SLEIGHT by: Jennifer Sommersby

SLEIGHT by: Jennifer Sommersby

SLEIGHT by: Jennifer SommersbySLEIGHT

Delia smiles at the shadow only she sees—

Something slams into her. The lyra whirls like a half-dollar spinning on its edge.

My mother is thrown backward.

And she falls.

Growing up in the Cinzio Traveling Players Company, Genevieve Flannery is accustomed to a life most teenagers could never imagine: daily workouts of extravagant acrobatics; an extended family of clowns; wild animals for pets; and her mother, Delia, whose mind has always been tortured by visions—but whose love Geni never questions. In a world of performers who astonish and amaze on a daily basis, Delia’s ghostly hallucinations never seemed all that strange . . . until the evening Geni and her mother are performing an aerial routine they’ve done hundreds of times, and Delia falls to her death.

That night, a dark curtain in Geni’s life opens. Everything has changed.

Still reeling from the tragedy, the Cinzio Traveling Players are also adjusting to the circus’s new owner: a generous, mysterious man whose connection to the circus—Geni suspects—has a dark and dangerous history. And suddenly Geni is stumbling into a new reality of her own, her life interrupted daily by the terrors only Delia used to be able to see.

As the visions around her grow stronger, Geni isn’t sure who she can trust. Even worse, she’s starting to question whether she can trust her own mind.

Death is the greatest thief of all.

It steals our ability to feel, to think. It replaces love and safety and happiness with a black hole in our chests. And when that hole seems to have finally twisted closed, something—a smell, a memory, a token—breaks the seal and it gapes again.

It’s such a waste. My mother and how she cradled life in the palm of her magical hands and said thank you for every day, even when those days had her writhing in madness.

In Cannon Beach, Oregon, I linger in the diminishing surf until the bones in my fingers feel as though they’ll crumble. Farther out, the frothy waves curl and pummel the sand. By the time they reach me, they’re barely tiptoeing. Though my teeth chatter, I want my body to leave its impression in the dark sand until the ocean forces me back.

The cold lets me feel something.

Baby hollers from the driftwood log a hundred feet behind me, higher up the beach where a berm protects from buffeting winds. I shake my head no. Not yet.

I fold my arms over bent knees, my tears dripping onto the white marble urn tucked between my legs. Just enough of my Delia left to take into the big top. When her bouts with madness were so strong that Baby couldn’t pull her back and she’d have to go to the hospital, she’d tell me she wished she could be in two places at once—wherever the doctors made her go, and at home with me.

Oh, Mom, finally you’ll get your wish.

This small coastal town, Delia’s most favorite place on the planet—we’ve come to say goodbye.

I see her, in my mind, a hundred yards from where I’m sitting, along the periphery of Haystack Rock. Navigating in low tide around the huge outcropping, investigating what the ocean’s retreat has revealed in the tide pools, Delia would call to me, and whisper to Alicia and Udish, claiming the jutted rock stained with bird poop as if nature made it just for her to conquer.

Baby and I climbed the lower part today, in violation of the keep-off rule. Figured it was worth the risk to give Delia a proper forever home. We whispered to the birds, the starfish, the anemones as we scattered small handfuls of her ashes. “She will watch over you until asteroids give us the same fiery end that the dinosaurs met,” I said.

In her absence, I am not alone. I have Baby. And Aunt Cecelia—Cece for short—and Uncle Ted, family not by blood but by choice. And Violet and Ash and . . . the elephants.

I hope Gertrude’s not worried. Elephants are smart—Gert smelled Delia’s blood on my costume. When I returned home from the hospital—from the morgue—she smothered me with her trunk, inhaling and touching my hair and face. She wiped off the tears by default. Gertrude is a hugger.

In a weird way, I have Alicia and Udish too. My mother’s ghostly confidantes were a family, of sorts; she had whispered to them for as long as I could remember. She insisted Udish was her fourth-great-grandfather, and Alicia, not a relative but my mother’s closest friend, despite the fact that she’s been dead for nearly two decades.

My sandy hands rest on the freezing marble. “I will never forgive myself, Mom,” I say.

For three weeks I’ve felt nothing, and now, sitting here risking hypothermia along the edge of the Pacific Ocean, I am feeling too much all at once.

I wasn’t strong enough to save my own mother.



 

I am a writer, copy/line editor, bibliophile, and mom of four living in the Great White North.

Represented by Victoria Doherty Munro at Writers House.

Romantic comedies under Eliza Gordon.

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Week One:

4/2/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post

4/3/2018- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

4/4/2018- For the Love of KidLit– Interview

4/5/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review

4/6/2018- BookHounds YA– Interview

 

Week Two:

4/9/2018- RhythmicBooktrovert– Review

4/10/2018- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post

4/11/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

4/12/2018- Page Turners Blog– Excerpt

4/13/2018- Eating Between The Lines– Review

Week Three:

4/16/2018- Wonder Struck– Review

4/17/2018- Jena Brown Writes– Review

4/18/2018- Blushing Bibliophile– Review

4/19/2018- Reading with Rendz– Review

4/20/2018- Daily Waffle – Interview

Week Four:

4/23/2018- The Desert Bibliophile– Review

4/24/2018- Kati’s Bookaholic Rambling Reviews- Excerpt

4/25/2018- Simply Daniel Radcliffe– Review

4/26/2018-Margies Must Reads– Excerpt

4/27/2018- The Book Nut– Review

Week Five:

4/30/2018- Book-Keeping– Review

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