It was absolutely lovely to find out, just a few days ago, that EQUINOX won first place in The Delaware Press Awards. The book will now compete at the national level!
EQUINOX is a beautiful collection of tales, and features a glorious cover created by my life-long friend, Kristen Bossert. If you need art or graphics of any kind, Kristen is your go-to source!
One thing I particularly liked about EQUINOX, in addition to the cover, was that we asked the authors to add a preface to each piece discussing how the piece came to be.
Here is a peek at my own piece, from the (now) award-winning EQUINOX. . .
EQUINOX is an anthology focused loosely on the idea of spring, and, for me, spring always makes me think of times gone by, shabby chic decor, formal women with floral names: the time of my grandmother. I tried to highlight my old timey feel about spring by juxtaposing that against a modern backdrop for my story of Heliotrope, a modern woman but named after a flower and possessing a vintage sensibility. Although the action takes place in a Chipotle restaurant, our heroine is an old-fashioned lady, and the story’s vocabulary features some old-fashioned language the reader may not be familiar with such as oscullable (kissable), widdendream (dreamy frenzy), malagrugrous (dismal), illecebrous (enticing), degust (taste and savor), brabble (argue about petty things), gorgonized (paralyzed), gyre (ring/circle), and sonance (sound).
I hope Heliotrope’s widdendream transports and delights you as it does her.
Despite the apricity of this particular midday Heliotrope was finding it difficult to stay warm as she ate a highly unsatisfying late lunch inside a very malagrugrous and cold Chipotle. The food, the restaurant’s decor, the vibe, none of it suited her. While she could appreciate the whole “industrial” thing as a thing, it wasn’t her thing. The walls were clad in metal; oh well, maybe it was fake metal, but it certainly looked real. The counters, the tables and stools, all looked and felt, metal, cold when her skin met their industrial skin, and all were the color of the pinto beans in her bowl, but where the beans were soft and yielding, the restaurant was not.
Of course she had to sit to eat. She wasn’t a person whose uncouth parents had raised her in a barn with the door left open. And she was not, also, a fan of climbing onto multistory stools to sit at tall tables and try to eat while her legs dangled beneath her like waiting clappers. Dead, spindly weight. It was hard to keep her clogs on, and, of course, Heliotrope always wore clogs, if for no other reason than that she had always worn clogs, at least since the 7th grade, and, in any case, they made a lovely horsey sort of clip clop when she walked down any hall lacking carpet, but a dignified clip clop, like a Tennessee Walking Horse, not a downtown carriage nag. Heliotrope had always been dignified.
However, as she bent over the bowl of pintos swimming in a vast sea of sour cream while seated at the high hat in the damn Chipotle, the clogs, dangling at the end of her pins, involuntarily swayed and whacked one another, and the noise they made was far too close to the “There’s no place like home” clicking of Judy Garland’s exquisite shoes. Sure, Heliotrope would take a day off from clogs to wear those fabulous shoes, but she hated the whole, “Wow, you had an astounding experience where you saved… everyone! Time to go home now and go back to being monochrome.” Clearly Frank L. Baum was no feminist. And Chipotle was no place for a lady to eat lunch. But Heliotrope was, most certainly, a feminist, and a lady, and a fairly illecebrous example of both.
Really, though, she was not here to cavil on to herself in a silent monologue about the establishment, and she worried that it was not good for her digestion to do so. She began to degust her meal, concentrating on the positives, like the gentle texture and subtle peppery taste of the aforementioned pinto beans. The problem with the positives were that they ignored the known fact that Heliotrope did not possess a constitution well-equipped to handle fast food of any kind, and this was her third time at this particular Chipotle this week. And, as had happened on the other two visits, it seemed that wherever she sat, people constellated at the same high hat as she, which she found encroaching.
On Tuesday a middle-aged couple had come into the establishment hand-in-hand, and had progressed through the cafeteria-style line in the same way, only to begin to brabble among themselves immediately upon perching at Heliotrope’s end of the communal seating. Heliotrope was somehow blind to how monsterful osculable she was, but the male portion of that couple was not. There was something of a young Penny Singleton about her which made many a man want to perform random feats of strength when in her presence. This one had been no different, lifting the heavy metal stools over his head and moving them into a different position, ostensibly to provide warmer seating for his good lady, but, though Heliotrope was blind to his ulterior motive, his good lady was not, brabbling ensued. Heliotrope hardly noticed beyond feeling that she wished the world was a bit emptier.
Today’s tablemates worked at the local Geek Squad, if their shirts were to be believed, and, with little reason to heft the heavy stools, as they were all male, and young, and equally able to heft the stools, they resulted to the lowest common denominator to try to win her attention, doing witless things with the plastic utensils, and kenching and cackling and slapping each other when they had success. Heliotrope’s eyes were fixed out the window on the dammed Coke truck that had been there as long as she had this particular day, and she bored into the red “O” with her vision, trying to encourage it to move, and trying to block out the kenching of the men with her concentration. She was starting to believe that this Coke truck had broken down, and would be there until the next day, and if it was, that would mean another bowl of beans for midday meal overmorrow, not something she contemplated with tranquility. The squad of geeks around her eventually gave up on this lovely but unreachable woman, and left to go to their next appointment, or to Jamba Juice, one being as much the same as the other in their world, but they did wonder at her fixation on the window as the left, looking over their shoulders at the lovely girl.
What brought Heliotrope to that Chipotle for three days that week was not the Coke truck, or the pinto beans, but was, in fact, the pediatrician’s office just across the parking lot. Heliotrope was a lady, but she did not enjoy the lady-like employment she had held for the past four years, keeping the records at the local town hall. She found that work bland, scentless, without piquancy, and stultifying. To be among the brambles, the milkweed, the morning glories, that was the deep desire of Heliotrope. And so, one day, she dared to take a half a day from her bank of personal time to visit all the locally-owned businesses, and to ask them, each one, if she could design their landscape for them, on spec. The pediatrician was the only one willing to give her a try, as all the businesses in town used the local firm made up of ancient family stock from their little county and saw no reason to change. To hire someone new, to look beyond hydrangeas and peaceful bamboo, would have been considered a radical, unnecessary, and disloyal choice in this community. But the pediatrician, in some ways viewing Heliotrope as an adolescent who needed encouragement, and in some ways tired of the unspoken county rules, decided to offer her this challenge, “Impress me by the time spring is here with something astounding in the front garden, and you’ve got the job.”
Heliotrope accepted the challenge, and had secretly gone to the office grounds for many nights in the preceding October, shivering in the chill as she surreptitiously removed little plots of the doctor’s turf and gently planted bulbs. The effect, when spring came, was to have had the patch in front of the door to the doctor’s building bloom, just in time for the Easter Holiday. The surprise was to be a double one for no one knew that she had been there throughout the fall, and Heliotrope had planted her bulbs among the grass to give the impression of an Easter basket full of lush colored eggs.
So here she sat, on absolute tenterhooks, trying to peak at the plot from the vantage of the Chipotle, where she hoped to see but not be seen, and here spring was, just two days away on her calendar, and Easter only a week after. She didn’t think the flowers were going to bloom in time, as she had not seen even one minuscule crocus or windflower when last she looked two days ago.
Does her garden bloom in time? Why don’t you buy a copy of this award-winning book and find out?