For the past couple of years, I have been working on a novella called Sin’s Requiem. I call it a thematic follow up to Trading Saints for Sinners…something that exists in the same world, but the stories do not intersect at all. But though thematically similar, they are different in tone. They’re more like two sides of the same coin.
The story is this: Patrick, an old man is dying slowly, but unable to move on, clinging to life—suffering. He is plagued by guilt, but none of his family members know what that guilt is. Not his daughters, his wife…no one. Despite being Christian (and Catholic before that), Patrick still feels like his sins won’t be forgiven. His grandson, Aeneas, an atheist, doesn’t want to see his grandfather suffer anymore. And he doesn’t believe in Heaven and Hell. So, trying to put his grandfather’s heart at ease, he tells Patrick that he’ll take his sins. Whatever they are.
20 minutes later, the grandfather dies.
When Aeneas goes to sleep that night, his mind is sent back in time to World War II, occupying his grandfather’s body. Turns out, Aeneas managed to accidentally do something the Catholic Church hasn’t practiced in generations—sin eating. Every time he goes to sleep, he wakes up as his grandfather at a different point in World War II, and he can only stop it when he discovers what the “sin” is that his grandfather felt so guilty about, and fix it.
Trading Saints for Sinners I had dedicated to my grandfather—whom I call Pa. He never got to read it. He died much like the grandfather in Requiem. Actually, he died exactly that way. I was with him for several days while he lay in a hospital bed on a morphine drip, listening to Rat Pack music, and getting smaller every moment. There’s a lot of that time in this novella.
But it’s not For Pa, like my last novel was. I dedicated the first one to Pa because as my writing career progressed, he’d always be amazed. When I completed degrees, or got small publications, or became a professor, he always reacted like he couldn’t believe he had a grandchild who was doing those things, and it always made me want to do more. I couldn’t wait to tell Pa about my new publications, my new teachings jobs, etc. So, of course my first published novel was for him.
I contemplated dedicating Requiem to him as well. After all, so much of the story is based on our final moments together. But then I realized something else was happening. I wanted to write a World War II time travel story for years. Same idea—a grandson’s mind occupying the body of his grandfather. I just couldn’t get the concept right. Until Pa—this was his parting gift to me, inspiration on how to write this story. He gave me the structure. He gave me the first chapter. And so, this story isn’t me writing for Pa—this story would not exist without him.
This story is From Pa.
I might still have a dedication—someone he would agree on. But for now, I’m writing with From in mind.
Thank you Pa. You’re still looking out for me. And, Happy Birthday.