Five facts about myself.
1. I am extremely uncoordinated: there’s a scar on my knee from when I tripped over a puddle; I stumbled over a shadow once because I thought it was my dog…if you can picture someone falling shamefully, that’s me.
2. I actually draw as much as I write. I drew before I wrote; I even considered going to college to be an animator. Creating a graphic novel is a possibility on my bucket list.
3. I'm a very inexperienced driver. I come from a family of race car drivers, who build cars and race go-karts and everything. I just hate driving. I can barely keep my own body from stumbling into something, so I get nervous when I’m maneuvering a huge hunk of metal right next to other hunks of metal. Not fun!
4. I spent nine days in Peru the week after I graduated high school. This included speaking so much Spanish it was hard to stop when I got back to the States, late night card games in a Cuzco hostel, waging a pebble war at Sacsayhuamán with the tour guide, and running around Machu Picchu.
5. The only thing I've gotten published so far, a novella called "The Christmas Lights," was something I wrote in roughly two weeks and was simply a Christmas present for my mom. I sent it to two different publishers just to see what happened, and it got published! Pretty much still thanking my lucky stars for that.
“Where do Christmas lights come from?”
Those tiny bulbs of color that burn on a Christmas tree,
Or outside a house to shine in the night.
Does anyone really know where they originate?
What if someone told you
They weren’t intended for Christmas at all,
But really for a miracle?
That they were for love, a desperate idea, to light a boy’s way home?
In that case, you must have some questions. What boy? What love?
Have a seat. Allow me to tell you a story.
“Because your father requires…a dowry, of sorts. A guarantee you’ll be well taken care of.”
Emmy’s hand turned sweaty. “Oh, Louis. What does that mean?”
I swallowed the sour taste at the back of my mouth, nerves trembling in my fingers. “Our engagement lasts until December twenty-fifth. If by that time I’ve not returned—”
“Returned?” Emmy’s gaze burned me. “Louis, where are you going? Won’t my father give you a job?”
I didn’t move and barely opened my mouth to let the words escape. “He’s got me a job.”
I loosened my shoulders and shrugged. “Marks Brothers pays their floor workers very well.”
“I’d stack inventory outside, in the clean air, and I’d work with a few fellows who’d watch out for me…” “Louis!”
“…I hear factories in London are much safer than here.”
“London! Louis, Louis, what are you talking about?” Emmy grabbed my face.
I squinted at two sparkling brown orbs. Was she crying?
“No.” Emmy covered her mouth with a hand. “No, you aren’t going to London. How could you? No one loves you there. No one knows you there…”
Your father seems to think it is my home country.
“Emmy. Emmy Emmy Emmy.” I held her close, stroking her hair. “I don’t plan to work there.”
She sat back. “What?”
“I’ve heard Mr. Godfrey talk about them. A London factory is the last place I should work. Your father means well, but I can’t do that. They wouldn’t take a blind boy.”
“Wh-where will you go, then? How on earth will you make money?”
“I have family in Paris. Mother says they have wine vineyards. I’ll work for them.”
“That…” Emmy’s fingers traced the veins on the back of my hand. “That’s much safer.” She was silent for the longest time. “You’ll be safe? And come home quickly?”
I pulled her hands away and stood, playing with the ring on her finger. “I will. I love you.”
“Emmy. I don’t have a choice. You want to marry me, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. But, Louis…”
“How long will you be gone?” How long? How long to board a ship, to find a place I’d only heard about, to earn and save an impossible amount of money? How long, indeed.
I set my expression. “I’ll be home by Christmas.”