Posted By Marti on August 5, 2015
You lucky readers get to sample some great writing by a friend of mine, Samantha Bryant, who is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills.
Writing is my therapy. Whatever is bothering me, scaring me, or sticking in my craw is going to come out on the page. I’m forty-four years old, so right now, that’s aging. I started writing Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel as an escape for myself, to find the humor in some of the changes I was just beginning to experience as I neared the halfway point of my next decade. As I wrote I definitely saw the humor in the situation, and I hope my readers will too!
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5: Jessica Lightens Up, featuring Jessica Roark, former gymnast, age 32. She’s gone through menopause early because of cancer and is suffering from depression as she processes those changes. This excerpt is the second half of the chapter, when Jessica’s unusual symptoms first manifest.
Artwork by Charles Dowd
In the kitchen, Jessica picked up the tin of herbal tea her mother’s friend had made for her and began brewing a cup in her little Adagio teapot. “It will help with the depression,” Ms. Liu had written on the card in her bold, spiky, oddly slanted script. “Make you lighter.” Jessica didn’t know if it was helping or not, but it was very soothing and smelled wonderful. She couldn’t really remember what was in it, other than some special kind of ginseng. She’d drunk kind of a lot of it, though. She held the cup under her nose for a moment to savor the smell and then stood staring out the back deck while she drank it.
Some new birds had come to the little station she’d built for them last summer. She’d imagined standing at the window with her children watching the birds, but the boys were not very interested—they’d rather be outside chasing the birds away just to watch them fly. Maybe if she’d been able to have that third child, the daughter, she would’ve been more contemplative, more like Jessica.
Mostly, Jessica watched alone, and was the only one to notice the little birds coming to enjoy the treats and the bath. A small yellow finch was there now, picking at the seeds she had put out that morning. He turned to her for a moment, cocked his head, jumped into the air, and was gone.
Jessica gasped at the effortlessness of it. So beautiful. She felt a kind of giddiness in her gut, like she had been swinging at the park and had gone weightless for a second, a feeling like she might just vault into the sky.
Just then, she thought she heard a car door slam. Shit! The house was still a mess. Jessica stacked the teacup next to the other used ones from the past couple of days and hurried to the living room. Just as she crossed the threshold into the living room, her bare foot caught under a rug and she went flying. She braced herself, tucking into a safety roll automatically. It took her a moment to realize she hadn’t hit anything.
After a few seconds, she opened her eyes to find she was hovering, midair, about two feet above the glass coffee table. Jessica stayed absolutely still, afraid to move. If she fell into the table, she was going to be horribly hurt. Could she move? She took a deep breath and kind of aimed herself at the couch. Her body drifted a little that direction and then just sort of hovered again.
Okay. This has to be some kind of dream. Right? She must’ve fallen asleep on the couch. So, if it was a dream, she should be able to figure out a way to move. Maybe it’s like swimming. Jessica stretched an arm out tentatively in a sort of Australian crawl. When she pulled back, her body shot forward a foot or two, bumping her into a picture frame above the couch and knocking it askew. Okay. Maybe crawl stroke is too strong. She decided to try a gentle breaststroke, and her body bobbed gently forward. That’s better. Another stroke. This is actually kind of fun. Maybe it was a good dream. The light bubbly sensation in her stomach was really strong now. She felt good. Effervescent. She decided to enjoy the dream.
She bobbed around the living room and toward the stairwell. She didn’t notice she was continuing to rise until she bumped her head on the lighting fixture. She pushed off from the ceiling with her arms and went back down a bit, back to hovering halfway between the ceiling and the floor. She worked her way into the open two-story foyer and peeked out the window above the door. Yep, Nathan is home. He and the boys were closing up the mini-van and heading for the door now. She noticed she could read the decorative plate on the front, “Mama’s Taxi.” Jessica frowned. She’d taken a vivid dreaming seminar her junior year. You weren’t supposed to be able to read when you are dreaming.
Jessica swam her way over to the banister a little awkwardly and grabbed on, trying to pull herself down. She could get her upper body down, but her abdomen and legs stubbornly floated upward. It was like the empty space in her belly had filled with helium, and gravity had lost its hold on her. She was going to scare the kids. Heck, she was scaring herself. How can I get and stay down? She blew the locks of blonde hair out of her eyes, noting the color had darkened as her hair grew back in.
She heard Nathan’s key in the lock and tried again to pull herself down. She tucked her ab muscles and folded herself at the waist, like she’d done in gymnastics class, pleased to find that it didn’t hurt to do so. She pushed herself down and was relieved when her feet made contact with the ceramic tile. The relief quickly gave way to panic, though, when she simply bounced up, like the floor had been a springboard. She lost her hold on the banister and sailed toward the ceiling.
Nathan came through the door, calling her name. Jessica was quiet, holding on to the chandelier with one hand, floating there, looking down at them. From her ceiling view, her children looked wide and squat, like they’d been designed by Duplo. The bald patch on the back of Nathan’s head was clearly visible and much wider than when she had last noticed it. Somehow, this made her want to giggle. She stifled the laugh, not wanting the boys to notice her. She let Nathan get the boys settled in front of the TV and then hissed his name when he came back to toss his keys into the bowl by the door. “Nathan! Don’t scream―I’m up here!”
Going Through the Change is going through a change in price for a couple of days in early August. On August 5th and 6th you can get the Kindle edition for free on Amazon.
Check it out!