On my way home from Thanksgiving dinner, everyone in the car with me was in an L-Tryptophan induced sleep. Even at 6 pm, it was so dark I had to put my bright lights on to negotiate the back roads from the east end of Long Island to my home, without traffic a 2 hour drive. Temperatures had hit 61F earlier, but it was cooling off quickly. Fog hung in the hollows of the scrub pines and dunes along the route and began oozing out onto the roadway. Any fantasy author would immediately start thinking about a story, and I’ve already got a few that grew out of a moments like this.
I turned on the defroster for safety and the radio for company. Now a little too warm, but at least able to see through the windshield, my choice was between scratchy reception of oldies that immediately transported me back to my high school days, or lite music, which had already begun to play all Christmas songs. Either one was a melancholy inducing trip down memory lane as I thought about all the people who used to be at our gigantic but rapidly shrinking holiday celebrations lost to us through death, divorce, or distance.
My grandparents have been gone for between fifteen and twenty years, my Dad only four. Haven’t seen my cousins in thirty, though our paths sometimes cross on Facebook. We bump into ex family members at significant birthday celebrations and funerals, an odd mix, but then my family has always been boisterous and at time raucous, and we’re accustomed to eccentricity.
I chuckled to myself, realizing I had become the sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, or whatever in law who tells stories, some true and some half true, that always straddle the line and sometimes cross it. And all of them feature characters that are a composite of my family, my friends, my co-workers, and my patients. I’ve seen too much tragedy and survived enough heartbreak to care what anyone thinks, and have turned to writing to try and make sense of the mélange of messy, difficult, and yes even wonderful and happy experiences that comprise a life.
I guided the car around each twist and turn, slowing at each shadow, expecting a deer in the headlights, a rabbit crossing the road, a ghost leaning against a signpost, or a zombie hitchhiking. But there was nothing but darkness, and fog, an eerie mist, and a deep melancholy in my seasonal affective disordered soul. On the final left before the county road with at least some lights from the shops and stores shuttered for the Thanksgiving holiday, a gorgeous orange orb emerged from the darkness. Streaks of gray and yellow clouds traversed it, like wisps of memory. It stayed right there in my rearview mirror, until I was on the brightly lit expressway dodging cars driving way too fast trying to get home to something more important or less depressing or to escape god only knows what memories had just been bitten into along with the turkey, stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
Per Refinery29, in the Pagan tradition, autumn is a time to physically and mentally prepare for winter. For Pagans, the last phase of preparation in anticipation of colder months involves letting go of old things, habits or people. The rituals are largely symbolic, yet are thought to help Pagans embrace the new year unencumbered by attachment to negativity or grief. I’m not Pagan but count a many who are amongst my friends. This would be a ritual I’d love to participate in.
The mourning moon rose until it was a more traditional but still glorious luminous silver globe peeking over my shoulder until I pulled into my driveway. Everyone woke up, stretched, helped unload the leftovers, walked the dog, fed the cat, had a snack and got back to everyday life. I turned on my computer and got back to my writing ritual, and to NaNoWriMo, with lots of new inspirations for my latest paranormal romance. Storm Watch will be the third book in the Unfinished Business series.
Like me, the characters are still struggling with loss, grief, heartbreak, fear and, at times, resignation. But they never give up. These novels are some of my stories that are more truth than fantasy.
An excerpt from Breakwater Beach, Book One in the Unfinished Business series (coming Spring 2016).
The breeze turned chilly. Sea mist kissed her face. Liz pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt and started home. No flashlight, which was a mistake. The moon ducked behind the clouds. Most of the cottages were deserted, and only an occasional passing car provided some illumination. The wind picked up. Leaves rustled. A flock of bats flapped by, their vampire-like silhouette unmistakable.
Kate’s was closed, and that meant it was after ten p.m. Liz fought the urge to run and turned three times, hearing footsteps behind her. But only a few chipmunks, a raccoon, and a skunk scampered across the road and under the hedges. An owl hooted.
A faint light burned in her bedroom, but the first floor was dark. She struggled with the stubborn lock on the heavy double doors. Her heart pounded. Her hands shook. Liz lunged inside, quickly locked the door behind her, and flipped a switch. The chandelier in the hallway blazed on, bathing the entire first floor and staircase in white light.
She pressed her back against the door until her heartbeat returned to normal. Everything is fine. You only feel panicky because you’re alone in a new house.
Liz walked room to room, flicking on lights to banish her anxiety. She rattled all the downstairs windows to be sure they were locked. Shadows danced in every corner. I need more lamps. True to Victorian style, this place is full of dark corners.
She went upstairs, surveying the long dark hall of empty guest rooms, as silent as a tomb.
Carole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, thus explaining her fascination with all things paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera. Her nonfiction focuses on health care, politics, and women’s issues and ranges from sweet and sentimental to edgy and irreverent. But her first love is writing science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is less painful than running into them.
The first book in Carole’s Cape Cod paranormal romance novel series, The Widow’s Walk, was published by Soulmate and is now out as an e book and in print. The prequel, Breakwater Beach, will be released Spring 2016.