Manual By Her Hand, She Draws You Down

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Available for download. Not available in stores. Sumner, based on the acclaimed story of the same name by award-winning Canadian writer Douglas Smith.

Described as "delightfully creepy" by Booklist, "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down" tells the story of a beautiful young artist with an insatiable and deadly hunger. His stories are a treasure trove of riches that will touch your heart while making you think. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author. And Smith took the story somewhere that surprised me. The twist is sustained.

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Douglas Smith is an award-winning Canadian author of speculative fiction, with over a hundred short story publications in thirty countries and twenty-five languages. I want a way out. I am awake, reading and researching, until the household rises for the next day. I come down to breakfast armed with a list. On the basis of an article by an American scientist, I decide to banish all detergents from the house, even plant-based ones. According to him, instances of atopic illnesses such as eczema and asthma rose sharply after the second world war, which is also when detergents were introduced as a household cleansing agent.

Every single one, that very day, is removed from the house. We are, I tell my baffled family, going to use only natural soap products — for everything, from laundry to hair. It is a long shot, I know, but we have to try it. At this point, I am the definition of desperate. I would hang upside down from a tree in the moonlight, chanting spells, if there was even the slightest chance it might work. I also go through the fine print of what we have been using on her up to now — the battery of NHS-prescribed products — and what I discover makes me so furious, I hurl most of them across the room. Several standard products for eczema contain ingredients that are known skin irritants.


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A few days later, a friend points to the algae-coloured shape in the kitchen sink. Strange, lumpen parcels begin to appear at the door: cold-pressed oils, salts, shea butter, beeswax, anything I can find that is said to have skin-soothing properties. I have to find an alternative to these conventional moisturisers.

I am a woman possessed. Never underestimate a mother on the warpath. In the evenings, I melt and mix and stir. I test each one on my very patient husband, bursting into his study to rub some mixture into his wrist and ask, how does it feel? Does it sting? Is it moisturising? This happens so often that he begins to wordlessly hold out his arm whenever I enter a room. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a character with eczema appears in the novel I am writing. It takes several months of experimenting to devise a viable emollient.

One batch is so solid, it bends a spoon. The breakthrough comes when I work out how to emulsify beeswax: at a terrifyingly high temperature, is the answer, with the kids shut out of the room.

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Suddenly, I have a mixture that is smooth, absorbent yet waterproof. It is golden yellow and smells of flowers, of spring, of honey, of all things nice. Meanwhile, the detergent ban is slowly working its magic. I find an aloe vera gel, sold by a company in south Wales, that is My husband and I witness untroubled, peach-like skin emerge from under the eczema. Astrid, bathing now in magnesium salts and olive oil, instead of dermatological soap substitutes, looks — dare I say it?

Dare I even think it? The eczema is retreating, fading. Is this really happening, or is it a false dawn? She sleeps through a night.

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Still, let us never forget that we must not abandon our Mother when she is wounded, but stand beside her, so that she can summon up all her strength and all her ability to begin ever anew. Some other aspects will be dealt with in the following chapters. As I have said, I do not claim to be exhaustive in this analysis. I encourage communities to examine, respectfully and seriously, the situation of their young people, in order to find the most fitting ways of providing them with pastoral care.

At the same time, I do not want to end this chapter without addressing some words to each of you. I remind you of the good news we received as a gift on the morning of the resurrection: that in all the dark or painful situations that we mentioned, there is a way out. For example, it is true that the digital world can expose you to the risk of self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure. That was the case with the Venerable Carlo Acutis. Carlo was well aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity.

Yet he knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty. He saw that many young people, wanting to be different, really end up being like everyone else, running after whatever the powerful set before them with the mechanisms of consumerism and distraction. In this way they do not bring forth the gifts the Lord has given them; they do not offer the world those unique personal talents that God has given to each of them. Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possession.

What good are possessions or appearances? You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness. In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.

If this is to happen, you need to realize one basic truth: being young is not only about pursuing fleeting pleasures and superficial achievements.

By Her Hand, She Draws You Down

If the years of your youth are to serve their purpose in life, they must be a time of generous commitment, whole-hearted dedication, and sacrifices that are difficult but ultimately fruitful. As a great poet put it:.


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  • If to be in love now First I had to be hurt, I consider what I suffered well suffered, I consider what I wept for as well wept for. Because in the end I came to see That we do not really enjoy what we enjoyed Unless we have suffered for it. If you are young in years, but feel weak, weary or disillusioned, ask Jesus to renew you. With him, hope never fails. You can do the same if you feel overwhelmed by vices, bad habits, selfishness or unhealthy pastimes. Jesus, brimming with life, wants to help you make your youth worthwhile.

    In this way, you will not deprive the world of the contribution that you alone can make, in all your uniqueness and originality. Whenever you are enthused about life in common, you are capable of great sacrifices for others and for the community. Isolation, on the other hand, saps our strength and exposes us to the worst evils of our time. Putting all else aside, I now wish to speak to young people about what is essential, the one thing we should never keep quiet about.

    It is a message containing three great truths that all of us need constantly to keep hearing. It makes no difference whether you have already heard it or not. I want to remind you of it. God loves you. Never doubt this, whatever may happen to you in life. At every moment, you are infinitely loved. Perhaps your experience of fatherhood has not been the best. Your earthly father may have been distant or absent, or harsh and domineering.