I recently tripped over to Asheville, N.C., for a quietly celebratory weekend with my mom. My birthday and Mother’s Day often coincide, so it’s nice to take a weekend, one-or-two-off, to commemorate these days.
We stayed in a discount hotel room near the interstate, where we drank Biltmore wine and ate Mexican ground chocolate–curiously sandy-seeming–and visited Biltmore Estate. It was beautiful, as always, as well as intimidating, overbearing, inspiring…all the things a modern castle should be, really.
We made our way to downtown Asheville, where Mom had her first taste of Thai food. I also convinced her to try seaweed as a snack, earlier, which she roundly rejected after one bite, so I’m surprised she still trusted me as a new food guide. All went well gastronomically. We passed musicians and fringe-dwellers smoking pot on the sidewalks, one very, very friendly girl in her twenty-somethings skipping and squealing hello to everyone she met. In retrospect, one of the least eventful trips to Asheville I’ve ever had.
I’m still at work, high-fiving that bald guy in the pit, pressing out the story for book two in the Mermaid Underground series. The first in the series, Devolution, is available on Kindle. Here is an excerpt to whet your whistle:
Delorse could breathe underwater. She knew it. No, not that…she could breathe the water. The trick was, she had to—just so—take a shallow breath in, a sip, really. You didn’t gulp the water into your lungs like you would air. No, no, you had to sip it, only enough to let the water slide around the skin of the lungs on the inside, just enough to coat the little bubbles in there, the alveoli, that’s right.
Water was really heavy air, after all. It’s heavy air. So she sipped it. She kissed it, like whiskey, and it burned like whiskey. She pursed her lips and put them to the liquid. Pulled some into her mouth, into her lungs. She knew how it would be, hadn’t she done it before? She’s sure she had. It will be like smoking, she thought. She tried that once, smoking. It hadn’t been as glamorous as the movie stars made it seem, but still, after a while…not bad. Breathing the water would be exhilarating, burning as whiskey did as it scorched down her throat and into her breasts. She’d only tried whiskey once, to see what it was like, after her teenaged son had swiped a bottle from his father’s liquor cabinet and gotten profoundly drunk years ago.
She coughed and sputtered. It did not scorch like whiskey. The water seared, she was suffocating; she was drowning. She threw up, heaving, hacking.
Jim walked in and found his mother there on the floor of the dim bathroom, next to the tub full of water. She shuddered and wheezed.
“You have to just sip it,” she whispered. She was covered in vomit and water.
“Ally!” he yelled, “Ally! Get in here, I think Mom’s sick!” His sister ran in to the bathroom, stopping short when she saw their mother on the floor.
“Ah, shit,” she said, “Not again.”