With my new focus on writing for the Radish app, I’ve got a few links to share. If you haven’t tried my space opera yet, you can try it for free here:
My latest project will be Tiny Crosses, and I’m really proud of this one. If you love shifters and magic, this is for you. It’s the first in my Southern Gothic series. Here’s a small taste of southern flavor:
“June-bug, you seen Patsy?”
Adra Anne Markey lifted her long skirt to step over a mud puddle. The reenactment was slow for the moment. Crowds had thinned out as the rainclouds had moved in, and Adra needed to know if Patsy wanted lunch or not.
“If you see her, tell her she’s missing her dinner, would ya?”
June waved a stringy, pale arm at Adra from her place near the old turn of the century school house. Which sat bright and freshly painted on a street block fresh out of Mayberry and right next to the war memorial of the local Glorious Fallen.
Carter county’s tiny courthouse sat at the other end of the street. The levee did the best that it could, but years of neglect and low government funding had left it a bit worse for wear, but the locals had put up a line of cannonade and park benches to give it a cosmetic shine. God knew, Adra could find comfort in that dignified artillery should the levee ever break washing them all away in that murky Mississippi water.
Adra headed back to the “women’s tent” where they were all preparing ham and beans for the union soldiers encamped at the Carter House down the road past the courthouse. A line of folding tables and chairs were set up for the ones who wanted to swing by and eat a good old fashioned meal cooked over campfires by the loving hands of the Ladies Auxiliary and the Prayer Warriors of the First Baptist Church.
Amber Kind shouted over the low hum of the small crowd gathering outside the tent. “Y’all, we’re gonna start serving lunch in just about fifteen minutes, so line up on the south side of the tent.”
The mostly geriatric set of the local citizenry tottered to the appointed place to get in line for the food. Adra made her way back behind the long table where the food was being set out in big kettles to serve.
Sweltering heat was now being broken up by suffocating humidity as the storm appeared to be moving in a bit faster. “Amber, I don’t think we’re gonna make it, Hon!”, she shouted down the line.
Amber laughed her high tittering laugh. “We’re gonna make it. Did you find Patsy?”
“No, she’s gone home, I bet. You know she didn’t really want to come today. I think Miss Rose made her do it as punishment.”
Amber sighed. “Jesus give me strength. Well, lets just start racking up that cornbread.”
As the clouds grew thicker, a cooler wind blew in off the river to make the lunch crowd happy to be alive and filling their bellies. They lingered until the first rain started to fall in fat, occasional drops.
By that time, the women had nearly accomplished all the clean up and the local JROTC was tapped as a chain gang to break down the tables.
Adra pushed her dark hair off her face and turned her face to the summer breeze. Predictably, her hair had fallen loose of its braid, and the “period” costume she’d been given was sticking to her body from the heat of the kitchen fires which were smoldering and still now. The smell of wood fires drifted over the whole street.
She loved that smell. It was one of the reasons she did this every year. Adra had a healthy respect for history, but she just loved being on the river. She loved the noisy hum of the crowds as people came and went. It was about as close to the hum of the city as she was gonna get for a good long while.
Grandma Markey lived nearby, and Adra had moved in with her right after graduation two years ago. She took her college courses on the computer when she could, and she drove about twenty five miles to the satellite courses in Janesville when she couldn’t. It wasn’t perfect, but Grandma Markey needed someone all the time, and Adra was just about the only member of the family with sense and no jail time to her name.
She looked around the mean streets of Carter to analyze it, warts and all. Here’s the thing; she knew the typical southern stereotype of a small town, and Carter had some of that. It did, and she wouldn’t lie.
Yet, there was an element of peace to be found in this small town that trumped some of the ugliness. The town was like a person. It was like Aunt Tilly.
Adra’s aunt Tilly was a two time felon. She’d been caught dealing the hard stuff for Macky Allen, and got all kinds of time for it, however, she was the sweetest, most caring person you’d ever meet.
It was that kind of contradiction.
She started running as the rain picked up. The poor regiment wouldn’t have shelter if it poured really hard. Her skirts made it hard to run, but it only took a few minutes to reach Oak Street.
She ran up onto the old plank board porch with a shower of laughter and softly spoken curse words. On the old porch swing sat her best friend since they were – in her Mamie’s words- knee high to a tadpole.
Terrance King, of the old King family, looked like all the other Kings. That happened around here a lot. His hair was a dirty ginger, and he still had some of his baby fat in his face. They were all tall, strapping landed gentlemen, and Terry was home from St. Louis University.
“Your school thing is over,” she said with no surprise and a smile. Terry stood slowly and walked over to hug Adra. It wasn’t different from any other hug they’d ever shared, but Adra felt something in the air. Maybe it was the snap the storm was about to take on as the lightening clapped over the levee behind her.
He pulled her away from the edge of the porch awning, and said, “You’re wet all over.”
She nodded, looking up into nut brown eyes she’d seen nearly every day of her life. “I am, but it was bracing.”
He laughed. Adra dropped her two hands into his and pulled him to sit back down on the porch swing. “Tell me everything. School?”