Exceprt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Unknown Chapter)

The ocean line expands before me, pulsating, tugging at my memories.
Sofi holds my hand, and Gloria stands rigid at my side. She looks over at me.
“I know this place,” she says.
I nod. “This was my favorite beach. We came here when we were girls.”
“Ah, we used to race to see how far we could swim. You were such a good swimmer for being so little.”
Her words feel like a wasp sting to my gut. “My parents brought me here when I was young–every summer–until…” I snap my mouth closed.
“Haize? Why are we here?”
There’s salt water running down my face, then. The stones in my chest multiply, but the pressure built behind my eyes for nearly twenty years rejoices. Relief and heartbreak–how these feelings are so deeply intertwined.
“Teddy’s here.” My voice is barely audible above the crashing waves.
“How do you know?” Sofi asks.
“This is where I left him.”
Gloria doesn’t speak. Sofi unclasps her hand from mine and wraps it tight around my waist. She’s young, but in that moment, I watch her childhood fade. She won’t remember Glass after today–none of us will. I can only pray that we remember each other.

Micro Story: Memories

From before my birth, my mother ran a daycare. My early memories are laced with the faded faces of children I barely remember or speak to anymore. Daycare was conducted in the garage-turned playroom of the single story home of my early childhood and planted on the corner of Second and Vicky.

It seemed so large to me, like walls running on for miles. I felt like a gold fish swimming in a backyard pool. The air was stale and flat, smelling of cement and car oil. Swamp coolers were the only relief from dead, garage air. The walls were the color of sea shells, with just as many imperfections. To the far back and on the right side, a white door let out to the grass land beside the small house.

Inside the room, I sit on a small translucent chair, a color a bright as snow white’s lips. There are cartoon faces on the seats, faded and scratched from jean pockets and constant stacking and unstacking.

A dirty-blonde haired girl I don’t like stalks toward me. Her curly hair nearly covers half of her round, chubby face. She starts to squat onto the chair next to me.

“You can’t seet here. It’s for summun else,” I stutter out. A feeling I don’t recognize pangs in my stomach. It feels like I could throw up, but not quite. I furrow my eyebrows at her. I’d do anything to not have her sit by me.  

“Oh,” she says. She walks away. A mix of pride and shame stir in my chest.

I am not quite four, and I have just told my very first lie.

Excerpt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Part 2)

By request, here’s the next little segment of the story I posted last week.

“You’ve been struggling lately, and I think I can help,” she says from across the room in sing-song voice.

I cross my arms, pushing my wrists deep into my armpits. “Oh.”

I chance a glance at the girl. From this far away, she almost looks normal. She’s wearing a tight spaghetti strap shirt and a pair of baggy khaki-like pants, like an outfit that’d be popular in Europe or something. Certain parts of her don’t fit—her hair and death lips, for example. It’s like when I used to play video games: the characters looked real, spoke real, acted real, yet there was always something that felt off.

She walks over and tries brushing her hand against my face, but I pull away. All of this is weird and wrong and why is this stranger acting like she’s known me forever? My mouth twists to the side, while I glare the brown and black and purple stains caked into the carpet. I dig my toes into a purple stain that came from a poor attempt at dying my hair—that faded within the week. I look back up at the red-haired girl before me and try to not be jealous of her dye-job.

“There’s a world behind your mirror.”

A chill prickles down my spine, jolting my shoulders. I stand and pace around the room. “I’ve officially lost it.”

There’s a trashcan in the corner, over flowing with paper, crumpled tissues, clothes I decided I hated and cheap jewelry I didn’t need and books I knew I’d never read and letters and cards that family gave me and other shit. I’ve been on a trash-binge lately, I guess. There’s a pile of clothing on my bed that’s probably been there for the better end of a week. I’ve kind of just been sleeping on it. My room is never this messy. I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately. Okay, maybe she’s right. I haven’t been doing so well, but why am I hallucinating? I turn on my heel and glare at her, hoping some explanation might form into tangible words in the air, but nothing happens. I get that same sense again that I’m looking at a video game character. It’s that part of her that doesn’t feel right, that seems off, but that keeps me from running the hell out of my room screaming. Why haven’t I run the fuck out of here? I don’t believe in auras or any of that other shit, but the feeling I get from her tells me that something incredible will happen. She feels like adventure, and I have no idea how else to explain that. Weird as she might be, I want to play along. Curiosity killed the cat, I suppose.

“Okay imaginary human, what are doing here?”

“I’m not imaginary,” she sits next to me on the bed, tucking her feet under her ass. The bed holds her weight as if she weren’t even there, there’s not even a fold or molding. It’s like she’s floating on top. “I want you to come with me to Glass,” she says.

I look up at her. “Glass?”

“That’s what we call the world that lies beyond your mirror.”

“You’re trying to tell me that my mirror acts like some portal to a world far, far away?”

She nods. “But not just your mirror: every mirror.” Her eyes soften, and those pale lips spread, revealing teeth nearly the same color. I think she’s trying to be reassuring, but the attempt gets lost as my mind begins to whirl.

A flash of memories passes before my eyes: bad solos, naked dancing, awkward sexual encounters, tears, speeches dedicated to myself, and a whole slew of embarrassing and personal things I’ve done—all in front of mirrors. My secrets. My deepest, most private moments, all done in front of this mirror. Jesus Christ.

My mouth gapes open.

“Don’t worry. I don’t watch you all day long, all though, I do enjoy your singing.”

I feel hot, and my head does that thing where it gets all light-weight and my chest starts heaving. I think I’m dying. I might actually be dying of shame.

“For fuck’s sake. What a creep,” I almost yell. “You must know me pretty well by now, as well as everyone else who lives there.”

“Only I watch.”

“Huh, oh great. I feel much better.” I roll my eyes. I really wonder if you can die of embarrassment. I snarl and pull myself off the bed. I stomp toward the corner of the room like a stubborn little kid.

“I promise it’s not a big deal, Haize. I was drawn to you, like everyone where I’m from. We’re each drawn to only one person.”

I cross my arms, hoping that maybe I can keep my lungs from exploding. “This isn’t okay. You can’t just watch people.”

She nods. “I know. I wanted to tell you before, but it wasn’t the right time. I’m sorry.” She looks down, and pulls her mouth to the side. My back releases some of its tension.

“What’s so special about this place?” I whisper.

“Come with me and find out,” she says.

Her hand reaches for mine, stalled in mid air, waiting for me to lace my fingers with her. But I don’t. I stare at her hand and the long delicate fingers, calloused at the tips. She doesn’t wear any rings—or any jewelry for that matter—but on her wrist hangs a bracelet made of wound leaves and twigs.

“Trust me,” she says, and her mouth pulls loosely on one side. Her glistening eyes stare deep into mine.

 

Excerpt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Part 1)

This is a new novel I’m working on–incomplete save a few chapters. This is a little snippet of the beginning (foul language involved).

When a hand jutted through my bedroom mirror, I was a little taken aback—okay, a lot taken aback. If I said my underwear was completely dry, I’d probably be lying.

My first thoughts when she completely came through the mirror resembled something like, shit, I should have cleaned my room and oh my god, my dirty underpants and bra are on the floor and my mom would kill me if she knew I had someone in my room when it looked like this and I wish I had brushed my hair and god, I really want to change my underwear, but quickly followed by the reality that this human came through my mirror, so it doesn’t actually matter that my room is messy or that my appearance is less than favorable because the uninvited, magical creature-human-thing walked through the fucking mirror.

“My name is Hana” is how she announced herself after she came through—her smile wide and welcoming, almost like everything was normal. It’s been a good five or so minutes of me just gaping at her, not speaking. She’s been gracious enough while I try to figure her out.

Her bright red hair—like red, not orange—falls along her hair line in a low ponytail that hides behind her shoulders and neck. She’s got some sharp-ass cheek bones and ice-silver eyes, but the weirdest part of her must be her lips—almost completely white. Even her olive-tone skin is darker, like olive undertone, but these lips are death embroidered in a living corpse. I’m pretty sure she isn’t a zombie, though, since she doesn’t have pale white skin and all her body parts seem to be intact and functioning. Her teeth aren’t pointy for cutting through flesh or sucking blood, so I can rule out vampire as well.

My tongue keeps wagging behind my mouth, but it’s not working to form actual words.

“Wha…what are you doing here?” I finally blurt out.

“I want to show you something,” she says.

I pinch the bridge of my nose. My voice makes some unnatural cracking noise, like a dinosaur or something. My brain already hurts, and my eyes feel heavy.

“And you couldn’t knock on the front door like everyone else?”

She chuckles, “Not really.”

This is a little much for one day. I think I’ll just take a nap. Maybe I’m already napping, and this is a bad dream. That’s probably the case.

“You’re not dreaming.” I look back at her. I hadn’t even realized I’d be staring at my unmade mess of a bed.  “This is the only way I could come. I’m not from around here,” says Hana.

“Well fucking obviously.” I roll my eyes and flop on my bed, making more inhuman grunting noises on my way down. The pile of clothes jumps a bit when I land on top of the mattress and a yellow and black flannel shirt tumbles to the ground. I grumble a few curse words and grab the shirt and throw it back on the bed, and plunk my butt right next to it. A steady stream of water dances on the roof and hits the edge of the window. Fog forms around the outside of my window sill. I inhale deeply, imaging the smell of wet concrete and moist air that will bless my nose. The tightness in my chest loosens a bit.

Excerpt: Here She Lies–Novel

In honor of the first Sunday of August, I’m posting a little except from my novel. The book is finished at 76,000 words, but I’m currently in the grueling editing process of this seven year project. Nonetheless, I’d like the chance to share a snippet of the beginning. Without further delay:

Chapter One–August 2, 2007

It’s hard to know exactly where November “Milly” Ray’s story begins, but it probably starts somewhere on Delatorre Drive on a hot summer afternoon in California or in a parked truck in the mountains of San Bernardino or perhaps in a hospital room in a nearby town—although chances are that’s where this one ends—but it could also begin on that same street ten years before at the bottom of a bottle of Black Velvet or the end of a piece of paper covered in the most elegant handwriting.

Whatever the case, today, her story starts on a porch before summer’s end and Milly’s final year of High School begins.

Delatorre Drive situates itself at the base of the San Gorgonio mountains where the valley accumulates the hottest wind and the driest summers. Milly’s tan skin glistens, causing her brown bangs to stick to her forehead. She slicks the sweat away and keeps her eyes forward, waiting for a red Jeep to pull up in front of her house and the boy with curly black hair to emerge from inside.

In the open window above her head, she can hear the loud swearing and slurred words of drunken man. She fidgets on the porch, causing the cement steps to dig into her thighs.

“Hurry up, Charlie,” she says under her breath. Milly looks at the bracelet on her wrist containing a variety of different beads strung together with a bright green thread. She holds a circular, translucent bead between her fingers, rolling it over and over again. Beside that bead, there’s a cheap plastic purple heart, a green, iridescent circle, a bright blue square with corners worn from time, and a white square with a black letter “N” carved out of it—its ink similarly faded—followed by more beads of varying shapes and colors all tied with a square knot, hanging loosely from Milly’s wrist. It was a necklace once, but over time, it grew too small and so became a bracelet.

From upstairs, Jonah, Milly’s dad, calls her name over and over again. Milly jolts up, her fingers still pinching the clear bead on her wrist. She skips the steps down the porch and stands against the cream stucco wall of her house, his window above her head.
Her fingers stroke the different textures of her bracelet until she feels the edges of the blue bead. Her eyes flick down at it before rising to search for similar objects—the neighbor’s hose box across the street, the garage door, a window. She looks down the street, but Charlie’s car is still no where to be seen. She sees other houses, all the same two-story, cream colored stucco as hers. At the far end, ten houses down and a good half mile, the cul-de-sac seems to form around one house that sticks out among the rest: a deep blue, two story home with horizontal boards and a wrap around porch—Charlie’s house.

The door to Jonah’s bedroom slams.

“Crap,” Milly says under her breath. She peels herself off the wall and starts down the street. Milly steps carefully down the road, avoiding uneven slabs and cracks overgrown with weeds.

The sun’s heat pricks at her skin and beads of sweat bubble from her forehead. The dry air sucks the moisture form her mouth. After passing the first couple houses, she already regrets walking, but there’s no turning back now. Suddenly, at the end of the street, Charlie’s garage door opens. Milly flops onto the sidewalk, which burns into her skin, so she gets up and takes cover under a small tree front of a neighbor’s yard.

The Jeep slows in front of her until it putters to a stop and a plum of smoke rises from the exhaust. Charlie, Milly’s best friend since childhood, is tall and lean—built for wrestling. He has brown eyes and milk chocolate skin. His face is oval shaped with sharp cheekbones and a smile that could melt the hardest heart—he’s easily one of the more attractive guys at their high school. But Milly looks at him and sees someone like her little brother and has since they were young children.

“I told you I’d come pick you up,” Charlie calls out to her.

“Well, I felt like walking.”

“It’s 104 degrees, Nova. You’re sweating like crazy.”

She shrugs. “You were taking too long.”

His eyes narrow and gaze in the direction of her house. “Is Jonah home?”

Again, she shrugs. “Let’s get going, yeah?” She yanks the door of the Jeep open.

“Sorry,” Charlie says as he grabs a half-drank gallon of water from the passenger seat and throws it into the back seat. It lands on top of his wrestling bag. Milly plops into the seat, and maneuvers her feet away from the graveyard of Red Bull on the floor. The seatbelt clicks as Charlie slams the engine into gear. Milly cranks the AC, and rests back, listening to the Van Halen CD booming from the Jeep’s speakers.

Charlie speeds out of the neighborhood past a blur of cream houses and trees and brown yards, slowing the Jeep only enough to roll through stop signs before speeding past other houses. They drive out of the track-home neighborhoods and near the half-million dollar homes where Charlie slows a little, so Milly can drool a little over her dream houses, until they reach a small strip of land and then a trailer home park. Charlie slams back on the accelerator. Eventually, they reach more trackhomes that are newer than Milly’s house and those homes unfold onto a small shopping center with a Chinese food restaraunt, an ice cream parlor—Milly’s favorite, Stater Bros. Grocery store, and a small liquor market—Jonah’s favorite.

As she and Charlie drive past Beaumont High School, Milly’s stomach flips. She takes a deep breath, only exhahling when they turn onto Cherry Valley Blvd and the school is out of sight and a long stretch of road lies before them.

Cherry Valley Blvd slices through rolling hills of yellow grass that’s freckled with resilient green bushels. The sky is a bright enough to blind her, but she keeps looking anyone. The hills seem to go on for miles, contrasting the congested neighborhoods of Beaumont.

She and Charlie remain in silence as the turn onto the I-10 Freeway, past the cities of Beaumont and Calimesa and Yucaipa, toward Redlands and their final destination: Hillside Memorial Park.