Dear Tampa Dave ...
Damn, but can you write or what!?!
I've had two books published etc and have taught creative writing for 14 years etc and I love it when I connect with a real flow.
And this my forum fellow is a real flow.
As I have done with another who posts original work on these boards I am responding to your work with work of my own ... to take the same risk ... and here I feel called to share the first chapter from my first book.
Somehow it relates to my vulnerability to ... love of ... risk in ... despair at ... "nightworld" as you so aptly coin it.
I hope you enjoy at least fractionally as much as I enjoyed yours ...
When Dreams Share A Life
My first story is the nine hour life of my only true sister D*** J*** L***. Our skin never touched. Mom coming home from the hospital, so sad to have lost her baby girl, established my memory, made me aware inside, the first moment where I claimed my own distinct point of view, where "I" was conceived in language.
We were living in Eskinaba Michigan at the time, in a small wooden frame house that had a big steel grate in the floor between the living room and the little hallway. When the heater came on a hot wind would rise up through this grate, so hot that I couldn't keep my bare feet on the metal for long. I measured time by playing with the heat on my face, until a sudden quiet would descend. For ages the grate retained a lingering warmth.
Mom went away all heavy and expectant, and I knew that when she and Dad came back D~~~ and I would have a new baby sister, or brother. Mom wanted to bring back a girl. D~~~, my younger brother, was two. I liked him then, when we could not compete verbally, when I found him safe. While Dad escorted Mom to the hospital Mom's elder sister, Aunt J~~~, watched after us with her red red hair and big big smile and no-nonsense eyes. I remember a phone ringing followed by J~~~'s cry of delight, and I knew that this meant more than just everything was okay. Mom had a daughter and D~~~ and I had a sister.
Everything changed with a second ringing, but I did not understand why the tone dropped. I can still feel how the world went a little colder, and how I very much wanted Mom and Dad to come home.
Early the next day they returned. Dad was protective and softened, like an usher in church. I remember the light on his soft hair and in his young eyes, how he hunkered down to my left, right hand on my shoulder, left arm beckoning me forward . . . beside him . . . beyond. Memory holds no event between first seeing him, and the door opening to the bedroom where Mom was sitting up, wrapped in lots of covers, weeping. And then I understood, Mom had found and lost her girl all in one go, and I had lost a sister. I was four.
My first choice in the face of her sadness was deciding to fill the gap. I can remember the relief Mom felt when she held us in her arms, and in her desperation and grief I noted an absence by its intensity.
D*** had been a difficult pregnancy for my mother. Dad did not attend the birth, although he was at the hospital. Initially everything seemed okay, but then complications set in, and Denisa only lived nine hours. I think my belief in an omnipotent god also died in those nine hours, for what being of love would give a life so dearly wanted to a worshipping woman only to take that love away the same day? I can clearly remember Mom saying something about the lord giving and the lord taking away, and choosing not to say anything for I shared neither need nor answer. D*** died in my mother's arms. Mom would not let her awaited daughter be taken away. I believe Mom carried D***'s spirit home, and that over the years I learned how to help carry her too.
A sister in the wind and in the sadness and in the dark quiet moments, D***'s life is the first life whose ending I outlived, my first lesson in how time weaves every life without reprieve. At some moment my point of view will fuse with D***'s. What keeps me on this side is her patience.
When she is close I feel her taste mortality again through me. She is entirely and forever the maiden, an infant of almost perfection. Her taste is pure. In her dialogue the word is made new.