I proposed to Kim on Saturday.
I want the world to love her like I do. My best tools are these words--even when they fall short.
So how can I tell you about Kim? Where are my best words?
I hold three of my stories very close to my heart. They were autobiographical in a way (as most good fiction can be). Real events, locations, and people inspired them. I won no awards for these stories (one was nominated and made a very short list), although each has garnered a fair share of attention.
The Battered Suitcase published "Reciprocity" way back in September 2008. Yes, it's my big fish story, and yes, there might be spoilers. It's a story of struggling to fit in, a story of understanding who you are and trying to find a way for that you to fit with the rest of the world. It's a story which could have been tragic, but ends with a flash of gold.
I remember the idea for "The World in Rubber, Soft and Malleable" (published first at A Fly in Amber in September 2009 and later, in a slightly revised version, in Triangulation: End of the Rainbow and my collection, The Saints are Dead) coming to me while I shuttled the family to and from church one Sunday. I think we forgot our donated Christmas gift that morning and I had to run back to the house to grab it.The extra doorways and disappearing townsfolk became one of my favorites. The protagonist makes a hard decision in the end--choosing what may appear a rockier path to remain true to himself. It might be a rockier path, but it leaves the protagonist, Andy, an entire town to cover with spray-painted murals. "The World in Rubber" was a finalist for the Million Writers Award and a story which moves me each time I read it.
And finally, one of my most personal tales, "Wanting It" from Shock Totem #3 (2011). This little tale took several revisions and gallons of blood/ink. I'm proud of the way it reads, the feelings it evokes, and the lasting impression in the final lines. It's a story about losing something you hold dear--and how that loss colors the rest of the world. Like "The World in Rubber," I wrote it in first person. It's autobiographical, even if fiction. Ellen Datlow was kind enough to include "Wanting It" as an honorable mention in The Best Horror of the Year (even mentioning my name in the introduction... me=humbled).
These stories are my children born from some of the hardest years of my life. They each tell truths about love and loss, grief and hope. They're special to me. They're a part of me.
So who's Kim?
She's the magic goldfish from "Reciprocity"; she's every mural Andy paints in "The World in Rubber, Soft and Malleable"; she's the ghost who comes after the end of "Wanting It" and tells the narrator his dreams are true. She leans close and whispers in his ear.
Who's Kim? Read the stories when you have time and you'll understand.
Who's Kim? She's seen all my scars and called me beautiful. Everyone on the planet should be so blessed.
And by the way--she said yes.