I believed that if I was to call myself a writer, I should live on writing. If I could not live on it, even simply, I should destroy every scrap, every trace, every notebook and live some other way.
We’re doubling up our usual output with four new titles because it’s winter and it’s cold and why not. Actually it’s because each of these stories, while quite different from each other, touches on the idea of identity and the parts of ourselves we lose or try to lock away. On Feb 5th, they come unlocked.
Women Float — an excerpt
We’re super proud to bring you an excerpt from Maureen Foley’s moving debut novella Women Float (published by the always awesome folks at CCLaP). Women Float is touching (and often humorous) look at female relationships, and serves as a loving ode to Southern California and the small coastal town of Carpinteria.
Without further ado…
An Excerpt from Chapter Seven from Women Float
by Maureen Foley
I stand up and walk into the sea. The water doesn’t even feel that cold on my bare legs. I wade into the whitewater of little teeny waves at the shoreline. Ankles, shins, nearly to my knees. I’ve never walked this far out by myself and definitely not at night. I trip on the smaller waves, get to my knees, don’t fight the waves I can’t see until their white foam sneaks up onto its toes. Phosphorescent plankton squeezes together into rings, and holds candle lit vigils with clear, green flames whenever the water splashes, collapses onto itself.
I look up into the vast black sky diving head first into dark sea, where the only horizon markers are the sparkling oil platforms. The sea murmurs tricky gossip, deep within the waves, almost whispered. The ocean at night is pure movement, sensation.
I want the water to cover me. I want to be immersed in the ocean. As a wave approaches with its gentle pull, I slip my shoulders, chin, mouth, ears, nose, eyes, eyebrows, hairline, all of me underwater carefully until the wave’s crest sucks the hair over the top of my head. I’m totally underwater. Wave passes, I push up on my feet and I break the surface and breathe deep. My heart beats normally and I feel like I’m home.
Instantly, I have to try it again. The surface of the water rocks when I shoot out but I duck under again, this time giggling for no reason. Laughing underwater is just blobs of air, no sound, and Sandra’s right about sinking. I can’t do it. I have to work to keep from floating up. I can only stay under for a few seconds before I boil up, in the bubbles, to the surface.
I keep dunking and jumping, and I push all my weight to my feet to stay under longer. Fear dissolved like a sugar cube in coffee. Gone. Under the water, there is no loud sound, and I become super aware of my skin, the water streaming over me, and how everything looks black. After a while, the waves fall flat to catch their breath, and I suck in a hundred year gulp of air, and really try to make myself dive under, my body sopped over by the ocean.
Without blinking, I rise to the surface, drift on the water, and feel the air turn cold on my face. Floating in the dark, I hear a voice inside my head, maybe a memory of one of Janie’s stories ask, “What happened to the tale told by a mermaid whose words turned into water when she spoke?”
Then an answer in my mind, “She bottled her story, and sent it adrift. Now, it washes up on exotic shores, and people read it, add changes, before they cast it back into the sea. The story recycles forever, repeats like the waves. Sometimes, young women who read it disappear. Their final footprints lead to the sea, stop short at the shoreline.”
Imagine that you’re floating on an ocean, and you’re the last person on earth. That’s what it’s like for me tonight.
photo by James Claffey
About the author
Maureen Foley is a writer and artist who lives in Southern California with her daughter, stepson and husband, writer James Claffey. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Epileptic. Her writing has appeared in Wired, Caesura, The New York Times, Santa Barbara Magazine, Skanky Possum and elsewhere. She is currently working on a new novel and developing a series of illustrations and text for a children’s book.
Ten Most Read Little Fiction Stories of 2013.
For the curious, and especially for those who haven’t read them yet, here are our ten most read / downloaded stories of 2013 (interesting side note, one of the stories is actually from 2012). Enjoy.
This past year was amazing and unforgettable. Thanks to everyone who has been reading along and keeping up with all of the great stories on the site. Lots more coming your way soon.
New Year, Old Memories.
There’s nothing like the start of a new year to make you think about years gone by. Our second non-fiction instalment is all about memoir.
In Pretend We Fell Asleep, Jessica Hendry Nelson looks back on the dark realities and strange love of an old friendship. And in Running on Blueberries, Ayelet Tsabari takes us through the memories of a brief, unforgettable getaway and the reluctant return to everyday life.
In Toronto Feb. 5? Come out to our first ever live event.
We’ll have readings from Andrew F. Sullivan (Bright Outside / A Bird in the Hand is Worthless), Diana Davidison (A Good Night), Trevor Corkum (In Memoriam / Listerature Vol. 2) and Liz Windhorst Harmer (Grievances / Temper, Temper).
See you there.
Big Truths is back January 1st with some fantastic non-fiction from Jessica Hendry Nelson, author of the forthcoming memoir, If Only You People Could Follow Directions (Counterpoint Press), and from Ayelet Tsabari, author of acclaimed story collection, The Best Place on Earth (Harper Collins Canada). We. Can’t. Wait.
See you in the new year.