Needlework, The Novel
Julie completed the first draft of her novel, Needlework, in 1997. After discussions with her agent and a publisher, she began revising that draft until her illness made it impossible to continue. I have compiled the latest versions of Needlework I found in her files.
I am publishing that compilation of her novel, a chapter at a time in serial fashion, on AllanShowalter.com. All posted portions of Needlework can be accessed at Needlework – With Links To Published Portions.
Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.
Needlework – Chapter 14: PDF Download
To download a PDF version of Chapter 14 of Needlework by Julie Showalter, go to Needlework: Chapter 14 – PDF
Needlework – Chapter 14: Manuscript
Needlework – Chapter 14
David and Aunt Lila were in the kitchen drinking coffee when I got there. For all the sadness of that day, I felt light, and I wanted to tease him. “Don’t you have a home?” I asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do, but this seems to be where all my pretty sort-of cousins hang out.”
“Don’t forget you’ve got a sort-of aunt here who likes you too,” Aunt Lila said. “I’ve come to talk to Pauline. Can I bother her?”
“She’s in the bedroom, but she’s not asleep. I heard her crying. I don’t know if she’ll talk to you.”
I knocked on the door. She didn’t answer so I went in and sat on the edge of her bed. I took the ring out of my pocket. “This is yours.”
“No. Daddy wanted it to go to you. He didn’t want me to have it.”
“Pauline, Uncle Clete was sick and confused. He wanted to make sure I knew about a secret that had been bothering him. He couldn’t talk enough to tell me. Anyway, I can’t imagine him ever being able to tell me something like this. So he made sure I knew the only way he
could. He set things up so someone would have to tell me. But I don’t think he really wanted me to have his ring. If he’d wanted that, he would have made arrangements a long time ago.”
“You really think so?”
I didn’t really believe the last part. Uncle Clete never planned more than two days ahead in his life. But I did believe he used the ring as a way to get the secret out. I think he meant what he told Aunt Baby, that he wished he had something to give both of us. He thought I needed the ring more, but he was wrong about that. “Pauline, I swear, I think Uncle Clete wanted you to have this.”
“If I take it, Fred will end up with it.”
“If you don’t want him to, don’t let him. Give it to Daddy or Uncle Othel or do what Granno wants and sell it. Have it made into a necklace. It’s yours.”
“Maybe Mom would keep it for me.” “That’s an idea.”
“She could hold it until I decide what to do.” “What might you do, Pauline?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll leave him. Maybe I’ll go to the AA like he’s always saying he wants me to.”
“But you are going back with him to California?” “I have to. That’s where my babies are.”
David was on the front porch again. I sat next to him. “You are the first person to know this,” I said. “I am not getting married on September first. I am not getting married on September second. I may even declare right now that I’m not getting married during the whole damned month of September.”
“Well, congratulations, I guess.” He took my chin in his hand like he had earlier. “Yes. Congratulations.”
He kissed me.
His lips weren’t so hot they burned like ice, but there was definitely some fire. I kissed him back. Definite fire. I leaned back on my elbows feeling free and happy. I couldn’t stop smiling.
“To what do you owe this change of plans?” David asked.
“Some serious thinking about choices and mistakes you make when you’re young and frightened. Maybe a little bit to some of the things you said yesterday about taking the easy way out.”
“You know, I was thinking about that conversation too, about how I was complaining about not having a year to do what I want. It hits me that I do have two months. I’m not due back at school until September 11. I can go anywhere I want for two months.” He smiled. “Where should I go Jan? Where would you want to go in the whole world?”
“I don’t know.” I’d never thought of going anywhere. “Richard and I had planned a honeymoon at his cousin’s cabin at Lake of the Ozarks.”
“Come on, Jan. How about England? See Carnaby Street? Wear mini-skirts and look for the Beatles? Wouldn’t you like to do that?”
“Well, sure. It sounds like fun.”
“Let’s do it. You come with me. We can hitch a ride to Amarillo and catch a plane from there. You can fly standby for almost nothing. Maybe we won’t even go to England.
Maybe we’ll just go to New York and see what’s happening there.” As near as I can tell, the sounds I made came out “Iya, Iya Iya.”
“What’s the matter? If you’re worried about sex, we don’t have to do that. We can wait and see what develops. I think you’re pretty and smart and fun to be with. We’d have a terrific time.”
I finally produced a sentence. “Iya don’t think I can do that.” I took a deep breath. Another. “I have a life to plan.”
“You don’t want to plan too much. It’ll get you in trouble. You need some spontaneity in your life.”
I laughed. “David, I’m afraid I have to plan my spontaneity.” Daddy’s philosophy about taking a single leap was a good one, but I wasn’t quite ready to jump from marrying Richard to going to England with David in one afternoon. Right now I was still in midair, and I had to figure out where I was going to land.
And I needed to talk to my mother.
Most of the people were gone when I walked into Granno’s house. I found Mother sitting at the kitchen table smoking. She was frightened of me. She didn’t know how much I knew, still didn’t know what Daddy knew. I could destroy her world with a single sentence. Or I could do like Daddy — think about it a while, forgive, move on.
“Mother,” I said. “I want my room back.”
Athens Evening Globe
Athens, Missouri, January 6, 1966
Virginia Diane Lewis and Richard Allan Harrison have announced their engagement. The bride-elect, a 1965 Athens High graduate, is employed by Williams Manufacturing. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lewis, own a farm on Route 5 east of Athens.
Mr. Harrison, a 1962 Athens graduate, works at Harrison’s Dairy Farm, owned by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Harrison.
A June wedding is planned.
Athens Evening Globe
Athens, Missouri, April 10, 1966
From “Town Tid-bits”
Jaynice Ray Hopewell, who is completing her associate’s degree at Joplin Junior College this spring, has been awarded a scholarship for the fall to Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield. She plans to major in mathematics.