What’s in a number?

I’m sitting in bed, covered in blankets and cats, sinking into the falling-snow quiet that’s somehow seeping through the walls of the house. The house is quiet inside, too: I’m the only human here, and will be for the next two days. I’d be in Montreal with Peter now, except that I’m waiting for the call or text that will propel me out into the snow, into a cab, into a hospital, to attend the birth of a friend’s baby boy.

Why not check The Door in the Mountain‘s page on amazon.ca, while I’m waiting?

There was one review, as of a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly, there’s a second. 3.5 stars—sigh—but it’s the subject header that grabs me by the throat: “A disappointing second novel.”

Obviously, I’m disappointed that she was disappointed. But “second novel”?

What Bothers Me, #1:
It’s an understandable mistake. For years after my actual second book came out, I’d encounter people (not many, but some) who’d say something like, “I loved A Telling of Stars!” To which I’d say something like, “Thank you! Have you read the prequel, The Silences of Home?” And to a person, they’d look puzzled. “A prequel? You mean you’ve written another book?”

What Bothers Me, #2:
I’m very fond of my first two books.

What Bothers Me, #3:
If this reader thought that The Door in the Mountain was a weak second showing, what would she think if she knew that it was, in fact, my fourth?

What Reassures Me:
My first two novels will be coming out as e-books in the next couple of months. New covers; new format; new audience?

Now I go back to waiting for the call that will summon me to baby boy’s arrival. And while I do, I’ll let my real second book have the last word(s):

 

They walked around the room once, twice; she leaned against him when the pains came. He imagined that she would tire and sit, or maybe lie down – for the baby must be close to coming now. But she shuffled on, stopping in the same places with each circuit, and he came to know each brushstroke of these places, and every bump or pit in the stone – and still she walked and leaned. He breathed with her: deep and quickening as the pain began, and lengthening, softer as it ended. He held her hips as she hung from him with her arms around his neck; he felt her breathing and her cool, dry skin…The pains began to come even more closely together, so that she hardly took three steps before another was upon her. She cried, “Lie down, lie down” and kept crying out, even after she was on her pallet: she wailed without pause and seemingly without breath, and he knelt beside her, all his certainty dissolving. She no longer looked at him, and although she still clutched his hands, when he wrapped them around hers, she did not truly seem to notice them, or him. Be with her, he told himself, to quell his fear. Follow her in every moment – that is all. He felt his calm returning – but then her parted lips shaped words.

Fire beats against sky and skin. Outside, where there are stars – but there only because of this other fire, deep deep within. A body like a brand, a body tight and hard as metal; not a body. The flames twist and climb and burrow and they will always be here, searing breath black – but not always: a break, smoke billowing in wind. The body returned. A surge and a heavy thrusting weight, another, another, and then the space of wind again, for breathing and looking at the sky of desert, lake, woods. Pressure like falling or floating underwater, too long but no other choice – and the weight moving down and through. The body filled and open, tearing with a different fire – another body, easing slow and vast, then rushing slithering weightless free.

 

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Photo by Rebecca Springett

Release Date - October 2015

Published by: ChiZine Publications

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