The Squatter

Among the many things I’ve scribbled in the sand is a novel entitled “The Squatter”. Some folks to whom I’ve confided about the book aren’t crazy about the title. I find it hard to disagree. It’s not a very pleasant sounding word. However, it effectively and succinctly captures not only the protagonist, but her situation as well. Anyway, I’m sticking with it for now, but am open to negotiations, especially from editors and publishers.

This is all to preface the following post, which is the opening few paragraphs of the book. There’s danger, some might say, in exposing one’s writing (even as brief as this) this way. They would have us all believe that creative thieves lurk around every corner of the Internet. They could be right, but cowering in fear is no way to live. My protagonist, Fania, would say the same.

Chapter 1

January 12, 2010 – 4:45 PM

Anticipation hung in the house like the fine particles of dust that filled the air. The family had long since grown accustomed to seeing the air they breathed; the constant presence of the dust made it disappear. When something is everywhere, it ceases to exist.

But apprehension, anticipation’s malicious twin, followed like a rabid dog nipping at its heels. Good fortune never walked alone in Haiti. Hopeful elections carried with them violence and turmoil. A cool, refreshing rain inevitably brought streams of filth running through the tiny hovel that was the Dieusel family home. It had reached the point where they dreaded good news for the trouble it promised.

Still, Fania hoped. Her dreams were simple for a fifteen-year-old girl. An education. Reading and writing. Humble dreams, more remote than the far off peaks of the Massif de la Selle. Just as she couldn’t see those mountaintops from her home in the Village Solidarité neighborhood of Port-au-Prince unless she climbed to the roof, she couldn’t conceive of being in a school, reading books, or writing letters.

This was the day when all that could change. The news her father carried would determine whether those mountains would be brought within her reach or, if his news was bad, she would continue to dream of distant peaks.

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