Title: Behind You
Author: Carly M. Duncan
Author: Carly M. Duncan
When a mysterious attack lands Heather in the hospital on the brink of death, her family rushes to her side. Through an inconvenient maze of shadowed memory and family secrets, Heather can trust only herself to discover if her husband, parents, sister or aunt tried to kill her. During the course of their own narratives, each character confesses to their various crimes of passion, envy and ignorance, weaving Heather's mystery into an untraditional tale about seizing the opportunity to start over.
I do a bad thing to myself. When contemplating death I always consider my own sadness, devastation and defeat at losing a potential someone. I imagine the pain and the wreckage. I test what it might feel like to experience such heartbreak. I dream up the words I wish I had said and, also, what I might say in their honor.
I never think I’ll be the first to go. If I did I wouldn’t be forced to reflect on my own potential misery. It’s utter torture and I don’t know why I do it. I must be a masochist, though that label should warrant me more invincible, fearless and probably angrier.
Why would I put myself through the imaginary emotional journey of loss? Why force the looming and possibly non-existent future pain? Does the contrast between happiness and sorrow somehow, sickeningly, make me feel more alive? Or do I believe I’m preparing myself for future grief, as though building up a tolerance for pain might save me from myself later?
I do this a lot. I imagine a shattering loss and once I reach a certain level of true despair, I somehow force myself back to reality and mentally slap myself across the face for walking down a path that I didn’t have to wander in the first place. Afterwards, though, the imaginary misery always lingers and I’m left wandering through various realities for the rest of the day, inexplicably inconsolable.
As a twenty-seven year old woman and a Columbia educated social worker, I should have both a natural and learned understanding of the human condition. In my own life, I’ve experienced minor forms of sorrow, and in my career I’ve both caused and mended various types of suffering. I should be able to manage my own head better.
My job isn’t one that you fantasize about having when you’re young and everything seems possible, when you refer casually to dreams in passing conversation and actually believe in the potential that they can become true. I fell into my career as an adoption counselor by mere chance and pure coincidence, the way most of life’s twists and turns grab you. While attending Columbia I did what most good students approaching graduation do and scrambled to find internships anywhere I could. An internship led to certain comforts and certain comforts led to friendships, and certain friendships led to employment opportunities, and, throughout that whole meandering course, life happened. Today, I find myself performing a job I never hoped for in a field I never pursued, both crushing dreams and providing joyful occasions for strangers daily.
Each and every day I meet or speak with families who are either hoping to adopt a child or who must, for some reason, put their own child up for adoption. Sometimes my days are dangerous and sometimes they’re incredibly beautiful, but I suppose it’s like anything else. My days are rewarding, but I wouldn’t say they’re always joyful.