Book Excerpt – Cowards And Angels


Cowards And Angels
by Aileen Muhammad

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $23.42
    Format: Hardcover, 156 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781466955332
    Imprint: Trafford Publishing
    Publisher: Author Solutions
    Parent Company: Najafi Companies
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    Copyright © 2012 by Aileen Muhammad. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.

    Mia (From Cowards and Angels)

    Death before dishonor. An embrace like no other. A fair exchange. An honored declaration that life’s sagging hypocrisy failed to suffocate her. Without prejudicial courtesies or the laughing scorn of mating calls, she lay comfortably and ailing, satisfied that breath is all that leaves. I will call Mom now. Mia’s sister speaks calmly. We will get this stuff out of you. You are not going to die. Shadows owned the room. Fear watched Mia lying there. A single candle burned. A time of settlement, when the frankness of winter hollers its future. A season predicted when men and women wish they had not lived, had not committed trespasses, was upon them.

    It was November 1969 in a room laced with sorrow. Mia lay flat on the bed, waiting for the ambulance. Estelle smiled with the gentleness of virgins, leaned closely to her sister’s ear and reminded her that she was not alone. Sweat choked Mia’s hair. Here were the dreams of childhood, the haunting of curses, and the lodging of deception.

    Mia watched her sister’s eyes flood. She watched the pearls around her neck and the old oak rocking chair she was sitting in, on its edge. The room faded in and out and Mia trembled. Lemon walls hung and curdled. The room was no longer still norquiet. A warm hand crossed her forehead and Mia watched the rocking chair’s motion. She thought of her heart beating to and fro and no one in it. The chair rocked and Mia began to get frightened. What pain made her not want to look up, not want to breathe? How in the world did she get here and why were her sister’s eyes loaded? Her perfect sister standing staring at her as though she knew something that she, Mia, did not know, as if there were a difference, as if she was suspect in a crime, a story untold, a world view dumped in this room, a national disgrace.

    The sound of sirens surged through the window as the noise kept getting into her way and only the gentle smile of Estelle sang a time when happiness might open the men rushed in, listened to her heart, took her pulse, bothering her until they lifted her up and placed her on the cot to lift her into the ambulance. She could smell the leaves burning outside in the chilled air. And there she settled. Sunk into time in that hospital bed, sunk into the cool sheets and darkness in her mind, she pulled the covers over her head. She looked away and sank into time like the ships that wrecked off the coast of Sokotra, like the ships that Marco Polo said were wrecked by the sorcery of Sokotra, by the women and men enchanting the explorers and sending the hurricanes and whirlwinds, blizzards and tidal waves, taking down one by one every ship that tried to capture that place.


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