The Reading Guru is hosting an excerpt from “Just a Curtain” today. We hop you enjoy the excerpt!
Emma’s grip on the seat was growing so fiercely tight that her fingernails began to bleed. Jackson glanced over, wondering why she’d gotten so quiet. “Miss Hammer! Your fingers are bleeding!” he tried to get her attention.
Seeing… “That’s it!” she cried out loud. “That’s it!” and she was at last face to face with not just one Emma in her mind’s eye, but an army of Emmas. They scowled at her for looking at them—just like John and George and Annabel had looked at her after she yelled through the speakers at Gerble. They all started talking at once! Some yelling, some whispering, some prattling on and on about nonsensical topics; things that were so disjointed, so disconnected she couldn’t possibly follow any of it, try as she might to strain her attention to follow the cacophony drowning her, washing her out of their sight. She shook her head and the voices got louder. She tried looking away but they—She—was everywhere now.
She cried out loud, “I give up! I can’t do this!”
Jackson brought the transport to rest near the lifter that would set the block into place. “Miss Hammer? What is it you can’t do? Why do you need to surrender?”
His face was peering at her with sincere concern in his expression. She squinted through her own tears and tried to smile at him. Her heart was suddenly so calm. This man in front of her was so warm and kind. “Sorry, daytime nightmare. I just remembered something I’ve buried in my mind forever. I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m alright. Really,” she tried to reassure him. He was visibly skeptical but he smiled sympathetically.
“I’ll fly you up to the mall, if you wish. You should really rest, Miss Hammer,” he encouraged.
He set the mega-flying-carpet down near the square and Emma kissed his cheek as she leapt out of the seat. “Thank you Jackson, you’re the greatest,” she called, surprised at her own sincerity and genuine gratitude. She ran as fast as she could across the square and raced up the steps of the Center to go and find Master Ru.
“I’ve got to get some perspective on this! I know I’m not who I thought I was at all!” she sputtered out to Ru as fast as the words would form.
Willa overheard and sidled over close to them. “I’ll ask you again, as I did that first time we met, remember?” she whispered to Emma. “Who are you Emma Isabel Hammer?”
Emma looked between the comforting faces of her friend and her mentor. “I… I am legion. There’s not a single person inside me that can claim to be me—I mean all of me. I have manipulated, deceived, connived, cheated, twisted reality until it was bent to my bidding, tortured other people’s esteem, but worse than all of that…” she took a deep breath and enunciated the words carefully. “I have lied to myself about myself for so long that: I believed it! I see myself in the mirror—that’s me alright, I say, and believe it. I manage a little victory or success at something I pursued and I pat myself on the back; I did that I praise myself—and I believe it! I have ignored every single hint, every nuanced tinge of any taint of a suggestion that I am not absolutely in charge of my every situation—AND I BELIEVED IT ALL! When the truth is…” her voice fell into a whispered confession that she dared not make, but something in her compelled her to finish the statement, forced her to confess.
“I don’t know who I am. I am a myriad of me’s, and I don’t like any of them!” she sagged after she got the words out of her mouth at last. She felt as light as a feather and if should a breeze waft through the room she was sure it would carry her away.
Willa put her hand on Emma’s hand. Master Ru took a deep breath and her eyes gazed into Emma’s eyes and Emma felt utterly bare—and she didn’t mind in the least! That was a new sensation.
“Sweetheart,” Ru began, “There are only a handful of individuals in all the cosmos who can repeat with honesty for themselves what you have just said to us this hour.” Emma heard the words but was having difficulty making them make sense. Master Ru waited for Emma’s understanding to become firm before continuing. Emma nodded at last.
Just a Curtain
Author: J.L. Lawson
Genre: Literary Fiction, Adventure, Coming of Age
“If you had virtually unlimited resources and a pristinely practicable imagination, and a knack for turning air into butter, what do you suppose you’d do next?”
—Tera Elphinstone, Drummond Group Director
Just A Curtain is the remarkable, fast-paced gateway to both The Elf series and the grander epic recorded in J. L. Lawson’s other works: The Donkey and The Wall trilogy and The Curious Voyages of the Anna Virginia Saga.
Just A Curtain chronicles the remarkable life and achievements of Dashiel Drummond and the capable group of people he gathers around him to make a change for the better in the world in which he finds himself. A coming of age story, orphaned at sixteen, he rises through the angst of adolescence to the challenge of fulfilling the promise of his potential—from ranch hand and welder to the pre-eminent global entrepreneur and builder of starships.
I am a father, a grandfather and a “Came-to-Writing-Professionally-Late-in-Life” kinda guy. After rewarding careers as a Land Planner, Standards Engineer, Technical Writer/Graphic Designer, and as an Educator (High School and College Literature/Composition) I settled down at the laptop and began storytelling for a living. My wife and I live in the Cross-timbers country of North Texas and spend as much time seeing this amazing country, its National Parks and Forests, as we can manage.
My own journey has taken me both far afield and deep within. It is a journey, no doubt, similar in nature to many seekers’ travels who have come before me. However, an unconditional commitment to the work is the trait of only a handful of those who set their aim very high indeed, and then to find a guide who knows the way through this rarely known land, is without question what all others have equally sought. Some gave up the search, some became distracted by the lure of other interests, many became satisfied with the knowledge they had already gleaned from their initial searches. There is, in the end, only so much gold.
At Voyager Press: http://bit.ly/VPJust-Curtain
At Amazon: http://bit.ly/Just-Curtain