Fiction Friday: Book Lady

By Leslie Lindsay Misc Feb-March 2013 012

They say writers should always be writing, coming up with ideas for the next one…and while we don’t jump ship and start right away on the next one (before finishing the current WIP),  it’s okay–encouraged even–to jot down a few lines, ideas, or whatever and keep it on hand. In that case, here’s a little something that “the boys in the basement” are working on while I pound out the first draft of NEXT DOOR.

“I will tell you how I read a book: First, I smooth my hands over the cover, seductively feeling for raised lettering, foil-lined font, the stretchy quality of matte finish, or the smooth luster of gloss. It’s always a better experience if the book is hardback with a jacket. Then I pinch the jacket between my thumb and forefinger, gingerly lifting the paper spine so I can glimpse the real cover, the bare bones that piece the individual pages together, often tied with the tiniest red and white flossing ribbon, or perhaps the binding of rubberized glue. In my mind, this is the cheap way to go, and often a slight disappointment if it is indeed how the book is manufactured.

I then thumb through the pages, taking notice of whether they are deckle-edged or straight-edged, mottled, gilded, organic, newsprint, slick. I fan the pages with my thumb, creating a rush of air unearthing the pleasant melding of ink and paper in an orgasmic release. I bury my nose in the spine and inhale.

Yet, sometimes, the book in question smells yeasty, musty, tart as if it has been stored on a shelf in the archives of a library for far too long. Perhaps, it’s been packed away in a cardboard box tucked into the storeroom at the bottom of the basement stairs of a grandmother’s home. The book is happy that it has found itself in my hands, delicately holding it, ready to fold back its cover, turn the pages, ready to be given new life.

I may begin with the first line. That’s nothing unusual, it is after all what most people do. Some read ferociously from cover to cover, barely looking up to engage in the world around. They forget to dress, to eat, to answer the phone. They forget who they are in the presence of. The characters take over, the story moves them into a new plane.

Others read for awhile, get bored, and place the book on a nightstand, coffee table, or cluttered kitchen counter. The book collects dust and stains from glasses left dripping condensation. If it’s a library book, the patron forgets to return it on time and incurs a fine. The book never gets read.

I read. Really read. After the first thirty pages, or so I flip to the acknowledgements section. I want to know whom the author wishes to thank; who was instrumental in the process of writing, and perhaps a little about who the author is will shine through. Authors almost always thank their literary agent, someone who helped with research, and their family. You can tell who has a spouse, a dog who shares the writing space, or a family. Reading the acknowledgements section is a must.

Still yet, I take special care not to read the last few pages of the story. There will be others who beg to differ. I once heard of someone who read the last line of every book she ever received straight away. That way, if she died before finishing, she’d know how it ended. I beg to differ. If an author does his or her job well, reading the last line won’t really give you all of the insight intended; it’s just a line. A book is made to be read in its entirety. Still, I refrain from reading it.

At this junction, I may choose to read the “about the author” blurb. It’s fascinating to learn if the author is local, or at least in the same state you are living. Maybe you share something in common: a middle initial, number of children, vacation destinations, or a hobby like knitting. Anne Author lives in Chicagoland with her black lab and husband. She enjoys vacationing in Cape Cod and practices yoga daily.

Right then, I know we have something in common. Not only am I reading Anne Author’s personal preferences of pets and hobbies, but I am reading each and every letter she pounded out on a keyboard, it doesn’t get much more intimate than that.”

Fiction Friday: Inspiration is all Around, Excerpt from “Zombie Road.”

By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

For a writer, anything and everything is inspiration for writing. It’s just something with the way our brains are wired. We’re firecely observant. We scruntinize small things. And when we stare at something innocuous for a little longer than what might be “appropriate,” you can bet we’re thinking of some sinister little story or perhaps how to describe whatever it is in words that eventually make it on a page.

Yep. We’re weird.

And so it comes as no surprise that I found this little patch of land while walking my lumbering geriatric basset hound the other day. “It’s Mel’s yard!” I wanted to scream. No, not really. Well, kind of. Sure, my stomach did a little dip as I felt the story coming to life. Here’s an excerpt from an early chapter in my WIP, “Zombie Road,” which ironically contains no zombies. Sorry to disappoint.

“As I pulled the back door of Marianne Ashton’s home closed, a silent gasp worms through my throat, something grazed upon my back. I turn, but no one is there. I shake the feeling and teetered along the slate path between the side of her garage connecting our yards.

When I approach the bed where my begonias lay, the tiny plastic cartons are upturned, their heads broken off, revealing slick wet stalks.

Vandals. That word tumbled around again. This time, I consider the history of our lot. It doesn’t make sense. An animal, then?

My eyes scan the yard to the front porch, and up and down the driveway, to the small tree in the middle of the yard. No spade. Finally, I glance to the retaining wall where the land slopes downward, but no yellow spade.

Anxiety presses forth. Clumsy. Forgetful. Stupid. Maybe I took it into Marianne’s kitchen? No.

The sky darkened and appeared mottled with swaths of muslin contrails. I sit the pile of publications on the grass, patting the utility pockets of my pants. I frown at an old piece of chewing gum encased in worn, dented foil. Swarming at my ankles, as if a colony of ants has moved in, the ground peels back, revealing a patch of dead grass. Did Ran’s Lawnboy do this?WP_20140829_001

Clouds moved swiftly, an animated visage circulating god-knows-what. Just wait a minute, it will change. At least the rain will revive that dead patch of grass. Little Sally Water, choose the one you love best. I lean to retrieve the plastic flower bins as fat, heavy drops of rain splash the stack of reading materials.

A rumble of thunder, then a snap of electricity brightened the sky. No car ever arrived at Mrs. Ashton’s home depositing a music student. But her face, shrouded in a flowing curtain of Dorothy Hammil hair peers from the front window where the piano sits, a blank stare. I squint, tenting my hands over my forehead to get a better look. Maybe she’s not there, my imagination again. Maybe her student cancelled. Granite clouds lumber in from the west, darkening the sky. I raise my hand anyway, a semblance of recognition. She does not reciprocate. Embarrassed, I duck my head, scoop up the papers, and hustle to shelter in our garage, first passing by Ran’s “Big Green,” caked with cut grass. I toss the plastic tins into the recycling bin.

Another clap of thunder booms. Startled, I press the interior garage door button, allowing it to lower. I step into the mud room then, deposit water-logged papers from Marianne on the bench. A crack of lightening rocks the house with sheer ferocity. A hollow emptiness scrapes my gut. Solid, unyielding drops of rain smack the roof, resonating with life.”

[Thanks for reading! As always I appreciate feedback and “likes.” Remember, this is an original work of fiction and not to be taken as your own.]

Write On, Wednesday: 4 BIG Questions for Writers

By Leslie Lindsay Ireland 2014 171

Just when I was thinking of what I ought to post for my weekly writing post, I got this tag (Tweet) from a colleage, David Ozab who writes in the Pacific Northwest. It has to do with four questions that are floating around in the blogosphere about–what else–writing!  At the end of this post I’ll tag three more writers.

Question 1: What are you currently working on?

I often have my hand in many pots, but this time I have learned to focus on one project at a time. Okay, well that’s not entirely true with two young kids, an aging basset hound, and well everything else that needs doing. But you want to know what I am writing?! Oh, that’s easy.

A ghost story.

Oh, you want more information? Okay, how about a ghost story based on an urban legend originating in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ll call it a “Midwestern Gothic.”  But there is so much more going on: orphans, miscarriages, the ghosts of Christmas’s past (Well, what I’m getting at is: most ghosts are the result of human suffering, metaphorical haunts scare us more than anything)…and the possibility that psychic abilities can be inherited.

It’s all fiction, but the legend is real. Folks in St. Louis  claim the place I am writing about has been called “Zombie Road” since thr 1950’s, but it has been teeming with spirits long before then–Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, and escaped mental patients.

I also continue to blog regularly on the writing life as well as bestselling and debut author interviews (Wednesday), share fiction excerpts (Friday) over at, and keep up a blog on Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), my first “baby.” (

Question 2: How does my project differ from others in the same genre?

Ah, always the BIG question. And a good one. This is different because there are a lot of different voices (POVs). Most haunted house/ghost stories have something to do with “old” things, this is a brand-new McMansion on the banks of the Meramec. So that begs the question, can a new house be haunted? And if so, how or why? We also dive into the past. It’s a work of fiction that teeters between contemporary and historical, mostly contemporary. 863d4-img01365-20110811-1712

Question 3: Why do you write/create what you do?

Because I can’t stop. So it sounds a bit cheesy and cliches, but I love ideas and words and capturing them on paper. I find it fun to re-live past experiences, too. Even if I didn’t exactly “live” them myself. For example in my current WIP, there’s a scene from 1984 in which a bunch of teenaged boys are partying in the woods.  Have I ever been a teenage boy? Nope. But my hubby has. Have I ever been a partyier? Uh…no. But I did live in the 1980s. Piecing it all together is somehow oddly satisfying, what can I say?

Question 4: How does your writing/creating process work?

Honestly, I don’t know! I wish there were a magic formula I could tell you.

Well first, you take an idea mix with equal parts creativity and grit. Toss in some tension and genius. Get little sleep. Multitask till you’re blue in the face. Fold in a critique partner. Read a multitude of genres. Bake at 350 for inordinate amount of time. Sprinkle with copious self-editing and then allow to be read by an agent. Sign multi-book (and dollars!) contract.

In reality, it’s more like: Have ideas. Put butt in chair. Wear the letters off  keys on laptop. Read. Write. Read about writing. Get frustrated and attempt to throw laptop out of second story window until supportive folks insist “this is good stuff, you can’t do that.” And so you sigh and roll up the sleeves cause you got work to do.

Question 5: Which Three Writers Am I “Tagging?”

Oh gosh! It’s like picking my favorite kid. Nearly impossible. But here goes:

  1. Mary Kubica author of THE GOOD GIRL (Mira, July 2014) because she writes in the hybrid women’s fiction/thriller genre, is a busy mom of young kids and debut author. See my interview of Mary here.
  2. Tanya Chernov, author of A REAL EMOTIONAL GIRL (Skyhorse Publishing, September 2012) cause she is real and writes in a very authentic voice–memoir–another genre I just adore. Read Tanya’s Guest Post here.
  3. Jennifer Weiner, bestselling author of well, many! Most recently–ALL FALL DOWN (Atria, June 2014) about a very real issue–addiction to prescription pain meds. Why her? Well, why not?! Because I’d love to hear what she has to say. Because I love her quick wit and snappy come backs. Because she can weave a fun read around a very serious issue.  See my review of ALL FALL DOWN here.

Continue reading “Write On, Wednesday: 4 BIG Questions for Writers”

Fiction Friday: Little Sally Water

By Leslie Lindsay

I have a senior basset hound named Sally. She has a kidney issue and that means she has some house-training accidents from time to time. Okay, a lot. Was it because little Sally was peeping on the floor that my brain recalled this old nursery rhyme, Little Sally Water or was it the muses at play?

In any case, this old childhood game, jingle, rhyme–what have you–has been floating through my head of late. So I got curious, like all good writers do and did a little research. Here’s the rhyme/song: 

Little Sally Waters sitting in the sun
Trying to find her love
The one & only one
Rise Sally rise
Open up your eyes
Look to the east
Look to the west
Maybe you’ll find the one that you love best

The lyrics actually continue and are quite extensive.

Seems the rhyme/children’s yard game has something to do with marriage. Little Sally Water is sitting in her saucer. In fact, the real story goes: Sally was on her way to her wedding, when she had to step over a saucer of water. Now, is this akin to jumping over broom handles or some other marriage tradition, I don’t really know. Folks believe this nursery rhyme originated in the 1800s–England and has been in the U.S. since at least 1848.

Yet, more contemporary interpretations indicate a name change for Sally. She was Sally Walters in more northern climes of the US, Pennsylvania and New York, for starters. In the South, Little Sally Ann(e). Others say, no, no, no Sally had a last name and it wasn’t Walters, but Waters.

Still others maintained that Sally was of African American (black) heritage. But then that goes to dissuade the England-Marriage version. So, it’s really hard to tell what the meaning and interpretation of this nursery rhyme is.

Little Sally fits into my WIP because, well I found the sing-song sound of it haunting. There’s also a water aspect to my WIP, so it just worked:

“Well, then maybe I’m not alive,” she responded.

Don’t be silly! You’re as much alive as I am.” I reached my toe forward, a playful nudge, a sideways grins.

My toe went right through her.

I startled, glanced back at Leelah and gasped, a surge of panic racked my body as her leg began disintegrating. Help! She needs help. My words would not come forth. Leelah smiled coyly, a smattering of freckles splayed across her face, and a glint in her eye I’d never noticed before. I couldn’t tell if she was crying or laughing.

She heckled and tossed her head back, the wavy hair breaking off in a wisp of clouds. A sinister stare penetrated my gaze. But Leelah, you’re my friend.

My brow furrowed. I screwed my face into a pinched pout, my stomach twisted, my ears rang. “Why? Why are you doing this to me?” I shouted, grabbing my bike, leaving the food, mad as a hornet.

She didn’t respond in words, yet her voice sang softly, deep within my head and yet all around me at the same time. Some childhood song. Little Sally Water…turn to the one you love best. Bye baby bunting. Father’s gone a-hunting.


[this is a work of original fiction. Comments appreciated. Sharing and copying as your own is not. (c)]


Write On, Wednesday: Injecting Symbolism, Part 3

By Leslie Lindsay

The fiction writer knows that there is a lot that hinges on a good story. Some of these elements just happen in the prose, but some of them are more deliberate–but hopefully the reader doesn’t detect that. In fact, injecting symbolism into your work should be very organic and surprise you–the writer–as much as it does the reader and for that matter, the characters.

No pressure, right?

In carefully crafted and researched novels, symbolism just appears because well–it’s been ingrained through your research and comes through in terms of osmosis.  

My little ghost girl, Evelyn brings with her a ragdoll from generations past. In my mind’s eye, I saw a small cloth doll created from scraps of fabric and wrapped in a maroon cloth. She has no face. Evelyn drags this prized possession around with her. She loses her, she deliberately places her in the view of her “chosen one,” in a look at me kind of way.

And so I worked with her. The doll, the ghost girl. I let them know I was there to help tell their story. They listened. They cooperated. (Well, some days, when the writing was flowing). And then I got curious: what are the origins of rag dolls? And what history do they have in the US? Other places?

What I learned may or may not surprise. The small, faceless dolls are that of Amish origin. They don’t have a face because, as one story goes: a little Amish girl received a doll for Christmas. The doll had human-like features. She loved the little doll. Her father snatched it away, cut the head off and said, “Only God can create people!” Yikes. He then replaced the doll’s head with a plain stuffed sock. The doll was now faceless.

This is the exact reason the Amish don’t allow their photos taken. It has a lot to do with graven images and one should not have their faces imprinted on film or other media because it mimics “those in heaven” and “in the ground below.”

Well, this all thrills me to death (okay, bad pun)–because you see–Evelyn is a ghost girl who was accidently buried alive. She graps her little ragdoll and is “in the ground below” with her faceless ragdoll until she is “released” by the protagonist.

Pretty fascinating, huh?

Till next time, Write On, Wednesday!

See also:

[image source: on 7.18.14]

Fiction Friday: What’s in a Name

By Leslie Lindsay

I read recently a list of things that indicate you’re a writer. It went something like: Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

You know you’re a writer when…

  • Everything you do is considered “research” for your novel (or a future one).
  • You proof-read emails
  • You rush to jot down an idea lest it leave you before you can do anything with it
  • You have a baby name website bookmarked on your computer

And so the list went. I found myself nodding and uhuh-ing. But it was the last one–the baby name website–that got me. You see, ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascintation with names. What they mean, their origins, their conotations, etc. And so it’s no surprise this is one of my most favorite parts of creating a novel. Not that I’ve created that many, mind you but well–you get the idea. Names are easy for me; they just appear. I don’t deliberate, I don’t do much of anything but take what I get. And then I look them up.

One of my characters, Melanie is sensitive–like psychic sensitive. She doesn’t know it until well, the “imaginary friend” from her childhood tells her she’s not really alive and that perhaps she’s a ghost. This imaginary friend/ghost is named Leelah, which has roots and meanings  along the lines of “play, imagination, psychic abilities.” Again, both of these names “just came to me.” (Melanie, by the way, means “dark or black.” As in black magic? Possibly).

And then Mel(anie) grows up. She has weird experiences–ghostly things that haunt her. She gets married, has a baby. Finally. After a series of miscarriages. She names that child Enye. It’s a Celtic name that means Grace. I didn’t know that when the name “popped” into my head.

There are a few other folks in the book as well. Some are just general names–nothing special–but I did look them up to make sure they were consistent with the time period they fell into (James and Benjamin, for example work for contemporary times, but were also very popular boys names in the late 1890s). Della is a ghost woman (bright–as in light? Also, noble). She lived in the mid-late 1800’s. The name checks out (most popular in the US in 1951, but it was ranked 68 out of 1,000 in the 1880s. And the little ghost girl–Evelyn–well, it means “beautiful bird.” And birds, interestingly play a semi-significant role in the book.

But truly, what struck me most was the name of the “imaginary friend/ghost,” Leela(h). And so I write about it:

“….I go to and type in Leelah. There are no exact matches, but there is Leela. No “h.” It means “night beauty” on this website and on another it equates to “devine play,” and also “amorous play” and “amusement.” I smile. Yes, that is what is. Was. Someone to amuse and play with me. As for divine, well it goes without saying that this Leelah is somehow celestial, heavenly.

Who are you, Leelah?

The baby name website says if I like Leelah, then I might also like the names Layla and Ava, Lola and Amelia. I do. It says the name is similar to Leila. All I can think of is the Eric Clapton song, Layla. It runs through my head over and over again.

When you’re lonely and you’ve got nowhere else to go.


The name is not popular. It’s not in the top 1,000 girls’ names in the U.S. and it certainly doesn’t make any International lists. Authors gave this name to exotic female characters in the early 19th century.

On yet another website, I find the name Leelah without the ‘h.’ It says a woman with the name Leela is one who is abstract, spiritual, utopian and dreams of sharing ideas with humanity. She desires to help mankind with some abstract commodity—religion and spiritualism. The occult. I shudder. And yes, even psychic abilities. My eyes dart right then left. She wasn’t here to tease, torment, or make me feel crazy, not like Mother thought.

Leelah came to help.”

For more information, websites to help you name your characters, check out:

[This is an excerpt from my WIP, currently titled “Zombie Road,” about an urban legend set in the hills of St. Louis County, Missouri. This is original work and not to be taken as your own or shared as such. (c). Image source for baby names retrieved from on 7.18.14]

Write On, Wednesday: Finding Symbolism in Your WIP

By Leslie Lindsay

One hundred years ago, in 1914, a bird cheekily known as Martha (after the first First Lady, Martha Washington) died in a Cincinnati zoo. Did she die lonely and broken-hearted? Well, yes. And for good reason: she was the last remaining bird of a species that declined from several billion to one in a mere 50 years.

Hunt of a flock, depicted in 1875

And what, you wonder does this have to do with writing?! Bear with me. We’ll get there.

It is reported these birds–passenger pigeons–darkened the sky for hours or even days at a time, “The beats of their wings would create drafts that chilled the people over whom they flew.”

See where I’m going with this? They’re creepy. And they just happen to appear in my WIP. Not intentionally, mind you but sort of by accident. This, I am finding is the absolute best way to incorporate symbolism into one’s work.

I’ve never been a fan of birds (sorry, Audubon Society). Ever since I learned birds may have an evolutionary root in dinosaurs, they stopped topping my list. And then there was that time my sister’s two parakeets escaped their cage and flew around the vaulted ceiling of our home, their lime-colored wings flapping viciously, their beady eyes taunting. You get the picture. And then I started writing a book with a naturally creepy undercurrent. I threw in some birds that “darkened the sky.”

My critique partner liked them, but quitely scolded their appearance, “Birds are done a lot in books in which there is some ghostly stuff; maybe you could sub butterflies or moths? Locusts?”

I get it–be original. And yes, moths and locusts are equally creepy–if not more–than pigeons.

But here’s what struck me with these passenger piegons:

  • They existed at the time my book takes place (a certain POV takes place in the mid-late 1800s, though it’s mostly a contemporary read)
  • Given such, I find  a certain chill-like factor when these birds make a reappearance after they have technically been extinct. A little remnant of the past, perhaps?
  • Also, passenger Pigeons called to one another with a “loud, harsh, and unmusical call,” referred to as a ‘keck.’ Still yet,  others claimed a scolding call, “kee-kee-kee-kee” or “tete! tete! tete!” Also great because there’s a  little element of music in the book…and if these guys are unmusical, then all the more reason to have them chant, chirp, and caw.
  • Finally, the Wyandot people or Wendat, also called Huron, (indiginous peoples of North America) believed that every twelve years during the “Feast of the Dead” the souls of  deceased changed into Passenger Pigeons, which were then hunted and eaten. …And so the third reason these lovely creatures show up in a book about, well…the dead.

So little bells and lightbulbs are going off in my head. Yes, the birds must stay and they have a story purpose!

But back to those now-extinct birds. Hundreds of thousands of them swooped through the sky in the mid-late 1800s, darkening and causing a chill below, a loud rustling sound deafened communities as their mighty wings flapped. And then they were hunted,  shot…and sold at urban markets–their meat was apparently pretty tasty–for about $1.40 per dozen. That’s how they became exinct, well except Martha who died in captivity, the last remaining passenger pigeon.

So what are you waiting for? Write on before you–or books–become extinct!

For More Information on topics mentioned in this article, please see:

[above image retrieved from Wikipedia on 6.28.14]

Fiction Friday: Culling Novel Images

By Leslie Lindsay

As a visual person, I love coming across images that resonate with the novel I am working on. In yesterday’s mail, I received a catalog: Victorian Times, or something of that sort. It’s filled to the brim with fancy perfume bottles, roses, and doilies. Pretty much stuff I don’t need, never will need and ..then I came across this rather gruesome image smack in the middle of ladies petticoats and tall lace-up boots.

Since the working title of my manuscript is Zombie Road, you can guess what happened next: I tore the darn photo out of the catalog, pasted it on my visual board, and then got myself to Google. Okay, in all honesty, the image was familiar but I had disregarded it, shoved it waaay to the back of the ol’ brain and simply forgot about it. (Def Leppard, Retrospective album, anyone?)

I find it a fun little twist of fate that it came back. Or, perhaps I was just prime to see it?

Victorian pen and ink artist, Charles Allan Gilbert (September 3, 1873 – April 20, 1929), rendered this evocative and doubly-interpreted illustration at the age of 18. It was sold to LIFE Publishing Co., at the time a tiny cartoonish publication in 1902 and was an instant success and became mass-produced. Sadly, C. Allan Gilbert (as he is most commonly known), was not remembered. He died in 1929 of pneumonia at the age of 55 in New York.

This type of work is what is called a double-image or a visual pun. Funny, cause that’s sort of what books are all about, right? Sure, the author has a clear objective in what she wants to communicate, but it may not be what the reader takes away.

Fiction Friday: What does Grief Feel Like?

By Leslie LindsayWrite on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

Here’s a little something from my WIP. Working on a novel set in the St. Louis suburbs based on a urban legend. This is a tiny little epitaph that our main charcter, Mel shares on grief:

“What does grief feel like? This is the question the ladies at grief group want us to focus on this week.

Grief feels like a barbed wire fence being shoved down my throat and pulled out many times over and over. Grief feels numb and barren, like nothing but bad thoughts can grow. It hits me when I least expect it, at the grocery store and in line at the bank. And yes, it strikes when I see a baby, bundled in a car seat toted into Starbucks, her tiny face peeking out from a little hole in the blankets, parents overly doting and cooing.

Grief is an evil entity that wants me for itself, like a phantom taking me in, inhabiting my body. If I am not lucky, it will. His ugliness will throw his head back, a sinister laugh erupting because he got me.

The other group members say this is normal. I told them between sips of instant coffee and store-bought cookies. There were nods and a supportive sounds, murmurings that they had been there. But no, I wanted them to be there with me. Right now. But so many of them had moved on, moved into acceptance and other happy places.

They tell me that it will get better. “Just give it time,” the woman to my left says, her hand patting my knee.

I swallowed and lowered my head, breaking off a piece of shortbread and swallowing it down with a sip of instant coffee. I hope she’s right.

Grief feels like I am walking with my legs sewn on backwards, a stutter through the world. Even simple things like bathing and eating and getting dressed feel like a chore.

I feel like Ran doesn’t care some days that our baby died. He has such a different way of coping. Instead of crying or talking about things, he runs. His body is withering down to nothing, his bones are protruding in places they used to not. His face is cadaverous. He tells me that running is a release. And I wonder what he thinks about on those long runs through the roads of Chestnut Ridge. Does he even think about the impossibly tiny baby that emerged from my body, red and tiny and dead.

I look forward to bed. Not for the sex, because that doesn’t happen much anymore. And not for the closeness we used to feel as we fell asleep intertwined in one another’s arms, but for the dreams I might have.

Baby Hope sometimes appeared to me, and if she didn’t, I’d will her to me. Occasionally, her face would appear on the sheers in our bedroom. I’d turn to look, to study the features of her face, but then she’d disappear. I wanted those dreams, because somehow it made me feel closer to her. I wanted tell her I was sorry. Because it was all my fault she didn’t survive.

On those nights, the ragdoll would appear on my nightstand or dresser, sometimes just on the floor near the window.

In the morning, I’d come awake disoriented. I’d check the clock on the bedside table: 9:16 a.m. Not too late. I still had most of the day. My mouth would be dry, sour. The cats would stare at me, their slumber disturbed and stretch long and languidly. My night shirt would be a little damp, my head clogged. I’d realize I’d been dreaming. Not a coherent narrative, but an intermingling of disjointed and haunting images, a parade of all of my fears. Baby Hope being taken away from me at the hospital, her tiny dark lifeless foot, the baby I’d given away.

I heard the thumping again. It was beckoning me to the window downstairs. A smattering of butterflies if I was in a good mood, a swarm of locusts if I wasn’t.

I’d lower my feet to the cream-colored rug. My mind started to catch up, shaking off the dream images and focusing on the real. But sometimes, in those dark days, I wasn’t sure what was real, or what was a product of my imagination, or the otherworld.

[Please remember this is an original work of unpublished fiction. It is not for you to take as your own. Comments always welcome.Thanks for reading!]

Fiction Friday: Dark Parts of Motherhood, an excerpt from Novel-in-Progress

By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on this week. It’s from my novel-in-progress, ZOMBIE ROAD and is in the POV of the protagonist, Melanie (Mel) Dunbar. It’s a little dark…but I’m guessing if you’re a mom, you’ve likely had similar dark-ish feelings tainted with a streak of very fresh hormones.

“No one ever told me about the dark parts of motherhood. I gave birth and people brought over the sweetest little shoes and pale pink swaddling blankets. They swooped in with tuna noodle casseroles and apple pies just to get a look at you nestled in my arms and they’re left. No one ever came when I was alone and afraid I’d do something wrong. Nor did they offer to rock you at three-in-the-morning when you, my perfect baby wouldn’t sleep and I was awake, grainy-eyed and angry.

Then I was alone, my body trying to heal—and daddy was back at the office. He took the university offered paternity leave of two paid weeks, but that’s not nearly long enough. There was a mix of joy and rage as I looked at you, your sweet, tiny face all puckered up. I knew if I wanted, I could kill you. Just one toss down the stairs or a slip in the plastic baby tub and you’d take your last breath.

After I had you, I understood for the first time why some women shake their babies to death. Or drive off a dock into a body of water, killing them both.

But I’ve never do such a thing. That’s not to say it didn’t cross my mind. Life is so fragile. It can be taken so quickly, but in your case, it wasn’t given very easily. Three miscarriages. One stillbirth.

Then you.

Enye, the purest love. Celtic for grace.

[This is a work of original fiction. Please do not copy or assume as your own. Feedback appreciated]