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The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between by J.W. Nicklaus

 the-light-the-dark-and-ember

 A collection of short stories, each a splinter’s reflection of the human condition, firmly centered upon our oft tenuous, sometimes tensile bond with Hope, and careening flirtation with Love.

Fifteen stories: From the wispy fog of a love lost at sea, to an orphaned child who delivers a present of her own during a war-torn Christmas. These stories are gentle reminders to each of us of what it is to be human, and certainly of our affinity for the slightest glint of Hope.

From One Washington Diner:

The interior lights punched holes in the dead of night, and in the stillness I could hear the buzz of glowing neon from the sign above. I’d hoped there would be the slim chance of some distraction from the empty, laughing darkness that taunted me. Pinching the bridge of my nose between thumb and forefinger, I shuffled through the front door, greeted by the hostess/cashier/night manager, who apparently was thriving on the not-so-delicate thrush of caffeine. Her uniform bore the hallmarks of traditional diner-dom: bobby sox, her skirt hemline right around knee level, and wide, flat lapels on her blouse. She looked me over for all of two seconds before making
her vocal appraisal.
“Let me guess…can’t sleep?” Her voice was disarming, welcoming, like a puppy that jumps in
your lap. Managing a frustrated grin I hoarsely replied, “That obvious?”
“Your eyes, your body language—yeah.” I should have had some snappy retort, but my mental haze precluded any such response and subsequently I let slip my small window of opportunity for any suitable comeback.
Instead, I yawned.
“Jeez, my only customer and I’m already boring you,” she blurted out. I thought she smirked, but couldn’t be certain in my unwillingly wakeful state. I glanced around the empty dining room and motioned from left to right. “Looks like you’re swamped. Should I come back later?”
Soft brown curls played upon her left shoulder as she turned her head slightly. “Early a.m. sarcasm—I like it. Sit wherever you like, I’m good at finding people in a crowd.” Even in my sleepless haze, I had to admit she was delightful.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll sit at the counter,” I croaked. “I’ll try not to be a bother.” Her hair gently fluttered as she shook her head. “Works for me. Cop a squat and I’ll be right with ya’.”
My mind was made up—she was indeed delightful, in a common denominator kind of way. Having never exceeded the mathematical scope of algebra during my academic career that suited me just fine.

 

I am not always the biggest fan of short stories.  I often feel that they are rushed and that the author is unable to get a grasp on their thoughts and just forges ahead.  That is certainly not the case in J.W. Nicklaus’.  These are some of the best short stories that I have read, and makes me realize that I should probably give them a chance more often.

I wanted to see if I could pick a favorite, but it really wasn’t possible for me.  Each one held something special and to pick one over the other seemed unfair.  One of my favorites would certainly have to be 10:18 – unlike the majority of the stories.  I am sure this one will bring a lot of emotion to readers as it prays on a lot of peoples fears (I for one just enjoyed it).  Emissary was another, the author just pulls at the heart strings and writes with such emotion.  Truly delightful!

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone looking to find a new author able to evoke emotions in small bursts, through each of his stories.  Wonderful! 

J.W. Nicklaus resides in a place not entirely fit for human habitation about five months of the year. No pets to speak of, only the apparitions from which all romantics suffer.

An Arizona native, he’s been from one coast to the other, and a few places in between. College brought an AA in Journalism with a minor in Photography, and a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications. His work experience has run the gamut from Creative Director for a small advertising firm in Tucson to a litigation support bureau in Phoenix (and assuredly some awkward stuff in the mix).

Snow has been featured prominently in his stories, perhaps because of the seasonless cli-mate he lives in. Nature was meant to be enjoyed and experienced, not hidden from the senses. So to that end, he hopes someday to live amongst those who are able to live through four true seasons, and not just blast furnace and warm.

He enjoys the occasional Arizona Diamondbacks game with his son, as well as watching him grow up. The experience of being a single dad has taught him far more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Within the expanse of every waking moment, he hopes his guardian angel keeps its arms open wide and heart ever watchful, for there but for one true Hope goes She.

For more about J.W. visit www.avomnia.com

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