FRANCES JOHNSON, a novel
Verse Chorus Press, 2010
Originally published by Clear Cut Press, 2005
Finalist for the Washington State Book Award.
Should Frances Johnson leave her hometown of Munson, Fla. to search for chicken-beak oil, the missing ingredient for Dr. Palmer’s secret balm? Or should she marry Mark Carol, the new doctor in town, though he hasn’t proposed and there’s little indication that he’s even interested? Frances’s military-history obsessed boyfriend, Ray Garn, encourages her to do the latter. Meanwhile, outside town, there’s an undersea volcano that erupts with some regularity.
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excerpt from “Frances Johnson”
If she was not a child, then surely she was a type of girl. But she was not a girl, nor was she a married woman, by any means. She had no offspring, and often browsed through boating magazines; with her mouth and eye-wrinkles she seemed almost an older woman; but she was not. Her belly burned atavistically at times, and she could be aroused upon hearing anyone at all cough or speak her name. What was a girl? Frances never had quite considered herself a full woman; besides, older women were clearly prone to ugliness and illness. She was not that way—not yet. Was she unique?
She stepped toward Kenny, who held a broken cracker in one hand.
“Kenny, when I was four years old my mother told me, ‘You’re all alone in the world.’ And what do you know: that turned out to be true!”
He stared, then drank down a very small glass of water.