A short excerpt from my novel.

Because I am tired ( and feeling a bit tapped out on the fresh blog topic front) I decided to post a few paragraphs from the novel I’m working on. Because I am chilly (and regreting that I didn’t have one last bonfire before it turned cold) I chose this snippet:

(Lizzy is burning yard waste after a day spent working outdoors.)

Lizzy’s body unkinked as she watched the blaze grow. When the logs had caught well, she stood to add the final fuel—the pile of willow whips. Sweet, white smoke billowed as the flames worked to ignite the green wood. She retreated to her lawn chair. The fire’s kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, yellows and blues lulled her into stillness.

As the fire matured to low flames springing from cracked, ash-covered wood, she slumped with her eyes half shut and her fingers laced loosely over her belly, allowing her thoughts to wander over the accomplishments of the day. She didn’t startle when she heard her name in the hissing and popping of the fire.

Her gaze drifted up from the embers to the coiling smoke that rose toward the dark sky. Within the coils, a figure came into focus. Lizzy’s head dropped back. Her skull clunked against the aluminum frame of her chair, but she barely registered the thud. Her hands remained, numb and brick-like, on her abdomen. Under them, her stomach moaned and rolled unpleasantly.

She studied the hovering form. It … no, she … appeared to be made of the smoke, yet concealed within it. The light cast by the dying fire seemed pale and thin compared to the figure’s own, internal, illumination. She was a creature made up of layers of light. But it wasn’t as though she glowed—rather, she dispelled the dark.

Again the figure breathed her name. A string of faint words, lost in the hissing of the fire, followed. Lizzy tried to decipher the movements of the pale, blurred lips. The apparition frustrated her attempt at lip reading by moving her left hand across her face—the wrist encased in a tight cuff … but now bare, as the milky bell-sleeve of a robe fell back—in a somehow familiar gesture. She was tucking a lock of smoke behind her right ear.

Lizzy wanted to move, to speak, to drop her head between her knees and breath hard and fast. Instead she remained quiescent, watching as the smoke-woman stepped down and toward her, using the shimmer above the flames like an uneven staircase. The warmth of the fire was nothing compared to the sensations flooding her body. Knife-edged heat was stabbing out from her core, boring through her thighs and arms, burrowing into her extremities. An urge to run coursed through her, but she could not even twitch backward into the webbing of the chair. I’m frozen, she thought with horrified clarity, frozen in place, and about to combust.

The smoke-woman advanced smoothly, and probably slowly, but the distinction between minutes and seconds had skewed for Lizzy. She had ample time to contemplate her bad joke, her ill-chosen thought. She wanted any word to describe her state except frozen.

Good night. Sweet dreams.