By Elin Hilderbrand
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Extra info for Barefoot
Brenda slid Blaine off her lap. Aunt Liv’s banjo clock chimed; it was six-thirty. Vicki and Melanie had been in their respective rooms with the doors closed since three. Brenda would have welcomed three and a half quiet hours for herself—but she was not pregnant and she did not have cancer. Cancer, she thought. Did the word ever get less scary and horrible? If you repeated it often enough and understood it better, did it lose that Grim Reaper chill? In the kitchen, Brenda found her two-hundred-year-old first edition of The Innocent Impostor splayed on the floor like a dead bird.
She made a list of what each friend gave her for her birthday, and she always wrote the thank-you notes in order so that she could check them off, boom, boom, boom, just like that. At Duke, there had been myriad lists—she was president of the Tri-Delts, the head of the Drama Society, and a campus tour guide, so there were lists for each of those things, and a separate list for her studies. Then, out in the real world, the lists multiplied. There were “single girl living and working in the city” lists, lists for her wedding to Ted Stowe, and finally the endless lists of a mother of young children.
She blinked a lot, like she was about to cry. She was heavier than her sister, and her hair, cut bluntly to her shoulders, was a Scandinavian blond. She carried a floral-print bag bursting with diapers and a colorful set of plastic keys; she was taking deep, exaggerated breaths, as though the flight had just scared her to death. The third woman teetered at the top of the steps with a baby in her arms and a little boy of about four peeking around her legs. She had a pretty, round face and corkscrew curls that peeked out from underneath a straw hat.