Calling all writers and readers!
Showcase your favorite book—or at least page 69 of it—here!
Turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book.
That was Marshall McLuhan’s advice anyway. Over the next few Wednesdays, I invite readers to submit their own or other works (pg. 69 only of course!) via the Contact Form here.
My Grandfather’s Eyes by Bev Spicer
Page 69 Excerpt (pub November 27, 2013)My Grandfather’s Eyes is a suspenseful and chilling tale following the life and times of Alex Crane in her efforts to live a meaningful life.She does not love her husband, although he is a good and honest man who is devoted to her. She loves Lizzy. And she would go to any lengths to be with her.There is a layered and complex plot that disturbs and intrigues the reader as he finds out what Alex has done and tries to understand her motivations. The part played by her Grandfather is both subtle and finally devastating as the story unfolds and reveals that we may not always appreciate what we have until it is too late.
I sit, and it takes Nan a moment to sense my presence. I watch her breathing and imagine the damage I cannot see. There is a heavy, sickly odour in the room, and I want to open a window. I am looking round for one, when I hear her.
“Alex. Do you know how lucky you are?” Her eyelids are half closed.
I do not know what she means. She is frail.
“Don’t try to talk too much, Nan,” I say. It sounds like a line from a Sunday afternoon film. And it probably is. It is something to say.
“You are a lucky girl, Alex,” she says again. The sides of her mouth turn down, as though she were swallowing something bitter.
I consider doing up the button on her nightdress. She watches, knowing that I will not. I get up to leave.
“I’ll come back later,” I say. “When you feel stronger.”
“He loved you, Alex,” she says.
“I know he did.” I know she is talking about my grandfather, and it makes me wish once more that she had been inside the wooden box that had rolled slowly back into the flames, instead of him. I smile, and she does not speak again, but closes her eyes so that she doesn’t have to look at me.
I cannot face Richard, so I go into the visitors’ bathroom. The fluorescent lighting is too bright, so I switch it off. In the darkness, I feel my way to the washbasin and find the tap. I splash water on my face. The enamel bowl looks like the bluey-white of an eye and the cold, grey metal of the mixer tap is fluid. I try to make out the colours of the hot and cold. This simple task distracts me, and I am grateful for it. I am inert, in the gloom. I merge with its shadows and am effaced. I am thinking not about Nan but about my grandfather.
“Alex!” I hear Richard outside in the corridor. I will myself to become invisible.
Perhaps he will not find me. He calls again, and the door opens. How can he do this? He switches on the light, and I blink into the square of hospital mirror. What I see is my grandfather’s eyes looking back at me, and there is a feeling of lifting, which comes from inside my chest and exits through the top of my head. Billions of atoms jump, their empty spaces echo through my body. Something is happening that I understand completely and yet, at the same time, I find impossible to describe. I look in the mirror again, but he has gone. All this happens in an instant.
“For God’s sake! Leave me be, Richard!” I lower my head and speak quietly. He closes the door.
My mind buzzes, as though on standby, waiting to reactivate. The sounds of people outside the room wash over me, and I do not try to interpret them. They are an annoyance, like summer flies. I don’t know how long I have been standing here. I would like to stay forever – I have never felt my grandfather’s presence so strongly. Eventually though, I return to myself.
“I need to get some air.”
Richard is waiting for me. He thinks he understands, but he does not. “Sure, Al. We can get out this way. I’ll just tell your father,” he adds, ever practical.
I have a father. I do not have a grandfather.
I do not wait for Richard to return but walk towards the illuminated exit sign, which comes out at the back of the hospital, in what must be a staff car park, for there are still many cars glowing under the sodium lights, despite the lateness of the hour. The night air is cold, and I shiver. I listen to the breeze in the trees and look out over the sea of metal shapes, with their windscreen brains and headlight eyes and, not for the first time, see that the world is a place that can lock you out, if you forget how to make sense of it.
Richard finds me. If I had stayed there on my own much longer, I think I might have lost my mind. This thought appears to me like an exotic vision, and I teeter on the edge of something, like Aladdin at the rock face.
I whisper, “Open Sesame…” But nothing happens.
Sounds good? Get your copy of My Grandfather’s Eyes here.
One Way Fare by Barb Taub & Hannah Taub
Page 69 Excerpt pub. September 4, 2013Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Null City is the only sanctuary for Gaby Parker and Leila Rice, two young women confronting cataclysmic forces waging an unseen war between Heaven and Hell. Gaby and her younger brother and sister are already targets in the war that cost their parents’ lives. Should they forsake the powers that complete their souls and flee to Null City? Meanwhile, Leila has inherited a French chateau, a mysterious legacy, and a prophecy that she will end the world. Gaby and Leila become catalysts for the founding and survival of Null City. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other
side. On page 69, on their way back to the 1890s, Leila and an injured Thomas change into period clothing.
A minute later she was sucking in her breath and pulling the little mushroom-shaped hooks into the matching eyelets on the front of the corset. “I think this thing has a steel frame inside,” she panted. “I think it’s named Priscilla and is left over from the Spanish Inquisition.”
“I think it’s great,” Thomas approved.
“Shut up, you one-armed pig and close your eyes.” Leila turned her back on him to do battle with the layers which apparently went onto 1890 girls. “I feel like Little Bo Peep.” She struggled into the corset cover and petticoats before complaining bitterly about the number of buttons she had to fasten on the green silk dress. “But these embroidered boots and gloves are pretty cool.”
Dressed at last, Leila glanced down the empty car. “At the risk of sounding like my mom, I’m thinking we better take advantage of the lavatories while we can. I’ve got a bad feeling about 1890s ideas regarding sanitary facilities…”
She eyed Thomas speculatively. “Do you need any help?”
His look of panic as he practically ran down the car made her feel a lot better about the corset. That lasted until she took her turn and realized that 1890s girls must have had bathroom strategies that hadn’t been passed down to their post-millennium descendants.
Two coats hung from the hooks by their seats. Leila helped Thomas into the long black duster and shrugged into the other, a billowing cape-like garment. There were two hats as well, a fussy little top hat covered with netting, and an elegant dark number resembling a flat cowboy hat. “This is so not fair,” Leila complained again. “You look like the guy from The Matrix, and I look like I fell off this weeks’ winner in Cake Disasters. I don’t suppose you’d take the hat with the veil?”
Sounds good? Get your copy of One Way Fare here.
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