A Penny on the Tracks

Last November, I published my book, A Penny on the Tracks. It is a YA book based loosely on my childhood friendship with my best friend. I wrote this story in college. At the time, it was written as a short story and was titled The Hideout. The finished product hardly resembles anything of the original.

In fact, the college version of A Penny on the Tracks was so bad that when I reread it nearly fifteen years ago, my first instinct was to throw it away, but the writer in me remembered the agonizing hours I put into the piece, so I stuffed it in an overfilled drawer of mostly unfinished old works and left it there.

About three years ago, for whatever reason, I searched that overfilled drawer for that story and this time when I reread the piece I didn’t want to toss it into a fire. This time I saw potential. Although I ended up rewriting almost the entire thing, the core of the story has stayed the same — two friends sharing their childhood together while dealing with personal tragedy.

The importance of friendship is prevalent in this story, and I’m proud of the way A Penny on the Tracks has turned out. I’m proud that I not only finished the story, but a publisher liked it enough to contract it. I’m hoping the same thing will happen with the story I am currently writing tentatively called Annabel. 

This is another awfully-written college short story and was titled The Attic. This piece was also stuffed in that same overfilled drawer and for some reason I also fished this story out and decided to salvage it with a rewrite. I’m over two hundred pages in and am still unsure about an ending, but I have some ideas. With A Penny I always knew how the story was going to end, and of course knowing the direction you’re writing to makes writing a story so much easier, but I do have a knack of making life harder for myself. Why should writing be any different?

The story of A Penny on the Tracks deals with friendship, coming out, and tragedy.  A girl names Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

Here is an excerpt from A Penny on the Tracks:

I JERKED FROM my sleep while the phone was still buzzing its first high-piercing ring. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand. It read 4:17 a.m. I knew something was wrong.

The second ring was abruptly broken up, and my mother’s muffled voice carried into my room. I was already sitting upright in my bed when my bedroom door squeaked open, and my mother’s slight figure appeared as a shadow near my door.

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

“What’s wrong?” My voice was no louder than a whisper.

My mother made her way into the dark room. I couldn’t make out the expression on her face, but her movement was stiff and hesitant. 

She turned on the lamp and sat down beside me. Her face was pale and she let out short, shallow breaths. It seemed difficult for her to look me in the eyes.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened?”

My mother looked at me with pain in her eyes. “Lyssa . . .” She smoothed her hand gently across my arm. “Abbey’s dead.”

I took in her words without an ounce of denial. The reality of what my mother had told me was instant.

My best friend was dead.

 

 

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A Penny on the Tracks

 

 

 

 

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Loving Again

Dana Perkins lost her longtime partner in a tragic accident. Although she still struggles with the loss, her profound loneliness is evidence that it is time to move on. She knows her deceased lover, Casey, wouldn’t want her living this way. Dana begins her slow process of letting go, removing reminders of Casey from her house, and dating again.

The women she meets leave Dana uninspired and missing her deceased partner even more. Just as she is about to resign herself to the belief that she will never love again, Dana meets Emily Daniels, a married woman who is deeply conflicted over her attraction to women.

Soon, the two women form a friendship that leads to deeper emotions. They discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither woman could have ever imagined. Is that one moment in time enough to let both women follow their hearts, or will they let their past continue to rule their future?

 

Here is an excerpt from my book, Loving Again:

Dana and Emily walked along the sidewalk as the sun began to set. The streets were quiet. At this time of night, Dana figured most people were settling in front of their televisions after a long day’s work. She slipped her hand into Emily’s and closed her eyes, realizing how much she missed this. She and Casey had taken many walks together along those same streets.

“You okay?” Emily asked.

Dana opened her eyes. “I’m fine.” She lightly squeezed Emily’s hand. “Just enjoying this.”

“You looked like you were out there for a second.”

“Walks do that to me. I love nature.”

“Me, too.”

They walked a little longer and then Dana pointed toward a park. “Do you want to sit down for a little while?”

“Sure.”

They made their way toward the swings and sat down. Neither woman swung very high, merely dragged her feet over the dirt.

“I hope you don’t think I’m this big head case with everything happening with me and my ex.”

“A head case? Don’t be so hard on yourself. This is life. We figure it out as we go.”

“Thank you for not judging me.”

“There’s nothing for me to judge. I’m happy to be here with you.”“Not many people would say that about a date who talks about their ex all night.”

“This is different. If you’d been talking about some woman you were with and I sensed you were still in love with her, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to be.”

“Would it make you feel better if I talked about Casey?”

Emily looked at her, surprised. “Sure.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Everything you want to tell me.”

Dana peered at the ground and dug her shoes into the mixture of pebbles and dirt. She felt Emily’s eyes on her as she drew lines in the ground beneath her feet. “We all have our guilt. The heavy burdens that we carry,” she said. “You have yours. I have mine, but our hearts can only take so much. Do you want to know how Casey died?”

“Yes.”

“We got a hotel in the city for the weekend. We were gonna see everything. That was the plan. We’d just gotten off a trolley, heading back to the hotel. We were standing on a sidewalk, talking. There was no warning that something bad was about to happen. I moved my hand to touch her, but she took off running away from me. I didn’t see him right away, but a little boy was chasing a hotdog vendor into the street. Casey saw him and she didn’t hesitate, not even a little.

“A little boy’s alive, but she isn’t, and I know that’s how she’d want it, but I never got to say goodbye to her and that kills me. I was angry for a long time. I resented all the people who lost the person they loved to something they could prepare for, because I envied their chance to say goodbye.

“Sometimes, I think it would have been easier losing her in some dull hospital room, looking diseased and weak, on a miserably cold, rainy day. I’d watch her become someone I no longer recognized and she’d look so pained that I’d pray for God to take her, believing she’d be better off.” Dana closed her eyes for a moment. “But that’s not the way it happened. Casey wasn’t better off dead and her death wasn’t merciful. It was violent.

“She died on a gorgeous summer day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. You wouldn’t expect something bad to happen on a day like that. And Casey didn’t look like someone who was about to die. She was vibrant and healthy.” Dana smeared her sleeve across her wet eyes. “And I wish I’d had the chance to tell her I loved her, just one more time.”

“She knew. You must know that,” Emily said.

“All I know is that she’s dead and I never got to say goodbye…and I’ll never stop loving her.”

“No one should ever ask you to.”

 

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Loving Again

Please check out my books, Her Name and Loving Again. Thank you!

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alicia+joseph

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