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Image by Casey Horner

Book of Emily

See below for an excerpt from my upcoming novel. Please let me know ( if you're interested in reading more!

Chapter 3 - A Party of Separates

365 Days After Zeke (AZ)


Emily shook her head in disappointment as she surveyed the preparations for Zeke’s first birthday party. Planning this celebration had been her singular mission for weeks, and yet, it still appeared sparse and amateurish. Her son deserved better than this — better than her. 


Fury gripped at her throat upon spotting rainclouds approaching on the horizon. They hadn’t been in the forecast, and they shouldn’t be here now. She cursed herself for taking the risk of hosting a rooftop party.


“Looks great darling.” Walter offered encouragingly as he playfully slapped her butt. She turned angrily toward him, jaw clenched at the sight of his silly smile. “What can I do to help?” He asked.


“What time is it?” Emily replied intensely. 


Walter casually looked at is watch. “About 1:30.”


“1:30!” Emily exclaimed. “The guests will be here in 30 minutes, and there’s still so much to do!”


Walter looked around in confusion. “What do you mean, Em? This all looks pretty done to me.”


“Looks pretty done, Does it?” Emily felt the heat of rage stinging the back of her eyes. “Just out of curiosity, how are you doing on that list of things I gave you to do?”


“Doing great. I have it all under control.”


“Do you have the list with you so we can review it together.”


“Yep.” Walter pointed to his temple. “It’s all right up here.”


“So you’ve got everything on track in that head of yours, do you? If that’s the case, is there anything you still have left to do?”


Walter considered the question for a moment before shaking his head. “Nope. Its all been taken care of.”


Emily wanted to scream, but she bit her lip instead. “Is that right? Are you telling me the cake and the balloons have been taken care of?”


“Shit.” Walter whispered under his breath. After taking a beat to compose himself, he looked up with a confident smile. “The cake’s in the fridge and the lighter and candles are on the counter. I thought it would be best to leave them down there and fetch them when we’re ready. As for the balloons, I’ve got them and a helium tank on hold at that party store a couple blocks over. I’ll go grab them quickly and be back in plenty of time.”


She put her hands on her hips and growled under her breath. “In plenty of time?! Walter, you’re already late. How do you expect us to properly welcome our guests if we’re busy blowing up balloons!?”


“It’s going to be fine, Em. Our guests aren’t even going to notice if I’m tying down a few last balloons as they roll in.” 


Emily was livid as she shook her head. “I knew this was going to happen. That’s why I made you that damned list in the first place!”


Walter shrugged his shoulders and frowned. “How many balloons you want?” 


“It was on the list.” She she muttered to herself before offering her condescending reply. “Well, each kid needs a ballon and then we’ll want enough to decorate each of the tables. Plus, we can’t forget one of those foil ‘1’ balloons.”


“Perfect, I ordered plenty enough for that. You need anything else while I’m out?”


She shook her head. “No. I need you to hurry back.”


“Got it.” Time stood still for a moment as he held her gaze with a look she could’ve sworn was pity. “You know, Em, I was coming over to let you know how great everything looks. I know you’ve worked that tight little ass of yours off to get this all put together so nicely. It’s a shame you’re not able to enjoy it.” He then turned and walked dutifully away.


Emily was gripped by, recognizing how poorly she’d treated her man. Despite his unwavering positivity and support through this challenging year, each of efforts felt like a stab to chest. Searching the sky, she sought to unravel the source of her uncontrollable frustration.


She received a subtle reply. “Let go.”



Emily waved goodbye as the final guests disappeared with a smile behind elevator doors. With a sigh of relief, she moved instinctively toward the rooftop’s western edge to stare numbly toward the blood orange sun weighing heavy in the incandescent sky. 


Ordinarily, she loved this all too familiar sight. After all, they’d paid a handsome premium for their 32nd-floor apartment just three stories below because it offered a nearly identical view. In fact, each of the three apartments she and Walter had shared together overlooked this same endless green expanse beyond the city’s western border. 


Swallowed by emptiness, Emily shook her head. She had no idea why they’d picked this side of the perfectly square metropolis of Delington to call home. Sure, the sunsets were nice, but she sensed there were deeper explanations beyond her grasp. 


Emily had grown up a city girl, drawn perpetually to the bright lights of the city’s heart. Like everyone else she knew, the rugged and primitive unknown wilderness surrounding the city held little fascination for her. 


A warmth swelled within her chest, prompting a smile to bloom across her face. Her initial encounter with watching the sun set over the western wilderness occurred on her very first date with Walter. In different circumstances, the moment might have been unbearable, but with Walter, it became her first taste of his intoxicating boldness. 


It had served as the ideal setting for these two enigmatic souls to exchange their passions. Emily unfolded the blueprints of her meticulously planned future, while Walter overflowed with his diverse interests, culminating in his audacious aspiration to unravel the mysteries concealed beyond the city’s limits. 


A tension gripped Emily’s throat in acknowledgment of the escalating restlessness in her husband. In recent months, he’d resembled a captive creature, pacing the confines of his cage, fervently seeking an escape. The inevitable loomed — soon, he would break free. 


A shiver of panic raced down her spine. The Woods were an unexplored realm; no one had ventured in and returned to tell their story. Her face shriveled to contain the sadness building behind her eyes. 


Impulsively, Emily shook her head and snapped back to the reality before her. She glanced back to see Walter singing joyfully as he efficiently loaded the party supplies into their wagon. It was remarkable how he could move so effortlessly, even with Zeke strapped across his chest. 


Walter’s inexhaustible energy was extraordinary. While the virtue was undeniable, she often envied his ability. It didn’t seem fair he could float through life untouched by the exhaustion coloring so much of her own. In moments like these, her forever man felt lifetimes away.  


Walter glanced over and smiled broadly. When their eyes met, he dropped the wagon’s handle and trotted toward her like a dog to its master.


“Everything ok Em?”


She nodded. 


“Good.” His eyes momentarily searched the distance before returning with a heavy gaze. “Em, darling. Can we talk?”


Emily’s body tensed. “About what?” 


His head titled with a look of hurt. “Why does it matter? Can we talk or not?”


“What’s with the game Walter? Why can’t you tell me what you want to talk about?”


Walter’s eyes darted down to Zeke strapped across his chest.


“Ok, and?”


“He’s one now. This is a huge milestone for him, and for us too. We agreed to give the doctors a full year to try to help him out. If it didn’t work out, you said you’d consider alternative approaches.”


Emily’s chest bubbled with heat. “Je-sus Walter! This is a supposed to be day of celebration. Do we really have to spoil the celebrations by talking about this right now?!”


He crossed his arms and spoke decisively. “Em, soon enough, it’ll be Zeke who does all the talking. Don’t you think we owe it to him to do everything in our power to bring him back to health?”


Emily’s fists clenched to contain her rage. Through gritted teeth she replied. “What the hell do you think we’ve been doing!?”


“Why are you making this a battle? I need to know we’re on the same team.”


“Or what Walter?” Her stomach sank as the words escaped her lips.


Walter closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I love you Em. I always will. But, the results are in, and the doctors have failed. In fact, his condition has gotten steadily worse. If you insist on pressing on that way to the exclusion of everything else, then…” Walter paused.


“Then what Walter!? What are you going to do?” Emily’s jaw clenched ferociously.


“I fear our paths will diverge.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Who knows? Maybe that’s what the little guy needs.”


She tilted her head in condescension. “How could a disagreement between parents possibly be good for a child?”


“A disagreement?” Walter looked shocked as he shook his head solemnly. “That’s not what I’m saying at all. It is never healthy for a child to be immersed in his parents’ conflict.” 


“Then what are you talking about?” Something sadistic in her needed to watch him struggle to voice a truth she already knew.


He shook his head gently. “Em, I have no intention of making war with you. I just need to know if we’re still in this together — as partners. If not, that’s fine. Who am I to argue with what you feel is right?” Walter paused to take a deep breath. “But, it’s long past time I start making the decisions I know to be right for me. I fear its time for a leap of faith.”


“Leap of faith? What are you talking about Walter?!” Emily barked.


“I’m not sure how this could be a surprise. We’ve talked about this darling. A lot.” 


“Surely, you’re not talking about begging for alms down in Paradise, are you?!”  


Walter tilted his head, visibly wounded by her words. “Em, how could it possibly hurt for me to go and ask around a bit?”


“I’m not going to let those maniacs muddle up an already impossible situation.”


“Maniacs? Why do you see them that way?”


“Well they live in that God-awful place for one, with all the chaos and the smells. On top of that, their way of living is so strange.”


Walter crossed his arms. “Do you ever wonder what they think about our way of living?”


Emily rolled her eyes. “Who even cares?”


Walter’s dark eyes burned brightly below furrowed brows. “Em, I don’t get it. You can literally see a subtle glow radiating from their skin; they’re your shimmerers. As far as I can tell, you’re the only person who possesses this ability. Gifts like this do not just fall randomly from the sky; they’re here for a reason. Don’t you owe it to yourself to find out why?”


She shook her head derisively. “Who knows what it means. Regardless, I have no intention of seeking their advice.”


“Why not exactly? What are you so scared of?”


Emily shook her head feverishly. “Scared?! You think this is about me being scared of them!? How dare you!?” She growled. “If you’re the kind of coward who needs his wife’s approval to take action, then fine you have it. Go, ask them what you want. Just don’t expect me to allow Zeke anywhere near them.”


“So that’s it Em? You’re not willing to do this together?”


“Like you said, who am I to tell you what you can and can’t do. But if that’s the way you decide to go, you go alone.”


“As you wish, Em.” Walter conceded remorsefully before turning to walk away. He grabbed the wagon and waited at the elevator without taking a single glance back at her. When the doors closed behind him, she was alone.


With the sun nearly hidden beneath the horizon, Emily turned eastward toward the city with its massive skyscrapers and bright lights. It offered her solace, an escape from the dread stirring inside of her. 

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