From indie author Elsa Kurt
Tis the Season!
Okay, actually, every season is book writing season. But, since I’ve just wrapped up my latest story in time for the holidays, I want to
celebrate give you a sneak peek! First, a little synopsis…
A Little Background
This story came from a terrible dream I had one night. I awoke with my heart pounding and actual tears in my eyes from it vividness. It disturbed me all day, until finally it hit me: I need to write it down. What came from such awfulness stunned me: a love story. Profound, deep, abounding love. This story is so dear to my heart, and such a personal love letter of sorts, that I’ve been practically jumping out of my skin in excitement to share it with you. I can only hope it evokes the same sort of abounding emotion in you, that it has in me.
Every book I write has a soundtrack of sorts. For this go around, the music of The Lone Bellow, David Gray, Ingrid Michaelson, and several others helped set the tone of the all the different phases of the book. Here are three songs that alternately stilled my heart & made it soar:
A Bird’s Song – Ingrid Michaelson
Feather- Lone Bellow
Sail Away- David Gray
And Now, Without Further Ado…
“Oh, time won’t you stay/ you’re all I’ve got left/ I’m a man on my knees/ begging you please…”
-Time’s Always Leaving, The Lone Bellow
“Don’t be scared, lady. I’ve done it a bunch of times.”
The boy couldn’t be more than twelve. Twelve. And he’s cliff dived ‘a bunch of times’. I’m thirty-seven. I’ve never jumped off a cliff, never wanted to until now. I mean, I still don’t want to, but for Damon, I will.
“Thanks, kid. It’s that obvious, huh?”
“It’s okay, lots of people are scared. It’s your time, though.”
Cold sweat prickles in the pits of my arms, gooseflesh rises on my skin. My insides are trembling so that my voice stutters through my chattering teeth.
“So, I guess I’d better get to it, huh?”
“We can jump together, if you want.”
I finally turn my head from the impossibly far away blue-green water, and down at the sweet child beside me. A perfect stranger. His eyes are amber, his young skin, the color of cocoa, hugging his jutting bones. Water droplets sparkled in his tight curls like diamonds in the sun.
What a beautiful soul.
The words popped in my head. A little laugh bursts out. not at the boy, but at myself. I suck in a shaky, shallow breath and nod on the exhale. It comes across as more like jerk of my head. I press my palm to my chest.
My God, my heart is beating so hard. I said I would try it, though. I can do this.
“Just once,” Damon promised a mere twenty minutes earlier, from right beside me. Where the boy is now.
“You’ll be so glad you did it, Birdie.”
I purse my lips together in a grim white line. My blood pressure rushes and thumps in my ears. The boy is smiling up at me as he leans in.
“I’ll count to three, then we’ll jump. Ready?”
I nod this time; slower, more deliberate. My heart is thudding like a bass drum keeping time for an invisible band.
The boy whose name I don’t know, whose skin is like warm cocoa, eyes of ocher, and diamond jeweled hair, swan jumps. My feet do an awkward shuffle and my knees bend, but I don’t so much jump as fall forward. Air rushes past my ears, my hair whips around my face before it streams behind me like ribbons of pale fire. Everything is a blur. Except the boy, that is.
He does a slow back flip in the air, and time slows as his wide, calm eyes meet mine. My heart isn’t thundering anymore. There are only the eyes of the boy, the wind, and far (so very far) away, the blue-green lagoon. And Damon, of course. My sweet Damon.
His name in my head starts the clock again, and my eyes widen at the immediacy of impact. My head and shoulders plunge through the water like a rocket and I am enveloped. The inviting teal surface belied a twilight blue underbelly.
Straight down I go, for what seems like forever. Down. Down. Down. Under the water, everything is a muted. A murmuring quiet but for the sound of blurps and blubs of the under-ocean. My eyes are open, I see all the miniscule bubbles and particles that fleck the dense scene. I kept going down. My breath, held against the water, is straining to restart.
I need to breathe, to get back to the surface.
At last, my momentum slows, and I can turn myself towards the surface.
Swiping the dancing, swaying tendrils of hair from my face, I blink up towards the surface.
It seems so far away.
Then, I scissor-kick and push the thick water down with my arms. The sunlight shows through the water’s uppermost layer. The dancing, rippling diamonds of water and light, so close, yet so far. But no matter how hard I kick and push, it seems to not be getting closer.
Air. I need to pull air into my lungs.
The pressure inside my chest is tight, fiery. My diaphragm strains and burns.
I’m going to drown, my God, I’m going to drown.
Breathing is a reflex, no matter how hard you fight it, your body will insist upon it. So, with at least twenty feet of water between me and the surface, my panicked brain tells me to inhale. I give an involuntary gasp and pull in salty water. First through my nose- a tickling trickle. Then- when it doesn’t sting or burn as I’d anticipated, I open my mouth, thirsty for oxygen, but I am breathing water.
I can breathe underwater. Oh, my God. I can’t wait to tell Damon.
All those years of strange recurring nightmares of drowning, a waste of precious sleep. I don’t question the impossibility of this. Not when Damon is mere feet away now, and he will be so amazed at my discovery.
I kick and push my way through the heavy water, smiling as I picture Damon at the surface. I know he is waiting with pride in his soulful eyes at his brave wife. I giggle a little bit, sending a flurry of bubbles from my nose.
Just as I finally near the break, a strong pair of arms reach down and grab me hard under my armpits. Damon’s hands, I’d know them anywhere. But why would he pull me so crudely? My head breaks the surface and I gasp again. This time, air replaces the water, as if it were the most natural occurrence. Another fabulous marvel!
I blink, and find myself supine on a sun-warmed boulder, Damon’s beautiful face hovering above me. His deep brown eyes look wild as they search my face, for what, I don’t know. Salt water drips from his long dark curls onto my face. Tap, tap, tap. My God, he looks as if he’s staring death in the face. Fear and worry has drained the color from his tanned skin. The corners of his perfect mouth pulled down, his strong chin shaking. My brow furrows and then smooths as I try to smile at him, show him that I’m fine. I need to take that look off his face, my poor man.
I’m perfectly fine, babe.
That’s what I say, but I can’t hear myself over the sound of rushing air in my ears. It’s like being in a wind tunnel, but with no wind. I try again, this time straining my vocal chords to be heard.
Damon, I’m fine, really.
It’s like being on mute. Another couple is beside him. The woman has a heart-shaped face and wears one of those two-piece floral print bathing suit. The kind that heavier-set women in their fifties tend to favor. She puts a chubby hand on his bare shoulder. The man is shouting in an accented, bellowing voice, ‘Medic! We need a medic!’ across the lagoon to the bystanders on the beach. Everyone seems frantic.
Everyone but me… and the beautiful brown boy with the amber eyes. He has my hand in both of his, head bowed, and he is speaking low. He’s praying, I realize.
“Hey! Kid. What’s happening? Am I- am I hurt? I don’t feel hurt…”
The boy’s head comes up, his doleful eyes lock on mine, and shakes it slowly. Before I can say anything more, Damon pulls me into his arms, hard against his chest. He smells like sun and sea and men’s deodorant. He rocks, his strong arms enveloping me as if I am but a small child, and speaks only one word-
“No, no, no, no, no…”
-until it becomes a long, bottomless moan of grief. A chill runs through me. Now I understand.