My “professional” bio says I am currently working on the sequel to The Red Kimono, and that’s true–partly. But in the last year, I’ve been drawn to finish a book I started almost three years ago, called Mo’s Shadow.
The book is based on stories that a dear friend of mine used to tell me about life on the lake and his friendship with a little girl who lived across the street. Two years after he began telling me those stories, he took his own life.
Here’s a brief synopsis:
Eleven-year old Mo Winston is mad at the world. She’s mad at her alcoholic father. She’s mad at her bratty-Mama’s-Boy brother, Shiloh. Most of all, she’s mad at Mama for making her move away from Daddy and all of her friends.
She’s pretty sure she’s the maddest person in the world, that is, until she meets Mr. Dean, the mean old man who lives across the street with Lulu, his vicious-looking Mastiff.
Determined to crack Mr. Dean’s curmudgeonly shell, she embarks on secret snooping expeditions. Her curiosity intensifies when, while peeking through Mr. Dean’s window one day after he took off on his Harley, she sees a picture of a little boy on the mantle.
Of course, she’s plenty afraid of being caught, but her father always told her to face her fears. Day by day, Mo learns Mr. Dean is an old softy. Though, like her father, he drinks too much. He, too, is mad at the world and in Mo’s opinion, for good reason. In ways Mr. Dean will never know, he helps Mo to understand herself as well as her own father.
With a friend at the lake, life is better and she’s not so angry at the world. Mr. Dean teaches her how to bake an apple pie, how to meditate and best of all, how to sail. He even plays catch with her and bratty brother, Shiloh.
But one day, a sailing accident changes everything when Mo’s mother tells her she cannot spend time with Mr. Dean anymore. This sets off a series of events that lead to Mr. Dean’s death.
This is where to story has remained for the last two days. Here are the last couple of sentences I wrote:
The realization sucked the breath out of her, like a silent scream, though it rang in her ears louder than anything she’d ever heard before.
Mr. Dean is dead.
It’s been hard to get past that last sentence. How do I end the book, when to me, this was the end? And yet, there’s a part of me that knows it can’t end there.
So, I’ve been stuck.
Today, while listening to Pandora, I heard this song by David Gray, a favorite of my friend’s and mine when we dated–more than a dozen years ago:
It takes a lot of love
It takes a lot of love my friend
To keep your heart from freezing
To push until the end
My oh my
And now, I know how to end the story of Mo and Mr. Dean. But, for now, that’s my secret. (Planned release is June 2017.)