Excerpt from The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Forgetting Time

by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin X
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 368 pages
    Feb 2017, 368 pages


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She felt his eyes lingering on her face and tried to withhold any evidence of the rising warmth in her cheeks. "You're tough, all right," he drawled, "but your vulnerability is showing. That's not a New York trait."

Her vulnerability was showing? This was news to her. She wanted to ask where, so she could tuck it back where it belonged.

"So?" He leaned closer to her. He smelled like coconut sun lotion and curry and sweat. "Where are you really from?"

It was a tricky question. She usually demurred. The Midwest, she'd say. Or: Wisconsin, because she'd spent the longest time there, if you included college. She hadn't been back, though, since.

She never told anyone the truth. Except, for some reason, now. "I'm not from anywhere."

He shifted in his seat, frowning. "What do you mean? Where'd you grow up?"

"I don't—" She shook her head. "You don't want to hear about all this."

"I'm listening."

She glanced up at him. He was. He was listening.

But listening was not the word. Or maybe it was: a word usually used passively, suggesting a kind of muted receptiveness, the acceptance of the sound that comes from another person, I hear you, whereas what he was doing now with her felt shockingly muscular and intimate: listening with force, the way animals listen to survive in the woods.

"Well…" She took a breath. "My dad had one of those regional sales jobs where they kept moving us around. Four years here, two years there. Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington State, Wisconsin. It was just the three of us. Then he kind of … kept on moving—I don't know where he went. Someplace without us. My mom and I lived in Wisconsin until I was out of college and then she moved to New Jersey until she died." It still felt strange to say it; she tried to look away from his intent eyes, but it was impossible. "Anyway, then I moved to New York, because most people there don't belong anywhere, either. So I have no particular allegiance to any place. I'm from nowhere. Isn't that funny?"

She shrugged. The words had bubbled up from inside of her. She hadn't really meant to say them.

"It sounds pretty fucking lonely," he said, still frowning, and the word was like a tiny toothpick pricking that soft part of her she hadn't meant to show. "Don't you have family somewhere?"

"Well, there's an aunt in Hawaii, but—" What was she doing? Why was she saying this to him? She stopped talking, appalled. She shook her head. "I don't do this. I'm sorry."

"But we haven't done anything," he said. There was no mistaking the wolfish shadow that crossed his face. A line from Shakespeare came to her, something her mother used to whisper to Janie when they passed teenage boys at the mall: "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look." Her mother was always saying things like that.

"I mean," Janie stammered, "I don't talk like this. I don't know why I'm telling you this now. It must be the rum."

"Why shouldn't you tell me?"

She glanced at him. She couldn't believe she had opened herself up to him—that she was falling under the admittedly considerable charms of this businessman from Houston who wore a wedding ring.

"Well, you're a—"

"A what?"

A stranger. But that sounded too childlike. She grabbed the first word she could think of: "A Republican?" She laughed lightly, trying to make a joke out of it. She didn't even know if it was true.

Irritation spread like brushfire across his face.

"And that makes me what? Some kind of philistine?"

"What? No. Not at all."

"You think that, though. I can see it plain as day on your face." He was sitting up straight now. "You think we don't feel the same things you do?" His brown eyes, which had been so admiring, bore into her with a kind of wounded fury.

Excerpted from The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin. Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Guskin. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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