Serene encounters the Countessa wicked manifestation of dark energy that humankind has been working hard to create, in spite of ourselves. She is our fear, anger, hurt, and self-destruction all in one. Her physical form is a beautiful six-foot-tall cancer wrapped in couture and always hunting you.
Serenes story is also one of love. She falls for James, a man birthed from a lineage of opera singers who have all committed suicide. Serene meets a rainbow of energy. The first, being an unearthly, cuttlefish that envelopes her with a symphony of color, light and sound. Immersed in deep turquoise waters and even deeper inside of the cephalopod. She feels it contract and expand with every beat of her heart. She is birthed both physically and spirituallyand so her journey begins.
Equal parts HARRY POTTER, and GOSSIP GIRL, SERENE is a never before told story. The first to merge the contrasting worlds of art/pop culture and spirituality in a riveting tale that, above all, is a celebration of human capability, living and loving without boundaries or fear.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)|
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The New York City sky was grey and moldy. The clouds were thick and low, resting atop the silver buildings by the Hudson. The air was damp, carrying unseen movements of the river, feeding the shadows that lived under the bridge. If you peered inside a wobbly glass window in Chelsea, you'd see a thin yet feminine figure. Her hair was honey with waves, her eyes were oceans with waves: interesting to look at but more so to look into. Her soul revealed. One could sense that all was possible in the unknown. It lived in the light that danced around her space- filled pupils.
Her legs were covered in smooth, opaque stockings; her body sleeved in a black dress. Her hand gestured toward a distorted sculpture of a dripping white owl that was two times her size. Once inside, one could hear what was coming from her lips.
"This owl was sculpted by the hands of Sheryl Ames. She lives in a remote part of Bordeaux. The earth she uses is endemic to that geography and not much is left as it has been continually harvested since the Middle Ages. Those responsible, the keepers of this clay, allow only her to sculpt from this blanc, mineral-rich soil. They see it as her birthright, as her skill has been passed down for many generations. Her kiln is a giant hearth, nestled into the base of a mountain. This very combination produces layers of uniqueness impossible to recreate anywhere else in the world."
An older gentleman, dressed in a pressed dark grey cashmere suit, lifted his bushy white eyebrows up into the air and almost off his face. He responded, "Not so much, my dear."
I, being the girl you're watching and now listening to alongside said older gentleman, looked at him and took a card out of my pocket and offered it to his aged body. "Well, my name is Serene. Nice to meet you. Please take my card. I have a feeling this piece will be worth your time someday soon."
He smiled and mentioned that I was too young for him, but ... if I thought differently, I could show him where this hideous owl might work in his Park Avenue apartment.
I felt fluctuating movements despite my effort to hold still. I was fighting my disgust, trying to keep it from transforming my face into my truth. I did not want to show him that he had affected me. I turned my back toward him and quietly walked away, maintaining my composure. His sense of entitlement and his insinuating that I would somehow engage with him on a level of pure use just to sell him something only confirmed that he thought he could buy some little or big part of me. From his candor, I would guess that he went through his life successfully buying many pieces of people. I had to deal with this breed of human way too often in this gallery.
My stomach was growling. I picked up a tall black umbrella, my black trench coat and walked toward the portly male figure in the office. "Be back in thirty minutes, Mr. Steinway," I said.
He never lifted his head. He just put his right hand up in the air and motioned for me to go. I then slowly and somewhat reluctantly walked out into the drizzle to eat some wet fish.
Walking down the cobblestone street I was careful to not let my heels get caught in the cracks. After several blocks, I came upon a very nice place. It had a wooden sign in the shape of a bear holding a fish in its mouth and hokkaido carved and burned into the wood below. I walked through the doors.
Ahhh ... peace, order and silence filled my head.
Sitting down at the bar, I breathed in the smoked-wood and earthy-tea aromas. The sushi chef bowed and greeted me. "Onegi shimase."
I placed my hands on the piece of majestic blond wood that was the bar. I then ordered two pieces of mackerel, one white tuna, one yellowtail, jalapeño and shiso maki roll with a cup of green tea. All the while, I was staring at a fat, round Japanese man.
Everything became blurry: his bulbous shape began shaking right before me. When my eyes regained focus, he was no longer a man: he was a big orange-and-white koi fish with bloated red lips that opened, spouting out seawater and a lump of kelp that plopped onto the floor. His eyes rolled around in his fish head. I blinked and then saw a fat Japanese man again.
People always said I had an overactive imagination.
I had never been alarmed by what I saw in moments like these, until I was taught that I should be. I had learned by now that maybe no one else in this room eating yummy, perfectly sliced, throbbing marine flesh on plushy beds of slightly sticky rice saw what I saw. I was guided to keep my observations of what was not made of mass and stone to myself. "We must always pay attention to the material world and ignore the ethereal."
Current civilization acknowledges the critical mass of atoms only when they come into view in the form of something we have been taught to covet. It made me feel sullen and heavy inside to think that we were constantly taught to "behave" or "act normal." Wouldn't it be nice if the world wanted our minds to see unknown things and for us to feel and communicate better with one another? Instead, I was pretty sure the message we were getting out there was to shut down, work, make money and spend money. Whatever you do, don't talk about your imagination, your dreams, the energy you feel when you walk into a room and what you know but cannot see.
I decided while eating my maki roll that I would go to a bar and secretly look for a mate. I was trying to keep this secret from myself. I did not want to admit that I was looking for love or even needed to be loved. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to be enough and I didn't want people to see my desire or — worse — risk rejection. So, I pretended to need nothing, even though it wasn't the truth. This exercise of self-deceit was very hard to do at times. I looked at my phone and noticed the time. I paid my check and walked carefully and very slowly back to the gallery.
I was cold and wet, yet instead of hurrying I took it slow. It seemed like a better use of my time then selling art, warm and dry inside the gallery.
I gingerly opened the glass doors to enter like air — unseen and undetected. My air-entering approach, however, was lost on Mr. Steinway. He did not recognize me as air or even comment on my commitment to my newfound performance art of trying to disappear by sheer will. Instead, he slammed his red and veiny fist onto the glass that covered his antique mahogany desk. I saw the condensation quickly forming on the glass around his hand. My eyes widened and I stayed silent.
"My God, Serene, where do you go for lunch? China? I hope you have a Chinese man in your bag with a black Amex. Get back on the floor and try to sell something. Oh, that reminds me. The gentleman who was in earlier today had his assistant request a time for you to show him some more sculptures for his East Hampton home. I scheduled you in for tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. So don't be late!"
I inwardly shuddered at the news. So this is what I had worked so hard for and my mom had paid so much in tuition for?
Well, I was here. I had the life that I'd dreamed of when I was a young girl back in the woods in New Hampshire. I wasn't making any money, but the carrot was there. I was chasing it every day.
And then I had a realization.
This was what I'd always dreamed my future to be. This was it. This was what it looked like. This was what it tasted like. This was what it felt like. I wasn't sure I liked any of it, but I'd picked it. Now I didn't know why. I missed the wild turkeys nesting in the moonlit tops of the ancient pines, staring at me through the window of my childhood bedroom. They used to scare me, but now they symbolized a better time. I missed the mountain air.
Growing up, I had wanted to leave and never go back. I'd never felt understood there. The nature was beautiful but cold like its people. I'd come to New York because I was in love with her. I felt life's possibilities in each inhale of breath while walking her streets. Evenings were chaotic and dangerous yet always laced with the excitement of chance meetings leading to all things golden or all things eclipsed in a moment's notice. These were only some of the ways the city spoke to me. Her voice was always clear, never warm or soft. More like "I love you" or "I hate you." I felt her confidence of pure being. I listened to her severe truth. For me, it was better than a gentle lie. I came to her because she called. Now we didn't know what to do with each other and I was stuck like a canned piece of over-sweetened fruit suspended in Jell-O staring at other pieces of strange and lifeless fruit — just waiting for that cold war mushroom cloud — for Dupont stocking-wearing women to serve our Jell-O-souls to day-drunk men.
* * *
"We should go to Death tonight." This was my best friend, Lydia. Her red glossy lips spoke as she smoked a cigarette and ashed it into her camel Hermès Birkin bag.
"Yeah, I'm down. I've never been," I said, following my trashy, beautiful friend down Fifth Street.
"Oh-my-God, it's so good. It's a dive bar, with lots of hot straight guys and always fun, crazy people. I actually can't believe any good bars are left in the city anymore and this one is good!" As I listened to her high crystalline voice, I noticed all the red streetlights were shining HALT, all the taxi brake- lights screamed STOP and five signs of business on this block were ruby halogen FLAMES. Rome was burning. I truly do live in a beautiful hell and of course when I looked up, there was a crimson shape that read death with two skulls next to it.
Lydia and I showed our identification to the burly doorman, who was dressed in a black waxed coat that hung over his combat boots and brushed the sidewalk.
"I bet he's a Brony at heart," I whispered into Lydia's ear.
We both giggled as he let us in.
Lydia grabbed my hand and led me to the bar. It was loud, dark, dirty, smoky and crowded. The lights flashed electric white and then back to black. Amid the pulsing, a guitar was being tuned. I grabbed Lydia and dragged her toward the commotion. We both flashed our lashes and stared at the same long line of a man who stood before us on that filthy stage.
The wall of music hit us at the same time. It was so loud you could feel your organs vibrate. The man had dark greasy hair that kept getting in his blackened almond-shaped eyes. He was tall, unapologetic and knew exactly what he was. His bones showed well from under his skin, their structure perfect. The space that his body was inhabiting was somehow giving appreciation to his form and presence.
This moment in time stretched into a deafening lapse of déjà vu. Those papyrus-green eyes with his dark lashes and strong nose — his features were ringing over and over in my head as I remembered him over and over again. It was a strange feeling that I'd never had before. I studied the way he moved. I watched as his hands grabbed the microphone and sang a slow, sad verse. His fingers were strong and expressive. His voice, like a drop of sepia in water, as if he came from several generations of opera singers that had all committed suicide. His skin was peachy-white with hints of luminous grey. Lydia and I both looked at each other at the same time. It was a look of shock and weakness that we shared with one another. He took a knife from his jean-jacket pocket and cut his arm. He then dipped the knife in gasoline, lit it on fire and threw it over the crowd, into the back wall. He was bleeding, sweating and shaking. I thought he was looking at me, but I knew that wasn't possible––the crowd was covered in thick darkness and he probably could not see anyone's face. Even if he saw mine, why would it matter?
When the set was over, the band came off stage and walked through the crowd. The drummer walked right up to me, grabbed my arm and kept walking with my flesh still in his hand. I quickly grabbed Lydia's arm and we were led through the crowd to a coffin door in the wall. The drummer knocked and it opened. Inside was a room with big leather chairs and one black lacquered table with a stuffed black cat sitting on top of it accompanied by a mirror with lines of good cocaine. And, yes, there is a difference between good and bad cocaine and if one is going to do cocaine at all, it might as well be the best because it was the worst.
Lydia lit a smoke and grabbed her silver straw out of her Hermès bag. She bent over, revealing her silver underwear as she snorted up two lines, sat down and ashed into her bag.
"So, I am Lydia and this is Serene," she said, looking at the wall.
The drummer got up. "Hey, my name is Greg. I am drunk and bored. Thought you two could entertain us."
"We could play a game," Lydia said, rolling her eyes.
"I like this one." A girl's voice came from around the corner.
I turned in the direction it had come from. The voice belonged to an impossibly tall girl who must have just come from cool girl heaven, beamed down on a ray of rock-and-roll light. I examined her carefully to try and learn how to be cool. She was dressed in perfectly worn-in jeans that hung on her like she didn't care about anything in the world. She wore a mix of Saint Laurent and vintage clothing appearing to have been found from long hidden culturally rich tribes that have been steeped in time. They worked well together and made me ask questions in my head. Her body was thin, in-shape and well-cut. Her skin was smooth and flawless. I wanted to know what is was like to be her and not me. The rest of the band members started to trickle in. They carried a smell of burnt metal. My eyes wandered to the singer's arms. They were massacred. He looked at me long enough for me to look away and pretend that he did not exist. The cool model girl offered a bro handshake to the singer and the rest of the band. "Sick show, guys."
A loud thud –– the coffin door of our cave swung open. A big security man was yelling at us through a deafening wall of screams. "There is a fire on the stage!"
I grabbed Lydia and we pushed through the smoke, flames, bodies and screams.
* * *
Later that night, I stumbled into my bedroom and threw myself on my bed, face-first. A tall, handsome wilderness giant with impeccable, classic, "worn-in good taste" walked into my room, picked up a coffee mug and looked inside. I couldn't cohabitate with anyone else. Like a brother, this giant was difficult at times but also my best friend. Lydia referred to him as my gayband, her play on the term "gay husband." William loved men. He was not feminine at all. He had more masculine energy than most people I knew. He was secure, calm and unwavering. He offered hard-hitting truths and worked in the medium of black and white. The word grey was not in his vocabulary and decisions were never reconsidered after deliberated on from a fact-based point of view. His mind was like a heavy, substantial gun that has been firing for one hundred years at the same target.
I buried my face and screamed into my pillow. "Ahhh, William, you wouldn't believe this guy I saw tonight."
He put the mug down. "You smell like crap! Did you smoke cigarettes by a burning building filled with asbestos all night?" he joked.
"No, I was at Death and there was a fire."
"No you're still alive. You didn't die in a fire. You are maybe a little crazy but still kicking." He laughed.
I buried my head again and couldn't help but kick my feet in the air.
Walking along the cobblestone street, I thought to myself, My goodness, another dreary shitshow of a day. What am I doing here? What purpose was my life serving other than ushering large sums of money into Mr. Steinway's pockets and caging art into the confines of lonely prisons, also known as some of New York City's most prestigious penthouses, lofts and brownstones? Expressions of beautiful souls rotting in rooms for the eyes of few — the very same eyes that see many zeros in succession after another number on their banking apps. I was trying in vain to add those same zeros behind the numbers on my app as I hustled and pretended my life away. As this disturbing thought rattled about, I noticed a familiar group.
It was the homeless men who set up camp under the scaffolding next to the soup kitchen known as the Bowery Mission. They were there every day and every day I walked by the Mission on my way to the gallery. I would look in their direction, to acknowledge our shared humanity. They would stand in line waiting for rotten food. One or two would be turned up on cheap bottles of liqueur that were probably just one step up from nail polish remover and God knows what drugs. Sometimes I would see someone with actual rotting flesh, left for dead out on the street. I have seen feet that can't fit into shoes, ankles swollen, skin broken and bleeding, appendages yellow and filled with infection. Sometimes a face would be covered in sores.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Serene"
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Patryn.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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