My mother always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” In fact, she used to say it repeatedly because I had four sisters and we tended to…um…disagree a lot. There were times the pure-sheer frustration of not being able to speak my mind—to right the injustices caused by my sisters or some kid at school—made me feel like I was going to self-implode. My mother obviously didn’t understand or else she’d let me have my say...because if she would do that, she would see that I was right and the other person was, quite simply, wrong. But she wouldn’t let me speak when I didn’t have anything nice to say.
Instead of self-imploding, I’d write. I’d pick up a pencil, have an eraser handy, and write a long letter to whoever was the object of my anger, explaining why I was sooo right and they were sooo completely wrong. The letter was often punctuated with angry words—words I wasn’t allowed to say at home. I would empty my rage onto that piece of paper, and by the end I felt like I finally had my say. I was vindicated. It felt good. All that was left to do was get it to the person I wrote it for.
I’d never give a letter to one of my sisters. They’d just give it to our mom and I’d get smacked upside the head. If it was meant for someone at school, I could mail it…but I’d have to ask my mom for a stamp and she’d want to know why I needed a stamp and then she’d find out about the letter and I’d get smacked upside the head. That left me with only one option; to physically hand the envelope containing my personal brand of justice to the person it was meant for. This, of course, would require me to look that person in the eye and take personal responsibility for every word I wrote. I always chickened out. Besides, she’d just go home and give the letter to her mother, and her mother would call my mother, and I’d get smacked upside the head. So in the end, any letter I wrote in anger died along with my rage.
But that was then. Now I have a computer and an iPhone, both equipped with this convenient little “Send” button. I don’t have to worry about finding a stamp to snail mail my anger, and I certainly don’t have to put myself through the discomfort of looking someone in the eye when I tell them off. Heck, I don’t even need to take the time out to write a long letter explaining in detail why I’m mad—I can just send a few expletives in seconds! Anytime. Anywhere. No need for me to endure minutes, perhaps even hours, of pointless frustration. I can instantly vindicate myself.
The question is, should I?
That simple rule my mother drilled into my head has trained me to do one important thing: don’t act in anger. Whatever I write and post online is not a reflection of the person who caused my ire—it’s a reflection of me. So I walk away. Scream into a pillow. Write a letter I’ll never send.
When I read about how many reputations—how many lives—have been ruined online, I realize how privileged I was to have grown up during the pre-Internet era. I learned the easy way that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.
February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are grudgingly permitted entry. But the price of admission is high.
283 years later… Life as a slave in the Pit had never been easy, but for seventeen-year-old Sunny O’Donnell it was quickly careening out of control. Her mother was killed in the annual spring Cull, leaving her alone with a father who decided to give up on life. It’s not that she blamed him for grieving, but if they didn’t earn enough credits to keep their place inside the Pit, they would be kicked out into a world still teeming with radiation. That left her to earn the credits for both of them. It didn’t help that her boyfriend, Reyes Crowe, was pressuring her to get married and abandon her father.
Sunny didn’t think life could get any worse, until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to serve and entertain the elite at a bachelor party. That's where she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancé, Jack Kenner. Now Sunny is wanted for treason. If they catch her, she'll be executed.
She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end for her…but it turns out it was just the beginning.
Sunset Rising is Book One of a series.
S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) comes from the rocky shores of Canada’s East Coast. As a resident of Halifax during her early adult years, she attended Dalhousie University and earned an Honors Degree in International Development Studies with a focus on ocean development. Throughout her academic studies and early career, Susan had the privilege to work with many developing countries on resource management projects.
Becoming an author has been a lifelong dream for Susan. “Sunset Rising” is her debut novel and the first of many she plans to write.
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