Song of the Limberlost

These are various excerpts from the current draft of Song of the Limberlost.


           There are certain constants in existence, which against all odds, continue to thrive with an unyielding persistence. These things we can be certain of, with a guarantee of absolute truth: that the sun will go on rising and setting, from the ashes of fire springs new life, with life comes death, and that when given, a parent’s love can defy all boundaries. But the greatest of all constants, and one that flies in the face of such unending continuity, is change. For Kate Porter, change had taken everything she knew and trusted about life, and handed it back to her in an unrecognizable tangle of grief.


             For a mother, helplessness falls second only to actually losing your child. To experience both simultaneously is nothing short of a living nightmare. For every question Kate asked, she received a possible scenario full of caveats. Christopher had willingly left with someone, but the amount of time since his disappearance wasn’t promising. For every day that a child is missing, the chances of finding them alive decrease. This was day four.


              Kate needed to do something, anything, to keep herself under control. The constant buzz of conversation, the endless possibilities, and the desperate demands for action were driving her mad. It began as a shouting command, slowed to a toe-tapping dictation, and finally settled into a fierce inner chant of, find him, find him, find him.

She did the only thing she could. She played. Withdrawing to her sanctuary, she bent over her cello and focused her thoughts and emotions into the bow. Flowing out of her and pouring into the room, she surrounded herself with the notes of her anguish, dread, and terror. As she cradled the instrument in her arms, she began rocking with the ebb and flow of the tempo. Bursts of dark, powerful bass wrangled with the penetrating clarity of indecisive resonance while solemn mournfulness wafted heavily through the air. A tremble gradually overtook her sway; the pitch and plunge of her body slowed to a ripple, and finally became the dry heaves of a tearless agony.


              The relationship between a parent and child is complex in ways that rival the mysteries of the universe. As adults, this connection becomes even more intricate, relying on pivotal elements and events that define and test the strength of the ties that bond. Questions arise that consider the uncertainty of personhood, of where a parent ends and the child begins. How much of who we are as adults is determined by who and how we are raised?


              He took her hand and delicately placed what appeared to be a small bundle of green and white leaves in the center of her palm.

“What is it?”

“A Luna cocoon. These are the moon moths of the Limberlost. It’s almost ready.”

“Umm, thanks?”

            “I’ll hang it in your room, so you can watch it emerge,” he said, planting a rare kiss on her forehead, before disappearing down the hall. She stared after him, ignoring the snickers of her friends.

The next morning she had been packing a bag for a sleepover when a movement in the vanity mirror caught her eye. The bundle of leaves was pulsing, as the creature within fought to make a hole. She watched in petrified terror, unsure what kind of miniature beastie might jump out at her. When the first long, slender leg emerged, followed quickly by another, she jumped back with a muffled shriek. Large, bushy antennae waved at her as the moth bucked and pulled itself forward, dragging a pursy white and green body heavily out of the cocoon. Finally free, the moth stilled, resting from the exertion. Kate slowly moved forward, curious about the down covered body that didn’t quite resemble a butterfly yet. Two small, creamy yellow wings rested on the moth’s back, about half the size of the large fluffy torso. Their pale edges were dark, as though stained with wine. Over the next twenty minutes, she watched the wings lengthen and expand, changing in color, and slowly uncurling to reveal silky jade lobes with tapering trailers. The delicate purple legs clung to the twig that held the broken cocoon, and touches of lavender revealed four eyespots.


             If there’s one thing about love that Kate was sure of, it’s that it made her stronger. It had sunk its teeth in, ripped her apart, and then stitched her back up with her own bleeding veins. Love makes all of us somewhat like Frankenstein’s monster; made up of broken bits and pieces of ourselves. But it also heals, cauterizing wounds with the searing heat of unmitigated acceptance.


© 2015 Taryn King  All Rights Reserved

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