on the cover:
Dark and gritty, whimsical and funny, and captivating, Secrets Keep weaves a seductive, dreamy web that feels like a memory, perhaps a nightmare.
“True to form, Sillitoe writes with wonderful shocks of metaphor. Behind a mysterious death—the most poignant and horrifying I’ve read—are compelling, intriguing issues. This is far more than a page turner.”
—Margaret Young • author, Elegies and Lovesongs
“A gripping story about sex and morality, the unseen and the uncanny, good and evil, Sillitoe shows how nurturing families can twist each other. Along the way she teaches us something about our time and place and ourselves.”
—Rod Decker • author, An Environment for Murder
“Sillitoe finds cultural and psychological intersections, places in the world where hearts and minds can get all mixed up. This is a journey to the heart of the heart of the matter, deep places where family secrets hide.”
—Ellen Fagg • editor, The Way We Live: Stories by Utah Women
about the author: Linda Sillitoe is the author of Sideways to the Sun; Windows on the Sea; Crazy for Living; and co-author of Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders which received a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
by Linda Sillitoe
Salt Lake City
dedication: FOR MY CONSULTANTS, Mike, Marybeth, Scott, DeAnn, Rachel, Jess, Linda, and Clifford
Author’s note: The characters and events in this work are fictional, as is Nebo County.
Cover design by Ron Stucki
∞ Secrets Keep was printed on acid-free paper
and was composed, printed and bound in the United States.
© 1995 Signature Books, Inc.
Signature Books is a registered trademark of Signature Books, Inc.
99 98 97 96 95 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Secrets keep: a novel / by Linda Sillitoe.
ISBN 1-56085-079-5 (paper)
Prologue [see below]
01 – Roger Lewis
02 – Barbara Fetzer
03 – Nick Fazzio
04 – James Hubbard
05 – Caitlin Findlay
06 – Marly Lewis
07 – Roger Lewis
08 – Caitlin Findlay
09 – Barbara Fetzer
10 – Caitlin Findlay
11 – James Hubbard
12 – Caitlin Findlay
13 – Nick Fazzio
14 – Caitlin Findlay
15 – Marly Lewis
16 – James Hubbard
17 – Caitlin Findlay
18 – Barbara Fetzer
19 – Marly Lewis
20 – Caitlin Findlay
21 – Roger Lewis
22 – Barbara Fetzer
23 – Caitlin Findlay
24 – Marly Lewis
25 – Roger Lewis
26 – James Hubbard
27 – Caitlin Findlay
28 – Roger Lewis
29 – Epilogue
[p.1]I lead a normal life now, perhaps I should say again. Or right now. Yet in the blank hours that tend to accrue in a normal life, I find myself recounting what happened before, drawing it forth like a slow exorcism.
Why look back? When African violets bloom in the windows and bills are paid and nothing leaks. Relishing normalcy, I find it necessary to purge.
For a while the specifics hindered me—the names of people, streets, towns, groups—until I happened across a community a thousand miles away where women and men replicated my hometown unaware. All it takes is a strong communal sense of what’s real. It could happen in a neighborhood in Atlanta, or Walnut Creek, or Kansas City, or Nashville, or Boise.
The place requires enough homogeneity that people’s ideas don’t get jarred more than once or twice in a lifetime. And there needs to be enough prosperity that people have extra space for the sharp-edged, awkward, homespun, sticky stuff that doesn’t fit the rooms visitors see but doesn’t get discarded.
That’s what I thought until I reached the part about Boyd, and I [p.2]realized something else was required. Boyd could have been an Amish teenager, or a Hassid, or a devout Catholic. Maybe a Hopi. But he couldn’t have been any boy in any American family in any American city. The structure, the expectations, would have to be tighter. Much tighter. So I decided to set the story where it belongs, in Salt Lake City.
Some days when I sneak back to writing for an hour, I wonder if I miss the excitement of that time, the wild, dreamlike chase through shifting landscapes. But it’s not that. I simply absorbed it all, that’s the point. And I have to get it out of my system, my family’s system, my computer’s system.
For too many years to know why, I’ve been the one who listens to what lies under and around conversations. If others in this story contradict my account, I’ll understand but won’t be moved. I’ll listen to their revisions, remembering what they said then, now shaded by the chiaroscuro of the present. I’ll remember how they said it originally, how they imprinted me with their emotions. This is what it costs me. Their cost will be my retelling it, reflecting it all back to them.
Writing allows me an outside perspective. My fingers fly across the keys, and I see myself talking, moving, as if watching a movie play over my computer monitor. I have decided to write as I see. I’m Caitlin Findlay, or rather Caitlin is the visible, audible part of me.
To me, this story is true. I know that human memory edits and rewrites constantly, like the sky reworking cloud patterns. Yet what happened resuscitates as I tack it down with words. It rises up around me like proof.