I knew the dog was blind because while combing the shop I nearly tripped over the scrawny, scruffy Pomeranian—which didn’t pompom the way those dogs are supposed to but instead appeared to have stuck a shivering toe into a socket—and considering this sorry specimen of life in this spoiled world, I said, “I like you, too.”
“She doesn’t like you. She doesn’t know you exist. She’s blind,” said the idiot behind the counter.
This idiot seemed to want very much to look like the kind of guy who’d be first mate in a Russell Crowe movie. Who saw himself as the raw heat in the flame at the summit of the lighthouse, imagined himself clawing his way to that summit in the middle of a hurricane waving a firebrand he’d made out of some chair, now short a leg, twirling it above his head with all the strength in his salty sinews as the cyclone pelted him with rain and nearly snatched his head off because the government-issue bulb had blown. No hello, good afternoon like a normal Bermudian.
My grandfather, who until his death also ran a souvenir shop, said you must always say good afternoon, good morning to customers even if they don’t say anything. It surprises un-Bermudians: “good” alongside some reference to the pointless day already dying injects it with something languid, naive. Puts tourists in an expansive mood.
But this briny seafarer probably thought the lighthouse too important to deserve a souvenir shop; too high-tech for small words the likes of which, back in the day, cemented Bermudians’ reputation as the planet’s friendliest anthropocentric subspecies; so official that Her Majesty’s knight-of-the-sea could snap at people who came in to spend good money and almost tripped over his safety hazard of a dog.
“Oh, I see,” said I in reference to the blind dog. “That explains her ability to put up with you all day.”
I didn’t actually say that. Didn’t say anything, in fact. And I don’t like itchy Pomeranians all that much. Why didn’t I put the mini-lighthouse down, walk out? Because the mini-lighthouse—ten centimeters tall, round cedar base—was a trophy for my mother who, a few days prior, had climbed to the top of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse for the first time, vanquishing her lifelong acrophobia, and a mini-replica of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse isn’t something you can find just anywhere.
So that’s how I knew about the dog.
When I returned to the lighthouse months later, my mother was in a prop plane somewhere rarefied and cloudless over Africa. Zip-lining over the Amazon, scaling the Great Wall: by this point, for her, these were wobbly GoPro videos and matters of been-there-done-that.
When I went back to the lighthouse—well, to the souvenir shop, which was really a sort of cottage some distance from the actual building with the bulb in it—I had a pink beach bag with a map of Bermuda on it. I took the knife out of the bag before I went in.
It was a fine morning but, realistically, too early for customers. The lighthouse keeper wasn’t gutting barracudas or making rope out of his chest hair but playing Kill The Plumber or something on his phone. He didn’t look up. The Pomeranian wandered around looking pathetic. She’d been scratching herself around her red collar-with-nametag. I let her sniff my hand: she was totally docile. I tucked her into my bag, frazzled head poking out.
“I want the keys to the lighthouse. All of them. Or Bubbles dies,” I said.
I put the point of my knife to her twitching little ear.
You’d expect Russell Crowe’s battle-hardened mate to whip out a loaded crossbow. I mean, it was a big knife. But the guy just looked confused, like he’d woken up alone in the middle of the sea. He looked in his coffee cup, which was empty, wondering perhaps if he’d overdone it with the rum.
“Why?” he said.
Why. Did I just look up at the sky and think, Nice day for hijacking a lighthouse?
“You’re the lighthouse keeper, aren’t you?”
“So you must have the keys.”
“What the hell do you want with the lighthouse? It comes on automatically, you know. It’s not like you can—”
“Bubbles doesn’t find that issue particularly relevant.”
“Listen, young lady.” He really said that. “Just put down the dog and leave. I won’t call the police. We’ll just forget all this.”
His eyes flitted from me to Bubbles to the knife. She yawned.
“You watch TV. They never just leave,” I said. “Nobody just forgets it all.”
I arranged the knife in a more threatening posture. This was just supposed to look threatening, not actually touch anything. But with my other hand I petted Bubbles underneath her chin, she tilted up her head for more, and well, the big knife shaved a couple millimeters of mangy orange fur. Before they hit the ground, the key was on the counter.
“Don’t hurt her,” said Long John Silver’s general factotum.
“One key? That’s all?”
“Jesus.” He dropped the other keychain when he took it out of his pocket, scrambled on the floor for it.
“No extras in a safe or something?”
“How the hell should I know? It’s government. This is government property.”
“We’d rather not be disturbed, wouldn’t we, Bubbles. I’d go ahead and not bother following us if I were you.”
“You said you’d give her back.”
“Actually, I didn’t. If you think about it.”
“What kind of psychopath bullies blind Pomeranians?”
As First Mate Start-The-Day-With-Rum progressed from fear to panic, he started to get angry, so we left. We climbed the sloping lawn to the top of Gibbs Hill, where the lighthouse stood white and straight like a candle. You could imagine a heroine in a Gothic novel for giants picking up this delicate taper and wandering deeper-ever-deeper into the secret shadows of her spectral outsized world, the dark forgotten closets of the haunted heart.
I used the key on the arm of a bare-breasted mermaid who also carried house keys, moped keys, and the key for the cash register. The heavy door sealed off the sun and fresh-grass scent, and I stood in the bottom of the iron lighthouse looking at the undersides of spiraling stairs with the sense of something opening above my head and the feeling that sucks you in when you step onto an airplane:
Out of the solid gravity-conscious world. Into a tube which, contrary to good reason, hangs suspended in the sky. I locked the door, put the keys in my bag with the knife from my mother’s kitchen, carried Bubbles in my arms, climbing 185 steps.
You may not believe this, but I’d never hijacked a lighthouse before. Never participated in a robbery or violent crime, neither on the giving end nor the receiving one. No DUIs, nothing like that. I don’t know any suicide bombers or other criminals. Never bungee-jumped or put rum in my coffee. Yet I went up-up, round-and-round, as if down-the-rabbit-hole but going the wrong way, in no particular hurry. Bubbles was calm, silent like she’d done this before. The dank stairwell smelled of old tide pools which, somehow, the tide had forgotten to come back and clean up. There wasn’t any light except from the rare naked bulb or tiny window drilled into the iron like a porthole in a submarine. And really the entire building was stairwell: no floors, no landings, just up-up round-and-round and a door like an airlock—and blue burst in as though I’d gone too deep.
Blue above, blue below as the brilliant sky outstretched. Blue on every side as the ocean flooded in from beyond the horizon, rippling, shade-shifting like a temperamental hyper-sensitive intelligence: morose gray-blue, profound royal blue, blue-green devouring sea grass, maroon-tinged kissing the reefs, cyan whirling with the pink sand on the beach.
In a perverse corner of my mind, I expected to look down and discover that the lighthouse stood on green-painted ceramic affixed to a cedar base and that far off over the sea stood another taller, prettier lighthouse on another island. But I looked between the whitewashed iron railings to the pub at the bottom of the hill; to the vacant lot where a hotel had been demolished; over white roofs, power lines, coconut trees to so much sparkling blue water I’d never see it kiss another shore even from the summit of 185 steps. I ambled round the widow’s walk with Bubbles in my arms and saw Bermuda, all of it: green with brightly colored houses shooting up like wildflowers—pink, yellow, blue, lavender, orange—a tiny archipelago delicate and secretive like an old-fashioned key. Saint George’s and Saint David’s made the top loop for the chain. Hamilton Parish to Southampton were the dainty stem and throating. Pembroke and Somerset, out to the Royal Naval Dockyard, formed the notches which were a perfect fit for some singular gap. And it was as if the key lay upon the water waiting to be turned upright inside a secret: a crater in an ancient submerged volcano.
I sat against the wall of the service room beneath the lantern at the top of the lighthouse. I held Bubbles in my lap with soft words and cuddles. If I’d put her down, she might have wandered off the edge; she was small enough to barely graze the railings as she slipped between.
The keeper, that grizzled swabbie, had to back up all the way to achieve perhaps a glimpse of the top of my head. Although he was more likely to backward-somersault down the hill.
“Let me come up and get my dog.” He had to shout. It had been maybe an hour since I’d left him in the shop.
“She looks comfy to me. Aren’t you comfy, Bubbles?”
Her ear twitched a little at the sound of his voice.
“I think she was asleep,” I said. “You interrupted her nice, comfy sleep.”
“Are you insane?” said the hard-boiled hearty of Gibbs Hill. “Seriously. Are you?”
“I’d advise going away. Unless you want precious Bubbly-bub to take the short way down.”
Those were my words, I’m afraid, the results of too much bad TV. But anyway, he went. I heard his footsteps swishing away.
I gave Bubbles some dog biscuits I’d bought at the grocery store. These were just for her, I don’t know any other dogs. I gave her water in a paper bowl. She located everything with her tiny black nose.
As the sun climbed, the blue abyss, the lighthouse, absence of the ground, Bubbles, and I sank into a dreamlike, mutually indifferent companionability. Everything else began to seem non-actual—the Princess hotel was like something on a postage stamp, a container ship on the horizon like a pencil-smudge. The lighthouse cast a shadow on the ground, painted a black line through the souvenir shop, redacting the road I’d driven on. Bubbles, the dog who didn’t know I existed, finished up a dog biscuit, scratched the itch under her collar, went to sleep in my lap.
And when good ol’ Mr. Smee came back, he didn’t talk, just craned and looked. I imagined if he’d seen Bubbles curl up in my lap, he’d have wanted to rip the lighthouse right out of the hill, shake me out, and strangle me—which, incidentally, would’ve been his only option since he’d actually given me all his keys. I suppose I should’ve known: he couldn’t go home. He went away, back to the shop, I guess. I leaned into the lighthouse. The lighthouse leaned into me. Bubbles snoozed in my lap.
The lighthouse-shadow, prone, was a sharp and perfect silhouette, and so it seemed, as I leaned into the tapered iron body, that I was already intimate with its ghost: someone’s shadow is the ghost of their fleeting meeting with the sun.
When night came down, I thought, the lighthouse and I would draw our shadows deep into ourselves, tapers of pure murk—while from the outside our redundant burning obliterated us from sight.
I tried to think of how, looking at the lighthouse from the middle of the sea at night, you’d see something like a firefly: a burning light so bright it devoured the stick-like body that did the burning.
I tried to think of how, from the far night of the future, people might look back and see how life devours those who live it; but they wouldn’t see my face, wouldn’t remember my name. They’d remember the burning and forget that we all share it; but my face, my name, would disappear, suspended until someone asked about them for some irrelevant reason, and I would fuse with the lighthouse as a surplus shadow.
But Cap’n Hook’s cabin boy just kept coming back. He didn’t ask who I was, made no effort to converse since it was clear I was ignoring him. He swished over the grass, craned to see the dog, swished away. But it got on my nerves: the swishing vacuumed up the silence, his head was like a wart in the nether edge of my vision, his persistence forbade me to forget about him. It got so I couldn’t think about the lighthouse; I just thought, He’s coming back, any second he’ll be back; and I kept thinking in circles of the imbecile who named dogs after empty air and apparently just for kicks proclaimed She doesn’t know you exist. Obviously Bubbles had a better sense of smell, better hearing than any human, probably better than most other dogs; and if her world was empty, it was because that empty man filled it with himself. It grew unbearable and finally, when I heard him swishing, I put Bubbles in the beach bag and dangled the bag over the railings.
She woke up and hung, whimpering, as if she could feel the emptiness beneath her beach-bag room, little ears batting the air a good eighty meters above the ground. Russell Crowe’s right hand cried out her stupid name in a high voice like a lunatic.
“Back off,” I said.
He ran. I pulled the dog in when I couldn’t see him anymore. He screamed over his shoulder, “I’m calling the police.”
I don’t think he actually called them at first. I think Davy Jones’s deckhand thought the threat would be enough once I’d had time to think it over. Maybe he himself, sometime, during his dashing career as a swashbuckling brigand slaying hearts in each Tortuga from here to Somerset, had found himself weak in the knees at the prospect of clashing tinfoil swords with cops. Maybe he thought Bubbles would be taken as an accomplice. Maybe he just didn’t want people to know that he was no match for an unprepossessing female and couldn’t keep track of his phlegmatic Pomeranian. Even if he did call immediately, imagine the conversation: a woman alone, something from her mother’s kitchen, blind itchy little dog.
What if the pale light turned out to be nothing more than the arm of a ghost, and there really was no lighthouse, no island beneath? That’s what it felt like eighty meters up: the ground was just a glimmer here and there like light on water, the water vanished altogether; still this pale arm soared beckoning above.
I can’t imagine we were high on the cops’ list of priorities. Anyway, they took forever. Bubbles and I passed a pleasant evening together.
I calmed her down: set her on the widow’s walk so she could feel it with her paws, held her gently so she couldn’t run, administered biscuits, and rid her of the itchy collar. The sun glided to Dockyard, shaded the sky in yellow where the ocean teased the horizon, daubed the clouds with pink and mauve charcoal, and set the sea on fire for a brilliant moment—a moment that left the water bruise-purple and turning black, as if smoldering beneath the surface. When the sun disappeared, the island twinkled—a handful of doubloons spilling over black velvet—and the lighthouse came on.
A thousand watts through a two-ton revolving lens, the equivalent of half a million candles suddenly ablaze and zooming through the air right above my head: it was a shock even though I was expecting it. The noise from the lantern room made me jump, a thump and then a whirr, and then the light—like in UFO movies, when the extras are pretending to mind their own business and are all of a sudden blinded by this too-bright-for-this-world too-white-to-be-real glaring from above. I found myself huddling against the wall of the service room, pressing close to Bubbles, who didn’t notice a thing, something like trepidation creeping up on me. Not that I didn’t know the light would be disturbing, spinning right above my head, turning everything a spectral white every few seconds only to plunge it all into the dark again; but I wasn’t frightened of the light. What crept up on me was more like the shudder that runs through your temples when you see the doors closing and want to throw yourself between them lest you miss the train.
So I don’t know why I just sat there, holding the blind dog and waiting to calm down. The lantern’s ghostly beam seemed as long as a life that’s run its course. And if it would only stand still, I thought, it would be the giant ghost of the lazy sunbeam hanging between the window and the floor in my grandfather’s shop, making sparkling planets out of suspended motes.
Of course it couldn’t stand still or it wouldn’t be a lighthouse. If you were in a boat at sea, thrown up and down and sideways by some hurricane—knowing that any minute, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge would reach out with reefy tentacles and seize your boat—you’d see this light, if it stood still, as nothing but a low-hanging star, proof that your navigating instruments were thoroughly out of whack, and you wouldn’t know you had a reason to hope.
But see the pale arm beckon through wind and rain, swinging softly, steadfastly over turbulent waves, and you’d seem to hear hope calling to you in light, Come . . . Come . . . , breathing between calls like something alive. Toiling in your boat, your thoughts would fill with firelight, hot tea, a bath. The pale beam of the lighthouse promises those things; and while you stagger, wet and cold, the image of the teacup in your hands comes to you borne on the beam, as vivid as the wave that nearly does it for your boat; so every time the ghostly arm reaches round to you again, you physically ache for all it promises. You lean into this light and draw it to yourself, so the delicate beam forging its way through the storm seems to know all of your yearning for a safe haven. And yet the ghostly beckoning, turning aside, beckoning, sweeping aside like a number on a roulette wheel, isn’t itself the safe port but a substanceless sign of it, a mere play of light on water.
What if the pale light turned out to be nothing more than the arm of a ghost, and there really was no lighthouse, no island beneath? That’s what it felt like eighty meters up: the ground was just a glimmer here and there like light on water, the water vanished altogether; still this pale arm soared beckoning above. I wanted to believe its empty promise was a promise of emptiness, I imagined the spectral beam with my silhouette burned into it: a me-shaped absence flying into the abyss, bearing down on those at sea who squinted through the night for some life-sign.
But the lighthouse isn’t a silhouette painter. Its job is not to render specifics, only to show that there is something here, there is light here. Bubbles woke up momentarily, nosed around for something—anything, probably—and so I rubbed her tummy, thinking even though the lighthouse didn’t paint silhouettes, the plain silver line it drew in the black water reminded me of something.
Not the sunlight through the window in the shop but something even more dynamic and obscure. I became absorbed in trying to pinpoint what it was. What did the shimmering silver line rippling through the ocean as if from underneath it remind me of?
Couldn’t put my finger on it. And the really annoying part: once you know that something reminds you of something, it won’t let go of you till you decipher the connection. Try as you might to focus on something else, you’re totally preoccupied with trying to assimilate everything you’ve ever seen to that other incongruous thing—from the rows inside your grandfather’s cash register drawer to the smoke trail on the airplane as your mother left for Africa . . .
They sent one car, two constables, a megaphone. The cruiser lumbered up the hill over the grass, heading for the southernmost point of the lighthouse’s circumference, where Bubbles looked at nothing and I hesitated for no reason, trying to discern which of the dark wedges between lantern-strokes belonged to me.
Some policeman said, “Good evening, ma’am,” and introduced himself through the megaphone.
Bubbles moved an ear.
“Good evening,” I said. “You guys took forever.”
“Can we come up there and speak with you?”
“If you go up, she’ll kill her, she’ll murder my dog, I’m telling you she’s crazy!” cried Ahab’s lackey.
“All right, step up to the railings please, ma’am.”
I went to the railings, went as far as I could get before the iron bars poked me in the chest. I held Bubbles in my arms, a breeze rustled in her fur and stirred my hair, and we looked down from the very edge of the world.
The cops took a look at me through their binoculars and headlights—the latter, of course, pointing at the grass. I took a look at them in the swinging light of the lighthouse. They looked like the smudged shadows of Lego men to me, and I wondered what they saw in their binoculars, if anything.
“Ma’am? Are you so-and-so’s granddaughter? Runs the shop in Saint George’s?”
The constable named somebody who wasn’t my grandfather.
And I wasn’t running the shop. Not anymore. I’d had to liquidate and close it soon after my mother conquered acrophobia and climbed to the summit of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. You could blame the recession, bad luck, bad decisions, my lack of training, the fact that my mother thought the whole venture ridiculous from the start; she thought we should’ve closed the shop when Granddad died. Regardless of what you blame, the shop was in Hamilton, not Saint George’s.
Still, you’ve got to hand it to the constable. He mixed up the details; but he looked at me through binoculars and figured out or remembered my line of work. Not that either one should be difficult around here: a couple thousand people, 20 ½ square miles—many of them occupied by family-owned souvenir shops—sums up the whole country. Chances are this cop, lacking options around Christmastime, had even visited my store. So this half-recognition shouldn’t have astonished me.
Like Bubbles’ silence on the stairs, her nap in my lap, as if she’d known me forever, shouldn’t have astonished me. Who I was shouldn’t have mattered anymore; it only mattered that I was.
So when the constable asked me to remind him of my name, I got confused, and I thought of my dead grandfather, my mother high up in the clouds; I wasn’t about to speak the name they’d given me, but a film came over my eyes like the inside of a bubble. And I said, “Bubbles.”
Wild protestations from Captain Aubrey’s flame-keeper as Bubbles nosed around, bumped into my hand, and licked it.
“Ms. Bubbles—” said the constable.
“No Ms. Just Bubbles.”
The policeman asked his colleague to restrain Lord Nelson’s firebrand from out-shouting the megaphone.
“Ms. Bubbles. Why did you go and lock yourself inside the lighthouse?”
Since they obviously weren’t listening, I felt no special urge to point out that they weren’t listening. I stepped back and sat down against the service room.
“All right, ma’am, there’s a doctor who wants to talk to you. She’s on her way right now. Can you sit tight till she gets here? Can you do that for me?”
The idiot thought I planned to jump. Thanks to bumbling Mr. Smee’s psychological assessment.
While we waited for the doctor, Bubbles ate some biscuits and the white light burned through me and flung itself into the dark, where it stretched and finally wore itself out, over and over.
At first I tried to invoke the shadow of the lighthouse—the ghost of its artificial body’s meeting with the sun—really a reflection of the empty body’s inner dark.
I tried to see the ghost before my closed eyes in dead of night: to draw the shadow, draw the dark down into me.
And I became alarmed when I couldn’t remember what it looked like, not exactly. Looking around, I just saw railings, too much light, and a dog’s head, not the lighthouse. And then I wondered if the doctor would bring a straitjacket.
My jaw started trembling as it dawned on me that I was a complete failure. I should’ve been long gone before the cops arrived, long before the sun went into the sea, before the lighthouse keeper even knew what hit him. Why did I hesitate?
There was a news van now, an ambulance, small crowd of onlookers. The southern lawn twinkled red and blue and flashbulb-white, headlight-yellow, all the way to the bottom of the hill, so it was next to impossible to look at the nothing of the ocean. Still, I didn’t hesitate because of the hubbub; I’d expected it, I didn’t care what anybody thought. And when I thought of my absence sailing out on that white beam, a dog-shaped absence too, I knew my mother wouldn’t see it from Africa. I knew better than to hope it would bear us up to heaven. I was okay with that.
And it wasn’t about Bubbles. Even though I knew that if I hadn’t taken Bubbles, Cap’n Jack’s third-shift watchman would have never called the cops, attracting news folk and the crowd. He’d have just waited me out. But you see, I had to take her.
Of course I came up here to jump. Of course I did. Why else would I do something utterly stir-crazy like holding up a lighthouse? The plan was to take Bubbles with me.
Not that I’m a particular fan of Pomeranians or have anything against them. Bubbles, for whom I’m already halfway gone, was a convenient half-companion on the dark road to non-being.
The downside of Bubbles: she reminds me of me. She and the lighthouse keeper are exactly like me: perfect stand-ins for the worst of me—except no matter how desolate and inept they are, they’ll never lose their souvenir shop because there has to be a lighthouse. That is why, I guess, I want revenge. If the blind Pomeranian and loser buccaneer are signs, the latter signifies the part of me that’s too sure of everything, the former the part that knows next to nothing and couldn’t care less. The first made me vulnerable to disappointment, the second plain disgusts me. Bubbles deserves to end her misery as much as I do.
I’ve had time to think about this, sitting in the dark.
The problem was, in spite of everything I’d done and all I’d planned to do to them, I still couldn’t get away from me. I had the dog in my arms the whole time, after all. And the lighthouse, the lighthouse, the silver line in the water, reminded me of something I had felt, not something I’d seen—the relentless glare of empty hope. And that reminder railed against the cold fire that drove me to snatch a Pomeranian. And both—illusory illumination, invisible fire—fed on the heat of half a million candles and sent up a noxious confusion.
Caught up in it, I wasn’t sure if I could jump. I didn’t know anymore if, when I fell, I’d feel myself releasing myself, sending my absence shooting weightless into nothing—or if, laden with myself until the final moment, I’d just experience failure of the sort I’d gotten used to. And suddenly because of a meaningless beam of light, I needed time, more time to think, and I was out of time because the cops were there and now the woman from the mental hospital hollering through the megaphone, “Bubbles, are you there?” And she was really nothing like me—Bubbles, that is—this wasn’t her idea, after all. I panicked, I shoved everything into the beach bag.
I waited for a wedge of darkness. I slipped to the far side of the lighthouse, away from the crowd. I found the door to the service room, found the key. Then I went back to the other side and stood in the light.
The doctor said, “Oh, there you are.”
Then everybody saw the bag dangling over the railings. A collective gasp, the doctor and the cops were babbling, the lighthouse guy let out a scream.
I dropped the bag.
I imagine that the sound of the knife, the collar, everything hitting the ground far below was like the tinkling of keys in someone’s hand. But the keys to the lighthouse were in my pocket, and I heard nothing but the wail of the lighthouse keeper: a terrible rending of a heart. He threw himself at the bag, the EMTs went after him, and the cops tried to wave back the cameras. I ran to the service room, locked myself in, and wept.
The room was dark except for a few red and green lights from strange machines. The door wasn’t as thick as I’d thought, and I could hear people shouting—they thought I’d throw myself off next. I drew my knees up in a corner (someone tore the lighthouse open at the bottom—must’ve been another key, government property after all—heavy footsteps, cursing on the stairs), my heart in my throat—and I felt a cool, wet nose, a tiny tongue against my hand.
I scooped up Bubbles, pressed her warm little body to my face; I held her and wept, rocking, into her fur. Everything seemed unreal—who the hell is this person weeping over somebody’s kidnapped Pomeranian, hiding from the cops in the whirring churning service room of a lighthouse?!—I couldn’t help but think it all through from the beginning: how in the world did I get here, what did I become to bring myself here? And now what will I do? They’ll realize soon enough that I haven’t jumped.
I did leave the stairwell door open. The cops might think I hid behind the door in the shadows and escaped behind them down the stairs. They might try the service room, but they’d have to go back down to get a key; they wouldn’t hear us over the whirring and the wailing. He’s bellowing her name, that poor old man. We could jump when they go for the key. We could run downstairs, run blind into their arms, surrender to the horror of life.
Bermuda native Mandy-Suzanne Wong is a freelance writer and independent scholar. Her short stories appear in The Hypocrite Reader, The Island Review, Conclave, Dark Matter, Five on the Fifth, the Aeon Award (UK) shortlist, and elsewhere. Her novel Drafts of a Suicide Note was shortlisted for the Santa Fe Writers’ Project Literary Award, named a semi-finalist for the Conium Review Book Prize, and awarded an honorable mention in the Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest. She has also published creative nonfiction and scholarship in Volume! (France), Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy (Open Court), The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art, Evental Aesthetics, and other collections.