Sometimes in life, it pays off to take the long road.
In the case of Ethan and Sally, two lovestruck characters dreamed up by Mayfair resident Christopher Tait, taking the long road on the drive home gives the couple more time to be together in their fleeting 24-hour relationship. Having just met the very day before Ethan moves out of his Northeast Philly home to start college, the characters find an instantaneous connection, but realize they may not have a place together in this world.
Author Tait also took the long road when writing the novel, his fourth, fittingly titled Take the Long Way. It comes eight years after his previous work, self-published and dripping with references to Philadelphia. After releasing several short story collections in the last few years, Tait came across a short story that spurred his own creative juices.
When he read The Barefoot Girl in Clover by David Benioff, Tait fell in love with the characters but was unsatisfied with the story’s conclusion. Take the Long Road is his take on if the starry-eyed teenagers got the romantic ending they wanted.
“The novel started as a short story, but the more I wrote Ethan and Sally and their story opened up, before I knew it I had enough for a novel,” Tait said.
In the book, Ethan Hudson is celebrating capping off his final summer before college after graduating St. Francis De Sales High School, a thinly veiled fictional off-shoot of Father Judge, where Tait himself graduated. To celebrate the day, Ethan takes his father’s cherry red Ford Mustang out for a joyride, unbeknownst to his strict father.
On his cruise Ethan ends up in Corkesville, a fictional small town in New Jersey. He catches the eye of a barefoot girl with a skateboard who recognizes the exact make and model of the car. She’s Sally Buchanan and she’s willing to show Ethan where the best pizza place in town is – if she gets a ride there, of course.
Over pizza, a trip to Sally’s school to view her artwork and a beach trip to the made-up town of Sea Haven, the teenagers develop an intense bond in the 24 hours they have to spend together. But once Ethan leaves for college, they may not get the chance to see each other again – at least, not until circumstances unite them two decades later.
“I think we all have one point in our lives where we just connect with someone, and sometimes we can stay with them for the rest of our lives and sometimes we have very little time with them,” Tait said.
A story about a couple separated and reuniting after a long time had long been brewing in Tait’s head. It may have been a long road, but Tait’s finished result was worth the ride.
The book is self-published and available on Amazon. To follow Tait’s work, find him on Facebook at facebook.com/ctaitwriter. ••