Birthday

 

Courtesy of Butterwood Bakery

September 30th.

My book’s birthday.

Finally together after years of drafts and lost phrases and tossing aside and picking the pieces back up only to lose my place and start again from the beginning, I got there.

It’s also my birthday.

I am not who I thought I’d be at forty. I’m not where  I expected geographically or metaphorically.  I’m not what I thought I’d be for sure. Sometimes, I’m surprised I’m here. But I am, and I feel like I should know more. Have things handled. Have moved beyond the same things that drowned me year after year. Still falling below the surface. Still trying.

My book is a lot like me.

Okay, it’s exactly like me.

Rambling where it should shush. Speeding past parts it should probably examine more closely. Much too vulgar and revealing than anyone needs. And ye goddesses is it sad. It’s a small story that tries to take up as little space as possible. It vacillates between whispers and shouts with barely a spacebar to bridge the gap. It’s resistant and stubborn. It shrinks from a compliment and believes its own negativity. It doesn’t shout to be notices but desperately wants the people touching its pages to feel something special when they look inside the cover. It knows it’s not a novel that’s going to be on stages and take its place beside giants. It’s ready to sit in a corner waiting. But still ready, because the story is important to the right reader. It is exactly the book I should have written. Maybe it’s the one I needed to have written. And I did.

So,  maybe I should learn to love it.

I just might.

Happy birthday, book.

Make a wish.

 

Drowning Above Water is now available in paperback and kindle at Amazon.

 

 

 

Teckla

Drowning Above Water – Teckla – An excerpt

 

From thumb to pinky, his palm nearly spanned her entire back. His other dense, rough hand grabbed her shoulder, to prevent her from considering a movement she would never make. The girls, whatever their intentions on either side, let go of her hands. She couldn’t blame them. The instinct for self-preservation was too strong. She would have done the same. He slid his palm down the length of her spine; down until he held in his open hand the curve of her tail bone. She was so cold. Not all the girls were sweating from the heat. Some, like her, were sweating from the fever of their illnesses. The goose bumps that surfaced along her back he took, in his ego, as a signal of her pleasure. Never would he have considered it was a sign of the pending seizure that would distort her poor febrile body. Keeping his hand flat and weighty against her, he pulled closer and breathed, hot and moist on the back of her neck.

“Who are you?”

She could barely move, but managed to turn her head. She could not quite face him, but at least she was not pressed against the trailer wall.

“Don’t make me ask again, kurwa. Imie!” the Shepard said.    

“My name is Teckla.”

 

 

(Drowning Above is the new novel from author Alyssa Herron.  It lives here at Amazon.)

https://www.amazon.com/Drowning-Above-Water-Alyssa-Herron/dp/0999364707/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1506554045&sr=8-1&keywords=alyssa+herron

 

Her Smell

 

I put my Grandmother’s coats into my own closet today. They smelled like her. She’s been gone almost two months and they still smell like her. A high, elegant, womanly smell, proper perfume purchased at a proper fragrance counter. Not the hippie oil that I wear, haggled from some guy’s sidewalk table in the East Village. How can she be gone and her smell is still here? I expected to see her sounding the corner any second, likely telling me that I wasn’t hanging her coats correctly. I so wish she would have.

So much of emotion is tied to smells. Our sheets, our clothes, us. But our own smell is not that one that triggers the lust, the anger or the loneliness. It’s the scent that lingers when one that was there is now gone.

In Drowning Above Water, the main character Malina is surrounded by two major olfactory sensations.  Water, which follows her through her life. And smoke, which also trails her. I know that it’s like to have a smell haunt long after they are gone. So does she.

Drowning Above Water – an excerpt – Malina and Grizella

Malina didn’t remember the cigarette being held out to her. But her eyes were stinging from the strong smoke, as Grizella held it to Malina’s mouth, the moist tip soft and wet against her lips. Malina knew this woman and she wanted to forget her. She didn’t think or feel, but inhaled, held the smoke in her lungs, and let it seep out her nose. She just wanted to taste the smoke.

“But maybe, almost time for you to leave here anyway. Not so good to be the oldest apple left in the store, Teckla. You rot. Then, you’re only good for the rats in the alley.”

Teckla. She hadn’t heard that name spoken in a long time. Her old name. From her old life. Her dead life. Like the one she was walking through today.

Grizella took back the cigarette and walked up the hall, toward the elevator, toward the younger, better girls and their younger, better rooms. She stopped, knocked on a door, smiled and hugged the pretty one who opened it, and disappeared inside.

Malina stood alone in the hall. When she nuzzled her head against the collar of her robe, the smell of the smoke hit her eyes again and they watered. She did not cry. Instead, she turned to her own door, turned the knob and went inside.

 

Drowning Above Water is available and lingering at Amazon.

Sitting Out

 

Sitting Out

Hello, Friend

I see you’ve come around again.

Was beginning to wonder if you

hadn’t forgotten your way here.

 

But I knew you’d remember.

I remember.

That time in fifth grade, when we first met,

when I wrapped you around my waist,

tight and knotted.

Because I was afraid I’d forget.

To hold in, to hide,

to stay the way I was,

when I was small and good.

And I remember when that boy,

the nice one,

wanted to steal his dad’s car

just to try and help.

He didn’t.

He couldn’t.

I remember.

Trying to jump off the chair.

Trying to hide them beneath my socks.

Trying to hide, and then hurry.

Trying to hide within a story,

because you can’t tell that tale

the first time,

if you ever want there to be a second.

All it took was a second.

Trying to fit into a box that wouldn’t have me.

Letting people fit inside that didn’t really want me.

 

I remember trying.

I remember fighting.

I remember giving up.

 

It’s easy when you’re here, friend.

We know each other.

Our cells know the steps of the dance

and we move together,

without needing music.

Because we’ve rounded this room together

for a long time.

And I don’t know how to move

without you.

 

But I wish I could.

 

Because you’re not good, friend.

You’re not a good partner in this

collapse of two.

Because only one of us ever falls.

 

You’re possessive and clawing,

You take over my soul and I can’t breathe.

When you fill my head with your thoughts

of not good enough,

of she’s better,

of he doesn’t love you,

of you should just give up,

 

I can’t hear the music

and despite rehearsal

I can’t remember the steps.

 

I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know where I’m supposed to be.

The spotlight is blinding.

 

I’ve lost so many days with you.

Lost people.

Lost myself.

 

And every time you leave,

the sun comes back,

I say, no, not again.

Because the gloaming

might be dark and cold

but it’s honest; and at least

it puts the shadows where you can see them.

But when you knock, you bring a

a flare of bright and heat.

So hot it chills.

So cold,

I answer,

swept into your arms again.

Sweating in an icy room,

being asked if I have a fever.

 

Because I know these false-caring arms,

I know they are not arms that hold,

to return life.

But ones that suffocate, to bring

Stopped breath.

And then

nothing.

 

So yes, hello Friend.

I see you’ve come around again.

I hear the music coming from behind you,

and I see you holding out your hand,

asking for another turn,

around our wooden floor.

nicked with heel marks,

worn smooth from years

of spins and shuffles and falls.

 

I’m turning off the sound,

even though it’s still rattling in my brain.

Probably always will.

And my feet will tap

to the ghost tunes of

the waltzes I can’t forget,

that left me gasping,

tired,

and bleeding.

 

But I can’t let you in.

I’m not dancing tonight.

 

I’m standing,

arm across the threshold,

giving myself a chance

to stand.

For me.

With me.

Willing to say goodbye.

For a chance at

an awkward, unsteady,

but real

hello.

 

To a life without you,

Friend,

For a life with me.

 

(Taking a break from the novel to consider my next work of a poetry collection. Stay tuned. And of course, the book Drowning Above Water still lives at Amazon.)

 

Drowning Above Water – Teckla and Beata

 

     Teckla looked at her mother, in complete shock. She didn’t understand. And she tried. She tried to see past the trailer and the water. She tried to reason past the second gun shot that sounded behind them. She tried to understand why she was getting pushed into a floating coffin that wouldn’t be opened until she crossed an ocean. And one of the only things she could understand was that she’d probably be dead when they opened it.

“Your sister? Grizella?”

Beata grabbed her daughter again, crushing her against her chest. “I love you, baby. This will be better. I promise.” She kissed her daughter and then pushed her out of her arms. The man at the trailer door grabbed Teckla by the hand. Beyond him,  in the trailer, she heard voices. A girl screaming. Crying. The man shoved Teckla by both of her shoulders, making her fall backwards into the trailer. As she hit the ground, he pulled the door down and locked it from the outside with a rusty hook.

  From inside the metal box, pounding echoed.

 Beata ran.

 

 

This is an excerpt from my new novel Drowning Above Water. It is available now at Amazon.

Drowning Above Water – Petyr

 

Petyr sat in his room. It was black except for the glow of the convenience store sign, blazing its light through his grimy window. It seemed like years since he had been here in this hotel. The room was empty. Naked mattress. The only other furniture was a single wooden folding chair with the words Paul G. Fink Funeral Home stenciled on the back. The “landlord” had rented his room the day after he got on the plane, but hadn’t changed the lock. Petyr didn’t have anything here. But it was soothing to him, just to sit there in the dark, waiting.

He heard a rhythmic rubbing sound, soft and close. He looked down and saw that his hands were shaking in his lap, rubbing against the fabric of his pants. At a glance, they were clean. When he looked closer, even in the grey room, he could see blood at the base of his nails and in the wrinkles of his knuckles. There was a large kidney-shaped drop dried in the knuckle of his right middle finger. He rubbed it with his thumb but it didn’t budge. Without thinking, he bent his bloodied finger, stuck it in his mouth and started to suck. He couldn’t taste the blood, so he pulled harder. All he tasted was sweat and dirt. Pulling his lips back from his teeth, he dug them into his skin, pressing down until he finally got the taste of blood on the end of his tongue. Satisfied, he stopped and wiped the wet, spitty, macerated, bloody finger on the chair.

There was no noise outside. Not yet. But he would wait. Abraham knew he was back. He would come looking for Petyr. And then he would go back to kill Grizella. Not right away. Maybe not at all. Or maybe eventually. So, Petyr had to kill him first.

 

Drowning Above Water is available now at Amazon. It lives here:

 https://www.amazon.com/Drowning-Above-Water-Alyssa-Herron/dp/0999364707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505090527&sr=8-1&keywords=alyssa%20herron

Drowning Above Water – An excerpt


     “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said, holding up her hand and waving: open, close, open. A toddler bye-bye. She closed the door, knowing he would stand on the other side for another minute, waiting and hoping for a change of heart. There wasn’t a heart in her chest that could change.

     Her eyes looked away from the door and turned to the window. Her feet followed. The hotel stood on the bank of a river. As she stood, toes on the carpet, feet moist, she imagined the river water. She watched the dirty waves, the rocks and fish and mud, and she felt. She knew her feet, black-bottomed and clutching the particles of shoe dirt picked up from the carpet, were on flat, dry land. But her body rocked as she mimicked the water. It remembered. The way a mother of years ago will sometimes stand and sway when she sees another woman cradling and rocking a baby, even if her own arms are empty. Malina rocked now. She knew that. Less alone than she was then. Or maybe not. There was a knock at the door.

     “Just a moment, Love.” 

     She responded to the knock in her professional voice without needing to remind herself to do it. She squeezed the sight of the water from her eyes and walked away from the door and window, swaying, toward the tiny closet by the door. Inside, hung squarely on a hanger forever attached to the rod, was her navy dress. Her work uniform. A size too small now. Soon it would be two sizes. She freed it from the hanger and stepped inside it. With an arch of her back to start the zipper and a lean forward to finish it, she managed to zip it. The seams argued at the hips and protested at the sides of her breasts. But for tonight, it worked. The knock sounded again at the door.

💜Thanks for checking out my world of Drowning Above Water. You can bring it home from Amazon. 

https://www.amazon.com/Drowning-Above-Water-Alyssa-Herron/dp/0999364707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505090527&sr=8-1&keywords=alyssa%20herron