The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Danny Boy

By Lisa McMann

When Patricia graciously invited me to participate as a guest blogger for the Anniversary theme, I had an entirely different story in mind to share – a fun story about a twenty-year high school reunion. But then I couldn’t stop thinking about the kids that don’t live to see graduation, and the people they leave behind, and something entirely different emerged.

Whenever she sees those pearly snap-button shirts, she remembers seventh grade when she walked behind the Civic Center stage curtain and Danny ripped her shirt open on a dare. Her tiny lilac bra glowed iridescent in the stage lights until she snatched the shirt plackets back together, re-snapping with shaking fumble-fingers to close the curtain on the show. Danny’s boy-face blushed crimson and his pink lips puckered into a wrinkled “O” before he ran away. The thick slides of trombones from the pep band rang in her ears.

And whenever she thinks about Danny, she remembers one Wednesday morning in the summer after tenth grade, and how she hated organ practice in that dark, echoing church. How Danny beckoned from the open casket twenty feet away, until the ominous silence of the boy’s dead body grew louder than the pipe organ at full swell. Abruptly she stopped playing, left the organ keys bare and the bench askew as she trip-toed to where the hazy colored light filtered in through stained glass, painting crimson and yellow boxes on Danny’s pale face. The final chords she’d played from the blue hymnal hung eerily above the balcony. Suspended, like witches, from the rafters.

Twenty years later, she still thinks of Danny. The pearly snap-buttons, the pep band, the boy-face blush. She still thinks about organ practice on the day of Danny’s funeral in the enormous, spooky, echoing church. And she still wonders now, like she did later that afternoon when handfuls of dirt thudded on top of the casket, why she didn’t dare to open her shirt for Danny on his last day above the ground. If she had, maybe, just maybe his eyes would have opened. And the things that shadow her mind – lilac satin and pink lips and stained glass, trombones and organs and dark, secret places – wouldn’t have to be shrouded in crimson curtains of regret.

Lisa McMann is the author of two paranormal novels for teens, DREAM and FADE (Simon & Schuster 2008). Her short story, The Day of the Shoes, won worldwide recognition and a 2004 Templeton Award. She writes from her green chair overlooking the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, where she is hard at work on various other novels for teens and ‘tweens.

Several of Lisa's short stories are linked to her website. You can also find Lisa on my space and at her blog.


Blogger Colin said...

I liked Lisa McMann's story a lot - I'm glad I found this site now. Keep up the good work!

Wed Apr 11, 10:06:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Kim Stagliano said...

Greetings from "The South!" (Connecticut.)

Wed Apr 11, 11:51:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger wendywrites said...

Wow Lisa!! What a story. Goosebumps still linger. Not only does this arouse feelings of my high school days, but places me in the feelings and fears of my own children. Danny, the church and the organ will never leave me.

From your Backspace friend, Wendy.

Wed Apr 11, 11:58:00 am GMT-4  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story.

Tish Cohen

Wed Apr 11, 01:24:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Carolyn Burns Bass said...

A brilliant flash of dark memory. Nice work, Lisa.

Wed Apr 11, 01:53:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Devon Ellington said...

Beautiful, moving piece.

Wed Apr 11, 01:59:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, a soft echo of the song.

The Maple Room

Wed Apr 11, 03:35:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous An Admirer said...

Amazing how much is jammed into that short piece. Great work!

Wed Apr 11, 05:02:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Lisa McMann said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Wow!

Wed Apr 11, 07:10:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Puffy said...

Memorable story. The photo added to it, also. I enjoyed it. As you can see, I'm not much of a writer.

Thu Apr 12, 01:52:00 am GMT-4  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haunting and lovely.


Sat Apr 14, 04:41:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Lisa McMann said...

Thanks Puffy and Erica -- appreciate you stopping by. :)

Mon Apr 16, 09:17:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Michelle Bloyer said...

I really loved your story Lisa, Great Job!

Wed Apr 25, 07:44:00 pm GMT-4  

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