When Marly exhorts Grace to join her in Las Vegas, to make up for the years they have been lost to each other, Grace takes a leap of faith and goes. Although Marly is not entirely honest about her intentions, neither woman anticipates that enlarging Grace’s world will magnify her ability to sense the suffering of others—or that she will begin to heal wounds by swallowing her own pain and laying her hands on the afflicted.
This gift soon turns darker when the truth of Marly’s life—and the real reason she ended her friendship with Grace—pushes the boundaries of loyalty and exposes both women to danger.
Jordan E. Rosenfeld learned early on that people prefer a storyteller to a know-it-all. She channeled any Hermione-esque tendencies into a career as a writing coach, editor and freelance journalist and saves the Tall Tales for her novels. She earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of the books, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books) and Write Free! Attracting the Creative Life with Rebecca Lawton (BeijaFlor Books). Jordan’s essays and articles have appeared in such publications asAlterNet.org, Publisher’s Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazine. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio. She lives in Northern California with her Batman-obsessed son and Psychologist husband.
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Giveaway:When I look up, I see that I’m in front of a gallery. The photo in the window display—as big as the entire square of glass, is of a woman, naked except for black underwear, her body classically hourglass, hugging herself as she looks down a row of books in a tiny library, lit by one tiny, mushroom-shaped lamp.I shake off coffee from my hands, toss the empty cup into the garbage can on the sidewalk, and enter the gallery as though it was my destination all along. Every photo, each one nearly as big as me, is a black and white of people’s backs standing in states of partial dress before different corridors—a young boy in pajama bottoms looking down the dark hallway of a home framed by family pictures, ostensibly at night, lit only by the moon. An elderly person in a hospital gown, knobby edges of spine showing through—it’s impossible to tell if the subject is male or female—staring down a hallway marked “surgery.”“Do you like them?” a voice at my right ear says suddenly, and I jerk around, glad the speaker is on my good side. The squeak of surprise comes out of me before I can stop myself. I know he’s a man because of his deep voice, but I’m looking into a cartoon page, an ancient map—I’m not sure frankly what I’m seeing, so bold and all-consuming are the tattoos upon his face. There’s not a centimeter of actual skin left that isn’t inked. The design is somewhere between aboriginal and comic book. Bright blue, green and red—black stripes that look like skid marks left by a car, symbols crowding the spaces between the lines. His dark green eyes blinking out of the face make him look as though he’s peering up at me from beneath a child’s toy chest.If he’s as surprised by the terrain of my face, he doesn’t register it, or perhaps surprise is simply lost in a face like his.Fortunately, Ma raised me to be polite. My nod is so vigorous my neck muscles pinch. “I do like the photos.”“My show’s almost over. Glad you got to see them.” He sweeps a hand around the gallery.“Oh, they’re yours!” I point at one dumbly.The tattoos over his top lip rise to meet those of his cheeks, and I realize he’s smiling.“Gus.” He puts out a hand and I chuckle, both because it is so smooth and unblemished by ink, and to hide my own anxiety at showing my thumb.“Grace.” I shake quickly, and detect a strong, kind energy in him that makes me feel instantly at ease, releasing my hand before my serpent gets too curious.“Why do you photograph them from behind?” I ask.He gazes at me for a long moment, and I force myself not to trace every image—Egyptian ahnks, God’s eyes, the infinity loop, all vibrating just slightly with the life in his cheeks.“This series is about shame,” he says. “Hiding and fear, and frailty.”
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