Today I have author Laurel Garver on my blog. Please enjoy this excerpt from her novel Never Gone.
As I head toward the bathroom, a flash of blue by the front door catches my eye. Dad’s terry robe. And Dad, straightening frames. He frowns, probably deciding whether to swap some photos. When he gets to the second row, he turns and motions to me. Come.
My hands shake so badly I almost drop my makeup case. He’s still here. Right here. Maybe the phone call, the hospital, the surgeries weren’t real. Just a very vivid nightmare. My feet carry the rest of me, like a sleepwalker, toward him.
When I get there, he’s gone. Before me is the magic photo: the one split second in my short life that I look incredible. It’s not a coiffed, polished glamour shot. No, I’m sweaty and my clothes are rumpled. But I’m floating four feet in the air, my gawky tallness curved like a curlicue C around the high jump bar. My leading arm is like a ballerina’s, legs steely and lean, face full of happy peace. A swan moment.
Of course, that was just an ordinary track practice. I totally choked at the meet that weekend: tripped on a shoelace and went face-first into the mat.
If it weren’t for Dad, I would’ve quit high jump that day. After my embarrassing splat, I hid behind the bleachers. Cried. Desperately wished for Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
Dad searched me out, said, “Fantastic news, love. You’ve been offered a spot as the new Nike spokeswoman.”
“Great, Dad. Thanks. Very sensitive. I fall like a fool and you think it’s a good joke.”
He folded up his long legs, crouched down, and wrapped a warm arm around me. “Oh, Dani, haven’t I taught you a thing? If you can’t learn to laugh at yourself, you’ll always find the world laughing at you, rather than with you. Besides, who wants to be one of those types who never get into scrapes? They’re simply too dull to endure.”
“Well, I’m always making a fool of myself. Right now, I’d rather be dull.”
“That simply isn’t true, love, and I’ll prove it.”
He made up an injury story for my coach and drove me to his studio. And there was the photo. A stunner. Prominently displayed and framed to add to the family gallery. I couldn’t believe I didn’t look like a total goon. High jump feels pretty strange while you’re doing it. Leaping as high as you can. Backwards.
Dad didn’t have to say anything more. The photo said it all: that through his eyes and lens, I’m someone. Not just the giraffe-y geek girl who draws, but someone beautiful.
Dad led me here to show me this again. He wanted me to see. To really see. He still loves me, even now. It comes at me so fierce, his love, that it presses into my pores and clutches my lungs like I’ve walked into a sauna.
After her supportive father dies tragically, Dani has no clue how to cope alone with her perfectionist mother.
Then she sees him. In her room. Roaming the halls at church. Wandering his own wake. Is it a miracle? Or is she losing her mind?
Sunday school never prepared her for this kind of life after death.
About the Author
Laurel Garver is a magazine editor, professor’s wife and mom to an energetic fifth grader. An indie film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys geeking out about Harry Potter and Dr. Who, playing word games, singing, and mentoring teens at her church. You can find out more about her on her blog or follow her on Twitter.