Fiction: He Isn’t Here (section 3)

More words on the short fiction I started last week. You can find the first parts here:


It was hard not to tell mom what I had done. I felt very proud of myself and powerful but also a little bit afraid. My brother was a brute and a pig and he might be a little bit insane but he was also my mother’s child and I did not know how she would react to his being gone. Also, I did not know if he was gone only for me or if he was really, truly gone for everyone else too. The only way I could know that was to wait and see what mom saw or did not see.

I went back to bed and waited for mom to wake up. It didn’t take long, maybe twenty minutes. I didn’t get bored. There were so many things to think about. When she woke up, she seemed a little bit confused but smiled when she saw me lying in bed beside her, watching her face.

“Hi. Happy birthday.” She touched my hair and, for a moment, I felt like I slipped into an entirely different world, a wonderful, kind, happy place where I was my mother’s only child and had always been her only child. It was a good feeling but it could not last.

I looked up and found my brother standing at the foot of our bed, looking confused and frustrated and very, very far away. He was the gray smudgy thing still and, again, I could only see his face when not looking directly at him.

“How was your night?” I asked mom, still looking at my brother, waiting to see if mother would notice him. My brother was watching her, perhaps waiting for this himself.

“Oh, it was fine, I guess. I had to work extra late. I hated to leave you so long last night. But I guess you took care of yourself just fine.”

There was a pause where I waited to see if she would mention my brother. Where he was. Where he had gone.

“Anything interesting happen for you?”

That was an interesting question to try and answer.

“No. Nothing. Not really.” It was a lie but the kind of lie we told each other often about the things that aren’t there and the things that are there that we wish were not.

My mom watched me for a while, maybe expecting some other thing I might say. I watched my brother, expecting her to notice and startle at the sight of him. She glanced in the direction I was looking but did not notice my brother’s faded shade.

She seemed a little lost in thought for a moment and then, “So, I’ve got the morning and most of the afternoon. What do you want to do for your birthday?”

“I found my muffin,” I told her, smiling. “It was delicious.”

“Good.” She was laughing. Seeing my mom laugh was like a little patch of blue sky through super dark rain clouds.

“We could take a walk. Maybe go to the park. Or a movie or something.”

“Sure,” she said. She could not see my brother staring at her from the foot of the bed, his face twisted with frustration. Once again, he was trying to say something but no sound came from his mouth and I could not recognize the words made by his lips.

“Do you notice anything different?” I asked. “Anything weird?”

My mom studied me, checking to see if I had gone mad and pierced my nose or found some criminal mind to tattoo me. She was careful to check everything. “No,” she said slowly, afraid to admit she had missed something that should be obvious. “What did you do?”

“Oh, nothing. Not me. Just anything different or weird about the apartment or anything?”

She looked around, nervous. “Is this a game?”

“No. Nothing like that. Never mind. It isn’t a big deal. Let me make you breakfast,” I told her.

“But its your birthday.”

“Its okay I want to.”

And it was true, I was usually happiest when I could do something useful for my mom.

“Eggs then. And bacon. And toast.”

And it was great fun to get out of bed and walk to the door, stepping right through the shape of my brother who was no longer there and my mother not even noticing the way his shadow shivered and fell as I made my way across the room. And his face, which was silently screaming from some other dimension right there in the room with us but also an infinite number of miles away.

Fiction: He Isn’t Here (section 2)

Here’s the second part of “He Isn’t There”. You can find the first part here.


When I woke the next morning everything felt different. My mother lay curled up beside me, gently snoring, in the bed we shared. As usual, she had not woken me when she came home from work. She must have had a hard night because she was still wearing the clothes from her night job at the hotel. She was snoring and restful and I decided not to wake her, even though it was my birthday and I wanted nothing more than to have her awake so I could found out if she understood yet how different our lives had just become.

I woke up bruised and sore. My arms and legs ached and it hurt just a little bit when I breathed. And yet, I also felt alert and better rested than I had in a long time. The apartment was silent except for my mom’s breathing. I listened for the usual sounds of my brother’s morning routines. The television was not blaring, unwatched, in the living room. There was no yelling or cursing at Call of Duty on the Xbox. There were no scorched smelling things coming from the kitchen toaster.

I imagined myself an astronaut crashed landed on an alien planet. Carefully, I left the safety of my ship and stepped out into the strangely hospitable atmosphere. I slid from the bed slowly, careful not to let the bed shake and wake mom. I watched her for another minute then made my way out of the bedroom and into the unknown space of our apartment.

It hurt to walk, but I managed just fine. I was tough and had learned how to keep moving normal even when things hurt. Our bedroom door was open, which was good because it usually squeaked when you opened it. The light in the hallway was on but that probably just meant that mom had left it on. She was always leaving lights on no matter how many times I explained what I knew about energy and global warming.

My brother’s bedroom door was open. I peeked inside, not expecting to find him there. I had developed a kind of psychic ability to feel when my brother was and was not around. I didn’t feel him anywhere.

His room looked the same. Piles of dirty clothes. Monster truck magazines with girls in hot pink bikinis. Food wrappers. Broken DVDs. I looked at his bed from my safe perch at the doorway. His bed had not been slept in. His backpack from school was laying right where it had been the day before with sweaty gym clothes spilling out like a weird volcano. He wasn’t there. He had not been there.

There was a weird, metallic smell in his bedroom. Weirder than usual. It was like the smell of gunpowder after a bunch of fireworks went off. Or the smell of a place where lightning has been.

I went to the living room. The TV was off. The cards from our Go Fish game were still on the floor, exactly as they had been. I found the broom stick pieces and picked them up. They were small but pointy with sharp splinters. I liked the way they felt in my hands and carried them with me to the kitchen.

The kitchen looked totally normal. The bowl I used to cook macaroni and cheese in the microwave was on the stove. I forgot to put it in the sink, which was one of my main chores. I put both sticks in one hand so I could carry the bowl. Then I noticed the big chocolate muffin on the counter beside an envelope that had Happy Birthday written inside a great big heart. Chocolate muffins are my favorite kind of breakfast and sometimes mom brought them home from the corner gas station as a special kind of surprise.

I put the sticks on the counter, knowing I would not need them. If my brother were here, he would already have eaten my birthday muffin or smashed it up inside the package just for meanness.

Suddenly, I wondered if my brother was really, truly gone or if he had just left the apartment for fear of mother finding out what he had done. I had to consider both possibilities, unlikely as they might be. Mother never found out about the things he had done or, if she did, never seemed to know what to do about them. Though last night had been different. He would have been in a whole lot of trouble. Bruises make mom scared and when she gets scared she can be a holy terror.

I opened the birthday card. It was puppy making goo goo eyes over a birthday cake. Too young for me but I secretly liked that mom went for the mushy stuff.


All of a sudden I felt weird in my tummy. I looked up and saw the shape of my brother standing beside the trash can at the other side of the kitchen. He was there and he wasn’t there. He was a dim gray shadow. It took me a minute to bring him into focus and find his face. I could see him best when I wasn’t looking at him and had to learn to unfocus my eyes and look just to either side of him. Once I learned the trick of this, I finally found his face. I grabbed my sticks, expecting him to be angry and ready to attack. Instead, he looked sad. Pathetic. Like he might actually cry.

“I see you,” I told him. He could not answer. His mouth did not work. He opened and closed it like he was talking but no sounds came out. I couldn’t even read his lips because the words they seemed to be making were not real words that I knew.

I smiled, gripping the broken broom sticks. Stepping toward him, I said, “You can’t hurt me. I made you a ghost.” He twisted away in fear and I lost the specific shape of him. He was just a dark smudge, trembling behind the clothes washer.

I took another step closer and he became even less real. Just a shadow inside the darkness of the laundry closet.

I put down the sticks and opened my great big chocolate birthday muffin. I ate while he watched.

It was so delicious.

To Bring You My Love (section 15)

Note: 8700 words into this, whatever it is. The words are coming slower but they are still coming. Something interesting is about to happen. I am wondering what that is.


Lana led the way through the crowded apartment, pushing piles of clothes and other detritus with her feet as she clutched her towel around her. “Just ignore the mess,” she said, reaching down for a pile of bras on the floor.

And it was true. Lana’s apartment was a riot of things out of place. Half forgotten projects. Unfinished meals.

Sebastian didn’t mind. The chaos was Lana’s life. It was beautiful just as she was beautiful.

“I wasn’t really expecting to have company,” she explained. And then, “Why are you here?”

Lana reddened. It wasn’t the thing she had meant to say or, at least, it wasn’t the way she had meant to say it.

“I came to be with you. I came from very far away. But I am ready now. I can stay.”

Lana flushed more. “Bad timing,” she said, and then, looking up at the clock, “Oh geez. I’ve got to get to work. I’m going to be late. I can’t be late again. You understand. I can’t stay and catch up right now. I’ve got to get going.”

“I understand,” Sebastian told her.

This next thing she considered for a moment before saying, “You can stay here. Wait for me. If you want. Maybe I can come home during lunch. Or we can order in some dinner and talk.”

“I will like all those things,” Sebastian told her.

Lana paused in the hallway, studying him. A strange smile on her face. And then, an awkward kiss on his cheek. And she was returning to the bedroom to put on her clothes, finish drying off.

Sebastian waited in the living room. Unsure whether to sit or stand. He stood where she had left him. This was not the reunion he had imagined but it was better than anything he could have imagined  because it was real and there was sweetness in the knowing that they were, at last, standing together in the same place.

“Help yourself to whatever you want,” she told him, now dressed smartly in a professional slacks and jacket. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

And again she kissed him. This time on the mouth though it was a sideways kind of kiss that nearly missed his mouth.

“Back for lunch. Or, if not, definitely dinner. Sorry.” And she was gone leaving Sebastian to unravel the ten thousand mysteries of a morning and afternoon spent entirely to himself.


The waiting was awful. The cold, interminable stasis of a long afternoon. He had not calculated for this. He had not expected the cool trench of reality that was her morning. There was no time. He had arrived, touched her briefly and how quickly Lana had flown away. Not to worry, he told himself. This was not a matter for concern. It was the mechanics of life. The machinery of disappointment and frustration. He was here. She was there. Soon, they would be together. He told himself not to count the minutes. That would not help anyone. And so he walked around the room, acquainting himself to a space where he did not really belong. Sebastian picked up objects, considered them, put them back into their place. It was a kind of inventory he was doing, a way of taking the measure of how her life had been without him. The objects were unfamiliar, foreign to him. He took stock, careful treating each with the measured respect of a scholar. Or the full hearted reverence of a poet. They were artefacts from another life. He was on a archaeological dig, piecing together the mystery of Lana in absentia. And it was easily done, picking up each object in turn, seeing it from every angle, placing it back into the place where it belonged. Feeling as he placed it back that he understood a little bit better.

And so the day passed, not quickly, but in a productive state of taking accurate measure. And he waited as patiently as he could while the daylight traveled through the room, ray of sunshine cutting the air. It was a long arm of light reaching out to him from home. It would not touch him where he stood. He would not move toward it. He felt the loneliest he had ever felt.


“Oh, hi.” Lana’s greeting when she returned home as if both a bit surprised and confused that Sebastian had actually waited. “Sorry,” she told him and kissed his face.

Sebastian took her brief case and coat. “How was your day?” he asked and then waited with the patience of a loyal dog because he really, truly, desperately wanted to know.

“Ok, I guess. I didn’t get fired or anything. I mean, I made it to work and got my stuff done. My boss liked some of it, I think.”

Sebastian knew he was staring at her too long but seemed unable to stop himself.

“Good,” he said.

“How was your’s? Find anything interesting?”she asked, guesturing around the room. “You cleaned up.”

Sebastian nodded. “I didn’t mean to. I just got curious and thought I could help by putting things into places.”

“Sure. Okay. Yeah. Thanks.”

And a long awkward moment that Sebastian wanted to be filled with kisses but as he leaned in toward Lana, she turned her face. “Let me get changed out of these work clothes. I hate carrying the day into my house. Feel like I’ve got the day’s dust on me. Be right back.”

And Sebastian liked the way she scampered to her bedroom like a small, frisky woodland creature. Such grace and beauty.

She closed the door. Sebastian admired her modesty.

Lana was gone only a few minutes but Sebastian felt each like a stitch through his heart.

The day had passed. Daylight was gone and the city outside was lit by artificial light. In his hundreds of years among humans, Sebastian most loved cities and the clever ways they pushed against the needless limits of nature. Conjuring light and sound where nature would have none. It was a wonder of innovation and creativity. Being in the city, Sebastian felt most like Lana, as if there was very little difference between them. Sebastian felt human.

To Bring You My Love (section 14)


A short walk later, Sebastian was standing at Lana’s front door. It was still early in the morning but not obscene. The world was awake. Men and women dressed in neat business suits spilled out through the front doors of the apartments, crowding the sidewalks already with the heavy traffic of life. The streets were teeming with bicycles and taxi cabs and the already the sound of horns and frustrated shouts filled the air. Coffee cups were filled. Bagels opened and eaten. Dogs peed on hydrants. Beautiful people jogged past in stretch tees and athletic shorts, eyes focused on some unseen target ahead, ear buds jammed deep into their ears to keep them plugged into a different reality.

All around him, the noise and business of life as Sebastian stood on the stoop of Lana’s townhouse apartment and rang the bell. It was a long moment before he heard any reaction. Braced for the moment the door would swing open and they would no longer be separated by space and time, no longer separated by a plank of wood. She would open the door and they would be together.

Sebastian glanced up at the window over the door, hoping for a glimpse of Lana looking out the window to see who had arrived. The curtains did not move. Sebastian rang the bell again.

The stream of life flowing behind him felt good. It gave him courage. He was a part of this world now. He would be one of those people, going to work, walking the dog, taking a job. He was excited and eager for all of it. The taxi rides shared with Lana. The hot coffee and buttered bagels. She would open the door and they would be together and would commit themselves to doing all the things they could do when Sebastian had been a Inbetweener. They would make love. Possibly have children. Could he even give her children? They would celebrate birthdays, drink too much alcohol, eat too much cake, and mark every year as an incredibly precious success. They would commit themselves to the work of doing the one thing they could never have done before. Sebastian and Lana would grow old together.

But, first things first. Sebastian looked up. Still, she was not looking down from that high window. He rang the doorbell again, wondering if it made enough noise for her to hear if she was in the bedroom. Or she had left already for work perhaps.

Sebastian knocked, a little louder than he intended. He was getting scared a bit that she might not be home and that he might just need to wait on her steps until she came back home.

Then footsteps down the stairs. “Who is it?” she was yelling. “Do you have any idea what time it is? You better not be selling anything or inviting me to your church? I swear to God, I’ll punch you right in the face.”

And then the door opened. Lana stood there, wrapped in a bathrobe, her wet hair wrapped in a towel. Even in her anger, she was beautiful to Sebastian. And then, that look softened. Her eyes widened as she realized who was standing at her door.

“Oh, wow,” she said. “Sebastian.”

Sebastian was so happy he could not speak. He just nodded and smiled.

“Sebastian,” she said again. The surprise changing to puzzlement. Lana looked out the door, past Sebastian. She pulled the robe around her. “What are you doing here?” she asked. Then, realizing it came out way different than she intended. “I mean, where did you come from? Is everything alright? How did you get here?”

“I came to see you,” he said. “I came so we can be together. Really together.”

Lana looked up the stairs. Back out at Sebastian, smiling like a soft-headed fool. She studied him for a moment, trying to make up her mind. And then, “Come on in.”

To Bring You My Love (section 13)

Tired as he was, Sebastian did not sleep. His body, still unused to its recent limitations was pushed beyond exhaustion but Sebastian’s mind would not rest. He lay on the thin mattress of the sofa bed, staring up the flat dark ceiling of Frieda’s apartment. How often he had casually entered a building in his life as Inbetweener and not noticed the menacing limits of four walls and ceiling. The ceiling reminding him of everything he had given up. How we could no longer see or even feel the watchful eyes of his kindred family who surely remained up there, perhaps even now looking down, anxious to help, to intervene. But there would be no intervention, he knew. This was the path he had chosen and he would walk it through to its conclusion.

How, exactly, would this end? He would go to Lana in the morning, reveal himself to her and supplicate himself to her in hopes that she might accept him and relieve, just a little, the crushing weight of the curse he willing took on himself.

Or she would turn her face, avert her gaze. He had never considered the possibility that it might be so. But now, feeling forlorn and lost, so close to Lana on earth but still so impossibly far, he knew it might well be so. And this was the burning curse of the love lost. This burning ache of uncertainty and doubt. The troubles of the flesh were one thing. This weight of the spirit was almost more than he could bear.

Frieda’s apartment was clean but cluttered, small in the way that was not quite efficient. He listened as she snored softly in the other room. He was grateful for the kindness she had shown him. It was a type of miracle in itself, this gift the mortal kind called friendship. And he felt at once the unevenness in their friendship. And he wanted to do something, some kind gesture of reciprocated friendship to let Frieda know that she was now a part of what he understood it meant to be human.

Sebastian got out of bed.


Sebastian had watched the night gather up its shadows and now he watched the meagre, gray gruel of dawn seep back into the world. He had watched so many thousand days and nights from his high, holy perch of his former home that the act had become mundane, the humdrum traffic of orbs of dirt and gas spinning and spiraling like dancers in an impeccably choreographed waltz. And how incredibly earthbound he felt now, watching the sunrise from the confines of Freida’s efficiency apartment. The dull light spread across the dirty cityscape, illuminating buildings, their bones of brick, concrete and glass.

He was no longer the sort of creature that found the day. Now, the day found him.

When the sun had fully emerged and broke open the morning, Sebastian got out of bed. It still surprised him how sore and heavy his body felt. The wreck from yesterday was still punishing him. He stretched, wincing at the soreness of his tight, battered joints. It was a chore, getting out of bed but he had won this body at a hard price and he was determined to make it work for him rather than against him.

Frieda was still sleeping. It was no matter. He did not want to wake her. He would make this last part of his voyage on his own. It was time.

Sebastian foraged around for a piece of paper. Wrote a note that was short, sweet yet said everything it needed to say: Thank you. We will bless your name.

He pulled on the jacket, opened the door and crept out as quietly as he could. Destiny could no longer be delayed.

To Bring You My Love (section 10)

Still not the thing but a little bit closer. I can see Sebastian. I can’t see Lana. She is hiding from me. Why is she hiding from me?


Lana isn’t the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Remember I have spent hundreds of years studying the human kind in all its subtle variations. I have witnessed in my not so idle curiosity many, many beautiful beings, both female and male. I am well-studied in the subtle shapes, angles and postures that render a person beautiful. My love for Lana transcends the physical, though she is, I must tell you, a wonderful, generous sight.

Though she is beautiful. It was not her beauty that captured me at first. It was laughter. I might never have even noticed her if it were not for her laugh. How many times had I seen her, shared space with her in the sanctuary and never noticed? I could not say. But it was her laughter, strong, forceful, inappropriate that caught my attention.

She was alone in the sanctuary at midday, praying in a room full of short candles, her head bent in solitude. And the intent with which she held herself, the posture of one who is grieving or wrestling with some secret burden. The muttering phrases. The susurrations, soft and unceasing. And then, when one might expect a pang of grief, a wail of despair, there lifted the brash rupture of laughter. It tore the silence. Shattered the stillness. She started laughing and could not seem to stop.

I walked over to her. I could not help myself, my errand entirely forgotten. I was drawn to her in a place beneath thought.

“What’s funny?” I asked. She startled, not realizing that anyone had entered the room.

She looked up at me with eyes bright with tears and there was the mix of humor and sadness in her eyes. And I could not say in that moment if she was more happy or more sad. She was both and embodied both perfectly and I was, quite against my will or expectation, captivated by the elegant contradiction of this woman in this church on this day.

She looked around, surprised to find me standing there, wondering who else she might have disturbed.

“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to bother anyone.”

And she kept watching me, recognizing without saying the strangeness that was in me. It is a thing that happens sometimes when I choose to show myself. The people who see me realize on some level that the figure they are seeing is not quite right. That something about me does not add up. And yet, to her credit, she lowered her gaze, apologized again. “I didn’t mean to disturb anyone.”

“You didn’t disturb me,” I told her. “I heard laughter. One doesn’t often hear laughter in here. I wanted to meet the person making such a wonderful sound.”

To Bring You My Love (section 9)

I made a promise that I would send each night’s words out as a way to keep accountability, to keep myself moving forward. And tonight you will see what happens when threads don’t line up. There is a hiccup as I try to meet Lana for the first time. I had not expected to meet her praying in a church during lunch break. I don’t know what she is doing there. But this is what it looks like when the story loses a thread. Searching. Contradiction. Searching.


She wasn’t much to look at. Thin face lined with anxiety. Big nervous eyes that moved constantly in search of things that could not be seen. She was a nervous person with arms and hands that never seemed to stop moving or be at rest.

She was not a particularly devout person, though she was praying in chapel during her lunch break. Alone except for the old women who came to restock the candles, trim the wicks, dust the railings, smooth the sacristy cloth.

Lana did not speak to these women, silently willing them to disappear so she could be completely alone with her difficulty. She did not belong here. She was raised Catholic but had fallen out of church while still in high school and had never managed to fall back in.

It was a man. It was always a man. That was the problem. From one miserable relationship to the next, each man more disappointing and diminishing than the one before. It was pathetic, really. The way her life moved from sequence to sequence without ever really seeming to stop and wonder at what she was doing. It was tiresome, tedious. Lana hated being here, prostrating herself every day at noon but she knew no other way. It was change she sought most fervently and afternoon prayer was the only avenue she knew to affect change.

The priest approached her once, to ask if he might help her in some way. He could see she was obviously distressed. He was young and meant well-enough, Lana could see but he was frail himself and could not easily help her carry the load she bent beneath.

What I mean to say is her father is sick and she loves her father more than anyone and is desperate for someone to find a cure, some doctor, some researcher, some priest. And so she has come seeking miracles. And the brief respite that comes from finding a silent corner in the world where people are busy all around you but they do not bother to notice or interfere and you can disappear easily into plain sight. And she is praying for deliverance though she is not specific in what she is asking. Sometimes she thinks she is asking for a cure, complete and full remission. No apologies. Just a full reversal of nature and the bitter course of sickness sewn in her father’s veins. And sometimes deliverance is the wish for his to be released and the prayers take the shape of death wish. There are no words but she wishes in such times for death to release them. Her heart prays for death to take him. And then, she prays for death to take her. And then she feels sorry about the whole thing and prays for forgiveness and tries to convince God, herself, that she is grateful. That she appreciates the extra time with her sick and dying father. But that part simply is not true. Her father is already gone. His body just hasn’t accepted the fact of it yet. And Lana is caught in the twilight, waiting for him to draw the last final heave. To kiss that cheek one last time. To say “I love you” and know that everything that needed to be said has been said. And yet he lingers and she keeps vigil, praying to a God she believes may be cold and wicked, praying for the deliverance no one is supposed to seek.

To Bring You My Love (Section 8)

More words on this weird little tale. Read from the start here.


They settled into a Waffle House, where Frieda watched Sebastian eat the tallest stack of pancakes she had ever seen. Followed by a plate of eggs, bacon and toast. Followed by a bowel of fruit, two bowls of oatmeal and a seemingly endless carafe of coffee.

“That’s amazing. How long has it been since you’ve eaten?’’

Sebastian tried to answer with this mouthful. Smiled. Chewed and swallowed. Took a long drink of coffee. Then a small burp.

“Long time,” he said at last. “I’ve never been this hungry before. Never really been hungry at all. We don’t eat where I come from. This is incredible. This sense of filling the body with tastes and energy.”

Frieda just nodded.

“I am sorry you were scared. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Frieda nodded again, watching Sebastian study the array of empty plates with obvious satisfaction.

“What are you?” she asked. Which was a related but very different question than Where are you from?

“I can tell you that, but its probably better that I tell you everything. That way you can understand.”

“Okay. Go ahead,” Frieda told him.

Sebastian motioned for the waitress to bring more coffee. He poured the last of the current carafe into his cup. Swallowed and savored. He opened his mouth to speak. Closed it. When he opened it again, his most incredible story spilled out.


Your people have many different names for what I am. Angel. Seraphim. Courier. All of these have a kind of truth in them. My people have a specific name for what I am, but this tongue cannot pronounce it. My kind were created, just like your kind, to serve. Though who or what we were made to Serve I cannot say. I have never seen Him. He does not show Himself to such as I, though my mother tells me I must be patient, that we each were made to serve Him and each will see Him in due time. This from my mother, who is millennia old. Any my father, two millennia and a half. And my grandparents, five millennia each if they are a year.

And I am still young. Only six hundred years in the way you measure time. I am just a child in the way my people account time. But I remember looking down at the age of Great Churches. I remember the Plagues, the Bonfires, the Age of Mighty Ships.

I have been watching with such interest and enthusiasm. I have made myself a scholar. I have made your people my study. And I have watched with such keen attention. Such interest. My family worried that I might eventually fall into disgrace. They were right to worry. It was inevitable, I think now. My fall was destined to happen. I had become infected with an ailment uncommon among my people. An incurable sickness that robs the immortal of their joy and their certainty. I had become curious.

I am what you might call an Inbetweener. I was created to travel between the worlds, your world and mine, carrying important messages and the occasional sacred relic back and forth. I had been between so many times before, each time delivering my message, depositing my relic in some secret place, and each time bringing back with me some trivial little token, some small trophy back from your world to mine. I made these objects my study. I kept my mind bent on them, obsessively poring over each in what few private moments I could steal for myself. I made these objects my textbook. They were my learning. And they made me desperate to know and understand the people who had made them.

And it was on such a trip that I made my fatal mistake. I fell in love with Lana.

I was coming down to retrieve a sacred relic. A minor statue the priest had left locked in the vestibule closet. It had served the people well, having been prayed over for a hundred years. It had brought good luck, peaceful lives and bountiful crops to those who held it. It was an insult we could not bear to have it gathering dust in some forgotten church closet. And so, I was coming to retrieve it. To carry it home where it could serve its true purpose and derive power from the presence of those beyond faith.

And that’s when I saw her, praying at the altar. So intent. So fervent.


I saw her and knew, right away, I had to be right beside her.

To Bring You My Love (section 7)

More words. Want to read from the start? Here’s a Google doc with the entire story (so far).


And now Frieda is standing in a daze, looking from Sebastian to her phone and back to Sebastian as she presses numbers with clumsy thumbs. Her hands shaking so badly she can’t dial the simple three digits without messing up.

She cursed. Cursed again.

“Why did you get out of the fucking car?” she yelled. “I was just trying to help. You should have let me help.”

Sebastian reached up to steady her hands. “I am grateful,” he said, a small smile forming. “You have been most kind. Most generous.”

“You need an ambulance. You could be hurt. That car flipped you really hard. You should dead.”

“I’m not,” he told her. “I can’t.” Though strictly speaking that last claim was uncertain. The times before Sebastian had known himself to be invulnerable while traveling in this realm, this body and mind unbreakable. And yet, this was all new experience. He was no longer traveling through this realm. Now he belonged here. Certainly, his body had limits. He had no idea what they might be.

“I’m not hurt,” he said again, although that was not strictly true. His entire body pulsed head to toe as if licked from inside by an angry flame. The pain was dull, pervasive. “I’ve had worse.” And that also was true. His body still wrecked from his punishing fall.

“I’m calling an ambulance,” she said again, opening her phone.

“Don’t,” he said, taking the phone from her. “You were right before. I’m not from here.”

“Undocumented? They still have to look at you. They have to fix you.”

“No. I’m not from here.” Sebastian tried to stand but his legs collapsed under his weight. Frieda caught him, eased him back onto the pavement. Realizing they were still standing in the middle of the road in the dead of night on the edge of town, she looked around for other cars. A few passed here and there along the interstate but the side loads and ramp were empty.

“Come over here.” She guided him to thin patch of gravel and grass on the road shoulder. “I shouldn’t be moving you. If you have internal bleeding, moving is very bad.”

“I’m not from here,” he said again, lifting his shirt. “I have suffered much worse.” He turned to show Frieda his bare back. “See.”

Even in the dim sodium light, Frieda could see the raw, jagged scars of flesh where Sebastian’s wings had recently been. The scars rose from Sebastian’s back like cold, purple mountains.

Frieda leaned in closer to get a better look.

“What are you?” she asked.

“I’m not from here,” he said again.

“Where exactly are you from?”

“Much farther than Europe.” He smiled and then actually laughed. Laughter was a feeling he had forgotten in his previous home. That high, cold ceiling was not a place of laughter. It was a place of serene thought and reverent reflection. It felt good to laugh. Once Sebastian started, he did not know how to stop.

Frieda was staring, her eyes wide, mouth open, as Sebastian gained control of himself.

“I don’t understand,” she told him.

“I can explain,” he said.

Frieda looked down at the place where Sebastian had recently lain. There was glass and a bit of shattered plastic from the car that hit him. There was no blood. There was no sign of injury.

“Okay. Explain.”

Sebastian smiled again. Strangely enough, he looked to Frieda as if he might actually be happy.

“I will. But not here. Further up the road.”

Frieda nodded.

Sebastian moved toward her car, but the first steps were unsteady and he nearly pitched over. Once again, Frieda caught him.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

Sebastian shook his help. “No. Not pain. Balance. It takes a lot of concentration here to stand or walk. I lose focus.”

Frieda nodded, not understanding.

“Help me to the car,” he said.

“Of course.”

To Bring You My Love (section 6)

A work in progress. You can find the rest here: Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5


Frieda edged the car down the exit ramp and along the edge, slowing gradually, unsure where or how to stop. They were into the city limits now, the concrete and orange sodium lights stretching up like spires. The crisp, hard glare of billboard light. And the garish neon of pawn shops, bail bonds men, beer joints and laudromats where no person ever went expecting to get there clothes clean.

“Here? You sure?”

“Here. It isn’t far,” Sebastian said searching for any landmark to help orient. Everything was so strange and savage from here.

“Look. You’re plenty weird, and I’m not sure you’ve got any clue what you’re doing but I think you’re harmless. And I hope you find your girl and that she is glad to see you and everybody lives happily ever after. But I really don’t feel good about leaving you right here. People get mugged. People get stabbed. Let me take you a further bit up the road. Buy you some dinner. Give you time to make a plan.”

Sebastian opened his door. “You are very kind. When I tell Lana of the kindness you have shown me, she will join me in blessing your name. But I must be going now.” He stepped out of the car. “Thank you.”

“Okay. Whatever,” Frieda told him. Watching Sebastian take to his feet, unsteady, blinking as if completely dazed and dazzled by the confused spectacle of light and color. Sebastian shook his head as if to clear it. Rolled his eyes, as if he might pass out. “Take care,” she told him and pushed the car into gear. Frieda drove further down the ramp, watching Sebastian in her rear view mirror, staggering the wrong way across the road. And a car coming too fast in the opposite lane and those cockeyed headlights sweeping the shadow and the sickening moment she saw shape and shadow connect and Sebastian’s body fly over the hood of the speeding car.

She stopped. Jumped out of her car, left idling. Sebastian lying in a crumpled mass in the middle of the road. And the stillness of the other car as the driver checked every mirror. The door opened, closed, opened again, closed. And then the brake lights glare, dim, as the car pulls away, slowly at first and then with sudden gust of speed. And Frieda is cursing and hyperventilating and trying to catch the letters and numbers of the license plate but everything is happening much too fast and she can’t stop looking at the heap that is Sebastian’s body on the pavement. And she is cursing the driver of the car and she is cursing Sebastian and she is cursing herself for being unable to just mind her own business and she is calling Sebastian’s name as she is fumbling with the cover of her flip phone and she leans down, expecting Sebastian’s face to be crushed and bloody but he is laying there looking up at her, exasperated, astonished. “Perhaps I should accept your kind offer. A little further up the road,” he groaned. “Dinner would be a very good idea.”