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The Shadows of a Father's Absence

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

The impact of a parental figure leaves a resounding echo within our hearts––especially during our most formative years. In Scot Lehigh's new novel, Just East of Nowhere, Dan Winters has felt that empty hole where his father should be all his life and yearns to fill it with answers. The novel is a gripping, coming-of-age story set in a corner of Eastport, Maine that follows the impacts of familial bonds. This gritty town is home to a colorful cast of characters and, at its core, is a powerful tale that navigates the hardest questions we have about ourselves.


This is Chapter 5 of Just East of Nowhere by Scot Lehigh.

 

“Mom, can you tell me something I really need to know?” He had picked his moment, waiting until supper was over, then helping with the dishes, after which she settled in at the kitchen table, needle in hand, humming “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” as she closed a tear in his Converse high-tops. “What’s that?” “What was my father like?” “Ouch. Drat.” She eyed her finger, where a bright red drop was forming. “Now see what you made me do.” She sucked the tip for a moment and then resumed her sewing. “Are you gonna tell me?” “Danny, I’ve told you before, it’s something I don’t want to talk about.” “But what am I supposed to say when the other kids ask?” “Say, MYOB. Besides, you’re not the only boy in school with one parent.” “I’m the only one who has never even seen his father and doesn’t know a single thing about him.” “Perhaps that’s a blessing.” “At least tell me where he is.” “Your Father art in Heaven, hallowed be His name.” “You mean he’s dead?” “I mean the Lord is all the father you need. Trust in Him. He’ll provide for you.” He got up from his chair. “What’s He provided for you? This junky little house?” “Danny, this is your home, and the church is good to let us stay here.” “This is a shithole, and the church is ripping you off. If you worked the same hours somewhere else, even at the IGA, we could rent a better one.” She heaved herself out of her chair, a distraught look darkening her face. “Immanuel Winters, you go to your room. I don’t want to see you again until you’re ready to apologize to the Lord. And then to me.” And she’d refused to speak to him until, just before supper the next day, he had gotten on his knees in the kitchen and said a prayer of apology and then told her, too, that he was sorry.

So once again, he had been rebuffed. If she had just said that he had died in an accident. Or that he had broken things off after she got pregnant and then moved away somewhere. Or even, as he dreaded in those moments when he let himself consider the full range of his fears, that his father was married to someone else. Anything. But she wouldn’t say a word about him. His father’s absence was the dominant fact of his own life, and her refusal to tell him anything only made the void worse.


 

In this excerpt from his debut novel, Just East of Nowhere, Scot Lehigh establishes the poignant yearning of that father-son relationship which is a central theme within the novel. Through compelling dialogue and with heart-wrenching emotion, Lehigh has written a powerful cast of characters navigating difficult situations in their small town and tight community.










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