Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Night is a Shadow Cast By the World (Chapter 2)

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Night is a Shadow Cast By the World by Brian Panhuyzen

Toronto writer Brian Panhuyzen‘s ambitious new novel, Night is a Shadow Cast By the World, is a gripping literary adventure about books, aviation, travel and love. We will be serializing a portion of the book on Open Book: Toronto for the next eight weeks, with a new chapter posted every Tuesday and Thursday.

Read Chapter 1 of Night is a Shadow Cast By the World.

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Chapter 2

Marla lies in the blue envelope of night, listening to Galina. The dog trots from room to room, pausing in each to sniff floor and furniture, and then, as if disconsolate with the answers they provide, hunkering down on the floorboards, whimpering. After a minute she rises and walks to the next room where she replays the routine. The covers taut across Marla’s body. Cordell’s side is undisturbed, his pillow fat and undented. Her left arm is stretched out, palm pressing the spot where his bottom should be. Studying the ceiling’s patterned stucco, spirals and diamonds. She hears the click of Galina’s claws on the floorboards, the flustered snort of her nose, her plangent moans. Then the clicking again.

After the plane’s departure the neighbours who had come out to investigate the clamour returned to their homes, and Marla stood for a long time in the field staring at the point where the craft vanished, expecting it to reappear at any moment and land just long enough to disgorge her husband before returning to the blueblack sky. But as the light diminished so did the practicality of a safe landing, and when the crescent moon grew stark and white in the western sky she raced into the house with Galina at her heels, sped from room to room, turning on every light, igniting the house as a beacon for Cordell’s return. Then she and the dog hurried back into the field and sat in the damp grass, their necks growing stiff as they surveyed a sky engorged with stars.

She was shivering and wet when they returned to the house and she called the police. The dispatcher, a woman with a bored, drowsy voice wanted to know if anyone was in immediate danger.

“Yes!” Marla replied. “My husband! He’s been abducted in an aeroplane!”

But the dispatcher was having none of it. “Immediate danger” meant a gun at his head, a knife to his throat. Marla hung up flushed with frustration, and after an hour with no arrival of assistance she called back. The dispatcher explained that the police were understaffed that night and to expect a visit in the morning.

“But my husband is gone!” Marla had cried.

“You said he left in a plane?” the dispatcher replied. “That’s a new one. Sister, I feel your pain, but there’s nothing I can do. Someone will come in the morning to take your statement.”

Marla had gone then from room to room, and turned off each light, surrendering the house to darkness.

She lifts her head now, hears the dog whimpering in the hallway.

“Galina,” Marla calls, and the dog scampers in and rests her muzzle on the bed. Marla rolls onto her side and looks into Galina’s eyes, strokes her head.

“Sweet Galina, what’s happened to Cordell?” Galina lifts her snout and looks around the room, returns it to the mattress. “Galina, where’s Cordell?” Marla says, and with growing agitation Galina glances about again. “Oh, Galina, Galina, where’s dear Cordell?” Galina twitches her head from side to side, raises her muzzle, and emits a long, drawnout bay like a wolf’s howl. Marla clamps her hands over her ears as the yowl continues, a rampant threnody that goes on and on, deafening within the bedroom’s confines. Marla begins to sob, her own lament joining the dog’s, two voices blending in a tremendous ululation of grief.

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Read Chapter 3 of Night is a Shadow Cast By the World by Brian Panhuyzen.

Night is a Shadow Cast By the World is available as an ebook priced at $2.99. To purchase it, please go to www.nightisashadow.com/acquire.php.

Brian Panhuyzen’s first book was a collection of short stories entitled The Death of the Moon, published by Cormorant Books. He has worked as a publisher, magazine editor and as a typesetter for House of Anansi. His new book, a novel entitled Night is a Shadow Cast By the World, is available exclusively as an ebook. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two boys.

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