Just in time for the Fourth of July! As you ponder freedom and independence today, please remember our furry friends who need help. I contributed a short story to this anthology, Nine Loves, brought to you by my publisher Rebel Ink Press. Please consider purchasing one today! Here's more about the recipient of the proceeds and why we put this project into motion:
Imagine finding a box containing a battered baby animal on your doorstep. Now imagine this innocent being bleeding from his wounds, barely clinging to life. Unfortunately, these incidents are all too real for the people working in animal shelters across the United States. Stories of animals being abused and neglected by the very people they’ve learned to trust for their care have become far too common. One such story, that of a kitten dyed purple and used as a bait dog chew toy, reminds us of such evils. Yet it also helps turn our attention to the selfless groups of people standing in the gap to protect these precious lives. While following the progress of the purple kitten (aptly dubbed Smurf), ten Rebel authors decided to put words to the page to support The Nine Lives Foundation, a no-kill shelter for cats and kittens, whatever their need. While Smurf has found a new human to adore him and a forever home, countless other animals aren’t nearly as fortunate. With that in mind, Rebel Ink Press is proud to present our 2016 Charity project, Nine Loves, a collection of short stories featuring underdogs, second chances, and hope against all odds type tales. A donation in Smurf’s honor will be made to The Nine Lives Foundation from all copies sold and we thank you in advance for your purchase! Simply click on the link below to be magically transported to the version of your choice!
This short story is my first foray into "farm fiction." It was chosen to be sold at FarmCon in Indianapolis, and will prove a nice break from my pithy life observations. I had only 600 words, which is hard for a chatty girl like me. I hope you enjoy!
Wade’s heart couldn’t take the anticipation of Serena’s arrival every Saturday at the Fairport farmer’s market. Always a few minutes late, she’d tumble into her stall, blooms from the bouquets she sold drifting down to form a trail in her wake. Every few seconds, Wade found a reason to look up from his own goods – berries bursting with juice, tomatoes heavy and ripe, honey thick and sweet – to scan the growing crowd for her. Rearranging the flawless display again, he stole a furtive glance toward the riverfront where she always parked her tiny Fiat. How could so many flowers fit in a Fiat? It was one of the many questions he practiced asking her, should he ever get the nerve to speak to her.
And there she was. Dressed, as usual, in a simple dress adorned with tiny blue cornflowers, she made her way through the crowd, those petals floating wordlessly to the ground. A mass of honey hair, the same color as the honey he gathered and sold, moved around her head as though a separate entity from her body. Wade thought only pure sorcery made that hair appear to always move like ripples in the river that bordered Fairport. She nodded and winked a violet eye at him as she passed, a smile playing around the corners of her raspberry lips, just like she had every Saturday for the past 6 weeks. Wade gave a half-smile that made a dimple pop out of his tanned cheek, and a two-finger salute. This was the most communication they’d had, and Wade thought he’d die of pure joy. The current of that moment was the high water mark of his week. He wondered what it would be like to bury his face in that hair. He imagined it smelled of all that he loved about being a farmer. The earth, the sweet berries, the wildflowers.
Once she passed, Wade got down to the business of selling his goodies. He took pride in telling customers how his berries always won prizes at the state fair and how he rescued the honey bees from the eaves of homes in the suburbs where they took up residence against the will of owners who didn’t understand that honey bees don’t sting. People were surprised to learn that bees were crucial to the fragile ecosystems of the earth, and Wade was always glad to save a hive. He loved beekeeping almost as much as he loved the taste of a sun-warmed, fat strawberry fresh off the stem
During the slow times, he watched Serena create unique flower groupings – sunflowers with peonies and daylilies – that brought forth gasps of delight from her customers, who were captivated by the flowers as much as Wade was by the girl. Her tip jar was always overflowing with crumpled bills, and she rarely had anything left to shove into the Fiat at the end of the morning.
There was an energy in the air that day, Wade thought. He felt it as he looked up and saw Serena standing in front of him.
“May I try some of that honey?” she asked, her voice musical.
“Sure,” Wade said, proffering a jar.
She dipped two fingers into the jar, and placed them, dripping with honey, between her parted lips. She closed her eyes in ecstasy as she licked the fingers clean. One small drop fell and landed at the top of the swell of her breasts. Wade nearly fainted. He wanted to watch her savor honey all day.
“So,” he said. “How do you fit all those flowers in that tiny car?”
“Come with me and I’ll show you,” she said, with another wink of her violet eye.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.