Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hickory House excerpt

My original goal for the summer was to release my first work of fiction, a novella entitled Hickory House. I don't know if that plan is really feasible at this point, but at any rate, here's an excerpt to get you excited :)


Jane stared at the door for a while, as she knelt on the bed. Then she eased one of her legs out from under her, and let it slide over the edge of the mattress - she glanced down. Ok, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. She wouldn’t mind being seen in these clothes. But she was barefoot…she swung her other leg around, and her toes touched the wooliness of the rug. She looked down.

Two olive-green, velvety-looking moccasin slippers stood pertly beside one another to her right. They glowed against the earthy red of the rug. They smiled at her - winked? - they seemed ready to accommodate. Jane smiled back, slowly.

An invitation. Another invitation.

She stood up fully, and shuffled over to the expectant shoes. She tip-toed inside. Her feet eased smoothly into the soles.

“Oh -” Jane cried.

She stood in a bed of bright-red tulips.

She was on a lawn of some sort - no, no - it was a garden. Dewy grass spread all around; there were no walls, only trees full of fruit that rose about her; it was nighttime, for the moon cast its silvery enchantment upon everything in sight. It was quite warm, and she could feel raindrops on her face - she heard distant thunder. There were the airy, echoing chirps of very-early-morning birds, and she was dazzled as several small, brightly-colored forms flitted before her eyes, dipping in and out of the milky shadows. They had strange, extravagant plumage, the likes of which Jane had never seen before. Two more birds, of scarlet and deep cerulean, swooped out of a tree that stood where the bookcase had been. As Jane peered into the branches, she realized that what seemed to be hundreds of birds perched amongst the dripping leaves, shaking out their feathers and chattering to one another.

Jane’s head spun. She gazed over her shoulder. A bubbling spring had taken the place of the bureau, and the brook that flowed from it ran through the garden and out under the door. The stuffed rabbit from the upholstered chair was rolling around in the grass and nibbling on a few strands. The man - considerably larger than in the print, and seemingly oblivious to Jane’s presence - pressed his lips to his beloved’s cheek, completing the kiss. The woman’s arms glimmered gold as they slid around his neck, and the blue-and-white blossoms in her auburn hair glowed like stars.

And the scent - the scent of it all! The rain, the grass, the flowers - it was more than Jane could bear. She thought that if only she could bottle it, somehow - the sweetness, the beauty - and release it upon the world…oh, it would be enough to turn bad people good.

But it would refuse to be bottled…just like Ralph would make an awful model. These things seem to hate to be contained.

The solution presented itself to her promptly and neatly: then you give yourself up to it. Let it take hold of your heart; let it change you - and so take it with you. Let your life do the talking. Let your living change the world…

The door flew open once again, and Ralph stood at the threshold, his curls getting caught in the vines that hung down from the doorjamb. His eyes seemed to have reached a new level of shining, unearthly wideness, and a solemn smile was set upon his lips.

“Jane,” he said, extending his hand backwards, as if he meant for her to take it and run with him. “Come quickly. We need you.”

Copyright © 2011 by Olivia Meldrum

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I want to put myself to sleep,
and you, and the rest of the world, as well -
all at once.
[I think it is part of the sickness within me.]

I writhe about in the sheets -
[oh my dear, don't listen to a word I say] -

My eyes no longer see straight.
They have become pupils of coal,
irises of flame.

There is fire in my throat,
and fire in my head,
it crackles away at my thoughts,
and lights up my whole bed -

Now, all light comes from ME!

[Please promise me you'll be steady.
Please, please promise you'll be stronger than I am.
I don't understand any of it, and I don't mean a word I say,
I tell you.]

I want to put out the moon!
I want to put out the stars!
I'd sink down into this blazing river,
were it not for your grip on my arm -

Now I howl and claw at your hands
[You'll always have scars, you know -
oh, my sweet sweet darling] -

[please please please
my heart my honey my gold
believe me when I say this, only this:
I am not myself]

Oh, what has become of your dear one?
She is demon
whisperer of siren songs and
raving somnambulist


Will you make me to swallow ice water?
Will you take my temperature throughout
the night,
and lay cool cloths across my forehead?
Will you trust me
when I tell you that you must not trust me?

If so, I warn you -
you will have to reach beyond reason
(I went there long ago).

Oh, how can I ask you to accompany me in this descent?
How can I subject you, too, to the inferno of my mind?

Can you survive it?
Will you?

Your tears are cool upon my face.

I try to remember how, hours ago,
when the delirium first struck,
you found me crawling out of the window -
tip-toeing along the ridge and towards the gable -
I believed that I was walking into the
white-hot flames of the moon.

You stumbled after me.
You caught me into your arms
in the nick of time;

You carried me inside.

It won't be much longer now -
It can't be -
It mustn't -

Please, just hold my hand.
Kiss me -
it keeps the fire at bay.

At dawn,
once the fever has broken,
and when I have awoken,
where will the two of us stand?

Will you have grown tired and frightened?
Will you have fled in the night?

Or will you be asleep in the chair,
thermometer in hand?

Copyright © 2011 by Olivia Meldrum