Goodbye to “Fall”

FallIt was one of those stories that was born in a moment of inspiration. After discovering Murrells Inlet during mine and my husband’s anniversary trip to the South Carolina coast, we stopped at a restaurant with a breathtaking view of scenery previously hidden by a row of restaurants. The sky was blue that warm August day, and sunlight sparkled om the water. Across the way, the red roof of a house or apartment building (I couldn’t tell from that distance) caught my eye. And suddenly, a story was born.

I grabbed a napkin and started writing. Before our Po’ Boys and fries arrived, I’d written the basics : A man from Atlanta, seeking to improve his life, stumbles onto Murrells Inlet. As he turns toward the restaurant, the house catches his eye. While looking at it, he hits a pedestrian, forcing him to stay. As he deals with the repercussions, he becomes involved with several locals, all of whom would change his life.

We lived in the South Carolina Upstate at the time, and upon returning home, I began my research. What I learned amazed me as much as the view of the inlet had. Murrells Inlet was a place of history. Mickey Spillane had lived there, as had Archer and Ann Huntington, who owned the land that is now Huntington State Park and Brookgreen Gardens. The hamlet was once so beautiful and so pristine, someone referred to it as the Garden of Eden.

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That had to be reflected in the title. Since the story would take place in Murrells Inlet during the autumn, when (at the time) most restaurants were only opened during dinner hours, and since, as it turned out, pedestrian were often struck along that stretch of road, I named the story Fall in Eden.

I wrote the first draft in forty days. Over the next few years, I revised the plot and the storyline. When the final draft was complete, a character by the name of Adam Tucker was leaving Atlanta after a heart attack momentarily ended his life. A successful real estate broker with plenty of money, he heads to Murrells Inlet after picking the place by tossing a dime on map–the first of many steps he would take to curb his controlling nature. A trait he inherited from his mother. On arrival in Murrells Inlet, he spots a house he considers buying. As our distracted driver turns toward the only restaurant opened for lunch, he hits Lorelei Walker, an impoverished waitress on her way to work for the lunch rush. She’s taken to the hospital, as is he after experiencing chest pains.

He would like to leave, but the accident forces Adam to stick around until liability issues are resolved. Over the course of the next few days, he meets Miss Aida, a descendant of slaves who once worked the rice fields at a local plantation and who turns out to be the owner of the little pink restaurant called The Yellowfin where Lorelei works. He also meets Dr. Kristen Reynolds, with whom he feels an instant (and mutual) attraction, and Deputy Mark Borelli, who doesn’t take kindly to Adam injuring the woman he quietly adores, especially when Adam’s efforts to make restitution comes off as romantic interest.

The story moves along and tangles as Adam attempts to share the gospel with Kristen and Lorelei, a quiet, stubborn woman who tries to deflect any help he’s willing to give. Actions that confuse Adam and Miss Aida and attention that upsets Mark and Kristen. Slipping back into his controlling ways, Adam becomes determined to solve Lorelei’s problems, especially after local gossip leads to the spread of false rumors. The time comes when Adam is forced to choose between reaching Kristen before he loses her and helping Lorelei before she moves–literally–out of his reach and the help he knows she needs. His decision endangers his relationships–and his life.

It was a lovely story. An allegory about the church written for the church. I can’t emphasize how proud I am of it. So why take it down?

Unlike the era in which I wrote the story (2004) we now live in an age where the mention of sin and repentance in a story–even Christian Fiction–are no longer welcomed. Adam has the audacity to discuss both with Kristen as he’s sharing the gospel with her, and he often comes off as judgemental. In addition, any unfavorable view of poverty–even from a character who needs to learn and to grow–is unacceptable. Adam thinks unkind things about Lorelei at first and later, about her neighbors. Such thoughts are politically and socially incorrect. Never mind that her neighborhood represents one in which we lived during the early, rather impoverished years of our marriage and I witnessed such things for myself. Never mind that people have the same opinions in real life. Never mind that Lorelei and Miss Aida force Adam to rethink his attitudes and start looking at people for who and what they are. It isn’t nice to put such things in print.

Okay, and the cover could have been better…

Fall in Eden has become a book out of its time, so it’s time to retire the story. My thanks to all who have read the story and to those who supported me as I wrote it. I hoped it blessed you as much as writing it blessed me.

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