Here are a few short excerpts from my novel.
Few could turn down the catfish, or small mouth bass given up by the singing river that ran right through the middle of town. Though there was the usual small-town fare with trail shops, a diner or two, filling station and motel, far more hikers had stayed at the little hostel on the far edge of the county. Well-known, for the fresh vegetables grown in the back yard of a certain woman with a crowd of dogs. Cathedral windows brought in a riot of light to the wood-floored sanctuary where she walked without the burden of shoes.
Belle’s question burst forth without restraint. “Why do you hunt?”
Roan sat up. “Why do you grow your garden? Or cook every day for strangers?”
“Growing up we’d eat anything. But when we tasted food from a place that doesn’t hide the way they treat their animals. Maya and me, we started to understand the differences.”
“So you won’t eat wildlife?”
He started to toss the apple core into the wastebasket. She caught his hand and redirected it to a bowl of composting materials at the sink.
“Leave no trace,” she said.
He brought her hand to his cheek and opened it there. She could hear him breathing; smell the trees on his skin. He moved closer as if her lips were the fruit he’d meant to know and not that apple which would break down into a million particles under the work of nature’s forces.
Ellis pressed a slice of Calamus root into her palm and closed her fingers around it.
Farther along, when she reached down to pluck a stinging nettle from the plant, Ellis stopped her with a warning to first ask the plant for permission before she took off its arm. But, as the Calamus yielded its pungent flavor, she felt its warm spirit under her tongue. She yanked off the nettle’s leaf long before words left her heart. Blood dripped from her finger behind which hung a small, proud thorn.
Patiently, Ellis pressed a spring of a pretty, white flower against her wound. “Yarrow.” The bleeding stopped. “It’s a good liver tonic besides.”
Ellis’ voice lowered. “Any chance you could have misidentified a plant? Hemlock would have killed you by now, so you must have picked wild carrot. Foxglove! Did you pick something that looked like comfrey? Good God those look-alikes! I can only pray you caught something from the water. Giardia or salmonella would be a blessing.”
“Eggs! She’s been eating eggs at roadside stores.” Bent was horrified. “I told you, Belle! Eggs killed my precious Jayleen.”
Later, around midnight, when a cool spell set in, the cabin became quiet. Roan stared out of an open window from a ladder-back chair. He leaned into the breeze as if to catch the scent of the river or to understand the secret mysteries of mermaids who hunkered in underwater caverns.
“Thought about you a thousand times,” he said. “Wish I could change those last five minutes.”
“Hey, I’m Roan.” He held the dead muskrat.
“Old friend,” Ellis said, though it was their first meeting. “Never dressed out a rodent before.”
Winna padded in behind Roan and smelled everything. Her long nose moved quickly as she worked the floor and the furniture. Silver Jack followed. Not much time had passed before she smelled the air from the upstairs bedrooms. She trotted up there. Her Belle had slept in this room. And Belle’s property was still stored in the dresser .
Copyright (c) 2016. Kitty Lynn. All Rights Reserved.