25 October 2010

The Story That Ate All My Time

I've been working like a mad woman on a story for my grad school applications. I should get a medal for getting this far, but I'll settle for a fancy pumpkin coffee drink at Starbucks.

Here's a small blurb from the story (it's called What Might Have Been Lost):

My brother’s confession is terrifying, like being blinded by sunlight after living in the darkness of a cave for weeks and weeks. My mind struggles to make sense of this new bleached-out landscape, to decipher where the hem of the sky meets the ground, to distinguish angels from chimeras. My brother’s life was not full of affliction, as I had imagined. Instead it was saturated with remorse and the constant hum of longing. It occurs to me that I have wasted time on my hands, the result of building houses from ash. But thoughts like these are weak aftershocks today, flashing and then fading to black before their strength can be registered.

“What do we do now?” I ask. David has his arms by his side with his palms open to me. He looks like he is preparing to receive a heavy load.

“I’m not really sure. Javier certainly won’t be conceding the election, and I doubt he will condone any sort of public ransom payment. I suppose he could be persuaded to a quiet payment if the funds weren’t associated with him, but I think it might be best to exclude him from the equation all together. What are you thinking?”

“I don’t know. I can’t pay what they want, that’s for certain. And I don’t have any allies here outside of our family. I could maybe contact the American embassy, but what can they do? They would end up working with The Lieutenant and his staff. I don’t know if I can just cut Javier out. It seems like he is who these people are really going after anyway.”

“There might be one option,” my brother says, sinking back into the couch. He is silent for a while, staring at his hands, before he continues speaking. “Ursula and I both have extensive insurance policies, which provide access to a professional negotiator in situations like this. I don’t know what can be done, but I know that negotiations have worked in the past.”

“What would that mean for Sophie?” The question comes out so softly, I’m not sure David heard me.

“Well, it would be tricky. We would have to stipulate that both Ursula and Sophie are returned alive for the ransom.”

In response to this kindness my eyes sting, and my chest shakes. I cover my face with my hands and cry. I cry for the 7-year old boy who was pushed off a bridge by his brother. I cry for the lonely 18-year kid old who left home and never looked back. I cry for the adult who is consumed with the fear of losing his wife, his identity, and his purpose forever. I cry for hope I never knew existed. David comes to the window and embraces me.

“I am sorry,” he says, and he means it.