Happy almost holidays! I hope you're feeling just as great about this year gone past as I am: 2018 has been a WILD ride. But I'm so grateful or your continued love and support. It has definitely made all the difference.
I know for me, part of what kicked this year off to a great start was some pretty clear goal setting.
What do you think about New Years resolutions? Too restrictive? Do they work for you?
Overall, I knew I wanted three big things out of 2018:
To finish my first novel
To find an agent to represent my novel
To form a genuine connection with my readers
Now, the first is a pretty easy one to measure. I finished the novel. It is finished. Task complete. Check.
But the second one: I haven't achieved yet. I've been out pitching and submitting and sending emails; I've probably pitched over 30 different agents at this point - some in person. And still nothing.
BUT for me, this is still a HUGE win. Why?
BECAUSE I ACTUALLY DID IT.
2017 me would NEVER have pitched an agent, especially not in person. 2017 me didn't even have anything to pitch. 2017 me was too busy thinking about what life could be like to ever actually make it what I WANTED it to be. But because I set a high bar for the year, 2018 had to jump up and meet it.
Thing #3, however, is a bit harder to measure.
I want to form a more genuine connection with my readers.
I don't just want you to read the first few lines of this email and then delete it, or to just stay subscribed for my sake. I want to talk. I want to you to get something out of this interaction. I want you to feel included.
So please, if you want to feel included too, if you want to make this something you'll love EVEN MORE (because, let's be real. You already LOVE it, right? ...right?) head down to the comments and let me know what you would like to see from this blog, newsletter, or from any of my other correspondence for that matter (Instagram? Facebook? Something else I haven't thought of yet?) that would give you what you need.
Do you want writing tutorials? Live story readings? Giveaways? Workshops?
Let me know, and I'll make it happen!
And now, without further ado...ON TO THE WEIRD.
As with most things of this kind, it begins just about where it ends—in the guest cottage, on the twin bed, beneath the window.
When it begins, she’s fifteen—a bit young for a wedding by the standards of the day, but the English countryside, like the furthest reaches of space, measures the passage of time in distance. And being uncountable miles the limits of London, Constance finds herself subject only to the laws of the land. So when her mother walks in on her beneath the covers of the old guest bed with Caleb Marsh, her age becomes no less than the distance to the nearest person who might care. And Caleb Marsh becomes her husband.
The bed stands in the corner of the room beneath the cottage’s only window—and the cottage itself nearly a half mile from her parent’s front door, thus allowing this timeless child a heretofore unknown amount of freedom. She finds this quite terrifying, as she has always hoped she would. Though she and Caleb find themselves in their current situation for going the distance, they had in fact been caught in the act of their first and only congress, and as such, still have not quite learned what to do. But they’re married now, and as a husband and wife are meant to do, once they’ve closed the front door on their brand-new cottage home, thus signaling the end of their wedding ceremony—they tread a new and nervous path to the bedroom.
And for those twelve feet, they are happy. Happy, but not alone.
For her parents house had been built in 1878, and the cabin as a servant’s quarters that same year. Never had it moved from its spot, but for the rotation of the Earth, the point around which all of time revolves. For Galileo, that point had been the sun. For Constance, it is the cabin. And as she comes to learn over the days that she and Caleb spend wearing themselves down on that path, she is not the only one to call that epicenter home.
Not too far from their wedding day, inexperience turns to bitterness, turns to indifference. Constance begins to wear new paths—from the door to the couch, the couch to the kitchen, even to the garden, and so on and so on. Caleb, too, adds another: from the door to the restaurant, wearing new paths to be paid by the step. But Constance never leaves. Though she daydreams alone while folding the clothes, it is not her job to leave. It is her job to remain, frozen in time, a job for which she finds, as time does not go on, that she is not the first to sacrifice her life.
Again, in the bed beneath the window: that is where her lover first finds her. Sixteen now and still the same, yet somehow, also, less, she lays alone this time beneath the sheets, turning and inch this way, an inch that. Forward and backward in space. Mr. Marsh is still out making money, she presumes, or maybe somewhere else, doing something else, something other and distinctly not here. Forward and backward in space. Until the time she turns and there he is, it is, he is, and also is not. Not Caleb—she is sure of this, even in her half-awakened state. Had she turned too many times, rolled back and back, ended up somewhen else?
“Is this yours?” she says into the darkness.
And then he enters her, descending upon her from head to toe as if laying in the outline of her body. She watches from within as her muscles grow rigid, solidifying, and she feels, for the first time, occupied. He has taken up residence within her. It is no longer the cabin’s walls that contain her. She is the container, she has carried him across the threshold, and suddenly, she is free. Perhaps it had always been this way, she thinks, in this wooden place. So long planted on that same piece of bare earth, perhaps for the cabin, and all who call it home, perhaps they had never left, and instead it was the this place who had left, abandoning them all in the wake of its when, to occupy each other. A nonsense thought, she might say to herself, if it wasn’t for the sights now dancing before her eyes, popping like fireworks of time, the kaleidoscope of moments telescoping down to a microscopic dreamscape, too bright for her to cope. She is weeping when Caleb returns. He is drunk, she thinks. Whenever he was.
This is what she comes to learn throughout the newfound fullness of that place, in the cottage, on the twin bed, beneath the window. She had always hoped to one-day see the city. She had always felt they had it right, or at the very least, that her family, her neighbors, even herself—that they had it wrong. But she was visited again the next night, and the next, and the next, again and again, in that self-same bed, and they each of them told her that: no. It was the English countryside what had it right, and if one desired to change their life, one need not leave the comforting encampment of home. One simply had to wait. Her mother had known how to wait, and that power had allowed her to travel the great distance from the abuse of her father to the love of her husband, and then the disappointment of her daughter. It had taken her grandfather from the great restlessness of his life, to the silent peace of death. But Constance had never quite learned how to wait. And so it was through this litany of spectral affairs that she was granted a gift that Mr. Marsh, despite his occasionally noble intentions, would never be able to grant her: the ability to unwait.
“What is this place?” she whispers in the darkness, and she feels the breath on her neck.
“When will you take me next?” she cries, and through the window glimpses the stars outside of time, knowing that she could be anywhere.
“Where can I find love,” she asks, in that way still a child, and knows for sure it is there, then, with her.
A great distance away, on a sound stage, in the city, somewhere, a man in a well-cut suit will be quoted. “I should imagine you have got quite a name for yourself in the spirit world,” he will say. “I would imagine they would be keen to visit you.”
He will look her in the eye as he says it, like many she meets and has met and will meet, as if he has just been given that most effective of trumps, passed from man to man, the silencing veil, the veil of men.
But Constance has seen forever. She has run the race of eternity. And in the face of such a man, whose paycheck he looks to cut on the back of her infidelity, she sees once again, a familiar sight. It begins in the eyes, she thinks. The eyes whose domes reflect her body like mirrors, like the mirrors into which she found herself calling, in those early days. How long has my body been gone? The length of her journeys remained unknown to her. How long has my love been away? Mr. Marsh, there beside her, sleeping off a sullen shift.
How many of us are there?
Who deign to dream of distant more?
But the next night, and the next, she finds herself inside the arms of another lover. Her eyes close when this happens, instinctually, not as a sign of shame, but as one of respect, for the forms of her loves are not meant to be seen. Their love is not one of sight. They are not Visual Creatures. Not a sight to behold, but to simply be held. And hold they do. Until the morning, until the morning comes and the crescendo comes, and the crash in her ears comes, and then there is a shatter. As of glass. As of rock through glass, and she feels it, the presence, the love, of her love, evaporates. And she is left there, clutching air, to turn and to see and to stare at the man, at Mr. Marsh, standing there in the yard, blood on his hands, the blood on his hands. But what had he seen? What had there been to see? She can’t say, but what she can say, is that he feels so far away. There are years between them now, between her there on the bed, and him, feet planted like yard stones in the grass: there yawns the gap of distance.
“I know what I saw,” he would say to the man in the city, the sound-stage-man. So far away. “She wasn’t alone.”
“There was a man with her?”
“No, not…I don’t know.”
“A woman then?”
“No.” This he was sure of. “Hell no.”
But in that moment, himself then an unaging statue of years, what he sees is proof enough. For a shadow itself, as time, is the afterbirth of light. And even at the distance he stood, that shadow made itself known to him, and for what felt like forever, the two froze themselves in time, each to stare the other down. But though it had no true form, though Mr. Marsh could distinguish no features, he knew from the look on Mrs. Marsh’s face, that this did not mean it wasn’t real. A look he himself had never seen. The shadow had taken her somewhere that he could not.
It is only after it dissipates that she bothers to look. She rolls her head against the pillow, and reaches out through time. This is when she sees him. This is when she sees the mirrored domes of his eyes. Sees them for the last time.
Because this—this is where it ends. In the guest cottage, on the bed, beneath the window. This is the last she sees of him, until that day in the city, so far away, so far.
This is the last she sees of him, as he runs from the lawn, spitting at his feet as he goes, before she meets him once again on the sound stage, one point in the triangle, the well-dress man to her left, and the whole of time to her right.
“Caleb,” he will say, then, and there’s a smile behind he lips, because the camera is there, and it is on his side. “What do you have to say to Constance? If you could say anything at all? What would you like to say?”
And he will look at her, and he will pretend to think. Because this is how it is with time. We look to it to speak for us. Just give me a bit more time. Our words, with time, are not our own. Maybe had we spoken off the cuff, our kindness would have been preserved. But not then. Not there. Not with Caleb, as Constance knew, the words reflected in the domes of his eyes—he had not needed time. The answer, as it was, had been there all along. And he gave it to her, there, to keep. Forever.
Read the full news article, here.
Well, that's it for me this week! And don't forget, if you haven't already snagged your copy of my new short story "Keep Preserved," published by Write Out Publishing, all you have to do is click HERE to get the full story download for only $0.99!