surprise here, a dream I had. What makes this dream strange, apart from it being mine, is that I dreamt of someone who had passed away. In the dream, he came to my bedside, woke me up, and told me what he claimed was the "secret of life". The moment he told me, and no I have no idea what he said, I had the feeling of flying through the Universe, connecting with every molecule. In this state I realized that the world was simple and perfect and beautiful, and it was us, humans, that complicated things.
Sounds pretty eye-opening, but not so fast we're talking about me here. After the sensation of whisking around and connecting with the Universe, this person said to me, "Now get up and write it down." My response? I mean, he was handing me the secret of life surely I couldn't wait to jump out of bed and write it down to share with all the people in the world. Right? Wrong. I said, "I'm kind of tired. I'll write it in the morning." He began to get this panicky look on his face, he kept twisting his head looking behind him as if someone was coming. He insisted, "Get up and write it down!" I didn't. In the dream, I fell asleep. I fell asleep in a dream. Yeah, dreams are complicated like that.
The next morning, still in a befuddled state, I woke up and thought, "I should write down what he told me." This thought was followed by, "I have no idea what he said" and "Wait, it was just a dream." That was kind of a let down, but it started me wondering. I wondered what would happen to someone who was given something valuable, a key to her existence, and what if it was delivered by someone she saw die.
In Light Bringer, Lane Centeno watches her boyfriend "die" only to have him return a few days later to tell her a secret--a secret he insists she write down. In the novel, unlike my dream, she gets up and writes it (Lane is much less interested in sleep than I am). In essence, her boyfriend, Eddie (who is a Watcher--an earthbound angel that looks after people with dormant supernatural abilities), reveals her own powers to her. He does this because he fears for her safety, rightly so. His death, or what appeared to be his death, was no accident. Lane quickly learns she can summon angels and demons--sometimes not even on purpose. Yep, it's like that. In introducing Lane to her power, Eddie is violating lots of rules, and this gets them both in serious trouble. The following excerpt happens when Eddie returns to give Lane the "Secret of Life". Lane has fallen asleep after a crying jag in which she decides she has to go on, even if it is without him:
Lane didn’t scream when she saw Eddie standing beside her bed. She didn’t really grasp that he shouldn’t be there. Awareness barely stirred her sleep stupor, a state that had come at a heavy price —deciding to live without him.
“I’m sleeping,” Lane said, turning into her pillow where damp strands of berry infused hair brushed her face.
“Lane,” Eddie said, “Come on, Laney, wake up.”
His warm breath skimmed her cheek. “What?” She opened her eyes. Eddie smiled a wide daring grin. It was the world turning. It was all darkness being cast with light. That smile did it. She jumped to sitting and clunked her skull on the old headboard. Ouch.
Adrenalin flooded her body. Eddie was dead. She’d been to his funeral, had seen his casket buried.
He patted the air in a “calm down” gesture.
Yeah right. Like that was going to happen. Her abuela had taught her two important lessons—the unseen world exists and the more important, don’t mess with it. Abuela had warded off unnecessary evil by outlawing Ouija boards, tarot cards, and Stephen King. So no matter how wide he smiled or reassuringly he patted the air, Eddie, dead Eddie, scared the shit out of her.
“You’re dead,” she said.
Eddie shook his head. He wasn’t wearing his burial outfit, the black suit Lane had hated because it made him look like a stiff. He wore dark boots, jeans resting loosely at lean hips and a blue tee snug against sculpted muscles. He was Eddie, but different. His golden brown eyes had a magnified intensity. His sandy hair shone brighter. The angle of his jaw looked sharper, and the set of his nose more regal. Eddie had always been hot, but his dial had been turned from incredibly handsome to unearthly gorgeous.
“I’m not dead.”
“Yeah, you are. You’re dead.” She chewed her lip. The thought of Eddie as a lost soul, walking around her home, the old neighborhood, hoping to find someone to tell him what was going on, broke her heart. She exhaled, forced herself to explain it to him. “You have to g-g-go into the light.”
At this, he threw his head back and laughed. The sound was warm and alive, and it made the pain of losing him resurface with stinging intensity. He seemed to realize this, or sense it, or read it from her mind. Maybe all the dead could read people’s minds. He stopped laughing and focused on her with a tenderness that made everything else fall away.
“Do you know why I’m here, Niña?”
He’d dropped the mágica long ago, but still called her Niña, girl, because she was petite, five feet one and three quarter inches, with wrists small enough that he could easily encircle one with thumb and pinky.
She shook her head. She had no idea why he’d come or why he’d had to leave. She hadn’t wanted chocolate. Not at all.
“I’ve come to stop your crying.”
Her heart froze. Eddie had risen from the dead because she was a big cry baby. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t let him rest in peace? “I won’t cry.” She swiped tears with the heel of her hand.
The corners of Eddie’s mouth twitched into the softest, ghost of a smile. “That was easy. So, you’re over me now?”
She nodded. “Go rest in peace or whatever.”
He slumped his shoulders in mock disappointment making him less a beautiful ghost and more like her Eddie. “That’s too bad. You know, I broke a ton of rules to bring you the Secret of Life. It has a lot to do with you, about how you’ve been feeling lately.” She shook her head again. The tears were drying on their own. “Seriously?” he said, “You’re that afraid of me?”
He had to be kidding. “Hell, yeah, I am.”
Eddie let out a soft surprised laugh then arched his eyebrow in a half amused, half serious way that seemed to say, “Are you sure?” It was the same charming gesture that had broken Lane’s resistance or defused her temper on many occasions. Of course, he knew this. God, she really loved him. “Fine. Tell me quick.”
Eddie took a deep breath. Did the dead need to breathe? He pulled a knife out and sliced his hand. What the…? He shook his fist and red drops sprinkled across her Navajo rug.
“Hey,” she said, and he pivoted away from her, clutching his knife as if expecting someone to charge out of her bathroom. No one did. He swung back, stabbed his knife into the air. It poofed away. That was weird, but not as strange as him starting to sing, really well. Eddie couldn’t carry a tune. Well, before. Now, his glorious voice rose and fell in perfect harmony. It was lovely, but the words sounded too fuzzy and thick to fit in her ears. She wanted to tell him that, because if this was a love song she wanted the words, but then the room, her dresser, the doorway, the glow from streetlights through the blinds, everything grew blurry. There was a flash of light....
Hope you enjoyed that excerpt! You can read more here. My friend Alison McMahan blogged about my YA contest win! She shares some excerpts from the novel which started out as a short story at my MFA program University of Southern Maine--also known as Stonecoast (a nickname derived, in part, from the Stone House a unique, writerly place where we had classes). Thank you Golden Rose Contest for honoring my novel with a second place win in the YA category. Keep an eye on this space for details on when Light Bringer will be published!