Excerpt from The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Garden of Small Beginnings

by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman X
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
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    May 2017, 368 pages

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Prologue

It's been more than three years since my husband died, yet in many ways he's more useful than ever. True, he's not around to take out the trash, but he's great to bitch at while I'm doing it myself, and he's generally excellent company, invisibility notwithstanding. And as someone to blame he's unparalleled, because he isn't there to contradict me, on account of being cremated. I talk to him a lot, though our conversations have devolved from metaphysical explorations of the meaning of death to generic married conversations about what to have for dinner, or who's on the hook for the lost tax returns.

When he died in a car accident, fifty feet from our front door, I seriously considered dying too, too. Not because my heart was broken, though that was true, but because my mind was completely boggled by the logistical challenges of living without him. However, it's just as well I didn't, because he would have been waiting for me in heaven, and man, would he have been pissed. He'd have made eternity feel like forever, I can promise you that.

I was driving along, letting my brain spiral aimlessly, when my phone rang. It was my sister, Rachel.

"Hey, Lil, are you on your way to get the kids?" Just the sound of her voice made me smile.

"I am. Your knowledge of my daily schedule is embarrassing for both of us." I flicked on the indicator, slowed a little for the light, and made a turn. All with the phone illegally wedged under my ear. Sometimes I astound even myself.

"Can you pick something up for me on your way back?"

"Am I coming to your house?" Maybe I'd forgotten. It wasn't impossible.

"Well, you might have been. How do I know? Anyway, I haven't seen the kids for a couple of days, and you know how they pine."

I laughed. "I can honestly say they haven't mentioned you once."

She laughed back at me. "You know, one day you'll accept they love me more than you, and your denial of it isn't helping any of us move forward."

I pulled into the carpool line, doing the silent eyebrow raise and smile of greeting through the windshield at the teacher on duty. "Look, I'll admit they're fond of you. What is it you need, anyway? Something fundamental, like milk, or something more typical, like lubricant and a Duraflame?"

Suddenly a small palm smacked the window, making me jump and leaving a smear. Its owner, Annabel, peered in and narrowed her eyes. Her younger sister Clare stood behind her, gazing spacily around. Behind both of them, the teacher smiled tightly, telegraphing long-suffering patience with an undercurrent of threat if I didn't get my ass in gear. I hurriedly hit the door-open button. I'd hate for her to drag out the death ray on my account.

My sister was answering me. "I need a pound of bacon, some Parmesan cheese, spaghetti, eggs, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of red wine. And butter, of course."

"I'll call you back." I straightened my head, dropping the phone on the floor. "Do you need help or can you get her in, Bel?"

"I got it."

Annabel was only seven but had the gravitas of a forty-year-old career diplomat. She'd been born that way, calmly mastering breast-feeding, crawling, eating solids, and whatever else I threw at her. She regarded the world resignedly, as if we were exactly as we'd been described in the brochure: a little underwhelming, but what can you do? She buckled Clare in, struggling with the straps.

"Too tight?"

Clare shook her head.

"Too loose?"

Clare shook her head, her large brown eyes fastened trustingly on her older sister. Annabel nodded at her, turning to climb into her own seat, fastening her own harness with the self-assurance of a test pilot on his fiftieth run, rather than someone with no front teeth and a Dora barrette in her hair.

Excerpted from The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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