Book Excerpt: Brett & Julia, a contrast & a conversation
Standing above an archaeological excavation, Brett and Julia have their first private and honest conversation. Could two people be more different? Could they imagine in a few short months they'd be married? It must be doubted at this moment as they argue and reveal secrets they've told no one. Perhaps this is what starts the spark....
Julia kicked at the rocks. “I dropped out of school.”
“Why?” Another alien concept. Brett had taught himself to read, he was certain, although he couldn’t remember. He’d been tutored by his mother before he’d started any kind of formal education. He’d spent all his free time reading books. Well, maybe not all his spare time. Had he been reading that day instead of… He couldn’t think of that.
“Reading is hard for me. I can read. Just not well. Things get mixed up. Letters and stuff. They say I have dyslexia.” Julia looked up at him like she’d start crying again. “But that doesn’t mean I’m stupid!” She said it defensively.
Did this woman do anything but cry? Instead of getting angry as Brett tended to do, he felt himself softening. Her defensiveness. She’d been bullied. So had he. They had that in common. Somewhere to start.
Start what? His mind tripped down another rabbit hole of thoughts.
Julia hadn’t spoken this much since she’d started as his assistant. Normally it was “yes, sir” this and “no, sir” that. Nothing more. Now she wouldn’t shut up like a dam had broken. The more she spoke, the faster the words came out.
“I don’t belong here,” she began. “The words are hard to read. Harder to pronounce. I shouldn’t have signed up. I-it was my sister-in-law’s idea. She has good intentions. I love her. Really. But I’ve made a fool of myself. All day long I hear words I can barely pronounce: Silurian Sea, reef core, dolomite beds. What the heck? What are those things? Triceratops horridus. I thought it was just a triceratops. Why is it horrendous? It’s like a foreign language only it’s all English. Which is worse! My sister-in-law bought a book for her baby. I didn’t know what a triceratops looked like until I saw the book! A baby book! By next week I won’t remember how to pronounce these words. I am stupid. I-I need to go.”
Brett caught her arm. “Don’t.” His voice was gruff to his ears.
“What part of ‘I don’t belong here’ don’t you understand? I’m nothing special. I’m dumb. I realize it. Everyone else realizes it. That’s why I dropped out of school. God, I can’t believe I’m being so honest with you. It’s not like I banged my head!”
“Shhh. Our voices carry up here.” Brett glanced beyond the slight brush that disguised them. Neither Jamie nor any of those around her looked up. “You’re not dumb. If you have dyslexia, I can help you with that.”
Julia made a face. “How? You’re not a doctor.”
“Leave that to me. What are you doing after this?”
“I don’t have to be at work until 9.”
“Things aren’t handed to me like they are you,” she shot back.
Brett flinched. “You don’t know me.”
Julia immediately backed down. “Sorry. I’m just used to…”
“Don’t mention it.” He looked away, recalling the times people had mistaken him for something he wasn’t.
“I stock shelves at a grocery store.” She blushed. “I’m sure that’s boring to you.”
Brett brushed it off as unimportant.
“So nothing. Until then,” Julia finished with a shuddered breath.
“OK then.” Brett was all business. “I’ll take you to dinner. Then to a bookstore. We should be back by the time you have to work.”
“Shhh. Trust me, OK?” He looked her in the eye, hoping to reassure her as his mind whirled.
Instead of crying—more—Julia turned all smiles. A forced smile, but a smile nonetheless. “OK then. Can I ask you something in return?”
“OK?” Brett wondered what she had to ask. Her face darkened with gravity.
“Why do you wear such big glasses? Those went out of style in the ‘80s. Little ones like John Lennon wears might look better. Sorry. Beatles fan. Give peace a chance, and all that. Might not slip down your nose so much though. Sorry, I couldn’t help noticing.”
Brett stuttered and stammered. He pushed his glasses up. How did he answer this?
He didn’t have to. Julia exclaimed, “Is that a tunnel?”
The Courtship of Brett Poole is available internationally on Amazon, Kobo, and GooglePlay.
Also available in all local online Amazon locations.