In anticipation of its release in November, I thought it would be nice to offer a few sneak peaks at my new novel in the coming months. Here is the first one. It is the prologue. I’m very pleased with it; I hope you will be, too. If you like it, please add it to your to-reads list on Goodreads ( if you read and review there). Also, be sure to enter the Goodreads giveaway (why pay when you can read it for free, right?) and stay tuned to any of my social media sites for more teasers and excerpts!
You have to be brave to get old. He told me that once. As I watched the delicate lines etched into the fabric of my skin, thinning and fraying with age, like soft paper, I knew he was right.
I think of him, of the unmistakable cadence of his voice, chuckling at my realization that my face had changed, as we lay together in the old brass bed and I, rolling over, had caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror that hung on the far left wall, tarnished with age, as I was. He ran a finger over each deep line that Time’s scythe had torn through the plane of my forehead, against the crescent edges of my eyelids. He told me I could not be more beautiful.
I cried, wondering how it could be that I had woken up to find that I had spent more of my life than not staring into his face, tasting his mouth, bathing my ears in his voice.
How had I not yet been taken?
I told him this, and he kissed me the way that he always did, with his fingers in my hair and his body pressed against me, like every kiss might be our last.
“I’ll never wake,” he whispered. “I’ll keep you here ‘til I die. ‘Til my last living thought is a dream of you.”
The sun draped like honey through the corner window, its wooden pane creaking in the early morning breeze. The leaves of the sugar maple rustled restless and full like a maiden’s skirts, and the murmuring of the cows echoed through the green pastures that lay beyond our white picket fence.
Our bones ached, and we moved slowly now when we rose from the bed. I watched as he fumbled with the buttons on his flannel shirt, his skin too softening with age, the indentations like a fine mesh of web over his back and shoulders. I marveled at the mirage of his years that faded in and out of focus and interposed with the young, firm body that had first pressed me down onto this bed- his eyes searching, so careful not to hurt me, so oblivious to his own beauty, which was piercing and my heart broke with it- devastated at his perfection, as I was still.
I understood that he saw me in the same shifting facets of light, and I loved him for it.
He caught me staring at him and smiled. “The kids will be coming soon.”
“I know,” I replied. I remember staring out the window at the quiet hopefulness of the morning, thinking of my children, or their existence-our children. It was as if our souls had been split off into these separate beings, and we walked outside of ourselves as new creations; beautiful, harsh, and wild.
I smiled at him, stretching and arching my body like a nymph. The rays of light banded against the bare skin that peeked out beneath the fold of unbuttoned satin stretched across my abdomen. I rolled over onto the bed and peeked at him through the crook in my elbow, where my eyes rested. I let my mind clear and my gaze fell over him until all that was left of my being could be read in the supine flicker of my lashes.
He hesitated, only for a moment, before ripping off his clothes and tumbling back into bed. He rolled me over in his arms and growled into my neck-both of us laughing-and then covered my face with kisses, and the laughter was misplaced, and our desperate consumption of the other blocked out all light or time. I was only his and he only mine…
Now, as I write this (or right this, as it were), the sunset passes over the mirror that hangs on the far left wall of my small, corner apartment in the old, Victorian house on Louis Street. But I dare not look into the glass. I can sense the vague outline of the twenty-six year-old figure who hovers there, as transient and horrifying as spectral mist made flesh. Even after thirteen months of being home (home, so strange to think of it that way), I still cannot look her in the face. Though I see her in my mind’s eye, in a black and white photograph, lost to time. And I see her now-firm skin, streak of amber hair across the shoulder. I feel her in the aching loneliness of this body, howling at his absence, where the brain makes the body remember. Remember something that never actually was.
I spent weeks shifting about like I was still in a seventy year-old body, until the youthfulness trapped in my veins like overripe fruit burst open and demanded that I reclaim what was rightfully mine. Meanwhile, the heads of strange passersby would turn in the street. I avoided their concerned glances, unable to assimilate into a world that left me feeling alien, displaced. But I’ve learned again how to order take-out from the organic market and smile at the young girl behind the counter. I’ve learned to condition my ears to the constant hum of the streets outside my window at night. My violin’s strings cry out in the dusk, lamenting all the things my soul cannot say.
And I’ve been to The Slam again, my old haunt. I’ve ordered my dark chocolate hot and listened to Isabelle’s poetry and feigned disapproval at Johnny’s latest conquest. I’ve danced against him, and lost my screaming head in the hypnosis of the music, his warm lips experienced against my own. His mouth on
mine was too much to bear at first, and he apologized for the tears on my face, and I apologized that I could not explain.
Neither of them knows (no one else knows) where I was during those months that I disappeared, or the reason for my reticence-my fragile ambience- when I reappeared. Only him, and a group of five doctor-scientists with titles I can’t pronounce. His family, and the therapist that I refuse to see any longer. What’s the use of trying to get over something that was only a dream?
So the days pass, as monotonous as waves’ thrush along the sands. It seems pointless that I should have to live through all of them again; endless days that have lost their music.
I grow terrified that someday I will forget that other life. That it will fade, like dreams do, like water colors in the afternoon sun. Soon, all I’ll have to remember it by is my mark, my one keepsake: the hand and wrist of aged flesh on my left arm, which I keep concealed in long, black gloves and expose only when I am away from the prying of foreign eyes. The doctors say they can’t explain it, that it must be some sort of psycho-centric phenomena that caused part of my body to assimilate with the age of my mind, specifically in my “dream core”. They say they can fix it, but I fought them off with the vehemence of a mother protecting her young. I’d see them all dead, I screamed, if they tried to take away the one thing, the only thing, that stood as proof of all that was real; real to me and Cal.
I hear that he kept his remembrance too. His photos pop up from time to time on the celebrity news, commenting on how wonderful he looks, how healthy. Young actresses are begging to know who his cosmetic surgeon is, what innovative technique he allowed them to experiment with. It’s as if years of decadent living had been erased from his face. Only I recognize the stark glare behind his eyes when the journalists stand too close, the paparazzi too emboldened. It’s the frozen unconsciousness of someone caught in the headlights. Haunted. Lost.
As for myself, I live those feelings. I would drive back to the place that we called our home if it existed. Or our cabin in the woods. But he had it built especially for me. I’ve thought about going to him. I think about it and it scares me, how dangerously I want to see him, touch him again. But it’s forbidden, and I have to agree with the doctors that it’s best if I leave him and his family in peace. The experiment was a success; I accomplished what I had set out to do, not knowing what it would cost me, this dispossessed life.
Soon, time will erode the smooth planes of my flesh, and then even my arm will blend with my present self, and I will be left with nothing but the ravings of a madwoman, and the littered fragments of a half-forgotten dream.
So I write. I put on my Joan Baez on the portable turntable. I watch a fire-kissed leaf float on the autumn winds across the window pane, and lightly glaze the shoulder of a woman passing by on the street corner below. I turn the ornate, mother of pearl ring encased in diamonds and silver around on my ring finger and conjure the past. And I hear his voice close to my ear. As dreams become as tactual as reality, so will these pages surrogate my memory.