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Entries in #aghostattheedgeofthesea (2)


Ghost is a 2014 Nilsen Finalist!

While I've been busy keeping a tiny human alive, the wonderful people at Southeast Missouri Press have been reading my manuscript. And apparently they liked it!

Thrilled to be recognized like this and very grateful for the timing as I look towards the days when life comes with a touch more sleep and a little bit of writing time. I'd be lying if I said that things like this are what keep me writing, because if I didn't adore the process itself, I'd have laid it all down a long time ago. But they are definitely good for the ego.

Thank you to the Nilsen readers and judges!


A Ghost at the Edge of the Sea: Chapter One


Chapter One


The plane over the Pacific shuddered and dipped. Its wings flexed, and the metal groaned as the passengers groaned. From his position in seat 46B, Will couldn’t tell which sound was which. He clutched at his armrests, his seatbelt cutting into his stomach with every jolt. The flight attendants had been strapped into their seats for at least ten minutes now, or twenty; he couldn’t move to check the time, and outside, it was still dark. The woman next to him gasped and grabbed his hand as the screens showing the film flickered, then went dark, and Will held his breath, waiting for the oxygen masks to tumble into his lap.

“At least,” the woman said softly, without letting go of Will’s hand, “at least I know where I’m going.”

Will raised his eyebrows at this, and then turned to her and gave the best smile he could manage. “Shanghai still, I hope. Unless they’ve changed it to some small Pacific island.”

The woman giggled and shook her head. Her blond bangs brushed at her eyes with the movement. “No, that’s not what I meant,” she said, pressing down with her hand and driving his own into the cracking gray plastic. “I mean after that, if this plane gives up. What’s your name?”

“Will,” he replied, cautiously, unable to come up with another to give her.

“Pray with me, Will,” she said. “Pray that we reach whatever destination God has set out for us, whether it’s of this earth or not.”

For a second, Will thought she wanted him to pray something with words, words that he knew he wouldn’t know. But she simply sat in reverent silence, her eyes closed, her lips moving without sound. So he closed his own eyes too, to keep her company, and realized, right before his plastic cup tipped melting ice into his lap, that even now he still didn’t buy the idea of heaven. It was Shanghai or oblivion.

Will did not believe in an afterlife; he never had. He didn’t really wonder about it when he was a boy, not even when his cat and his grandfather died on the same day and adults reassured him awkwardly that they’d both gone to a better place. And when his father was diagnosed with cancer, he tried his best not to think about death at all.

It was only after his father actually died that he realized one night in his dark bedroom, alone save for the blinking lights of the router and power strip, that his father was gone, really gone. Death was final, decay inevitable, and his father’s life was wiped from existence as completely as an arrangement of driftwood in the face of a rising tide.

And after the turbulence finally subsided and the movie began again, after Will dried off his jeans in the cramped restroom as best he could, after the woman next to him stopped praying and offered him a valium, which he gratefully accepted, he thought of his father again as he slipped into sleep and wished that there really was a place to go, that death wasn’t as hopeless as he knew it to be.


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