The Short Story I Never Wanted To Write
This story is far divergent from anything I’ve ever written. It’s sci-fi, different from my usual mystery-thrillers. It’s written in the voice of a teenager, again not my norm, but some things put you in that headspace. My other novels were plotted, scrutinized for ebb and flow. This poured out of me.
This tore me apart.
Because the story IS me, though in a metaphorical sense. It’s everything I felt after I lost my father.
It’s about rage, because some horrid, omnipotent creature stole someone you love. About the pointlessness of it all, the horror, the fear of moving on in this huge, scary world without someone who has always been your rock, whose mere presence was enough to convince you that things were going to be okay. It’s about how loss has the ability to drag you back to when you were most vulnerable. How feeling abandoned rips your guts out and reduces you to this childlike space where you just want to throw a tantrum because you cannot fathom how else to actually deal with those big feelings. It’s about the way I obsessed over finding the people who got his organs, these little pieces of him that someone got to use but that would always kinda be my dad.
This story is about loss and grief and heartache.
It’s about knowing that things will never be the same.
But it’s also about the way my dad used to make me smile. About the way he always joked around, the way he could laugh harder than anyone I’ve ever met. The way he loved poker and olives and puns. How he had the uncanny ability to turn negatives into positives. About how I grew up knowing I was worth it, that I could be anything. It’s about how, every day, I try my damnedest to be the person he’d have wanted me to be.
It’s about loss and grief and heartache. But it’s also about love.
I wish I could say that grieving stops, that the pain goes away, but grief is not really a thing that ever disappears. I imagine that I will sob many years into the future on Christmas eve, as I did this year, wishing I could hear his voice again. And in five years or ten years, on the days when the sorrow is as fresh and poignant as it was the day it happened, on the nights when I feel hollowed out like someone punched me in the gut—I will accept it.
My father lived his life well—he made sure I knew love. He made sure I had something worth grieving. Grief is not some horrendous, fearful thing for me, not anymore. Today, the pain means I was once loved well enough to make it mean something. And that I would not trade for the world.
For all who have loved and lost…this is for you.
From the Back Cover
Be brave, little girl. Daddy’s here.
As far as thirteen-year-old Katie is concerned, her world might as well revolve around her father. But lately, things have been strange on their North Dakota ranch. It’s not like Daddy to miss a private joke or forget to read a bedtime story to baby Jack. And the cattle are acting funny, too. Just last night, they woke Katie up with their bellowing. Or maybe that was part of her nightmare, the one with the brilliantly purple sky.
But dream or no, Katie is sure something’s wrong. She can feel it between her shoulder blades, like a pair of clammy flingers climbing up her spine. Nevertheless, she has faith that she and Daddy can fix it. There’s never been a problem they couldn’t solve, as long as they had each other.
But Katie’s about to find out that some things are too horrifying to understand, let alone fix.
It’s a brave new world out there.
And in this world, bravery can’t save you.
If you’ve been here awhile, you know I deal with most things through laughter. This trait I most certainly got from my hilarious, Irish father, who loved jokes and St. Patrick’s Day– so I can’t leave you hanging with all this heaviness. (This one’s for you, Dad.)
A leprechaun walks into a bar. After several pitchers of beer, the leprechaun runs over to a large, angry looking man in the corner, sticks out his tongue and spits a vile stream all over the man’s shoes. The guy reaches out to grab him, but misses as the leprechaun jumps back to his seat.
“If you know what’s good for you, don’t come near me again! I’ll rip off your little tallywhacker,” the man yells.
After a few more pints, the leprechaun again approaches the man in the corner, sticks out his tongue and spits all over his shoes. This time, the man leaps from his seat and chases the leprechaun, but fails to catch him as the leprechaun slides beneath the bar.
“One more time, and I’ll rip off your tallywhacker!” The man sits back in the corner, staring at his soggy sneakers. And waits. And waits.
Thirty minutes later, the same leprechaun approaches. Slowly. Smiling. This time the man is ready when the leprechaun lets loose a stream from his mouth all over the man’s pants. The man grabs him by the shirt and lifts him into the air.
“I warned you! Now I’m gonna rip off your tallywhacker!”
“You can’t do that,” giggles the leprechaun. “Leprechauns don’t have tallywhackers.”
“Whadda ya mean you don’t have a tallywhacker?” demands the man. “How the hell do you pee?”
The leprechaun laughs, sticks out his tongue and spits.
May your day be filled with awesomeness, love, and laugher (and maybe a leprechaun).