The writing news for this week is that two Weird Wild West novelettes, The Enchantment of Coyotes and Shade Town, are rolling out into e-bookstores over the next week or so. Both will also be included in the short story collection to be released in October.
Now on to this week’s story excerpt. We’ve reached Part One. 11. of Soul Cages. Marian has gone out into the back yard to escape the pressures of the house party. (This novel is PG-13.)
Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore
Copyright © 2011 by L. M. May
Published by Osuna Publishing
This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.
Part One. Dreams in the Desert
I found the backyard strangely empty. Perhaps everyone had been told to stay out of it, or else few people wanted to go through the house of a dead girl to get to it.
I was almost across the cracked patio, when Mom followed me out.
Mom called out, “Come back here. We’re not done talking.”
I pointed at Henry, who sat under the shade of the house with his notepad, counting birds.
Mom shook her head, the I-don’t-care-if-he-hears shake.
I waited for Mom to start the fight.
“You’re going to the church school,” Mom said. “That’s final.”
“How about if we talk about this later?”
“There’s nothing to talk about. You’re going to the same school Henry is.” Mom folded her arms. “If you make things difficult, we’ll ground you until you see reason.” Mom’s eyes flicked toward the cell phone on my belt.
So, they’ve started thinking about taking away my phone. I resisted the urge to protectively cover it with my hand.
Mom continued. “I don’t want to hear any more talk about Juan Tabo. It’s rude, like their school isn’t good enough for you. You’ll do fine getting into college.”
My throat constricted. “You’re the one who said I’d be going to that stupid church school, not me.” I walked away toward the apple tree.
Henry had his hands over his ears.
I jumped when Mom’s hand grabbed my shoulder, and spun me around.
There were tears on Mom’s lashes. “Why can’t you get along? Why do you always have to make things difficult? This is important to me, and to your dad. We’re trying to help Henry.”
I thought of Andervender’s seizure of Henry while Mom and Dad watched. Rage welled inside me.
“Well?” Mom cried out. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
I turned away.
Mom said, “You didn’t even give them a chance to show you the school. Gena said you’re acting spoiled and unfair.”
I whirled around. “Screw fair! You let those creeps touch Henry!” My whole body shook so badly I couldn’t walk.
Mom fled back into the house.
I saw Henry sitting with his fingers stuck in his ears, eyes down, rocking. Once my shakes slowed, I went over to him and gently tugged his fingers out of his ears. I said, “Let’s go count the birds in the apple tree.”
The trickling sound of the swamp cooler gave the illusion of coolness. We’d stay under the apple tree until the crowds thinned.
I sat down next to Henry and crossed my ankles. In the quiet I could plan my next steps in going to Juan Tabo. From looking at Ben’s map, the high school was too far to walk to—I’d have to take the bus, or get a bike.
A bike. That’s a great idea. There are lots of bike trails around here. And I’ve got enough in my savings account to get a used one.
And it would open up more possibilities for part-time work.
I’d also see about getting registered for classes and having a copy of my high school transcript sent over. My mind drifted off into memories of high school in Alexandria.
The back door squeaked open, startling me out of a doze. Footsteps paused, then came toward us.
To my relief it was John who came around the side of the house with unopened water bottles in his hands.
Henry said, “So far I’ve counted three chickadees, six doves, four pigeons, and one robin.”
While handing me the water bottles, John said to Henry, “If you put up a sugar feeder, you’ll attract hummingbirds this summer.”
Henry wrote it down in his notebook.
John said to me, “Almost everyone is gone since the vans are unloaded.” He frowned. “Do you mind if I call you on your cell phone? I’ve got a bad feeling about,” he jerked a thumb at the house, “this.”
John pulled out a pencil stub and a napkin, and wrote my number down, folding the napkin up tight to hide in his pocket.
I flipped open my phone. “Is there a number I can reach you at?”
“Sort of.” John rubbed his forehead, thinking. “I don’t have a cell phone. Your best bet is calling the home number. Otherwise I’m out in the truck somewhere.” After telling me the home number, he said, “If you or Henry need me, call. Also, I talked my dad into staying away from Henry for the rest of today. Henry won’t have to join the prayer circle when we leave, but you will.” John made to leave.
I said, “Wait. The teenager in the kitchen—was that Laura?”
“And the ultra-thin woman next to Laura was her mom?”
John gave me a puzzled look when I didn’t say anything more. But as far as I was concerned, his breakup with Laura was none of my business.
************** End of Part One. 11. *****************
If you are reading this after September 24, 2013, you should be able to click here to go to the main information page of Soul Cages to find Part One. 12.
Links can change over time, so click here to go to the main page for Soul Cages if any links don’t work.
See you next time, L.M.