This is an excerpt from the first chapter of Awaken the Sleeping Gods. It’s in progress (still). This is a novel detailing the history of mental illness in three families and its unlikely source.

Virginia Highway, 1982


Rest Area

“The people, they hear the trees and the wisdom they bring. The trees are their gods and the descendants of the Roanoke colonists are their people.” –Roanoke Found: The Study of an Isolated Theocratic Society, Molly Lazarus Winter, LCSW.


There’s a place where my sister dwells that I can never find. We’ve searched for most of our lives, trying to make our way into that world of hers. She tries, but she can never get us in. Her world doesn’t make sense to us, to me, her twin, our older brother, our parents.

It’s Mom who tried the hardest, ever since my sister gave us that first hint that she had her own world in her mind. We were driving on our vacation to Baltimore, my sister watching the trees as we passed them by on either side of the highway. I’d taken that time to annoy our brother who sat between us, ten years older and ten years wiser on proper car behavior.

He flicked me on the back of my head. “Knock it off,” he said.

I replied by nudging him with my elbow. He took up too much room, being all of sixteen.

“Gabriel, be nice to your sister,” Mom said.

I smirked at him.

“I know where you sleep,” he whispered in my ear.