I’m trying something new with this post. I promised audio, and… here we go. Nothing too wild, today, just a short excerpt from my long-gestating novella, OCTOBER ANIMALS. The following is from the beginning of the second chapter. Hope you enjoy!
Reading father’s book had been forbidden. Maybe when you’re older, he had told her. Maybe never, said her mother, and she meant what she said.
Lizzie Bat waited all the same, waited for the day she would be old enough, bold enough, waited for her mother to forget about the book, waited to revel in the reveal of father’s secrets, waited in that way like many others who have waited, waited for a meaning or a purpose to appear, waited for revelation, clarity and clear, waited for her chance, but in the end she simply waited.
And then, Daniel Batson disappeared.
Father had been gone a year when the storage shed, which contained all the copies of the book he had written, father’s forbidden book, caught fire during the night. Two-thousand books reduced to ash, Lizzie Bat cried at the sight, her father’s second death. Never would she be old enough to see secrets in this smoke and the rest of life yawned out before her, an unfathomable reechy darkness where secrets stretched their skeletal remains across a graveyard with no end. Lizzie Bat, in that moment, wished to never wait, never wait again.
She ran a hand through his carbonized dreams and searched in vain for a single page or a surviving word. Mother shed not a tear. Maybe never, said her mother, and she meant what she said.
“Forget about the book,” said mother. “Only witches can read dust, and you’re no witch.”
“You would know,” said Lizzie Bat.
Mother struck her for that. An open palm across the face. The woman may as well have cast a spell; form and features changed from that of mother to a nameless stranger. Lizzie Bat did not know this doppelgänger before her, as if shadow and skin had swapped places.
“He never should’ve written that damned book,” this Shadow Mother had said on more than one occasion.
OK, folks, that’s good enough for now! I’ll be plugging away at OCTOBER ANIMALS when I can, but lots and lots going on lately and not much of it conducive to writing a book. C’est la vie!
Thanks for reading (or listening).