Coming in August: For You, Rowena

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I’ll never forget the sight of you, dead in the garden; I couldn’t look away from your body. The blood, and the bugs crawling all over you. The blackbirds eating you up. My only love, carrion. You were the one person on this earth who knew where I lived and breathed. What am I supposed to do without you?

Never have I ever believed in Heaven, but just now, I’m wishing Heaven were real, if only to know the memories of our life together don’t belong to me alone.

But does an unbound soul even keep memories? Silly to believe so, isn’t it?

I remember our first date—a picnic out at the gravel pits. It was my sixteenth birthday. You kissed me at sunset with sticky lips underneath the pink June sky—my first French kiss. Your tongue tasted like golden wine coolers and cheap menthol cigarettes. You kissed me, and it was the beginning of everything.

© Kindra M. Austin

Quotes by Magpie Carey

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.

The Sun Still Does Shine (excerpt from Magpie in August)

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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.

 

OUT OF ORBIT (an excerpt from Magpie in August)

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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.