CALLING OUT THE DEAD

In late summer of 1981 my wife and I were on a motorcycle trip to north Arkansas. Our departure from Shreveport was under the auspice of rain, and sure enough the bottom soon dropped out.

Eventually we drove out of the downpour and the next day we found ourselves in Jasper, Arkansas. It was a hot day. Humid. The kind where clothes your clothes stick to you. And, to boot, Cathy was two-three months pregnant with a child later to become our daughter. She sat on a curb and ate a high-protein snack that, according to her readings, would help our baby’s brain develop at the current stage of pregnancy. While she fought the heat and nausea to feed our child-to-be neurons, I walked around the square and down the side streets.

I came back after a bit and said, “I’m going to write a story about this town.” At that time, I hadn’t really put the writer’s pen in my hand, but I somehow knew it and I were destined to be joined till death do us part.

Santa Fe Turley Forge 062

Thirty-two years later, this unborn child has lent a keen eye and artist’s heart to help edit the story I have been developing for almost twenty years. In this time it has grown from an essay, to a short story and, finally, to a novel first written in past tense as an older woman looking back over her life and now told in first person, present tense by a young girl transitioning from childhood to adolescence.

Along the way, I have learned a fabulous amount about lightning, blacksmithing, life in north Arkansas, and the Korean War, all central elements to the story. And, the bonds between a mother and daughter, both in the story and in real life, are evident.