Susan's Blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excerpt from my novel

Coming soon, in an e-book…


A Story About Gardening, Autism, and Other Messy Business.

By Susan Senator

Part I

Late February:  Frozen Ground

Chapter 1

“Eye, heeem,” Nick said.  He reached up and touched his open eyeball, and blinked at the unexpected jolt of pain. The pain spread, flashing red light everywhere.  He could feel the sharpness opening outward and he silently endured it, waiting for it to subside.  There were no sounds in his throat right now and he was glad.  His noises made Mommy talk to him, and there were always too many words itching deep inside his ears.

A few moments later, there was only a soft ache behind his lid and he opened his eyes.  They were clear again.  He looked skyward, and his eyes followed the rays of the sun to where they hit the porch door.  He liked the way the sunlight slanted when it went behind a cloud, like an eyelid closing.  He closed his eyes and rotated his head until he almost couldn’t see it.  The light became a tiny ribbon, shining across the back of his eyes.  Happiness coursed through him at the beauty he was seeing.  “Heee, light,” he said quietly.  Every now and then, his own words appeared to him and he could say them.  Letting them out was like bubbles popping, like the ones Dan used to blow. They popped, a tiny sound that he liked; Nick felt he could hear the tiny click each breaking bubble made.  Also that was how words came out of his mouth:  a sudden, round pop in the air.


It was Mommy, and her line of words flew past his ears, like a sharp, stinging wind.  He shut his eyes so that she would stop looking at him.

“What. Happened. To. Your. Eye.” Mommy said this the right way, with spaces of air between the words.  Nick loved air.  He liked to squeeze it with his hand, open, shut, open, shut.


Mommy was very close now.  He could smell her skin, which he loved.  It made him want to sleep.  He knew she was waiting for him to talk, and his stomach squeezed itself. Then he realized Mommy was saying a lot of words again.  He felt them rushing up to him like water, and enjoyed the sensation, without trying to break them into words.  He closed his eyes while she talked, rat-tat-tat like when it rained hard:

“I know you won’t like this, Honey, but I have to look at your eye to see if it’s okay.”  She approached him slowly, and Nick felt her pry open his lid.  “It looks okay, just red,” she said.  “You must have gotten something in it and rubbed it too much.  Try not to rub your eyes, Nick.” Mommy let out a big gust of air and tilted her head, still looking at him.  Her eyes were so big, and he could see that shadow in them.  He knew the word for this:  “sad.”  He would never forget that word.  He saw it passed over Mommy’s eyes, like the cloud and the sun.  He hated that because it always spread into him.

Once she saw that he was okay, Emmy reached out to give Nick a kiss but then thought better of it.  A kiss would feel good to her, but not to him.  Nick suffered through kisses and hugs, but never offered them himself.  She sighed, breathing extra deeply to suck in the cold air so that it might freeze the flare-up of sadness before it got any worse.  She walked through the garden, back inside the house.

She hadn’t noticed it before, but it looked like a wild animal had been let loose in there.  Henry’s junk was strewn everywhere.  She started gathering it into a pile for him, so that she could walk more easily through the living room into the kitchen.  She found herself staring at a notice that had been stuffed into Henry’ backpack. Henry, although newly fourteen, still did not mind his mother going through his backpack, or cleaning his room; at least she thought he didn’t. Her hand pushed aside a half-pack of Juicy Fruit gum (were they allowed to chew gum in school these days?), a crumbled lunch bag, a rubbed-raw binder with Green Day written in big letters and then “sux” in Henry’s handwriting right beneath it. Finally she seized on the usual small pile of flyers and sifted through. An offer for cheap tickets to several performances: Boston Ballet; Flying Karamazov Brothers; Alvin Ailey. She tossed it.

A torn note, written in smeary gray pencil.  Henry’s handwriting.  It said, “play structure — J.”  The rest had been ripped away.  Emmy suddenly felt a pang; guilty to be going through his stuff, she supposed, because this was obviously personal business of Henry’s.  Henry’s secret life.  She smiled, thinking of him and his messy head of hair. She was so proud of his emerging independence, achingly proud.  She embarrassed him with her overflow of love, she knew that. It was hard to control, hard to get things right with a crabby teenager.

She put the backpack away, and walked back to the window to watch Nick.  He was standing still in the very center of her brown, dead garden.  The tendril of sadness unfurled, fully this time. She had thought she was long inured to that kind of pain by now.  Nick was fifteen, after all.  Why was she still susceptible to sudden waves of grief?

copyright, May 2011, Susan Senator


I like it, I want to read more!

— added by Susan on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Can’t wait!
Will it be published hard copy as well?

— added by Jacquie on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:20 am

Only if I do print-on-demand, which I think I might. I’d take it with me to events.

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:32 am

Totally want to read the rest!

— added by jennamom2boys on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I can’t wait to read the rest!

— added by Chrissy Goss Roose on Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 11:13 am