Title: Running Secrets
Author: Arleen Williams
Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction
In RUNNING SECRETS, flight attendant Chris Stevens is bent on self-destruction until she meets Gemi Kemmal, an Ethiopian home healthcare provider. Gemi and Jake, a paramedic, help Chris heal from and confront her difficult past, and regain a passion for living. In the process, Chris and Gemi forge an unusual friendship that bridges cultural, racial and age differences. Their friendship gives both women the support each needs.
Gemi comes to question restrictive traditions dictating her immigrant life, such as the headscarf she’s worn since entering puberty and the celibacy she’s practiced since the brutal death of her husband and infant in the violence that destroyed her homeland and family. Chris uncovers family secrets that challenge everything she's ever known to be true.
Together the women learn that racial identity is a choice, self expression is a right, and family is a personal construct.
Read an excerpt:
It crept in as a darkness, a long shadowy dark spiral that pulled Chris downward and kept her there. A darkness that hurt. Burying, suffocating, shadowing all meaning, all hope. A lump in the back of the throat robbing food of all pleasure. A tongue so thick, so heavy, words were impossible, thoughts couldn’t form. Eyes that burned. A body that ached. A mind that wouldn’t slow down, stop, take a break. She’d felt the darkness before,but never like this, never the inside of a coffin under six feet of heavy, damp earth. In the past, when the darkness came, she played mind games, the perfect death becoming more real than reality itself. But she still functioned. Got up, took a shower, ate breakfast. She put on a smile and went about her daily business. She even ran, but it was never a good run, a mind-clearing run, in that cloud of black...
The rain hammered the windshield as she headed north on 35thAvenue, a road with a thirty-five mile per hour speed limit that everyone,cops included, ignored, even as the rain dropped like a curtain. Rain and the pulsating intervals of the dim streetlights: shadow-light-shadow-light. A Morse code of darkness.The arterial was undivided. The oncoming traffic came hard and fast. Rain and steamed-up windows in old junkers like her battered Toyota made the limited visibility even worse. She no longer paid attention to the traffic around her, to the rain or the slick streets. She accelerated, unaware, staring towards the golf course at the foot of a steep hill. She accelerated in the precise spot where most drivers had a foot hovering over the brake, coasting, ready to brake at any moment.
The space closed between her and the car in front of her. She accelerated, and in one swift movement, she pulled the wheel to the right. The car took flight, jumping the curb, grazing the concrete base of a tall Native American totem pole and plunging headfirst down a steep embankment into the northwest blackberry brambles that covered the hillside. The noise, the crunch of metal and glass, shattered the darkness that was Chris’s mind. She felt a sharp pressure on her chest pinning her against the seat as the airbag inflated with the first frontal hit. The car rolled over and over and over again slamming her head back and forth into the side window until it dripped with blood. She rolled for eternity, and then there was stillness.
Arleen Williams is the author of The Thirty-Ninth Victim, a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister's murder. She teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle Community College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle. Running Secrets is her first work of fiction as well as the first book in The Alki Trilogy. To learn more, please visit www.AlkiTrilogy.com.
Arleen Williams holds a M.Ed. from the University of Washington and an English as a Second Language teaching position at South Seattle Community College where she's worked with immigrants and refugees for almost three decades. Her published works include:
The Thirty-Ninth Victim (2008)
"The Supermarket," Crosscurrents 2009
"The Promise," In Our Prime: Empowering Essays by Women on Love Family, Career, Againg and Just Coping (2010)
"The Painting," Crosscurrents 2010 (Best Prose Award)
"Letting Go," "Writing at Louisa's," and "Spa Day - An excerpt from Moving Mom, a memoir in progress," Sunday Ink: Works by the Uptown Writers (2010),
"Remembering Dad - An excerpt from Moving Mom, a memoir in progress," Crosscurrents 2011
"The Painful Legacy of Gary Ridgway," The Seattle Times (March 4, 2011)
She has has a collection of over forty personal essays at www.arleenwilliams.com.
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