Nebraska Center for Writers

A BEND IN THE ROAD
by Nicholas Sparks


On the morning of August 29, 1988, a little more than two years after his wife had passed away, Miles Ryan stood on the back porch of his house, smoking a cigarette, watching as the rising sun slowly changed the morning sky from dusky gray to orange. Spread before him was the Trent River, its brackish waters partially hidden by the cypress trees clustered at the water's edge.
The smoke from Miles's cigarette swirled upward and he could feel the humidity rising, thickening the air. In time, the birds began their morning songs, the trill whistles filling the air. A small bass boat passed by, the fisherman waved, and Miles acknowledged the gesture with a slight nod. It was all the energy he could summon.
He needed a cup of coffee. A little java and he'd feel ready enough to face the day — getting Jonah off to school, keeping rein on the locals who flouted the law, posting eviction notices throughout the county, as well as handling whatever else inevitably cropped up, like meeting with Jonah's teacher later in the afternoon. And that was just for starts. The evenings, if anything seemed even busier. There was always so much to do, simply to keep the household running smoothly: paying the bills, shopping, cleaning, repairing things around the house. Even in those rare moments when Miles found himself with a little free time on his hands, he felt as if he had to take advantage of it right away or he'd lose the opportunity. Quick, find something to read. Hurry up, there's only a few minutes to relax. Close your eyes, in a little while there won't be any time. It was enough to wear anyone down for a while, but what could he do about it?

Reprinted with permission
from A Bend in the Road
Copyright © 2001
by Nicholas Sparks
Warner Books
CAPS It's heartbreaking to think that your wife may not love you, and that night, after Jane had carried the perfume up to our bedroom, I sat on the couch for hours, wondering how this situation had come to pass. At first, I wanted to believe that Jane was simply reacting emotionally and that I was reading far more into the incident than it deserved. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I sensed not only her displeasure in an absentminded spouse, but the traces of an older melancholy — as if my lapse were simply the final blow in a long, long series of careless missteps.
Had the marriage turned out to be a disappointment for Jane? Though I didn't want to think so, her expression had answered otherwise, and I found myself wondering what that meant for us in the future. Was she questioning whether or not to stay with me? Was she pleased with her decision to have married me in the first place? These, I must add, were frightening questions to consider — with answers that were possibly even more frightening-for until that moment, I'd always assumed that Jane was as content with me as I'd always been with her.
What, I wondered, had led us to feel so differently about each other?

Reprinted with permission
from The Wedding
Copyright © 2004
by Nicholas Sparks
Warner Books




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