Written by J.L. Caban
In between jamming to my beloved EDM, house and techno music, I – quite often – prepare myself a cheese plate with some extra virgin olive oil, grapes, almonds, a glass of red wine, and make a great escape, as it were, with a good book. I sit upon my balcony, overlooking a beautifully serene lake, filled with nature’s heavenly creations (bare-faced and white ibis, roseate spoonbills, osprey, limpkin, and others) and lose myself in the beauty of the written word. Whilst doing this very thing, I recently had the distinct pleasure of reading a wonderful book of short stories called, “Short Stories VI from The BookMark Shoppe,” filled with an amalgamation of the most splendid works. In total, this publication encompasses nine riveting stories written by seven amazing authors: Connie Acoustic Songwriter; Danielle Avallone-Coscio; Roxana Concepcion; Vanessa Laureano Acosta; Kelly Mattarelliano; Kathy Ravalli; and Elizabeth H. Theofan, who absolutely knock the proverbial ball out of the park with these various intriguing tales.
“…Her body became a spiritual graveyard every week. Some people believed a cemetery is a place where the dead reside, but she knew it was possible to live and be dead inside… (Concepcion, S.S.VI, TBMS, pg. 149).”
One of the anecdotes, in particular, that caught my attention was penned by Ms. Roxana Concepcion, “La Vie En Rose;” a most heartbreaking piece about a young girl who has been subjected to the most heinous of atrocities, that of taking the purest, most delicate thing one can remove from a human being, their virtue and spiritual hope. Concepcion’s chronicle challenges her readers to face the grim realities of physical abuse and brings to light the ramifications of such a morbid, but relevant and very real life situation. Through the protagonist, Melissa, a mere child and victim of sexual abuse, the author takes us deep into the dark abyss that is this character’s wretched life, making the reader want nothing more than to look away, unable to conceive that such a demonically disturbing reality exists; but alas, the colorfully vivid and artistic nature in the way that Concepcion delivers this message leaves one no choice except to continue as Dante did during his sojourn through the levels of the netherworld, loathing every harrowing moment, however woefully accepting its chillingly extant truth.
“… She didn’t have to open her eyes to know he was now under the table with her. He smelled like a mixture of potato chips, coconut soda and morning breath. Nauseated, Melissa opened her eyes and held a blank stare similar to the dolls stretched out by her side… (Concepcion, S.S.VI, TBMS, pg.150).”
One of the most difficult things an author is oftentimes confronted with is the burden of honesty in their writing… the sickness within the realm of the real. It isn’t an easy thing to allow such vulnerable truths to escape from the shadows of one’s soul, even if these truths belong to a fictional character, such as Melissa. Our brains are hardwired to send those kinds of thoughts and feelings reeling – retreating like a shamed, defeated warrior who has lost his skirmish – back into the cerebellum, where indignity can be tucked into a cognitive safe, the key to which being thrown away to an even deeper, much more tenebrous, place. Roxana Concepcion breaks the chains of silent conformity from this topic taboo in nature, unlatching the mental shackles, challenging her audience to take a long, hard look at what goes on right under society’s noses every day of every week of every month and year. Melissa’s plight makes us all think about the unthinkable with Concepcion’s masterful conducting of every proverbial note to perfection, leaving no stone unturned to continue lurking under the darkness, her words shining as bright as our sun, illuminating all that is beneath the sky, even if it is something discomforting and hideous to the eyes, we ought not to pretend the thing does not exist; because that, my dear friends, is the epitome of ignorance. Bravo Ms. Concepcion for placing the looking glass before us all.
“I’ve lost myself in an ocean of lovers to drown my urges. Inevitably they resurface again like the discarded plastic on the cold Atlantic. The safe land where my feet should find solace is unfamiliar to me. So I trade in my lungs for gills and swim toward darkness. I envision myself in a beautiful white dress, arms outstretched waiting to embrace me. I let my lush wavy hair float as I slowly walk through the waters hoping the benevolence in me will affect the sea. I slowly release a fistful of sand and they land as stars floating away into the deep, the one thing I fear most I find peace and love in. As with the men in my life, none possess stable qualities. The calm waters become devastating storms, at any given moment, unstable, unlovable. Like the waves they wash over me, the men pull in me then toss me out. But it’s the only dance I know so I follow their lead on land as on sea, as above, so below. Disastrous magic was created with every copulating stroke. Toxic soul ties formed severing the 3 fold cord. Now I find myself crying out for you Lord (Concepcion, S.S.VI, TBMS, pg. 163-165).”
Towards the conclusion of the story, the reader is introduced to the protagonist’s elder self, and is faced with the culmination of her beleaguered life, a character now challenged mentally, physically, and spiritually, left with what she believes is “the only way,” so to say; although she eventually comes face to face with the very thing that could possibly enlighten and deliver her from her chasmic despair (not willing to divulge too much, I shall stop here and allow my Ravers to purchase their own copy of the work). This all being said, it is clear to this journalist that Roxana Concepcion has a bright future ahead of her; what with her poignant, truthful, and – most importantly – fearless voice sending reverberations through the minds and hearts to those of us who dare to allow her words to be absorbed. I look forward to reading more from this singularly talented author, as there is no doubt whatsoever that she will receive much success in her literary endeavors in the times to come.
Short Stories VI from the BookMark Shop can be purchased on Amazon. Click the link to check it out now! Short Stories VI from The BookMark Shoppe
The author of this piece, J.L. Caban, is a Puerto Rican-American writer who was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Education from Lehman College and is a Brother of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. His works include ‘Moving On,’ ‘Butterflies in Production,’ and ‘Sapphires in the Rubble;’ all available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Target. – Barnes & Noble – Moving On – Butterflies in Production – Instagram – YouTube – Web – Sapphires in the Rubble