Roads with Mirrors: Seven Interconnected Short Stories

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Hogue, Sandra Van Pelt
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School of Letters Thesis 2011 , School of Letters, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee , University of the South , MFA Thesis, Sewanee School of Letters , Free moral agency , Insatiable energy demands , Mountain top removal strip mining , Coal mine safety , Coming of age in Appalachia , Twelve step recovery , 9/11 Terrorist attacks , Stock car racing , Familial relationships , Environmental stewardship , Environmental terrorism
Roads With Mirrors is a collection of seven interconnected short stories. The collection represents a short story cycle (sometimes referred to as a story sequence or composite novel). Each story is unique and stands alone; however, the narratives are specifically composed and arranged with the goal of creating an enhanced or different experience when reading the group as a whole as opposed to its individual parts. The stories are yoked with the sturdy ties of the Singleton family and tethered to the coalfields of Appalachia, specifically Lost Creek, West Virginia. In each of the seven stories, a member of the Singleton family faces a crisis of free moral agency. Flower of Darkness: The country fs insatiable demand for energy brings a coal boom to Lost Creek, West Virginia. Coal companies employ a cheap, expedient method of extracting the coal from the mountain - MTR (mountain top removal strip mining). The trees are bulldozed; the mountain tops are blown off, tons of debris is dumped into the valley. Matriarch Nell Rose Singleton lives alone at the base of Droop Mountain. Her beloved husband, Lloyd, an underground miner and rescue foreman recently died of black lung disease. The four children are grown and gone, leaving Nell Rose alone with her oxygen canister and Salem cigarettes as she faces the devastation and destruction of her home place. An oxygen canister, fuse, and detonator caps are used to blow-up the cab of an eighteen story dragline sitting at the MTR site. Local police attempt to link Nell Rose to the blown canister. Roads With Mirrors, the title story, provides back-story for the collection. In 2003, sixteen- year-old Thelma Kendrick lives with her parents and four-year-old twin sisters on Shinnston Mine Rd. in Lost Creek, just three doors from the Singleton family. Together she and Jimmy Cale Singleton repair her Pop fs truck, sit on the porch swing, and ride his brand-new Harley Davidson Soft-tail custom motorcycle. Young Thelma is catapulted into a series of tragedies. As she faces devastating losses and severe injury she asks, gWill I ever leave this sorrowful place? h Harm: Elliott Rose, the youngest Singleton daughter, is a pledged healer, a nurse, a grieving mother. She has landed a job as night nurse at the Alderson Federal Prison for Women. With the help of prison guard, Bill Salter, a former Lost Creek neighbor, Elliott Rose launches a plan to exact revenge on inmate Corinda Baker, the woman responsible for the death of Elliott fs beloved daughter, Amy Laurel. Lug Nuts: Jimmy Cale, the youngest of the four Singleton kids, all named after stock car drivers, has landed his dream job. He is rear tire changer and newest member of the pit crew for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Number 11- Fed Ex Chevrolet. He ignores the advice of veteran tire carrier Ham Jackson, costing himself and his team to nearly glose it all h at the infamous Talladega Speedway. Serenity: Eldest Singleton brother, John Lee is a hard-working Emergency Room physician. He lives with his estranged wife, Taffy and their seven-year-old daughter, Olivia Rose in Pittsburgh, Pa. Taffy is an alcoholic. She is the daughter of a Nash Coal Company owner, Horace Nash, and has grown up with privilege. Following a serious automobile accident, Taffy is brought by ambulance to John fs ER. John Lee is the only doctor on duty and battles to save her life. Tethers: Stunned by a tragic loss, oldest daughter, writer Allison Laurel, abandons Lost Creek, and flees to New York City just six months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fire fighter, Colum McCafferty becomes her rescuer, friend, and lover. On the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building, in the New York City subway, and in the back room of City Quilters, Allison Laurel discovers the tethers that ground her to her life. Coming In: May 2011, the Singleton children come home to Lost Creek to celebrate Mother fs Day with Nell Rose. Together the entire family treks to the top of the Bridle Veil ridge. They witness first-hand the devastation and destruction of mountain top removal. The family stand arm in arm and grieve for their home place. Before they depart Lost Creek to return to their lives, all four Singleton children must decide what part they are willing to play in the battle to preserve their birthplace.