Malina and Petyr

An excerpt from Drowning Above Water.

“You’re so pretty,” Malina said as she ran her hands along Petyr’s blonde hair. “Your mother must have been beautiful.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t remember. But I think so.”

“I bet your babies will be pretty just like you,” she said.

They stretched out on her bed. He gave her space to move and reposition, but managed to keep physical contact with her skin. A finger on a shoulder, a heel on the back of a calf, but he couldn’t let her go. He looked at her. Her eyes were so busy; so much spinning behind them.

“Did you have babies before?” he asked. “When you were home?”

She shook her head.

“I’m sorry,” he said, kissing her forehead. She didn’t pull away from him, but she didn’t return the affection. That’s how it typically was.

“And what about you, my pretty boy? Do you have any babies?” She grinned as she said it. She knew very well he didn’t have any children. She knew he couldn’t imagine lying with any other woman but her.

“No babies. Only you,” he said.

“Yet,” she said. “You just haven’t met the right girl.”

“You are my right girl,” he said.

“Sweet, fantastic boy. So young. So hopeful. I don’t want you to ever learn.”

“You’ve done well this time,” he said. He didn’t mention exactly what he meant. But she knew. There were no pills in the tin in her purse. She had done well this time. He wouldn’t press her.

“Do you think we’ll be old together?” she said, propping herself up to look directly at him. “Grey and fat and limping? Do you think that will be us?

“Of course it will,” he said.

“No,” she shook her head.” You’ll find some heartbreaking girl…or boy, and run away together and never look back.”

He propped himself up to meet her. “Never,” he said. “I will never run away from you.”

“Then I’ll have to push you away when it’s time,” she said, pressing softly at his shoulder.

“You could never,” he said. I wouldn’t go.”

“What if you had to?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t go,” he said.

“I hope not,” she said. “You are what keeps me alive. And smiling for another day.” There was a knock at the door. Malina groaned and rose from the bed. “Make him wait outside for a minute, then let him in,” she said.

“Be careful,” Petyr said, rising to meet her.

“You be careful,” she said. “This is the easy part.” She squeezed his hand and walked off to the bathroom. When he heard that door close, he walked to the hotel room door, opened it, and made sure to close it behind him when he exited.

Drowning Above Water is the new suspense novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available at Amazon. 

Drowning Above Water – an excerpt

Malina and the Dock

Malina’s head felt as if it had been smashed in by a cinderblock. It hurt so much she was convinced that if her neck didn’t keep straining or spasming, her head would simply topple off her body. Her mouth was dry and gritty. She retched onto the floor but there was not enough food or liquid in her system for her to vomit. She only managed a sandy cough. It was stark black inside the trailer. She couldn’t see anything, didn’t know if it was day or night. Her legs ached and begged to move, to rise, but she was afraid to try to stand because she felt fairly certain she couldn’t. The grinding of machinery and wheels in the last hour had awoken her, letting her know that she wasn’t on the water any more. She’d made it across and she had no proof that she was dead. Felt like it. Would have been preferable. But she wasn’t.

Kneeling. That was the thing. Crawling. Try that first. Getting to her hands and knees, she felt moderately stable. But, a few strides later her arms stared to quiver. Another two paces and they collapsed under her. She didn’t know where she was in the tank, so she had to keep moving until she felt metal, which would eventually turn into the metal door. Turning, she sat down and inched her way ahead, using her heels to slide her along and her arms just to keep her from falling backward. It felt like hours. She counted forty-seven pulls until she felt her toes hit metal. Then she adjusted, putting her flank as close as she could to the metal plane. One corrugated segment at a time, she searched for the door. She was weeping with exhaustion.

When she opened her eyes again, she was still lying against the metal. Her face was flat and flush against the wall. She might have been passed out for thirty seconds or the better part of a day. She couldn’t remember where she had been or not been inside the box, so she started her forward scooting again, following her feet. Counting, she pushed forward seventy-two bumps and finally her hand brushed over the horizontal bar of the segmented door. Pulling herself to her knees she grasped the handle in both of her fists and pulled as hard as she could. The door creaked and leaned upward by an inch then flopped back into place. The tears wanted to come again, burning and itching her eyes but Malina disallowed it. With a wobble, she got to her feet, not taking her hands off the bar of the door. Throwing her weight up and back, she screamed as she lifted with everything she had. She laughed when the door slid open only a foot and a blaze of sunlight cut a path into the black trailer. She dropped flat to the ground and started to wiggle under the opening of the door to the other side. She had made it to the dock.

 

(Drowning Above Water is the new novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available now at Amazon.)

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.

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