Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Autumn’s Child #Excerpt by Nicole Murray @LNMCreative #Fiction #GoodReads #MustRead

A few days later, we went to this place they called a funeral home and she told me that I could see them one last time if I was ready. Hesitantly I walked into this molded room. The air was thick with the weight of death, thick with eyes hovering over me like vultures. The words “I’m sorry” or “they were so young” or “passed away” were thrown about very cautiously as if saying “passed away” was easier than “dead,” or with a million “I’m sorry” would make God resurrect them. After a few words from people I never knew were said, everyone just walked around, staring at me like an object to be pitied.
We sat down in the pew closest to the boxes or baskets or caskets or whatever’s socially correct and they both grabbed my arm, Ms. MacNair on my right and Sara on my left. People walked past and tilted their head to me in passing. After everyone was seated Ms. MacNair whispered, “Would you like to say goodbye?” Sara said yes for me and we both stood up. We walked the short distance to the boxes and before I saw anything I saw a long strand of pearls. I focused in on them, the small line that connect the round shells together and, like rosary beads, I counted all 52 individual pearls. Reaching the end of her favorite thread of pearls, I looked up to see this lady. The lady was fat and fake, not my mom at all. Blown up with so much formaldehyde or embalming fluid or whatever they put in you. But I remember thinking, “This isn’t my mom. This was just a stupid joke, a fake mannequin or something.” My dad’s casket wasn’t even open so he must not have been in there. They said it was “a closed casket.” Obviously it was closed, but I asked Ms. MacNair why it was closed, she said, “Because we can’t see his body.” I don’t think she understood my question. I knew that I couldn’t see his body. I wasn’t blind. I just wanted to see the replica of a person they thought would trick me so that I would believe it was my father. But she never told me the real reason why I couldn’t see him. I turned to Sara and huffed as she looked at the ghostlike statue lying in the box.
The preacher came and preached. The choir that I wasn’t in anymore sang. They sang my song, the song that I missed the auditioning for because my stupid parents had to “pass away.” “I’m going up e yonder, to be with my lord ord ord.”  They sang it, I heard them, but I wasn’t listening. I stared at Pastor Neil as he preached about what a great place it was in heaven and talked about my parents as if they were icons, but I didn’t listen. I looked through him into my thoughts, which became visions and these visions turned to sleeping with my eyes open again. The whole time I waited for them both to just come through the doors of that smelly room and say, “April Fools!!” But it wasn’t April, it was June and they never walked through those doors.

“I am hurting. Fractured in places stitches can’t heal.” Autumn’s Child tells the desperate story of Layla, as a young and naive twelve year-old girl. Over ten critical years, her life quickly changes like the colors of the trees in autumn. The accidental death of her parents forces her to abandon her religious, middle-class lifestyle. She moves to the inner city of Chicago with her grandmother and aunt, her only living relatives. Layla tries to approach her new life with optimism, but the perfections of her past life haunt her tormented journey. After coming to grips with the reality over the years that her only aunt despises her, Layla soon discovers that she may secretly hold the keys to helping her aunt’s diminishing health in her hands. Layla’s faith and sanity are continuously tested as she matures throughout each season of her life. She stumbles through her newfound reality while learning how to play the distinct set of cards she’s been dealt. Layla’s neighbor and best friend, Shay, helps guide her from adolescence into adulthood. Autumn’s Child chronicles a life on the opposite side of the coin; where friendships grow out of tragedy, and the pressure of a marginalized life weighs heavily on pure souls. Layla must make many compromising decisions, all while perpetually asking the reader, What would you do? View Autumn’s Child Trailer:
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Genre – Fiction
Rating – R
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