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Home is where the hurt is.

Hello.  I’m Jane Hunnicut, aged twenty-eight.
I grew up in Accident, Alabama but I’ve lived the past few years in London, England with the man I followed there from college.  To say I’ve distanced myself from my upbringing would be a bit of an understatement.  I love being a city girl and I’ve had my share of good fortune, but lately I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump.

I’m a novelist whose first book sold gangbusters, but the second book—notsomuch.
My relationship with my fiancé was flying high… until it wasn’t.
And to top it all off, my best friend disappeared... like before.
When I was at my lowest, the phone rang and in an instant, my life changed—
my family needed me.

After escaping the suffocating situation of my childhood, I am reluctant to return, especially since I’m already late on a big deadline.  In the small town where I grew up, I never quite fit in, but now after years away, I’m really going to stick out. And I’m not ready to face the ghosts of my past.

Meanwhile, my family and friends in Alabama think my life is perfect.

I’m in dire need of a comeback.  But my plan didn’t include coming back home.

Something tells me my life is going to get worse before it gets better.



 The COMEBACK GIRL daily serial will run July 1 - December 31, 2018.  The current day's episode will display for 24 hours (approximately 4am eastern to 4am eastern).  Set a reminder on your phone, fridge, or calendar so you don't miss a single day of COMEBACK GIRL!  And please share with all your reading friends! 

(As with the previous serials, 6 monthly e-novellas will be available for readers who want to catch up, read ahead, or binge read!)




August 18, Saturday

“BUT MY MOTHER WAS a complete neat freak when we were growing up.”

“Surprisingly, that’s not uncommon,” Anne Warford said.  “Many hoarders were once orderly people, some very much so.  Then something happened to trigger the hoarding.”

We were sitting in her cramped office, she behind her desk and me in a chair opposite her within hugging distance, if I were a hugger.

“What kinds of triggers?”

“Usually, it’s a traumatic event in the person’s life.  Like losing a loved one.  You said your father is deceased.”

“Yes, but he died when I was in college, and mother was in mourning, of course, but she wasn’t hoarding after that.”

“Do you know when your mother began to collect things?”

“It had to be sometime after I moved away when I graduated college.”

“Where did you move to?”

“To England, with my boyfriend.”

“Ah.  So you weren’t able to visit often?”

I shifted in my chair.  “This is the first time I’ve been back.”

She nodded, obviously trying not to pass judgment.  “Were you and your mother close?”

“As close as one could be to my mother.”

“And do you have siblings?”

“Yes, an older brother.  He still lives in Accident, but he has his own family and only sees Mom sporadically.”

“Was there violence in your home?”

I hesitated, then nodded.  “Sometimes my parents would… strike each other.”

She wet her lips.  “And did they strike you and your brother?”

“No, they never hit us.  It took… other forms.”

“Verbal abuse?”


“Emotional abuse?”


She nodded.  “It could be that you leaving affected your mother more than you thought it would… and sometimes it’s simply a buildup of traumatic events.  So losing her husband, then her children leaving home—maybe the totality of it was too much.”

“You mean she filled up the empty house with stuff?”

“Possibly.  Until your mother is communicative, we can only conjecture.”

“So people who hoard are all struggling with emotional trauma?”

“Usually, but sometimes suffering a physical injury can lead to a neurological trauma.  You said your parents used to hit each other… do you know if your mother ever went to the emergency room or suffered concussions?”

“Not to my knowledge,” I said slowly.  But I covered my mouth with a shaking hand, realizing this could be so much more than my mother surrounding herself with junk.  And no trigger on the spectrum the therapist mentioned sounded like a cakewalk.

She checked her watch.  “I’m sorry, but we’re about out of time.  Can I answer any other questions for you today?”

I swallowed.  “Is… what Mom has… hereditary?”

She sat forward slowly.  “It depends on the underlying issues that caused the compulsive behavior.  Certainly, anxiety and depression can be hereditary… and in some cases, the compulsion is simply a learned behavior.”


She nodded.  “Compare it to a family where the parents are obese, and so are the children.  The children didn’t inherit the weight issues, but they probably learned from their parents to deal with emotional issues by using food.”

I sighed.  So I’d picked up my mother’s off-putting peccadilloes.  “Thank you.”  I stood and shook her hand.  I saw her frown at the adhesive bandages covering my entire thumb, but she didn’t comment.

On the way out of the hospital, I decided to check on Mom.  She’d been awake earlier and I hadn’t dared to risk upsetting her.  But this time her eyes were closed and remained closed for the two minutes I stood there.  When I was convinced she was sleeping, I opened the door and stepped inside.

She looked frail and deathly pale.  And I realized with a start the half-inch long roots of her hair were almost completely gray, as if they were pushing her health and her youthful color right out of her.

A tiny stream of drool leaked out of the drooping side of her mouth.  I pulled a tissue from a box on the bedside table and pondered if I could wipe her chin without waking her.

My foot nudged something under the bed and I looked down.

Our framed family portrait lay face up, the glass shattered across the photo in a spider web pattern.  And I didn’t have to guess at who had knocked it to the ground.

I used the tissue to dab at my own eyes on the way out.  ~

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