As a teaser, here's the first page:
“I’m nothing but a drunk,” she thought.
“No. I’m nothing. And I’m a drunk.”
And then she fell asleep.
The wind had pushed the grill a foot or so from the wet, slatted patio wall. The rain had filled the heavy glass ashtray until it had spilled over the side. It had dripped the greyish water down onto the rusting metal bistro table.
Down onto the pine two-by-four floor.
Down onto the neighbors’ patio.
Down onto the ground and grass.
Water had come in through the slightly open window in the living room. The wind had blown it against the screen until it made its way down onto the windowsill.
Down against the wall.
Down onto the old wooden chest on the floor, painted green a year ago. It had been a child’s coffin, once. But never used. The coffin was a gift from a family friend who was a woodworker. The order for the coffin had been canceled.
Riley slept on the couch in the living room with the coffin. Her feet were tucked under the corner of a heavy wool blanket, but the rest of the blanket draped off of the brown leather couch into a pile on the dusty hardwood floor.
She enjoyed the sound of the rain against the window, against the roof and walls. It helped her sleep, and reminded her of camping with her mother and father when she was eight or nine. They camped every year on Prince Edward Island, in an old canvas tent that would leak if you touched the sides.
So she slept deeply, now, as the water seeped in, more and more.
And it rained in her dream. She was walking toward her office, early in the morning. Too early, too dark. Her auburn hair was getting much too wet. But there was nothing to do about it. She had forgotten her umbrella. Forgotten her coat. But her feet were warm, and dry.
The coffee shop she usually stopped into wasn’t there anymore, in her dream. It had never been very good. They served coffee out of those giant thermoses, some off-brand generic roast, poured half-heartedly into a white styrofoam cup. But it was on the way.
Now, though, it was replaced with something else she couldn’t see, and didn’t want to. A part of her, something deep, and hurting.
She tried to walk away, but every step brought her closer. She tried to run, but her feet wouldn’t hold the ground. She bent over, tried to pry at the sidewalk with her fingers, to propel her forward but she only went back. Back and back. Toward something like a shard she couldn’t see but feel.
She felt something pierce her back, carve slowly through her skin. She felt it slide through muscle, wedging in between her vertebrae, and sending pain to every corner of her body. The shiv moved so slowly and so deep she could almost hear it.
She listened to herself die.
And then she fell. Down to the ground. Down past the sidewalk and through it. Down into the earth.
Down and down.
She fell until her she was traveling upward again through the earth. Toward the sky, toward heaven.
Up and up.
And then she woke.