Confined to a city of lonely nights and desperate tomorrows, living a life of constant angst pushed Fortunato and Catrina further apart. Gone were the early days when Fortunato was a loving husband. His succumbing to drinking festered the anger inside of him, while he berated many of those around him. There were nights when she found him drunk and passed on the fire escape, in hallways, and on the front steps of the apartment building.

She often wondered; Did the love she had for Fortunato vanish like everything else she once loved and treasured? She continued to pray daily at the altar of Saint Mary seeking comfort and answers from God, along with weekly counseling from Father O’Connor for her increasing despair. It was on a cold winter’s night during confession, that she disclosed her most painful secret. The one that she carried deep inside for so many years. Fearing Fortunato would find out and refuse to marry her while leaving her and her family in disgrace, her only choice was to live the nightmarish torment in silence. Still bitter from the father’s playing matchmaker, her marriage to Fortunato was becoming unfulfilling and intolerable.  

Sobbing with a sorrowful voice, she gave a tortuous account of how a band of villainous padroni in Sicily created a web of predators that practiced their own secret society of vile injustice. How on the whim of the owners of the land they toiled over, she and many young virgins and intended brides were systematically targeted … and raped.  Fearful that her family would be barred from working on the farm, she lived in secrecy. Since they were barely staying alive, she was afraid they would be left to die a slow death.  Father O’Connor assured her that God doesn’t permit any troubles to come upon us unless he has a specific plan by which great blessings can come out of the pitfalls we face. That she must put her pain, suffering, and faith, in his hands.               

On her walk home she continued searching her soul asking; Had she lost her faith in God or was it only a season of doubt? Had God and the church successfully preserved “his own’ from the snares and pitfalls awaiting her in this religious wilderness?  Was there really a Heaven, and would she someday meet Rosa there?  She doubted that she could ever pull herself out of this black hole.   Tormented further by thoughts of deprivation, remorse, and visions of joyful mothers surrounding her while embracing their babies at Christmas time, her mind became consumed with thoughts of suicide.  

Open Arms is now available at B&N and Amazon.

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1 thought on “Excerpt From “Open Arms” The Novel”

  1. Absolutely consumes my mind. It puts me in another dimension! I think I become Caterina when I read this! Such a great account of her feelings.

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