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Hanover -- jeff@jjrlore.com

The adults in the towns of Johnson Valley, Oregon, are not who they believe they are.  Teenagers Kyle and Adrianna make a discovery that causes them to question their identity.  They must decide whether to continue to trust their parents and the other older residents after learning the truth.

Available on Amazon in 2022

Chapter 1

Dark cliffs enshrouded both sides of the Johnson Valley along its winding course to the Pacific Ocean.  The five-hundred-foot vertical walls were said by the valley’s residents to be unscalable.  Oak and pine trees wedged between farmlands separated the valley’s townships into small, quiet communities.

      After his shift at Curt’s Groceries, Kyle sat at a table in front of McHenry’s sandwich shop.  It was at that table where he used to sit with his older sister, Cora, and make up unflattering names and stories for townsfolk walking along Main Street.  That was before she moved away to college.

 

      Kyle gazed up at the distant cliffs and then readied himself for a loaded chilidog set before him.  He’d set beside it a letter from Cora delivered that very day.  She was attending university in her big city on the other side of the country.  She had always been better at managing her life than he was—keeping track of her expenses, paying bills, and getting from one place to another on time.  Her letter described her busy college life that never let her get enough sleep.  Even her courses with long names puzzled him: secured transactions, tort reform, and nolo contendere.

 

      If she was burdened by her new life, then what chance did he have?

 

      A girl perhaps his age walked from around the corner at Southern Street, her dark hair swaying behind her.  She glanced at him as she passed and whistled two ascending notes, her black purse hanging by thin straps over her leather jacket.

 

      “Hey,” he said, immediately wishing he’d thought of a more interesting greeting.

 

      Ashamed of staring, he gripped his napkin and turned his attention to an old couple across the street who was scolding their poodle, saying, “Hush-hush.”

 

      Kyle looked back at the girl in time to catch her at the corner at Brentlass Street.  She glanced back at him and blinked twice before disappearing around the corner.

 

      Something had been appealing about her behavior.  But it didn’t matter because she was gone.  The old couple across the street began to make their way off somewhere.  “Hush,” the woman said to her poodle.  “Better to hush.”

 

      Kyle tried to remember anyone he knew who blinked and whistled like that.  He returned his attention to his chilidog, which by then had turned cold.

 

 

      He didn’t dare tell his parents about the girl because they would have told him about crushes, which he already knew about.  And they would have lectured him about keeping his attention on preparing for college, which he didn’t deserve because he worked at Curt’s Groceries after his high school graduation, which helped him save money.

 

      But the thought of the girl kept plaguing him, especially because shortly he would leave her and everyone else behind.

 

      At work the next day, a customer had picked through the apples, leaving them in disarray.  Kyle grumbled under his breath and began to straighten them when he saw through the storefront window a bronze-colored sedan parked along the curb.  Leaning against its hood was the girl with the black leather purse, her arms folded, and her head swaying left and right with her eyes closed as if she were hearing music.

 

      Not wanting a scolding from Curt, he resumed his work on the apples until looking up again and catching her watching him, her right palm held against her chest.  He waved slowly at her even though she couldn’t have been there for him.

 

      The girl suddenly looked terribly sad and rushed to the driver’s side of the car.  He hurried out through the front door and to the sidewalk, but by then she and her car were gone.

 

      She puzzled him because none of the customers who frequented the store had the effect on him that she had.  It must have been how smoothly she walked, or her dark eyelashes, or her coat and black purse.  He didn’t remember seeing her at school, so her family must have been new to the valley.  Kyle returned to the apple aisle before Curt noticed his absence.

 

      Hanover provided few places for youth to hang out, which was good when trying to find someone on a Friday night.  After searching for the girl in every store in Granger Mall twice, he drove home disappointed, scolding himself for letting her affect him so.