fantasized about doing the same thing to him. A bowl in her left hand, spoon in her right, she would creep into the guest room, where he lay dreaming of his pack and the Arctic tundra, or wherever the hell wolves live. She would hold the bowl so close to his ear that the tiny hairs touched it, and bang it with the spoon. Day after day, the imaginary bowl shattered in her hand—a thing of beauty broken in anger. But her anger didn’t subside. The fantasy meltdown was intoxicating, and her addiction to it made her feel that she was going mad. Now, looking back, she sees her rage as a sign of strength.

  • Years ago, frightened by passion, Eve settled for less: marrying safely, building a solid, ordinary life. Now she longs for more.

    One day, treasure hunting for a friend’s antiques shop, she finds a mysterious instrument, carved with twining vines. It sends her on a quest—and into a compelling connection with a young man, the son of ...

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