Well, I’ve made a decision (after a few gut-wrenching, purpose-questioning, self-esteem-battering days) to take some control back. My first novel has been shelved for the time being. The mature, responsible part of me understands; the hurt artist part of me doesn’t want to. I won’t go into all the gory details of the journey I took with my first novel but I’ll say that on the advice of an agent I truly trust (and my gut), I have temporarily boxed it up while I finish my steampunk novel that is pretty freakin’ fantastic (in my humble opinion) and wait on my final edits of Bone Kisses.
But the feelings of defeat created by staring at the two years worth of work piled up in a box under my art desk is a little hard to move past, so…I’ve decided to publish part of it here just to keep its pulse beating until I can go all Dr. Frankenstein on it and give it new life. I’m going to give you the elevator pitch only as the background and then a single chapter of the book. Disclaimer: This has not been professionally edited and I AM THE REASON editors exist. My flagrant misuse of punctuation will make you grammar gurus want to hunt me down with pitchforks.
Anyway, back to my original point- There is a catch— If five people comment that they would like to read more, I will go back and post the first chapters leading up to the chapter below. My ego is really hoping for 5 comments but I want honest responses, not “let’s keep Ash of the ledge” pity comments. So here it goes…
TURQUOISE by Ash Robbins (YA magical realism– and because I’m dropping you into the 6th chapter, the story is told in Fallon’s gothy-teen-writer POV) Elevator pitch: After receiving ancient bracelets from their grandmother, sixteen-year-old twins Fallon and Lila Yazzie discover they are the guardians of a Navajo heritage that extends into a mystical world full of hidden powers, secret councils, and blood-thirsty skinwalkers.
Chapter 6 The Bracelet
It was 5:00am. I yawned and put aside my journal and pens. My emotional and physical exhaustion had successfully pummeled my desperate attempt to avoid dreaming. I would have to give in to sleep.
My bracelet sat on the table beside me. It hadn’t left my wrist since I’d received it, but as soon as my family had fallen asleep, I’d yanked it off. I’d decided that for the most part my dreams had stayed in my head until I’d started wearing the damn thing. It was only then that truckers and deranged vagrants had started to invite me over for play-dates. The logical side of my brain knew that this didn’t make much sense, but there were a lot of things that hadn’t been making sense lately.
It had been easy to remove the jewelry while I was still shaken from my encounter and sure that it was to blame, but now I found some remorse seeping in. It had been a gift from YaYa and was the only connection I had to my grandfather.
I took a deep breath and settled into bed, assuring myself that the rest of the family would be up soon, so there was no way I could possibly make it into REM sleep. It had to work. Please work… please work…. please….
I felt the crisp crunch of new snow compacting under my feet. The pristine white blanket spread across the rocks and sand, shimmering under the soft glow of the moon. My usual path slumbered under the powder, but the ominous mountain remained steady at its post. The ethereal scene enchanted me, and I found myself temporarily forgetting where I was: Death’s domain.
It was hard to believe that a force so dark, so malicious, could enter a place such as this; a landscape radiating innocence and purity. Maybe I truly wasn’t in my desert. Maybe I had cheated Death for the night.
There was no urgency this evening. No drive to push me down the trail. I felt as if I could just fade into the peacefulness. I closed my eyes enjoying the moment. A chorus of soft laughter turned the silence into a broken melody. It was a mixture of low, melodic tones and high, jubilant voices. I opened my eyes and scanned the landscape, listening more closely.
Deep in the shadows of the far distance, I could see the faint glow of a fire that burned just beyond my sight’s acuity. The laughter seemed to be traveling from that spot and the more I listened, the more it began to sound like my family. I started towards the flickering light.
As I walked, I glanced down at the snow. There were paw prints pressed into it. They looked like the tracks of a very large dog. There were two separate sets, traveling side by side. I followed, my own feet distorting the impressions. I’d only traveled about half the distance when everything changed. One set of prints became less defined, enlarging and changing shape over a couple of yards until they had been replaced by new prints. Prints that were distinctly human. This newly changed set trailed off in another direction while the other set remained on course.
The fear I had avoided was now making its first appearance of the evening. The laughter continued, contradicting my anxious emotions with its joyousness. The glow grew closer and the voices louder, my heart pumping a rapid beat behind it all. As I pushed myself into a run, a haunting howl streaked across the terrain. The wind came with it and I knew that Death was here; he’d just been playing another game.
A gust of frigid wind hit my back with such force that it knocked the breath from my lungs. I sputtered and gasped trying desperately to draw new air into my hollow chest as the wind whipped around me before drawing in on itself. The air concentrated and morphed into a solid mass, forming arms that wrapped around me from behind; one securing my waist and the other crossing over my chest, pinning my arms to my side. I felt the weight of a body pressed against my back as one of the hands ran down the length of my arm and encircled my wrist, lifting it into view. I watched, completely paralyzed.
I recognized the gray fingernails of the hand controlling my arm as it gently turned my unembellished wrist, examining it. I felt the soft brush of his lips across my ear before a familiar voice carved his words into my soul.
“You have forgotten more than your book.”
The laughter from the distance turned to sudden screams that blazed across the terrain before piercing me like knives; slashing and slicing as they passed over my frozen body. The screams were each distinguishable, cruelly allowing me to recognize each of my loved ones as they perished; the high-pitched screeches of my sister and the primal, tortured eruptions from my parents’ throats.
No! No! No! Don’t touch them! Let them go! I screamed inside, nothing breaking free. My soul thrashed like it had been buried alive, but it was in vain. I could not move. I could not run to help. I could not fight against the embrace that held me staring at the distant flame. The only movement that this wicked force could not control were the tears that poured over my stone visage.
The screams gradually surrendered themselves to the silence, and a black heaviness grew inside me; a stone tied to my heart that wanted to pull me down into an abyss I would have no desire to leave.
Slowly from the darkness emerged the same eyes I had encountered on the trail; two pallid globes floating in the night. Their owner stopped short of the light and tossed an object at my feet. The embrace that had immobilized me loosened with a parting chuckle in my ear.
I collapsed to the ground. Nestled in the snow lay my bracelet with the turquoise stone missing. The blood dripping from it tinged the frost a vile shade of pink. I reached for it, sobs becoming so violent that my body collapsed forward, one hand grasping the sickening wet bracelet, the other my heart.
The scream that had hooked into my chest, grew and expanded until it could not be contained. It began as a deep moan but as it rolled out it gained force and bellowed into the night, a ferocious, splitting scream that shattered the landscape and drowned away even the cold embrace of Death as he finally, mercifully, took me.
“Fallon! Fallon, wake up!”
“Don’t touch them! Don’t touch them!” I thrashed against the warm hands. I couldn’t see anything.
“Fallon, it’s Dad, honey. Please wake up.”
“I’m sorry! I couldn’t get there! I couldn’t get there! I’m so sorry.” I pleaded for forgiveness and the arms wrapped tighter, pulling me in.
The warmth slowly infused my body and light filtered between my eyelids. My father’s voice whispering in my ear. “You’re ok. We’re all ok. It was just a nightmare.” My body gave into his rocking and I turned my opened eyes up to his face.
He was there and alive. My sister was behind him staring at me. My emotions rolled over me like a tidal wave that I felt would consume me. Relief, fear, guilt and love fighting to control me, to swallow me into the blackness that seeped back in to carry me off. And I drifted on the waves… slowly drifted… away…
If you liked the excerpt please click on the comment button at the top of the post. Does that sound desperate? Oh, well, it’s this or a bury myself in Ben & Jerry’s and I’m not sure my corset can keep up with that.