- N. N. Light
Reinventing Rita by Nancy Christie is a recommended read #womensfiction #laterinlife #bookboost
Title Reinventing Rita
Author Nancy Christie
Genre Women’s fiction/Contemporary
Is fifty too old to start over and reinvent yourself? That's what Rita Reynolds has to decide after a series of unwelcome occurrences arrive in time for her fiftieth birthday. Suffering from a bad case of empty-nest syndrome combined with the possible loss of her part-time job, Rita is also facing the unwelcome realization that, since her divorce, she's been coasting on the highway of life. Now, it’s time to hit the gas and start moving ahead, if she can overcome her fear that it might be too late for a fresh start.
REINVENTING RITA—Chapter 1 excerpt
“Well, that’s not how it was supposed to look! can’t anything turn out right?”
I dropped the paint roller on the tray and pushed my hair out of my face, then took a better look at the color. It was meant to be Marine Blue to go along with the nautical theme I had envisioned for my son’s room, figuring it would be more appropriate for a twenty-one-year-old than the sports motif wallpaper that had been on the wall since Zack turned twelve.
That was the idea anyway. But as the paint dried, it was a darned sight closer to robin’s egg, giving it the unmistakable air of a nursery. Granted, he would only be staying here during summer break, but still I wanted it to be perfect.
I wanted everything to be perfect—the color, the room, the entire three-month visit. I wanted it to be so perfect that, when Zack graduated next June, he might just come back here to live.
But so far, nothing was going according to plan. Not only had I selected the wrong shade of paint, but I was also now left on my own when it came to picking out new curtains and bedding for Zack’s room, since my mother had backed out of our Sunday shopping plans.
“Oh, honey, I forgot to call you,” she said when I finally reached her. Lately, every time I called my mother, it either went straight to voice mail, or if she answered, it was a brief conversation because she was on her way out. For a woman in her mid-seventies, she sure had a busy social life. “I can’t go. I promised the group that I would be one of the drivers for the trip to the outlet mall in Pennsylvania.”
“Couldn’t you have told me this sooner?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, Rita. But can’t you get your boss to go with you?”
“No, I can’t. Weekends are busy days at Design2Go, and Donna can’t take time off from her business to go shopping just because I need advice,” I said.
“Well, maybe we can do it another day. But now I really must go. Have a good day, sweetie,” and without waiting for my answer, she ended the call, leaving me thoroughly aggravated, although I wasn’t sure whether it was at her or the prospect of venturing alone into the home linen and accessory arena.
Design had never been my strong point, which made my position as a salesclerk at Design2Go problematic. People flocked to our thousand- square-foot store for everything from curtains for the kitchen and towels for the bathroom to décor for living room walls and throw rugs for the laundry room. And my job is to help them develop a look that was uniquely theirs—despite my woeful inability to distinguish between trendy and classic, modern and contemporary, or organic cotton and polyester.
And apparently, if my most recent purchase was any indication, between nursery room blue and the navy shade I really wanted.
Maybe if I turned on the overhead light the paint color would look different. I stepped back, reaching for the switch behind me, but instead my foot collided with the edge of the roller tray and suddenly the floor was awash with Marine Blue.
“Damn it!” I reached for the roll of paper towels, but then heard the distant ringing of my cell phone. Hurriedly slipping off my paint-covered shoes, I headed down the hall to the kitchen where I found my phone buried under a dishtowel.
“Hello,” I snapped, thinking about the mess I had left in the bedroom.
“Wow, what’s wrong with you?”
At the sound of my son’s voice, all the irritation of the past few hours melted away. “How nice to hear from you, Zack! But you just called last week. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said. “Can’t I just call you?” as if I heard from him every day, when, in reality, he rarely called at all, preferring to communicate via short and to-the-point texts.
“It’s either that or call you at midnight,” he had said when I complained about those impersonal messages. “You know how crazy my schedule is with school and work.”
What he didn’t understand was that I would gladly take a call from him at two in the morning, just to hear his voice. Ever since he went away to school, he rarely seemed to have a spare moment to talk to me. Although he had found enough free time to acquire a girlfriend—a pre- med student named Angie, whom I only heard about in passing but had yet to meet.
“I guess,” I said, my concerns only partially allayed. “I was just painting your room. I was going for a sea captain style—remember how much you loved reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea when you were younger? I still have to get curtains and bedding though, but don’t worry—it’ll be finished before you come home,” still wondering why he called.
“Uh, yeah, about that…” He paused for a moment, setting my maternal antennae vibrating. “Don’t go to a lot of trouble. I won’t be home long—probably under a week. Just until my passport comes through.”
“Passport? Why do you need a passport?”
“Yeah, well, I got this great chance to go overseas with Building a Better World. We’re doing this cool project over in Ethiopia,” a country I knew little about but whose name immediately brought to mind disease, famine, and a lack of sanitary facilities, “and I’ll be heading the team constructing wells for a water supply at one of the villages. Isn’t that great?”
“Yes, yes, just great,” all the while thinking that my baby—the infant I had nursed through months of colic, the child who took four years to get through a two-year regimen of allergy shots, the adolescent who caught every germ that entered Ohio—was now going to some unhealthy, unhygienic, and undoubtedly politically dangerous locale instead of coming home to spend three months with his mother.
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Nancy Christie has been making up stories since she learned how to write, and she plans to continue as long as her fingers can work the keyboard. She can often be found walking the streets of her neighborhood, reciting lines of dialogue or recording plot ideas on her cell phone before they escape her mind.
Reinventing Rita (the first in her Midlife Moxie novel series) is Nancy's sixth book. Her other books include The Gifts of Change, Rut-Busting Book for Writers, Rut-Busting Book for Authors, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories. Mistletoe Magic, her third fiction collection, will be released late 2023. Her books and short stories have won awards and earned contest placements.
Nancy is the creator and host of the Living the Writing Life podcast and founder of the annual "Celebrate Short Fiction" Day. She's a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Women's Fiction Writers Association, and the Florida Writers Association. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads. For more about Nancy, visit her website at www.nancychristie.com.
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