Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gravity of San Miguel: Excerpt

I've been working on a fiction piece for awhile now about a woman who decides to leave her comfortable life to go live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Below is an excerpt:

The anxiety started in the pit of my stomach, where it fermented and boiled, then traveled to every extremity, every cell of my body. It took over my nervous system like a strange disease that left me shaking and sweaty. I felt the sweat curdle in my armpits, staining my white blouse yellow. The shirt seemed like a good idea this morning, when I was feeling vibrant and sure. It was loose, flowing, sexy yet subtle, and reminded me of tanned expatriates wearing chic, embroidered Mexican clothing. I realized too late that white is no good for a person scared crapless; only those who have nothing to hide.

The Aeromexico plane arced like a rainbow over the city of Seattle, painting the Olympic Mountains with memories. They were hunched guardians with capes made of snow, their heads rising slowly above the puffy white clouds. I thought they could protect me from my fear of change, but they changed too, eroding through time. Change wasn’t as easy to see, that way, when it took a millennium for one boulder to fall. I pressed against the window as we banked deeply to the right, heading south, to my new home. I saw waterways far below, the hills rising green to cocoon Lego housing developments and Lincoln Log marinas. Nothing looked real from this high up, even my own life was a dream. The ache turned my insides to stone as I tried not to think about what I’d be leaving, who would be lost.

I’d cringed when I last saw Steve’s face. His brows knitted worry along his forehead, his mouth turned down in disapproval. His frown teased the wrinkles out of his skin as it lost one more battle of its war with age.

“I can’t believe you’re giving it all up, your work, your life, me.”

“Oh, Steve.” I’d reached for him then, not because I felt he needed it, but because I did. “I’m going to miss you so much.” I breathed in his Giorgio cologne, his cheek scratchy against mine. He smelled salty; a whisper of dried tears that he never wanted me to see.

“I don’t understand it, Isabelle. I would have never mentioned San Miguel de Allende if I knew it was going to take you away from me. I want the best for you, but I feel like you are just running. Maybe if you turned to look back you could face it here, head on, in Seattle, with me.” His voice cracked and he bit down hard to stop the quivering of his lips.

It was then that I cried, tears drawing lines down my cheeks as our history swelled and burst the lining of my heart. Our bodies melted against each other as we held on tightly, each afraid the other would let go first.

“We’ve talked about this before, Steve,” I whispered against his ear, “This is something I need to do for myself. I can’t explain why, just yet, I just know, somehow, that it needs to happen.” I know Steve hated ambiguous answers, and I felt him tighten against me. It was the best I could do under these circumstances; even I didn’t quite know why I felt the overwhelming urge to be in Mexico. To find myself? To get away from a life that wasn’t mine?

“Fine then,” he said, suddenly pushing away from me, like putting distance between himself and pain would make it disappear. He didn’t realize yet that it follows you, wispy and illusive, circling your life until there’s nothing left.

It was then that I turned to go; knowing that a thousand more words between us would do nothing to fill the void in our hearts.


Dan-Eric Slocum said...

THIS IS WONDERFUL. You have me so hooked. It's like reading a preview on Amazon and then pressing BUY for the book.

Thanks for sharing your project with us. Keep us posted.

Since I'm just now going through the agent process, if you need any tips let me know. xxoo

Kelly said...

This is very very exciting Kristin!! A lot of work and very exciting!