Happiness Key: Alice’s Story, Part One

Ballroom Dancing.jpgWhen Happiness Key was still just an idea, I had a fantasy about writing the novel completely in first person, using the viewpoints of all four major characters. I love first person, use it exclusively in my mystery series, and would love to use it in my other novels.  But once I started the character sketches in first person, I realized that I could tell the “story” better in third.  I made a judgment call that being in the head of one woman, followed closely by another, might be confusing for my readers and me, as well.  So I settled for third person, but with a “deeper” look into my character’s thoughts, a writing style that can effectively give a first person feel to a third person point of view.

More than you wanted to know about a writer’s choices?  Consider another.  Alice has suffered from a stroke and both she and the people around her are afraid she may be descending into dementia.  Did I want to convey that in her thoughts?  Did I want my readers to be aware of everything that worried her, including her own confusion?

In the end, Alice has no point of view in the novel.  She’s a strong presence, but you’ll notice we are never inside Alice’s head except here, on my blog and in the character sketches I did before I began my novel.  So without further introduction, let’s allow Alice to have her say once and for all.  And if you’re new to this series of blogs by my characters, you can find the other women, Tracy, Janya and Wanda in previous blogs, three to a character.  If you go to my archives, you can access each one easily from the table of contents.


Fred and I were married young. I was only ten when World War II broke out, and my father was too old to serve. But even at that young age, the war taught me a valuable lesson. A person shouldn’t put off the things they want because one never knows what’s waiting around the corner. So at sixteen, head over heels about the young man who pumped my father’s gas at the local service station, I said yes when he asked me to marry him.

Now I look back on that and shake my head. How many good decisions are made when we’re that age? Fortunately this one was an exception. Fred and I were meant to be together for the forty-five years we were husband and wife. Nowadays some would scoff at the way we chose to live. I stayed at home and kept a clean house, cooked nutritious dinners, volunteered at the library and the hospital and hoped to have children, and Fred went to work every day. He was a hard worker, too, and before too many years had passed, he owned the service station where he’d gotten his start, and not too much later, he owned another on the opposite side of town.

We were never rich, in fact at the beginning we had just enough to pay the bills and save a little for retirement and Karen’s education. Karen was the daughter who God finally saw fit to bless us with. She was born after we’d been married almost fifteen years, and no child was ever welcomed with more enthusiasm. We added rooms to our little concrete block house in St. Petersburg, built like so many with the returning GI’s in mind. Fred was talented and liked to work with his hands, so the house grew and changed and became one of the finest in our neighborhood.

I sold it after Fred retired then died unexpectedly before we could put into action many of the plans we had made. Our years together had been so blessed, I know I was lucky anyway. We always enjoyed whatever time we could spend together. We loved to dance, and when Karen was a teenager, Fred signed us up for ballroom dancing lessons. We got so good we won some competitions. Nothing in the world is like standing in a beautiful dress on a ballroom floor with the man you love, letting him sweep and twirl you under colored lights that make you feel glamorous and alive. I miss being held in Fred’s arms and whirling and whirling more than I can say.


  1. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I took the quiz and came out as an Alice. Was at first a little miffed when I read her description. After reading part one, however, I must agree. Of the 4, I am much closer to her. I can relate to the others and have “known them.”

  2. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Didn’t realize we were supposed to say what made us happy. I have just been responding to the blogs. I took the test and was an Alice. Something I was not happy about initially. However, after reading the start of her backstory, I see we have a lot in common. I have enjoyed that life and though not perfect it has been a happy one – a good husband, three very individual children and now a grandson.

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