Authors: Judith Arnold
“GOODBYE TO ALL THAT is for any woman who has picked up that last pair of shoes or done that last stack of laundry and wanted to walk—or run—out the door. Written with wit and compassion, Ruth’s story of revival and rediscovery is simply one of the best books of the year. A must read!”
Every character is real and rare, people you already know.
You hurt for them
. . .
and love for them. A joy of a book—witty, wonderful and wise.
Jennifer Green, USA Today
Bestselling Author and winner of RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award
With surgical precision, Judith Arnold dissects the strands of family and relationships, giving voice to the often unspoken desires felt at any age. Warm, witty and unflinchingly honest about the depths to which our families shape us,
GOODBYE TO ALL THAT
was one of the best books I’ve read all year.
Bestselling Author, and two-time winner of the RWA Rita Award.
Judith Arnold’s sly, perceptive look at a family resisting change is a delightful, often humorous, read, with characters you won’t stop thinking about after you turn the final page.
Bell Bridge Books
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-116-6
Print ISBN: 978-1-61194-093-0
Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.
Copyright © 2012 by Barbara Keiler writing as Judith Arnold
Printed and bound in the United States of America.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
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Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Photo (manipulated) C Richard Thomas | Dreamstime.com
My huge thanks to the team at Bell Bridge Books: Debra Dixon, Deborah Smith, and my wonderful editor, Pat Van Wie. I am also grateful to Lisa Gardner, Jennifer Greene, Kathryn Shay, the Romexers, the Bunnies and my BHS buddies for inspiring me, encouraging me, listening to me whine and celebrating with me. Finally, thanks to Ted, who has always had more faith in me than I have in myself, and our two glorious sons, who keep my life in balance and remind me of what’s important. I love writing about families, because in my own family I am truly blessed.
It was perfect.
All right, it was small. Three rooms, the ad claimed, but Ruth would hardly call the kitchen—an L-shaped configuration of Formica counters with painted metal cabinets above and below, a stove that had cooked at least twenty years worth of meals, a stainless-steel sink that wasn’t stainless and not even enough space for a table and chairs—an actual room. A cooking alcove, maybe. A galley. An applianced hallway. She could probably jam a small, square table into the corner, with one chair. Pushed all the way in, the chair wouldn’t block the doorway into the entry, at least not much. A second chair would interfere with the refrigerator.
Ruth didn’t need a second chair.
According to the rental agent, an unnaturally perky woman in a polyester suit that struck Ruth as a little too formal for the occasion, the living room was eighteen by twenty feet. Ruth would bet the diamond earrings Richard had given her for her fiftieth birthday that the agent was exaggerating by a few feet. And the carpet—it wasn’t quite shag, but the nap was longer than it should be. It reminded Ruth of how the front yard looked in the rainy early days of summer when the lawn service skipped a week of mowing because the ground was too wet. Ruth might not have minded the carpet’s uncut-grass length if it was also uncut-grass green. But it was a dull neutral shade, somewhere between taupe and khaki.
“It matches with everything,” the rental agent boasted.
It matches with nothing,
The bedroom was small, too. Like the living room, it overlooked the parking lot. Beyond a hedge of yews bordering the lot was a broad four-lane avenue, and on the other side of the avenue was a strip mall with the First-Rate convenience store where Ruth would begin working next week.
Imagine: Ruth Bendel, a college graduate who’d written her honors thesis on Arcangelo Corelli’s use of suspended seconds, running a cash register at First-Rate.
Cash registers were complicated, she reminded herself. And even without having to master the buttons and scanners and “enters” and “deletes” on the cash register, Ruth would find the job challenging. The rituals, the responsibilities, the schedule, the social environment— everything would be different. Unfamiliar. A whole new way of life.
A double bed would just about fit inside this room, she thought as she surveyed the bedroom. Only one closet, but it was wide and she didn’t have to share it with anyone. The apartment also had a coat closet in the entry and a walk-in closet adjacent to the bathroom, as well as access to its own locked storage cage in the building’s basement.
That would be enough, she assured herself as she did a mental calculation of just what she was planning to bring with her and what she would leave behind. She wouldn’t need that many clothes, really. At First-Rate she’d be wearing an official red apron over her outfit to identify her as a store employee. So there was little point in filling the apartment’s closets with chic ensembles.
Not that she’d ever been particularly chic. Once Frugal Fannie’s had gone out of business, she’d cut way back on buying trendy clothes. She couldn’t see spending a fortune on a fancy garment so distinctive she might only wear it once. Good, solid, clothes, classic styles that lasted forever—that was her preference, especially when they were on sale.
So she’d pack some slacks, a few skirts, a few sweaters and move them here. With her red First-Rate apron covering everything she had on under it, why knock herself out?
The closet would do, she decided as she shut its hinged panel doors and surveyed the room once more. A double bed, a dresser, a night table
. . .
It would all fit in somehow. And she could buy a couple of plastic bins and stash them under the bed. They were good for storing linens and sweaters.
Better yet, she could buy a platform bed with drawers built into the frame. She’d always thought platform beds were amazing. Such a smart use of space, and they seemed so
. . .
Swedish. Sweden was an idyllic country, politically progressive, with excellent health care and maternity-leave policies. The word
was tucked inside Sweden. That had to mean something.
Richard had always been opposed to platform beds. “A bed should consist of a mattress and a box-spring,” he’d insisted. “A platform topped with foam padding doesn’t offer the proper support.” Since he was a doctor, she was supposed to accept his opinion as scientific.