With: Lydia Kang
I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.
Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there’s no one here but me. And now him.
Hector is running from the violence in his life, but violence runs through my veins. I should send him away, to keep him safe. But I’m half human, too, and Hector makes me want to listen to my foolish, half-human heart. And if I do, I can’t protect him from the storms coming for us.
The November Girl Excerpt:
I push through the door to stand on deck. Isle Royale is in view now, with Washington Harbor yawning open a passageway for the boat. Evergreens cling to the rocky shore on either side. There are scant houses and docks as the boat turns gently to enter the bay’s inlet. The water sparkles from the sun cracking through a slice in the clouds. We’ll be docking at Windigo soon. I’m almost there. As I inhale to empty the stale cabin air from my lungs, something on the shore catches my eye.
It’s a flash of amber, and at first I think it’s just sun reflecting off the water. But it doesn’t flicker like reflected light. It almost seems to glow, like the harvest moon beaming against the backdrop of dark evergreens—but it’s daytime.
It’s a girl, standing on the shore. She’s dressed in dark colors, which is why I could only see her face at first, and now, a dab of pale hands clasped together in front of her. She stares back at me, and her face changes—subtly, like when a blink changes sunset to evening. Though she’s far away, I swear she went from smiling to frowning. Or maybe it was frowning to smiling?
Something in her expression tugs at the center of me. It’s a terrible feeling, and wonderful at the same time—like waking up on Christmas, and realizing that, damn, the waking up part is already over. As I squint to get a better look, the door to the inner cabin swings open and that same chatty lady steps outside. Ugh. I can’t handle any more conversation. I shuffle toward the bathroom. But when I check over my shoulder for one last glimpse of the girl on the shore, the rocky beach is empty.
I saw him on the ferry.
Every day, I’ve stood at the shore to watch the disinterested ferry pass by. The passengers are always the same, their faces set with familiar expressions of anticipation, or the green bitterness of seasickness, or the blankness of one who knows the lake and the Isle so well that nothing is new. But this boy was different.
We shared the same expression. And what’s worse, he could see me.
No one ever sees me at first glance. They don’t care to, they don’t want to, they want to but they can’t. If they’re searching hard enough for something, then sometimes it can happen. Father tries to explain why, but none of it matters. But this boy—this boy—he saw me. Immediately. And it felt terrible, when his eyes touched my skin. I search inwardly for a similar feeling, flipping through file cards of memory. And then I find it.
Magnifying glass. Sun. Dead aspen leaf. Boring a pinhole of smoke and fire with that focused sun.
Yes. Yes, that. That is what it felt like when he saw me.
I was standing on the shore, waiting for one more day to arrive, the day that everyone would leave and the island would be mine. The bamboo-like rushes were rotting underfoot, and the juniper behind me scented the wind with its spicy notes. Grebes flew overhead, too smart to stay near me. I could feel the eagerness of the boats, wanting to get away and dock for the winter, to be safe. I knew my father paced inside our home. Anxious to leave me alone. Frightened to leave me alone.
Standing on the shore, I let the icy lake water seep into my shoes, weighing me down. I watched the passenger boat pass by, the last one that would bring anyone onto the island. And I thought, Soon. Soon, you’ll all go far away. You don’t want to be here when November comes.
But this boy saw me.
No one ever sees me.
I listened to her voice and ran away, terrified.
About Lydia Kang:
Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.
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