Spotlight: Woven by Adrian Page: Make Choices. Weave Meaning. Be Brave.

Lesbian Fiction: Slow burn, friends-to-lovers, found family

When August Wisteria wakes up to her wife, Clara,
missing without a trace, the world as she knows it is flipped
upside down. Suddenly thrown into single motherhood, she
struggles to balance the life she lives now with the life she had
before. Ever present in the back of her mind is the question: did
her wife leave of her own free will? And if she did, why?

Six months later, Sunny Oh, August’s oldest and closest friend,
returns after years of radio silence. Everything seems to be
falling into place and August embraces the possibility of moving
on. As the two reestablish and grow their relationship, the reason
for their separation still lingers. Can the new life that they’ve
woven together survive the winter?

I wanted to tell her I loved her. I wanted to tell her things
would be simple. I wanted to tell her the soft animal of my body
wanted only the soft animal of hers. But instead, I let myself
succumb to the warmth of her skin and the rhythm of her breath,
slipping back into a half-sleep.

“I knew why. I knew I loved you from the moment you barreled out of your house and demanded to help us move in. From the first time you held my hand and led me down to our fort by the cul-de-sac.” She sighed. “I loved you every minute of it. And every single time we got close enough that I thought you might love me too, you pulled away.”

An Excerpt from Woven

The first month that she was gone, I would go
over the details in my mind so that I knew I didn’t make anything
up, didn’t miss anything vital. I was desperate to find some
glaring red flag, a treasure map leading right to her, swept under
the desk in a hurry, gathering dust with old pens. There had to
be something I missed.

It was late, much later than Clara usually came to bed.
Four in the morning, maybe five? I reached across the sea of
blankets and found nothing. Just cold, dead air. For a moment,
while the sleep sifted out of my brain, I thought my wife had
vanished. When the haze started to clear, I thought she may
have just gone to the bathroom. But the sheets were cold, like
they hadn’t yet been slept in.

Normally, I would have rolled back over and gone back to
sleep. She did this sometimes when she was working. Her head
wouldn’t hit the pillow until long after the sun rose. But I just had
this… feeling. So, blinking the remaining sleep from my eyes, I
slowly got up out of bed.

The floor was cold on my bare feet, but I was scaring
myself now, running through the worst-case scenarios in a brain
still switched on for dreaming. When I opened the bedroom door
and the girls’ calico cat, Leafy, ran in, I almost jumped. Clara’s
office was only down the hall, but the trip felt like it spanned the
entire night. I threw open the door, catching it at only the last
second so that it wouldn’t dent the hallway wall, and stared.
I watched her for a moment, still as enamored as always.

She wore a white tank top and flowered yellow shorts. Her hair
twisted on the top of her head like she always wore it before
bed. Like she had fully intended on coming to bed hours ago,
but got caught up. Which was probably exactly the case.

If she knew I was standing behind her, watching, she
made no note of it. Her head rested on her knee, pulled up
against her body so that her foot was resting on the hard
wooden chair she wouldn’t let me replace. If she were to turn
around, I imagined, I would see her sturdy framed glasses
balanced on the tip of her nose, always a breath away from
sliding off. She would be biting her bottom lip in that way she
always did when she was thinking deeply. This project
consumed her over the last few weeks, and as hard as it was
sharing her, I didn’t mind. This was the woman I had fallen in
love with, this writer. Consumed by her art. How could I be
upset, really?

Clara was always easy to love, but something about her
energy when she was deep in thought on a project brought me
to another level of adoration. Her passion lit up the room. As
easy as it was for her to get lost in, it was easier for me to get
lost watching her. Warmth radiated off of her when she was
working. I could curl up on the love seat in her office any time of
day and fall asleep to the sound of her typing. The rhythmic
clicking rocking me like the heartbeat of the ocean in the womb.

“I’m almost done, love. Just three more pages. Go back
to sleep.” Clara didn’t look at me, too enthralled in her writing to
tear her eyes away. The lights were off in the room, and the blue
light from her computer made a halo around her curls. Her
fingers tapped on the keyboard, not typing but thinking.

I gripped the doorway, waiting for the hammering in my
chest to slow down. I felt silly now, having let my melatonin-
drunk mind wander. Clara was right here. Nothing was wrong.
She started typing again. I exhaled. Closed the door. Stood in
the hallway for a moment, eyes readjusting to the darkness after
the blue glow of her office. Everything was fine.

But I still stopped by the girls’ bedroom on the way back
to mine, peeking inside. With the soft yellow light of their
nightlight, I watched them, curled around each other in one bed,
the other occupied by the other cat, a tiny black thing with yellow
eyes they called Midnight. They breathed slowly, deeply. Ruby
had one arm draped over the side of the bed, her stuffed
elephant lying face down on the floor beside her, fingers almost
grazing her soft blue-gray fur. I tiptoed across the room and
picked her up and tucked her back beneath my daughter’s arm.
Kissed them both on the top of their dewy heads. Made a silent
promise for a pancake breakfast in the morning. Lane stirred,
stretching her little arms like she might wake up, but at the last
second, she rolled into her sister’s back instead.

I felt warm and content watching them, but there was a
nagging in the back of my head that I couldn’t shake. I’m
exhausted, I told myself. It’s nearly morning, and if I don’t go
back to sleep now, they’ll have zero functional mothers when
they wake up in an hour. I tiptoed backwards out of the room,
careful to ignore the spot by the doorframe that I knew creaked.
Back in the hallway, I could hear pacing in Clara’s office,
but that wasn’t unusual. I walked back to our bedroom and
closed the door behind me. The sheets were still warm when I
crawled back into bed, head already heavy. I was asleep again
before I knew it.

The next morning, the sheets beside me were still cold.

Most missing people didn’t end up on the news. When I
was younger and not sure what I wanted to do with my life, I
worked with at-risk teenage girls. We would report one or two of
them missing almost every other month, when they decided to
run from the program to party, meet up with friends or boyfriends
or girlfriends, or try to make their way back to their estranged
mothers. Sometimes they would be gone for days. One was
gone for almost two weeks. She was the only one whose face I
ever saw on the local news.

Missing adults almost never ended up on the news. So,
when twelve and then twenty and then sixty hours rolled by with
no word from my wife, I knew she wouldn’t be found by anyone
but herself. There would be no photos on milk cartons, no
stories or banners on the news, no two a.m. phone calls to let
me know she had been sighted in a Wawa on the corner of
Roosevelt Boulevard. The one her dad forbade her to walk to as
a kid, because the road was too busy, and the one her mom
secretly watched her walk to from the front porch almost every
single day. Her head moved on a swivel as she crossed the
road, braids swinging furiously, fingers crossed.

No one would even know she was from Philadelphia,
lived in Western Massachusetts now, was married, had two
daughters, loved to stay up too late, had no sense of direction.
Because no one would know that she was gone.
After a few weeks, the police started screening my calls.
No new information, Mrs. Wisteria. Pronounced wrong, like
hysteria. Not the name we chose for ourselves, for Clara’s
favorite flowers. It sounded clunky on their tongues. I stopped
calling. Her phone started going to voicemail around the same
time, but I didn’t stop calling her. I talked to her outgoing
message; sometimes begging, sometimes cursing. Come home.

Where are you? We need you.

I hate you danced on my lips, but never made it out.
Because I didn’t, of course. I was scared and hurt and alone and
frustrated and lost. She was our daughters’ mother, my wife, and
my best friend.

About Adrian Page

Born on Cape Cod in 1995, Adrian Page has been writing since she was seven years old. When she is not writing she enjoys working with adolescents, reading up on Lesbian history and feminism. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her wife, Emily and their cats.

Q&A With Adrian Page

What was the inspiration for this book?

I’ve wanted to write August’s story since I first introduced her in tautened way back when. But I wanted to reintroduce her as someone a little older than her teenage/young 20s self to get the full picture of who she was and why. So I held out until the last book in the series.

What comes first for you: the title or the story?

It’s a 50/50. I usually have some inkling of an idea for the title, but it’s never set in stone until the story is fleshed out. Woven took a while to get it’s name!

Speaking of titles, how did you come up with your book’s title?

Woven is the final book in my Threads series—the last piece in the tapestry, so to speak. While the other titles invoked struggle, I wanted this one to feel like coming together. 

Are you a planner or a pantster? 

Planner with a dash of pants. I wrote the first half of the chapter-by-chapter outline of Woven before committing to a single word. I usually leave the second half open during the first half just in case the story swings in a different direction. Which Woven completely did!

How long did it take you to write this beauty?

Three insane weeks exactly! The editing took much longer (as it always does) but this was the fastest I’ve ever written a book, by far. I’m still in shock!

What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

That I really love to write about mommy issues. If I had a nickel for every book I wrote that involved mommy issues, I’d have four nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird it happened four times, right? 

Obviously, this book is absolutely perfect, but what would you like to improve on as a writer in general?

I want to take bigger risks. I want to venture out of the contemporary genre and not be afraid to tackle something completely new.

What do you want people to take away from your book?

Life is not something that happens to you, it’s something you choose to create each day. Don’t be afraid of the ‘what ifs.’

What do you love most about this book?

I love the buildup of the story of August and Sunny, and the way we see it through August’s eyes as she grows. I also love the cast of unofficial mothers, who remind me so much of the unofficial mothers I’ve had in my life.

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