When I first began writing Song of the Limberlost, it was only meant to be a short story; the expansion of a flash piece I’d written in a workshop. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that this could blossom into something much greater than 3,000 words. So I scratched the short story and started over. As my storyline and characters continue to develop, I’m seeing that this really is a reflection of my love for the work of Gene Stratton-Porter. One of the things I admire most about this woman is that while writing wasn’t her true passion, her words and voice made it near impossible to miss the devotion and love she held for the Limberlost. So in a manner, my novel is an ode to her work; one obsession reflecting another. If you are familiar with her writings, particularly Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost, you’ll see many nods of recognition to various elements found in those books. While I’m also working on a YA novel, this one has become a bit of a pet project.
For those who are curious about the flash piece that birthed this baby, you’ll find it below.
She shadowed the edge of the swamp, her thin blouse clinging to the damp skin of her chest. Despite the signs of autumn found in the dangling crimson leaves and bright berry clusters, it felt like mid-summer. The intense heat and low branches had played havoc with her hair; leaving a disheveled nest that she half expected would attract birds. The heavy wading boots threatened to pull her down into the clinging sea of inky blackness dappled with duckweed.
Determined to follow the 7-mile trail around the wetland that had claimed her father’s life, she’d found herself skirting closer to the edge of the quagmire the further she walked. Aware that she was toying with fate in an intoxicating game of risk, her breath quickened and a sudden rush of mad laughter escaped her throat. She’d never understood the pull her father felt for this bog, but as she’d immersed herself in his world, a slow understanding had taken root.
At first, every minute had been agony. The plethora of unknown sounds and the heart-stopping boom of a well-camouflaged Bittern had her sprinting for the comfort of her jeep, not five minutes in. She’d stared at the swamp with long-held hatred before mustering enough courage to match her determination.
On her second attempt, the beauty of the swamp began to reveal itself. The velvety heads of Cattails bobbed towards her in a show of welcome, and shimmering dragonflies hovered ahead like winged guides for her journey. And though the marsh grasses began an eerie sway against the ripples of the wind, the silvery threads of gossamer webs shimmered in the late afternoon sun.
Near the end of the trail, when she reached the site that marked his resting place, she found a patch of solid ground beyond the footpath and looked out at the mire. As she reflected on that night and all its possibilities of chance, she imagined that under the luster of moonlight the swamp had taken on a luminescent quality. This ephemeral form had lured her father in and swallowed him whole in a slow dance of life and death. Standing to complete her journey, a small crinkle formed at the corner of her mouth as she smiled. Despite the shadow that would forever overcast its grandeur, the marsh held the one she loved most, and he had died in the tranquil arms of his lover.
© 2015 Taryn King All Rights Reserved