Siobhan – a ‘Garden of Heaven’ excerpt

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“Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey” is the story of a man’s spiritual journey through the mountains of Pakistan, the swamps of North Florida, the beaches of Hawaii, the waters of the South China Sea and the ivy-covered halls of an Illinois college as he attempts to sort out the shattered puzzle of his life.

In this excerpt, David Ward’s significant other, a woman well-practiced in the old Huna magic of Hawai’i, is ready to discuss the clues, if any, she found in his journals about who has been trying to kill him.

David sits on a fence post, a comfortable, familiar spot, and looks across the creek to the house. The creek is the same; the house has shrunk with time. Too perfectly symmetrical when it was new, the structure’s roofline, doors and walls have aged randomly and grown more natural into the place.

Complacent while Siobhan keeps the Komondor puppy inside, the remaining Dominique chickens peck at the hard path between the kitchen door and the clothes line. The path turns west into a gravel road that leads to an old house lying down in weeds and ruin where his grandparents lived until one became too frail and the other became too psychotic to be left alone, where they said that his mother was born on a cold January night in 1914, where lies and truths were sown and bore hybrid fruit.

Along the road between the houses, grey sheds linked by fences lean into the earth. Dry and empty, like old nooks and crannies and secret places, they were always the first full focus of spring–humid and rich as sea fog, dripping with the juices of birth and new life. Jayee’s timing was as precise as nature allowed. Today he would be moving the last of the lambs from the jugs to the bunch pen if he was on schedule, or the first of them if nature wasn’t.

From this vantage point, David sees the pros and cons of dreams; he views his visions from the other side, and—remembering everything that has happened between then and now and then and now and then and now—must decide how much of history is too broke to fix. Siobhan refuses to tell him who tried to kill him and why because he’s not ready to hear it, much less re-live it; Sikimí will take them back to the scene of the crime soon enough.

She steps out the back door carrying old notebooks, an envelope labeled remnants, and grandmother’s blue-on-white eight-pointed star quilt. The door slams, stirring memories. She smiles and her pony tail dances when she nods at the circle of box elders where she heads at a brisk walk.

In her khaki cargo shorts and light blue sleeveless crew shirt, she radiates a well-toned athletic health that sings of perfectly managed energy conceived in Aries fire and transformed into infinite zest down through her well-developed shoulders and sun-browned legs. Siobhan is Wind’s daughter. Grandmother would love her for that alone. It’s a matter of breath control, he thinks. When Siobhan is open to the world, she inhales those she meets into her presence, pulling them in with her smoky eyes and the fluid caresses of her hands. At such times, she drags out the first syllable of her name in a shhhhhhhhhh of light breezes. David heard that endearing shhhhhhhhhh when she ran into him like a pro-football lineman on the day they met. When Siobhan is closed to the world, she exhales those she meets outward beyond the reach of her hands. At such times, when there is no still escape from her eyes, she clips off the first syllable of her name into a harsh shh that shushes even the most determined people into quiet.

She flips the quilt out into an even rectangle and sits in the centre of it surrounded by Blue Horses and Silver Bears, knowing Katoya stood on that very spot in the tall bluebunch wheatgrass 33 years ago and told him the secret of the universe before they watched the stars rise into the sky. When he stops at the northern boundary of the eight-pointed starry night lying across the grass, Siobhan looks up from an open composition book as though she’s surprised, but pleased, to see him there.

–I’ve finished reading almost all your journals.

As he takes off his boots, he’s enveloped by the scent of her lavender bath soap. He shrugs. What is there to say? He feels naked in spite of her smile which is so unwaveringly natural it seems to be borne up out of the grass.

–You know almost everything, then, and you’re free to run for the hills, he says.

Siobhan frowns and looks at him with her eyebrows raised about as high as she can get them. She waves an older Blue Horse in his face.

–Talk like that chased Anne Hill away, didn’t it?

–It seemed a logical thing to say at the time.

–How logical does it seem now? she asks.

He sits next to her and studies her face while she watches the noisy water of the creek bunching up at the base of the limestone bedrock.

–Hell, I was looking for reassurance.

She turned toward him now and her breath was warm and sweet on his face.

–No need and you know it, she says and kisses him. When he starts to speak, to say some inane self-deprecating thing, she kisses him again. Shhhhhhhhhh, she whispers, Anne is Anne, Siobhan is Siobhan, and you and I are the yin and the yang fitting precisely together.

She hugs him, wrapping him snugly in lavender.

–I see what you mean, he tells her. This hug could easily lead to more, much more, but I think you have things to say.

–I do.

My publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing, interviewed me and posted the result in AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – Malcolm R. Campbell.

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