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Excerpt from Studies in Genre


Spiral Staircase
© 2000 Judith Huey


"Unfinished Symphony"


Linda moved irritably at her husband's side. A gust of wind blew ragged papers against her leg. She looked down and saw books piled in the display of a store. The store front was entirely of glass. Linda thought the owners must figure the type of people who read books wouldn't be tempted to break in and steal them. And people who didn't read, wouldn't be tempted.

She turned toward the bookstore and glanced at Randall's arm as he automatically opened the door for her. They entered the store together, and then went their separate ways. The story of their marriage - together and yet apart.

Books were piled on tables helter-skelter. Looked like they were on sale, mark downs or discontinued. Books were also stacked on the shelves from floor to ceiling along the wall. She started with the nonfiction and glimpsed a book about the Cosmos, new discoveries in our universe.

Over here was a reissue of a classic, The Little Prince. A book she had read and reread, full of philosophy and observations on human nature together with something magical. A children's tale, but so beautifully told she always cried at the end.

Hmmm. A book about celibate marriages caught her attention. The dust jacket claimed being married and remaining celibate could drive a woman crazy. I can believe it, she thought. After five years of marriage, we're just roommates now.

Linda walked up an aisle looking closely at the hard back books on sale. Pausing at a table, she turned a book over to read the jacket and suddenly, she heard a chorus of a thousand voices. The music swelled into a thousand instruments along with the voices. She looked up, trying to locate the source while thinking the store had turned the volume up really loud. She searched her memory to place the composition.

The music was even grander than the Hallelujah chorus - ethereal, divine and heavenly music. She looked around to see the reaction of the other people. Nothing. No reaction at all. She still heard the music and looked for the loudspeakers, then suddenly realized, it must be all in her head. What is going on? Why am I hearing this...?

She moved quickly across the aisles, looking for Randall, but he was out of sight. Then a movement outside caught her attention - a man surrounded by sunlight was walking up to the entrance of the bookstore.

He somehow seemed familiar, as if she knew him intimately. The music in her head grew even louder. She felt a strong compulsion to approach the man, but hesitated while she studied him - dark hair and eyes, better than average looks, wearing a white sweater and yet there was a presence about him, an aura.

Finally, Linda realized she couldn't remember ever meeting him before. He was a stranger to her. While she was turning these thoughts over in her mind, he had come into the store and paused at a table of books on sale. The same table she had left just moments ago.

She started toward him. Maybe she could think of something to say by the time she reached him. Surely, he could hear the same music, feel a similar pull - like a strong undertow.... But the stranger was moving away, back toward the door.

And now, Randall was coming into view and moving her way. She was moving toward the stranger and her husband was moving toward her. She thought, We're revolving like celestial bodies moving in a stately dance to unearthly music that only I can hear. Can't the stranger hear it, too?

It was too late. The arrival of her husband had slowed her motion. While she hesitated, the dark-haired man moved out the door without even glancing her way. As if he had come into the store on impulse and then changed his mind.

She hadn't been able to attract his attention in time. She wanted to follow him out into the street because the need to touch him in some way was so strong.

Randall drew near and intruded on her thoughts, "I thought you were getting ready to leave."

Yes, I was getting ready to leave, she thought to herself, but merely shook her head. She fought to keep her whole body from shaking. I was ready to leave with a perfect stranger. If I had left you months ago, then I would've been free to follow my impulses and trust my instincts.

The music was fading, dying, as the stranger moved away. Still, she felt the urge to follow and was tempted to run after him. With tears in her eyes, she strained to hear the choir, so splendid and divine she wanted to remember always. But, the music cut off abruptly when the stranger passed from view. Will I ever understand what happened here? Will I meet him again some day? In another time and place.


"Unfinished Symphony" Copyright 1995. Lida E. Quillen. Published in the August 1995 issue of FAYRDAW, a publication of La Pierna Tierna Press. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.


Author Bio

At age ten, Lida wrote plays and short stories. After attempting such occupations as air traffic controller, laboratory technician, real estate agent and legal assistant, she's back to her original choice -- writer.

Over the past few years, she has completed the first five chapters of five different novels. These are best described as a dark fantasy set in another universe, a contemporary urban fantasy, a fantasy set in the Old West, an epic fantasy and a supernatural murder mystery.

In October 1997, she discovered the internet and as a result her fiction writing slowed to a trickle. She had a lot of fun creating three virtual domains, a bookstore and an ezine. She says there is something seductive about having 20mb of space to fill with your own creative works.

In January 1999, Lida built a publishing house from the ground up and turned it over to new management. She finally decided all these internet endeavors were simply clever ways to procrastinate about writing.

She is now determined to take up her partial novels and finish them one by one. Stay tuned...




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"...startling, insightful, and original."
Read the complete review of Studies in Genre by Cindy Penn of Word Weaving.


"If you are a writer or want to be a writer and want to try and understand the way creativity works-buy this book. It's a fascinating read!"
Read the complete review of Studies in Genre by Jewel Dartt of Midnight Scribe Reviews.





What does the book include?

Short stories by Lida Quillen

Unfinished Symphony - magic realism
A woman has a mystical experience in a bookstore, but settles for the mundane.

I Remember - YA Fantasy
Jenny writes about the Middle Ages as if she lived there and the teacher accuses her of plagiarism.

Frankie and Johnny - Murder Mystery (flash fiction)
A deadly accident with a twist.

Higher Education - Science Fantasy
Brother John undergoes on-the-job training with important tasks in spite of a temporary memory loss.

Back to the Fifth Dimension - Science Fiction
Frank is an activist who loses his strange assistant, but gains the means to finance efforts to protect the environment.

Twilight Times - Science Fantasy
Sorci searches for her heart's desire - even if her search takes her to other dimensions.

A Life's Work - SF/F
Country folk meet aliens in the hills of East Tennessee.


Short Stories by L. E. Wylde

A Selfish Bride - DF
A woman learns her new husband is very attached to his unusual cat.

Norton - SF/F
Lindal has to choose between Norton and her fiance.

Writin' Poetry - DF
A prison inmate develops an unusual ability.

The Weirding of Sgt. John - H
A Vietnam veteran finds his war experiences have prepared him for one final battle.

Chapter One from Practical Tips for Online Authors
Get your story published in an ezine.







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Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002. Lida Quillen. All rights reserved.

"Spiral Staircase" © 2000. Judith Huey. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 07-06-02.

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