The Tiger In The Lifeboat

The Tiger In The Lifeboat

You’ll probably agree with me when I say that the word ‘epic’ is an overused one. ‘That was an epic party last night, man.’ ‘The cupcakes Betsie made for Jess’s party were epic!’ ‘Whoa, Claire just delivered the most epic of epic burns!’ Despite the propensity for ‘epic’ to be thrown around like a Frisbee at a frat house, I’ve never shied from attributing the term to certain works of fiction, or from feeling more connected to those works because of it.

When I was in middle school, I was always primed for the possibility of finding the next epic read. Stories and scenes that topped this list were the shipwreck at the start of Black Beauty, Where the Red Fern Grows, with its fulfillment of the heartbreaking but awe-inspiring Native American legend, any of the adventures of Pippi Longstocking, and pretty much all of Roald Dahl’s books, for their championing of the young protagonists over the villainous, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m big, your small’-spouting adults. Despite my love of reading, it never occurred to me to want to be a writer myself, and I continued on this blissful path of consuming books and reveling in epic stories until right around the time when eighth grade ended, and I sensed the move to high school looming on the horizon.

My first experience with alcohol gave new meaning to the word epic. Though it didn’t happen overnight, I began to alter my identity from ‘good student’ and ‘bookworm’ to include descriptors like ‘drinker’ and ‘party girl.’ I knew nothing of addiction, that, like a cucumber that becomes a pickle and can never go back to being a cucumber again, once the unsuspecting person crosses that line to becoming an alcoholic or drug addict, they can never go back to being a “normal” person again. Without even realizing I was addicted, addiction consumed my adolescence and early twenties until, while pursuing a Master’s Degree for Mental Health Counseling and undertaking an internship at a Massachusetts detox center, it occurred to me that there was another, better way of life. That nonstop drinking wasn’t as epic as I’d anticipated.

Getting sober is a uniquely terrifying experience; your personality and sense of humor, your hobbies, your purpose, and your reason for living are ripped away like a tablecloth from under a deceptively lavish dining room table. Only in this trick, the one doing the tablecloth pulling is exceedingly unskilled, a magic school dropout who brings the crystal water glasses, sterling flatware, and ceramic vases down with the linen. About six months after I stopped drinking, and the beast in my head that roared for more had quieted, I was able to hear something else. The voice was shaky and uncertain, but its message was clear enough: “Write something. Write anything. Take your mind off things. Tell a story.”

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Four Souls Of Eve

On All Hallows’ Eve, the door between the physical and spiritual worlds dissolves, and the past quite literally returns to haunt Eve.

Before this Halloween is over, she’ll wish that door had stayed shut, and the ghosts of boyfriends past had stayed dead and buried.

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