We bring home, from far off places, things to remind us of where we’ve been, and who was there. This tin star from New Mexico is hung in our home after waiting two years for a light to brighten it. The light is found on the day my fiancé’s grandson is born, on a day where friends and family say, “welcome to the world.” We hang this star of colored beads to welcome him. This star bought the day before I knew what love felt like, having explained to a friend that when you’re older, you finally recognize love, and accept it for what it is. This star reminds me of unconditional love, and when I was welcomed to the world two years ago. So welcome Connor, too, and know that today, just now, your star is born and hanging in our home.
When in life do you fall in love with appliances? When knobs and lights, heat and the proper lines of cool refrigerant expose the underbelly of age? When exactly does the idea of them take hold? Is it when building a home with someone you love steals you against the outside world? When the years that are left take on more meaning? The cast iron skillet will outlast everything we bought at the appliance sale. This knife will cut long after the refrigerator goes out. Maybe it’s the sudden agreement on just the right model, when you’ve walked up and down the aisles and you both stand in front of a beautiful sleek range and together say, “that one.”
My story, Follow Me Through, along with several other stories, will be published in With: New Gay Fiction on December 2, 2013.
With: New Gay Fiction, along with its poetry companion, Between: New Gay Poetry, are the first original anthologies published by Chelsea Station Editions. These anthologies have been assembled and published without the help of any crowdsourcing campaigns or financial donations, so please purchase a copy when they become available soon at online and independent booksellers across the country or now at the Chelsea Station Editions website.
Edited by Jameson Currier, With: New Gay Fiction also includes the work of writers, David Bergman, Michael Carroll, Lewis DeSimone, Jack Fritscher, Ronald M. Gauthier, Michael Graves, Shaun Levin, Dan López, Jeff Mann, Vincent Meis, Matthew A. Merendo, Joel A. Nichols, David Pratt, Stefen Styrsky, and William Sterling Walker.
So happy to be included in this important anthology and I thank Mr. Currier for my story’s inclusion. I’ll publish the links as they become available.
“With no wasted space yet plenty of emotion, the simplicity of Schabarum’s writing is a marvel. Compact sentences brim with an appreciation for character and the lonely expanse of suburban life. The constantly shifting characters become inextricably linked in different ways, until they ultimately separate, finding freedom in loss and letting go.” – Kirkus Reviews
In Schabarum’s (The Narrows, Miles Deep, 2011, etc.) novel, a mother and daughter are at odds following the loss of their husband and father, and a couple seeks escape after their baby is stillborn. Outside of Kansas City in the late 1960s, the bonds between 16-year-old Linda and her mother, Clare, are wearing thin in the wake of her father’s death. While Clare worked to support the family, her blind father bestowed upon Linda his love of jazz. The loss of her husband creates an even greater financial strain for Clare, and she’s forced to find work for Linda. Linda leaves school to help Martha and Jack, an expectant couple in their late 30s. She’s thrust into their day-to-day routine, helping with chores and housework while Martha is on bed rest. When Jack is away on business, Linda and Clare rush to Martha just in time to help deliver her stillborn baby. Linda’s presence becomes a calming force for Martha and Jack as they rebuild themselves and their relationship after the loss of their child. Jack buys an Airstream trailer and makes plans with Martha to leave their life behind and go “streaming.” Jack loves it: “From a service manager’s point of view [Jack] had an appreciation for how everything was put together: no wasted space, easy to maintain, easy to fix. He marveled at its simplicity.” Meanwhile, Linda and Clare, still ravaged by loss, are both tempted by the freedom of a life apart from one another. With no wasted space yet plenty of emotion, the simplicity of Schabarum’s writing is a marvel. Compact sentences brim with an appreciation for character and the lonely expanse of suburban life. The constantly shifting characters become inextricably linked in different ways, until they ultimately separate, finding freedom in loss and letting go.
A somber exploration of the confines of suburban life and the secrets that can sustain or suffocate. – Kirkus Reviews
Destruction feels good, knocking away detritus, cobwebbed shingles, rotted wood. We understand now how the house got away from her. Neglect tells stories, reveals pain. So we slam the iron fist hammer to clear hurt, loss, and damage to rebuild a porch, a place to enter our new home that is being torn asunder bit by bit. When the year passes, and we have stripped away what was left to us, the new will not replace the old, but rather the old will inform it so that we remember to acknowledge and repair in the coming years to keep our house strong.
In the hush of morning, our neighbor is lost. Gone are hanging baskets, a throaty laugh, smiles. Gone are watchful eyes, keeping our corner safe. Gone, too, is Sunday church, those days she was so beautiful in her best dress. Gone will be the name Olevia from our lips, except as memory instead of a call across the street. Gone are friendly waves, those elegant fingers, a matriarchal spirit. Gone are the moments we recognized each other as people, backgrounds and lives far different, but neighbors caught up in our daily lives, living peacefully, together, loving the changing seasons, children growing, lives passing, neighbors leaving a mark on our hearts.
Imagine the amount of air that moved through these ducts, heating spaces and toes, providing a warm place for a dog to lie against on the coldest days. To build takes days, months, years even, but destruction takes seconds, or hours. These ducts in the back of my truck, scrap tapping against the window; I’m driving it away to recycle it into something new. I look at all the metal in the world; mined and forged, molded and shaped, pieced together into things we’ve made. I imagine the first fire: simple, direct, bodies warmed. How did we get here? This tangle of metal, aged now, heaped as waste, the work of it finished.
Our turtle, Trevor by decree, greets our friends on the stairs leading down to our future garden. By nature slow, in water, buoyed by salt and waves, turtles are weightless. Years ago, shoulders heavy from my lost mother, in Hawaii’s warm blue, a turtle rose up to greet me and floated there. I’m still, eyes agape, wonder filling me, smiling. We broke bread, spoke awhile, I bowed to it with pressed hands and egg-beater legs. The ancient years collapsed into a moment then, and then again when I placed our Trevor just there, just where he could surprise, and spark a memory.
Spiders have a bad rap, hanging as they do from doorways, windows, rosemary and juniper as if ready to pounce. They announce fall, nets catching the last flies, gnats; intricate threads drip diamonds early mornings when the fog is hard against our windows. There it is, waiting, waiting for the hapless, still as dark, legs attached to nothing it seems, waiting to sense a slight change, to prey, to wrap the slightest being, scare the timid, herald cold’s arrival with a shiver though it didn’t mean to. Down the tensile it travels when winter comes burrowing with us until warmth returns.
In the first days, we revealed the house, the land and sky, felling trees in hours while the neighborhood watched. An old Japanese maple was discovered, which now angles toward the sun, wind shedding its broken branches. Other trees, so long neglected bud anew. Trees are resilient, are in constant need of the elements. We are collectors now: Red Bud, Lace Leaf, Variegated Maple, Vine Maple, Dogwood, and Paperbark. We are specimens. We are planters. We are urban foresters. At night, we hear them breathe.