Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TEETH Teaser, shall we?

how about the first chapter? 


At night, the ocean is so loud and so close that I lie awake, sure it's going to beat against the house's supports until we all crumble onto the rocks and break into pieces. Our house is creaky, gray, weather-stained. It's probably held a dozen desperate families who found their cure and left before we'd even heard about this island.

We are a groan away from a watery death, and we'll all drown without even waking up, because we're so used to sleeping through unrelenting noise.

Sometimes I draw. Usually I keep as still as I can. I worry any movement from me will push us over the edge. I don't even want to blink.

I feel the crashing building. I always do. I lie in bed with my eyes open and focus on a peak in my uneven ceiling and pretend I know how to meditate. You are not moving. You are not drowning. It's just rain. It's your imagination. Go to sleep.

That pounding noise is pavement under your feet, is sex, is your mother's hands on your brother's chest, is something that is not water.

It's not working, not tonight. I sit up and grab my pad and pen to sketch myself, standing. Dry.

Sometimes the waves hit the shore so hard that I can't even hear the screaming.

But usually I can. Tonight I can, and it hits me too hard for me to draw. I need to learn how to draw a scream.

I close my eyes and listen. I always do this; I listen like I am trying to desensitize myself, like if I just let the screams fill my ears long enough, I will get bored and I will forget and I will go to sleep.

It doesn't work. I need to calm down.

It's just the wind.

Not water. Not anyone. Go to sleep.

Some nights the screams are louder than others. Some nights they're impossible to explain away, like my mom tries, as really just the wind passing through the cliffs. “Like in an old novel,” she says. “It's romantic.” Her room doesn't face the ocean.

Fiona, down on the south end of the island, says it's the ghost, but Fiona's bag-of-bats crazy and just because we're figuring out some magic is real doesn't mean I'm allowed to skip straight to ghost in an effort to make my life either more simple or more exciting, God, what the fuck do I even want?

I should figure it out and then wish for it and see what happens. Who the hell knows? Magic island, after all.

Magic fish, anyway. They heal.

That's the real story, that's the story everyone believes, but it's hardly the only one that darts around.

There are creatures in the water no one's ever seen except out of the corner of his eyes.

The big house is haunted.

Maybe we're all haunted.

I only take the legends seriously at night. The house is rocking, and the stories are the only thing to keep me company.

Stories, me, and ocean, and however the hell many magic fish while my family sleeps downstairs and my real life sleeps a thousand miles away.

At home, I never would have believed this shit. I used to be a reasonable person. But now we're living on this island that is so small and isolated that it really feels like it's another world, with rules like none I learned growing up. We came here from middle America. We stepped into a fairy tale.

And my brother is better but isn't well, so color me increasingly despondent, magic fish.

Out in the ocean, the shrieks continue, as high and hollow as whistles. I get up and press my face against the window. My room is the highest part of our kneeling house.

The panes on my windows are thick and uneven. Probably the window was made by hand. Even if it weren't so dark, I'd still hardly be able to see. Everything's distorted like I'm looking through glasses that don't belong to me.

But I can just make out the waves, grabbing onto the shore with foamy fingers and sliding back into the surf. I squint long enough and make out white peaks in the dark water.

“Go to sleep,” I say.

I close my eyes and listen to the screams. I pretend it's my brother, my little brother, who has cystic fibrosis and this fucked-up chest and can't scream at all. Pretend this island has done the magic it was supposed to do, and he's okay. And we can go home.


leegomez said...


Magic fish, FTW!

Thank you!

I'm so excited! :)

(I'll quit exclaiming now:)

Brittany said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3<3<3<3 Can't wait for the rest!

Steve MC said...

Love the mystery of the third sentence, the desperate feeling of those haunted hours, the understated weight of the mother’s hands pounding on the brother’s chest, the layers of even more mystery of the screams and the island and how it's far more - and far more difficult - than they'd expected.

Just stunning, really.

Christa Desir said...

Holy crap. Wow. Just wow.

I need to learn how to draw a scream.

It's beautiful, H. Beautiful.

Farrah Penn said...

Holy crap. This is so intense and beautifully written. I'm already intrigued. :)

Madeleine Moore said...

This is so amazing, proud of you babe!!! Can't wait to read the whole thing <3


Anonymous said...

I just happened by your blog and this excerpt, and I actually can't even deal with how good it is. Gorgeous writing, Hannah. I'm dying to read more.

Anonymous said...

This is so gorgeous! I can't wait to read more.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this.

This is fucking mindblowingly brilliant, Hannah Moskowitz.

It hurts and it makes me feel alive to read it and it makes me ache and I think that's everything you can hope for in an opening chapter to a book like this.

I'm so excited.

Dayana Stockdale said...

Mmmm yes, I see what you mean about intrigue! This is hitting so much emotion so quickly. This has guts. This is really, really good. Consider me excited for more!

I_Hate_Books said...

I just finished reading this today.

I still can't fully wrap my head all the way around it. It's the first thing I've ever read by you and it honestly made me never want to pick up anything else you've ever written. Simply because this book tore me apart in such a profound and beautiful way that I'm not sure I can physically take any more of the awesome that is your writing. You are so talented. Thank you for taking a chance and writing this book.