I'm very excited to bring you some YA today (and not just YA, but the paranormal kind!). Today's story is an excerpt of the first chapter of Wind by Cynthia Watson. In it, the main character Mary deals with her father's death, her broken mother, an alcoholic brother, and a younger sister named Kevin who has recently given herself a goth makeover. Mary loses all hope until, after meeting an Italian exchange, she is "dropped down a rabbit hole of angels, demons and inexplicable mystic occurrences."
Cynthia has just started the second book in her saga, Sand. She lives in Barrie, Ontario with her cocker spaniel, Symon, and five rescued cats. Go check out more of her writing on her blog, which has an amazing gothic-style background, here.
A DEATH, from Wind
By Cynthia Watson
My father died in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping, but the call came in the early morning—those calls often do. I watched from my bed as the snow started to fall. A few light flakes at first, in the blue-black darkness, then sharp gusts of wind pushing the swirls to their final resting place on the barren lawn behind my house.
All around the silent neighborhood, lights gradually came on, like fireflies signalling to each other that the day had begun. The naked branches of the trees already looked like heavy, white arms. I glanced over at my younger sister, Kevin—my long-limbed nemesis—entangled in sheets, exposing her pyjamas with the sushi pattern; pink shrimps, black tuna rolls and yellow Tamago shapes, scattered on white flannel. Her face seemed pale and unnatural looking against her dyed, jet-black hair. She was a natural redhead, like me, but hated being so. I couldn’t blame her. I had been through all the usual teasing and survived, but Kevin was different—stronger willed—she was determined not to endure a similar fate. After all, she endured having a boy’s name; she had even embraced it. In Gaelic it means, beautiful at birth and she was.
The ringing phone jolted me. I reached out into the cool January air from under the vast folds of my puffy duvet.
“Hello?” I rested the icy plastic on my cheek.
“Jack? What time is it?” I said, clearing my throat noisily.
“Flynn, Dad’s gone.”
“Gone where?” I saw on the alarm clock that it was not yet six o’clock.
Jack hesitated for several seconds—a bad sign—I’d never known him to be at a loss for words; he was a lawyer.
“Flynn, Dad’s dead.” His voice was flat, and unsympathetic; it contained no trace of sorrow.
“Listen to me Flynn, don’t tell Mom. I’ll be right over. Let me do it, okay?”
This can’t be happening. I must still be dreaming and I’ll wake up and everything will be fine, I thought. The doctor said Dad would recover, that Dad’s youth and previous good health were on his side.
“Flynn, are you still there?”
I looked down and saw that I was twisting the end of the white sheet into a funnel shape, like a thin crescent roll. My fingers were shaking manically. Jack continued, “I’m coming right over, okay?”
“Yes Jack,” I answered mechanically.
Angel, our gray and white cat, looked over at me from the end of the large bed, as I struggled to hang up the phone, the slits of his pea-green eyes narrowing as he studied me.
“Angel?” I gazed back at him for a moment.
I almost expected him to answer, maybe saying, I’m so sorry for your loss Flynn, so very sorry. I liked him; he was kind to me too. Instead, he opened his tiny, pink mouth to yawn, but nothing came out, as though he didn’t have the right words to comfort me, not even a meow. He looked over at the window, then closed his eyes into tiny slits, looking like an urban Sphinx. His head hung down slightly in silent meditation; his cat-thoughts known only himself.
I stepped out of the bed and padded to the mirror perched on top of the cherry wood dresser. I hoped against hope this was happening to someone else, but it was my familiar reflection that I saw in the mirror.
This time, however, I saw my father in my face—blue-green eyes, auburn hair, heart shaped face, Roman nose. My white flannel nightgown hung to the floor like a shroud. My small shoulders were already hunching under the weight of newly-found grief.
The snow fell. My father was gone.
It was at that moment, in my peripheral vision, I thought I saw someone or something in the hallway behind me; an indistinct, dark outline. Letting out a startled sigh, I turned quickly, my heart pounding, but there was no one there. I continued to stare into the stillness, then decided my eyes were playing tricks on me—my griever’s eyes.
I sat back down on the bed. The unthinkable had happened. I couldn’t take it in. My father was dead and would not come back. I curled up into a fetal position. I wanted to cry—felt I should be crying—but couldn’t and I was grateful for that small mercy. I wasn’t ready to let go; I had to keep it together for my mother and sister. There was such an enormous emptiness inside me, like a deep well. Dark, hollow, echoing, no end in sight.
They say God takes away what’s dearest to our hearts, so that we won’t take things for granted. At that moment, I knew this to be true.
They also say that when God takes something away, He gives back something else.