Forever in a Breath

Timed Exercise: Ten minutes on a theme with Shannon McGill .


Fingers trail across my skin, leaving chill bumps on my arms. The dress I’m wearing is beginning to yellow at the edges, and it hangs loosely on my skin. Wrinkles stare back from my bathroom mirror, but I see past them for a moment.

These eyes are not my own anymore.

In a few short hours, we will say our vows beneath a summer moon. There will be few witnesses to this procession. Just two beautiful brides in lace and silk, trailing flowers and memories beneath the stars. It will not be unlike the first time in its solitude, but the magnitude of this promise will be immeasurable.

What future can you promise when it is no longer yours to give? What bargaining chips can you offer when time comes for you and steals away your best jewelry, your youthful optimism, and eventually the very breath from the lips of your lover?

I can offer this to you, my love:

A thousand lives beneath all the moons we’ve spent chasing each other’s demons hand-in-hand.

The last crystallized oxygen from my lugs to wear around your neck as you travel to the stars.

A woman as in love with you on the day of our eternal vows as she was the first time she promised you forever.

Forever is a breath. It is a diagnosis. It is a solemn vow.

It is not goodbye.

Huntsman Book Club Questions

The Huntsman is a modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. Fairy tale retellings are very popular right now, casting original characters in modern roles that only slightly reflect their previous adaptations. Do you think the new versions of the old stories will play an important role in literary history some day? How do the changes show how we have evolved as a society over time?

As representations of good and evil, do you feel like Jasper and Silver are flawed? If so, how?

How does loneliness affect each character differently? 

In the midst of obsession or addiction, it is often difficult to see the larger picture. How do the tragedies in their lives force Mary and Dylan to make decisions that will either lead to their salvation or their demise?

Both of the fathers in Mary and Dylan’s story leave something to be desired, but the mothers are not exactly conventional parents either. Do you agree with Mary’s mother’s style of parenting? Why or why not?

The toy elephant is a very tangible object in this book. What else could it represent in a larger context, by traveling from Dylan’s mother all the way to the huntress?

By the end of the book, do you feel that the wolf’s power diminishes? Or has it simply changed? 

Would anything have changed if Dylan’s mother had stayed or taken him with her? Could his life have taken a different course if he were not destined to meet the wolf at such an early age? Or, perhaps, not destined to be The Huntsman at all?

Speaking of Dylan, he is a complicated character. How do you feel about where his story ends in The Huntsman? Did he deserve better? 

How do you feel about the end of the book? Did you know who Anna was by then, and when did you know? What do you think will happen in the sequel?

Cover image by Danil Shunkov.

Cover image by Danil Shunkov.