Sometimes I imagine myself not plummeting, but falling slowly, spiraling uncontrolled into the black; the nonentity is dizzying and cold like outer space, unsympathetic.

 

So Dad opened the door to the dark January night. The sky was black as pitch and cloudless, the stars brilliant, perfect white dots. He picked up his suitcase, and he said nothing as he crossed the threshold, shutting the door gently behind him. Back then, Dad looked exactly like the Renaissance era’s personification of Jesus Christ.

 

I feel sorry for her because she doesn’t know. The last time she saw our house, she was watching it grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. But I have driven by nearly every Sunday afternoon since Mom and I moved away, and I have watched it decompose.

Our old house is a corpse. Maybe I should burn it down and dump its ashes in the lake.

 

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© Kindra M. Austin/cover design by Allane Sinclair

Available on Amazon  and Amazon UK.

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“We’ve eaten lots of breakfasts as a family, but this one is the most important to me, and that morning is alive too, sharing space with my guilt.

Strange how trivial things, the details of a single morning in five-thousand and some can so cruelly become the richest, most bittersweet of memories.”

–Magpie Carey


“The sun is shining colorless through layers of drifting clouds. I’m looking for traces of blue within the holes, but I only catch glimpses of a sky silvery white.”

–Magpie Carey

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Here I am, pulling into the resort, and I can’t remember passing a single landmark these last two miles. Mom hasn’t spoken at all since leaving the city beach. At least I didn’t hear her say anything.

No, she’s just been smoking, riding along, and losing time of her own; wandering her corridors. She’s found another dark place to hang about. I know because she’s crying again, though dry and silent.

Coming here is a challenge for her, too. I don’t acknowledge that fact nearly enough.

“I’ll go get our key.” I’m not going to wait for her to answer. Let her be alone in the quiet car to sweat, if that’s what she wants to do.

The passing storm has taken most of the humidity, but not the heat. August has quickly recovered. The swimming pool is full of noisy bodies, and so is the lake, stretching impossibly wide before me.

If I close my eyes and pretend with all of my might that I am someone else, could I revel in the sounds of laughter, of water splashing, waves breaking, and gulls calling? Could my bare feet love the touch of sand? Could my heart sing if I swam out to dive into the deep of the lake, to feel my body cool and weightless?

At least you left me the sun, Renny; the sun still does shine, godlike in the firmament, and I can still love the warmth on my face.

 

 

She has my head in her lap. Her fingers are raking through my sweat tangled hair; it kind of hurts, but I don’t want to pull away. All I need now is my little yellow plastic cup filled with apple or grape juice.

I’m crushing ants with my thumb as they speed along the cracks in the concrete. Some of them are carrying dead insects.

Hurry home, little ants. Run for your lives.

I hope I’m not doing anything important when I die. I can’t stand the thought that it might happen while I’m in the middle of something with Peter, or even doing something mundane, like driving home with a Saturday night pizza and movie rental. I guess I can’t stand the thought of dying, period. Not that I’m afraid of my own death. I just don’t want the people I love to be sad.

My thumb is so fast, the ants don’t have time to realize they’re about to die. What’s it like, Renny? Or maybe drowning doesn’t work that way. Your death happened so quickly, maybe you were just like these ants; unaware of God’s thumb poised overhead.

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-5-

OUT OF ORBIT

 

I wish I didn’t want Dad back. Or you, little sister. It hurts too much to want. And it’s too damn hard to figure out which hurts me more, missing the dead, or missing the living; though I don’t know why it should really matter.

What I do know is that I don’t like going to the race track half expecting to see our dad in the stands, or to the lake half hoping to find him at the cabin. I don’t want to miss the man who could no longer stand beside his wife, who could no longer stand the sight of his daughter.

But I do miss him, despite this distinct hollow he created in me when he drove away and out of my life. It would be better for me if he were dead, I think. If he were dead, I might be able to accept his nothingness. I wish Grandma had never told me where to find him; that I know where he lives only nurtures my pain.

Maybe you’ve caught me a time or twelve between the rows of red maple, driving up his blacktop lane. If you have then you know I always lose my nerve midway, and I back straight out, wondering if anyone outside or in had even noticed I was there.

I wish I could just admit to myself that he’s no longer my dad, forget the bastard. Unsee his new life with his new wife, and their perfect fucking stone gable house; one just like our mother had always wanted!

Christ. What right do I even have to feel abandoned by him? I failed him first when I failed to save you, his heart.

You were Mom’s heart, too. She and Dad, they were both satellites revolving around the seemingly infinite and magnificent you. After you died, the fights began again, and the affairs. And they couldn’t stay together, which further proved that nobody was anything valuable without you.

I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to the envy I sometimes felt, even for a little while after you were gone. When I think about all the time I had wasted on feeling jealous of you, I could vomit. But envy or no, you were also my heart. You were my best friend. My sun.

When you died, I fell out of orbit, too.

I remember how strange and lonely the nights had become after you were gone. Sometimes I would leave my bed and climb up into your bunk. It didn’t matter though, where I lay, because I always just lay and stare into blankness. At least in the summer months I had the crickets to listen to; autumn and winter brought nothing at all to soothe me.

A lot of the time, for the first year or so, I would go to bed in the dark and see the dawning of day without ever having slept. There was no difference between day and night. Neither ever brought you back.

I wish I could just stop thinking. But I’m on a roll.

19055170_665477723644228_2412619868069419839_oToday was epic–my first book signing. Preparing, I was nervous. I’ve never been one who seeks to be the center of attention; that shit comes naturally, if I’m being honest. And it’s odd; for a person who can from 0-fuck you in half a second, I thrive under pressure when it really counts. Somehow I manage to digest the anxious butterflies beating against the walls of my stomach. I must say, it was a relief that the first person who came in to see me is one of my dearest friends; I had a good fifteen minutes to relax my nerves. Plus, there were doughnuts, cookies, and iced tea. I tend to eat my feelings, so…

The Broad Street Pharmacy, where my daughter works as a pharmacy technician, has such a lovely staff, they are all like extended family, especially Nicole’s boss, Beth, and my friend, Johanna. They all took such good care of me; there was table set up for me, books displayed, and refreshments for visitors (and me, ha-ha!).

It was awesome to have my family and friends (all who were able to attend) rally around me. And the new people I met today–my heart swelled! I truly do live in a warm, supportive community. The experience raised my spirits, and was incredibly humbling.

There was one person missing who deserves recognition: Allane. My dear friend, I spoke of you ALL day. People were in love with your cover. No one left the table without hearing about the amazing Allane Sinclair.

It is a great gift to be able to share my work. One of the clerks–a sunny, good-hearted young woman–told me she knew she needed to read Magpie in August when she read the synopsis on the back cover, because her mother, too, is an alcoholic. And that’s what it’s all about for me, folks. Touching hearts, making connections, letting others know they are not alone.

Today, is a beautiful day. I am so thankful.

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This is my look today. I had to have a photo snapped at the local paper to accompany a brief write-up about me and my novel, and my upcoming book signing. The editor did not like my hair. Or my face. She kept trying to fluff up my fine hair. Jesus, fuck. Like, sorry I don’t have wicked thick bouncy fucking hair. (#stoptouchingme #wherehaveyourhandsbeen #iwillknockyouthefuckout) Regarding my face, specifically my mouth, she said, “It IS okay to smile.” Bitch, I smile with my eyes. Haven’t you ever seen America’s Next Top Model??? Hey, Tyra, hey, girl. Anyway, I started cheezin’ it big time because I wanted out of there, like yesterday. So what if my bunny teeth smile is crooked. She fucking asked for it.