I will occasionally share what I can of what I'm working on here, this includes parts of the next books, but also work I'm doing on the side. A work being reviewed, here are the first two pages of "What you Feed Yourself",
I remember waking up at home. On our soft violet couch. I knew I was dead. I knew that much, but it was as if I'd lost everything else. And sadness blossomed out of my body like a flower in Springtime.
I don't remember how it happened, and I refuse to ask.
And I feel so lucky. I woke up at home, with the people I love. My husband can see me, our children can see me. I can interact with them, with the world, with objects. I'm sure there are yet limitations I don't know about. Rules that could probably break this spell. Like knowing how I died. Maybe just that knowledge would suck me down into some other eternity.
I don't actually care what, if anything is beyond this. I just want to stay here. With them.
I get to rock my baby to sleep, to inhale her breath that still smells like cookies even if she hasn't eaten any, because that's just how babies smell. I get to help the older ones with their homework, and be proud when I don't have to help them at all. I get to run a wide brush through their young hair every morning before school. I get to pick up toys. I get to lie beside my husband, touch his warm skin and listen to his stories.
I am the luckiest person not alive.
I died and nothing changed. But I died and I changed.
That deep sadness I felt when I woke up never went away. It unfurled new and more decayed petals every chance it got.
I stopped looking in mirrors. The nicest thing about being dead is that I don't change. My make-up is always deeply pigmented, my lipstick is never gone, and my eyeliner is always black, my tan cheeks always shimmering slightly with expensive blush. I don't wear my long hair up, I don't have to because it is always in place. Always.
I spent the first week looking over my body intently, out of morbid drive and passion. I went looking for a wound, a seam to be unwound, for my skin to start curling and peeling up. I waited for my blood to blacken, for my pigment to fade to ivory. I never saw anything. You don't change when you're dead. You're just dead.
When you don't know the rules, it's frightening to go to new places. My family could see me, most people in everyday life seemed to be able to, but maybe I was imagining that. I did notice that the places I used to frequent in life were infinitely more crowded now. What the actual fuck hundreds of ghosts were doing at the park and the library and the market was beyond me. But some were probably doing what I was doing-trying to help take care of their loved ones. I wasn't brave enough to talk to them.
It takes me a bit to tell the living from the deceased.
The gargantuan automatic glass doors of our grocer opened like a sideways mouth of a creature lying down. They inhaled the breeze from the Autumn day, and yet a woman with perfect, golden and straight hair was unmoved in any sense. Her baby's strawberry hair, too, sitting in a buckeled carrier on her back, remained motionless in the wind. Just a few feet from the doors, picking through oranges on a stand, it should have affected them. They were dead.
"That's not her baby, if that's what you're thinking," said a male voice, deep, and suddenly in my right ear.
I jumped. "I'm sorry," I said. I'd been staring at them, and for all I knew that was either his wife or his child. His face was just as easy to lose myself in. I stared at the details-deep set dark eyes, set off my the darkest lines of eyebrows and eyelashes I'd ever looked at; they looked like ink. His hair was long and slicked back, but was the same color. He was a vintage travel poster, and was wearing an ugly blue plaid scarf with a button-up shirt. No way this bastard wasn't long dead.
"They get like that," he said, pointing to the golden woman. She was picking through every orange and then putting it back. "Over-focused and protective. She probably just got him today and doesn't know what to do with herself."
"The baby is a ghost?" I asked. I stared intently, wanting the child to move or show some sign of life, but it appeared to be sleeping.
"You think a living child would want anywhere near us? No, the living prefer the living. Hell, the dead want the living, too, but, you get the idea." He had a perfect snear.
"I have children-" I said.
"Oh. I thought you had maybe a juice box and cheese cracker fetish." He pointed to my reusable shopping bags. I laughed, but I kind of wanted not to.
"I didn't mean our children. Of course they want us around. I didn't mean it like that. The ghosts of young ones need caretakers, too. But the longer we've been like us, the more it takes adjustment. They'll be fine." he said.
"That's good. You seem to know what's going on." I said, "Can you help me?" I put my bags on the spanish tiled floor and a clamshell of kiwis escaped. I set to collecting them. It was one of the only vitamin rich things all four children could eat.
"Well, you're dead." he said.
"I know that. That is almost all I know. I wake up everyday afraid that I'm going to screw this up, break rules I don't know about for a game I didn't get to decide whether or not I really wanted to play." I said.
"You must have wanted to play. There are three kinds of deceased. The dead-dead. Like you. Driven to stay around for the people they love. The dead-and-gone have moved on with their after-life, unattached to this place. And the night-dead. You don't want to be one, you don't want to sit with them if they ask you."
"How long have you been dead?"I asked.
"Not even that long. What? It's the scarf right? Damn. You're the fourth dead woman to ask me that." He picked up my bags, and I went to fetch the last stray fruit, its scraggling hairs damaged by the wild roll to the dairy case, and my reflection caught me by surprise.
There was something dark. Something dark on my face.
I moved closer to the shimmering sidelines of the freezers and saw the deep midnight black oozing out of my eye-like a tar bubble that had been pierced open. But in the darkness were tiny stars, small points of light and faint auroras. The longer I stared, the more it began to pour down my face.
Someone wrapped something around my eyes, and tied it, binding and blinding me.