About TRESPASS: a novel

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To see an excerpt from the first chapter of Trespass, scroll down to "Chapter One" below.

Trespass: a novel

Trespass is about all kinds of trespass, crossing boundaries and resting on someone else’s property, land, and sexual bodies and souls. A wonderful book.”

— CHARLES BAXTER, author of The Feast of Love; The Soul Thief

Trespass is a work rich in both the perverse beauty of estrangement and the rare delicacy of actual connection. Grace Dane Mazur’s prose is at once dense and expansive, idiosyncratic and accessible. This is a wild and remarkable book.”

— ROBERT BOSWELL, author of Century’s Son; American Owned Love

Trespass burrows magically under the skin and takes up permanent residence there until the last page is read.”

— RICHARD RUSSO, author of The Whore's Child; Bridge of Sighs

Chapter One


Sometimes we do things that are not us. But once we do such a thing it becomes and defines us. From that time onward, looking into the fire of darkness, we acknowledge it. Although we may recognize these eruptions even as we are doing them, such consciousness often fails to stop us; driven by passion or possession or divine inspiration, we continue, and only afterwards, exhausted, ponder what has happened to us.

Maggie Gifford thought the noise that afternoon was just a stray breeze having its way with an unsecured cellar door. The win had come from the southwest all week, bringing with it the buzzing green heat of the meadows and the smell of the sea. Gusts would burst in the front door, swirl around the kitchen, and trail out through the garden. In spite of the breeze, that mid-June Sunday was relentlessly hot; Maggie's husband, Hugh, had just set off for a week on his boat. Their house was fairly secluded and distant from the county road, and Maggie wasn't wearing anything. As she went to see about the thumping in the basement, she paused in the hallway to feel the warm draft on her bare skin.

Maggie was a tall lanky redhead, with a gorgeous skew to her face. For her nose had been broken in childhood and it remained both important and a bit off center, making her look as though she were tilting her head like a bird, to get a better view of you.

The sun streamed in from the upstairs-hall window catching the single streak of gray in her dark red hair that she wore up in a twist against the heat. With her deep-set eyes, the left one slightly larger, she had that smooth auburn complexion which is rare in New England but often seen in beautiful women of the Mediterranean countries.

The air feathered over her, stirring and soothing and full of questions. She turned slowly and gave her naked back to it, then opened the cellar door to see about the noise.

At the bottom of the cellar stairs she stopped. “What?” she said. “What the hell?”

A naked man was sitting in one of the laundry sinks.

Maggie flinched, startled, but did not move.

They looked at each other.

Later she was not able to explain why she did not yell out or simply run up the stairs and away from him. She knew that was what was called for, but she refused. Instead she stayed put, holding onto a supporting column, glaring at him, angry at the invasion and the ruin of the peacefulness of the summer afternoon.

A scream was coming and she tried to divert it into a cough but it came out as a sputter and a sneeze. She put her hand over her mouth and nose. Crotch and breasts now gave their own instinctive calls for cover. Again she refused. She wondered if she could outwit the absurdity of the situation by choosing a different posture, by avoiding the well-known classical pose of undraped modesty, but she wasn't sure what to do.

Maggie made her arms drop down to her sides. It was her house. She was in place, he was out of place. Let him cover himself. She sneezed again.

“Bless you,” the man said.

She shook her head as if that would clear him away. She glanced at him again. She was sure she had never seen him before. Clearly he had not been there long enough to do much bathing, his face was smudged with dirt though water dripped from his beard, and he seemed all angles and flesh, with his knees up to hi chin and his arms bent. Murky water hid his genitals.

The stranger gave her a disarming smile. “Caught in the act,” he said. He tried awkwardly to stand, as though he wanted to greet her, or to leave.

“Don't get up,” she said, too quickly. Maggie wondered if the man knew that, except for them, the house was empty, that her husband was away. Her cousin Jake would be coming over for supper, but that wasn't for hours yet. Having decided not to try to cover her nakedness with her hands, she cast about for words. “I heard you down here. But I thought it was the wind.” She paused to catch her breath, then said, “The breeze gets curious in the afternoon, opening the doors and then slamming them again.”

“Tentacles,” the man said.

Maggie jumped slightly. “What did you say?” A strand of her hair came loose and fell to her shoulders. Perhaps Jake would wander over early. He often did. But she wasn't sure she wanted to be observed in this situation, this odd geometry.

“I like to think the wind has tentacles,” the man explained.

Maggie looked at him more closely and asked, “Do I know you?” She knew that this was the important thing, not whether she was looking at him, or he at her. The man appeared familiar and without menace. But still the cymbals clanged in her ears, reminding her of her nakedness.

“I don't think so.”

“What?” she said.

“I don't think you know me.”

Maggie fought back a smile. She wondered if the man could see the humor here. “Look,” she said suddenly. “Wouldn't you rather bathe in the tub upstairs?” Oh, God, why had she said that? She was in for it now.

“I don't use bathtubs,” he said.

“Oh. I see.” She was lying. She didn't see.

Maggie did know that whenever the dailiness of her life had lulled her into thinking that she knew all of its habits, things would erupt in unforeseen configurations. She was not afraid of this man, but it flustered her that his small conversational rudeness -- the abruptness of his refusal to explain about bathtubs -- seemed to have given him the upper hand. No matter, he was starkers and an intruder and folded into her own laundry tub, and even though she was naked and fifty years old and alone in the house, she was strong and she knew how to kick, and besides, there was a long-handled shovel leaning on the wall right behind her.

Copyright © 2002 by Grace Dane Mazur. All rights reserved.