Laura's Waltz 

    Untold Secrets: Chapter One
                    Frantically Debra searched in the darkness on her hands and knees.  The floor, the walls, smooth, icy cold - like a blind student whose fingers searched to understand Braille, her fingers examined every crevice.  A window, surely a window?  But no.  she felt entombed.  Sleep came to her stressful, tense body.  When Debra awoke, she was still lying on the floor.  Her gown was wet and clung to her naked body like a second layer of skin.  The dim lighting now in the room was her first clue that it must be daylight.  The smooth glassy granite floor made her feel like a slab of meat in a meat locker, sending chills to her core.

           “Is anybody out there?”  Debra called.  Nobody responded.

           Everything was so sterile, as it should be in a hospital, but this room was a holding cell.  Debra saw a contorted image of herself in the frame of the stainless steel bed, like the hall of mirrors at a carnival.  The striped ticking of an undressed mattress reinforced the prison motif.  That was all: a cold floor, four walls and a bed.  She tried to focus her thoughts; then she remembered.  “Just like me to have botched what was to have been my last act.”

            “Please God,” Debra begged, “Please, a blanket?”  Silence.  Debra cowered in the corner, drawing her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them to conserve body heat for warmth.  Listen, listen, use your ears, she told herself.

            Shhh  . . . Shhh . . . Slow your breathing and hush the chills.  Listen.  

            “Be still and know.”

            “Know what?  Who said that?  Is someone here?”

            “I am the Lord, your God.  Did you invoke my presence?”

            “Is it you, Lord?”

            Am I crazy?  I didn’t hear the words with my ears, Debra thought.  She grabbed her head with both hands and combed her fingers through her hair.  Damp.  Her hair was damp.  How can I be perspiring if I’m so cold?  She asked herself.  

            “I need a blanket!”  Debra screamed; her teeth chattered uncontrollably.

            “To cover up the lies?  To cloak yourself in the mantle of righteousness?”

            “What are you talking about?”

            “The secrets, Debra, all the secrets.  You must give them to me.”

             "What are you talking about?"

             "You so tenaciously protect the lies, the secrets.  You were born into sin.  The sins of your ancestors, the way your family has always handled secrets, is embodied in you.  You must tell the secrets and I will set you free."

              "What secrets? MY secrets?  I don't know what you mean about my family's secrets."

              "Trust your life to me.  You will see what I see.  Soon you will understand why this walk was necessary."

                Debra began rocking herself to and fro, humming a comforting melody.

               "Ah, yes," the Lord said, "Your great-grandmother Laura liked that song."

1865:      The music at the cotillion, and the smell of orange blossoms, filled the air.  Mirrors hanging from great velvet sashes above three-legged tables reflected light from the candelabras around the hall.  Upon each table sat a French porcelain vase generously filled with a bounty of flowers from the hosts' garden. 

Discussion Questions - Book Club Guide  [Print Page 3]

1.  Stylistically, do you like the way Debra's story unfolds through parallel historical stories?

2. What will be future consequences of today's materialism?

3.  Does the error lie in teaching little girls to seek "Prince Charming" or in NOT teaching little boys to BE "Prince Charming?"

4.  What must occur before shame can build character?

5.  How is religion a double-edged sword?

6.  Which explanation for "Past Life Visions"  (p 77-78) are salient to your beliefs?

7.  What consequences are there, if any, to ancestral sin?

8.  Is Debra's story a micro-study of  a macro-problem in our culture's belief about gender roles?

9.  Is the story more or less compelling to you with the inclusion of discussion about genetic memory?

10.  How important do you feel it is for a child to experience affection from BOTH a mother AND a father?

11.  Do you agree, disagree, or feel Debra's list of "Things I have Learned,"  (p 280-1) should not have been included in the book?

12.  If "balance"  (p 291) is the key to healthy relationships, what steps are important for maintenance?

13.  From a theological perspective, do you agree with Debra's musing (last paragraph p 314-5)?

14.  What do you think the author's goal was in writing this book?