Run, baby girl! Mama screams from her grave. Run!
And I be fast, too—lickety-split like she always say—rocks and shells cuttin’ at my feet as I claw my way up the hill. My breath all hitched and raggedy when I make the rise and creep under them trees that’s always so sweet and piney smellin’. My thinkin’ trees, Daddy calls ’em.
Through the branches I can see him and Willie bein’ marched down to the cove with the others—Willie spittin’ and fightin’ good as any man though he ain’t but six, Daddy gone all quiet as he peeks back to where I’m hid, his eyes catchin’ mine like they do, tellin’ me to stay put, stay quiet. That he’d be back for me.
Ain’t but a half hour since they come poundin’ at the door—the one Mama always said ain’t nothin’ ever come through but bad news—Daddy awake first, slippin’ that old suspender over his shoulder as he picked his way past us in the dark. Willie still hard asleep on the cot, but me, I saw Daddy’s back go stiff, his eyes turn hard when he opened up—the faces of them mainland men all twisted and ugly with meanness, lookin’ me over like they ate somethin’ bad. It was then Mama told me to git.
There’s more of ’em movin’ up the hill with their torches now, puttin’ fire to houses I been in and out of my whole life, laughin’ as they step ’round Sally’s baby plopped down in the dirt, flappin’ her hands and cryin’, all big-eyed scared.
I look to the graveyard where our people is buried—a hundred years’ worth maybe. Mama laid out just last winter, not a week after bakin’ me my nine-years cake. Places in there I know to hide, places I can stay ’til Daddy and them come back, feedin’ myself on fish and berries, lyin’ in the sun.
Hide! Mama beggin’ me now, but my feet don’t listen, my eyes still caught on Daddy and Willie and the man pushin’ ’em hard toward the boats—Willie cryin’, which he don’t hardly do no more, even when the cat up and killed her kittens for no reason other than they’s gettin’ on her nerves.
I’m turnin’ to make for the graveyard like she say when I’m took up sudden from behind, a big man-hand slappin’ hard over my mouth, hot words whisperin’ in my ear. I kick the air, claw to get free—Mama’s voice fadin’ into Willie’s cryin’ and the hoarse shouts of ugly men, my heart like to burst ’til the darkness take me down.
Subject: Island Women Week
From: [email protected]
Okay, this is my final email before I see you all on Saturday—promise. And Shelley, what’s this shit I hear about you bailing on us to “work on the relationship”? Damn, girl, how can this new man, whom none of us have even met, be worth giving up an entire week on the island? Seriously, put the boy-toy on hold and get packing. Remember our deal? Everyone comes back. Once an Island Woman, always an Island Woman.
Just got off the phone with Margot about the cell service, and yes, it still sucks. And since there’s no electricity for charging out here anyway, what do you say we leave the damn things home this time? Lily’s idea, actually, and I think it’s great. Just putting it out there…
On the plus side, brother Drew has had the propane tanks filled; the gas lights that were on the fritz last year have been replaced; and while the broiler on the stove still goes out any old time it wants, Frosty Frieda and that temperamental pilot light of hers are finally gone, replaced by a brand-new gas fridge. We’ve got a couple new carts for lugging stuff this year, too—the larger ones that can carry two of the water jugs at once, which means fewer trips from the well up to the Birches. I can hear you all groaning now; just think of it as your aerobic exercise for the week (except for Margot, who will probably hike ten miles and kayak around the island twice each morning before the rest of us are even up).
More good news! As of this week, there are new futons in two of the bedrooms and a new sleeping hammock on the south-facing porch. And we finally tossed the moldy-smelling mattress that was in the Twig and brought in two singles. Still a squirrel problem down there (who wouldn’t want to make their nest in that sweet little cottage, right?), so I’m thinking Brit and Lily should take that since Lily’s bringing Gus again. The scent of a dog always keeps them away.
Reminders: It can go from hot to chilly and damp in a matter of minutes out here. Remember last year? So think layers. A bathing suit, if you absolutely must. We’ll be totally alone and I, for one, plan to give these lobstermen an eyeful!
As far as dinners go, Saturday night I’m making that Thai Chicken Salad you all liked so much. Margot’s taking Sunday, which leaves the rest of you to work out your place in the rotation. Remember you’re responsible not only for the meal, but the wine and munchies for cocktail hour (see my last email). There’s that supermarket just off the highway and the little gourmet place for provisioning, or you can wait and make a trip later on in the week. As always, bring your own stuff for breakfasts and lunches, etc.
What else? Books, of course. Wine, wine, and more wine. Is there ever enough? And we can always use more candles and lamp oil.
High tide on Saturday is just before two, which is when I’ll be at the boat ramp. Please be on time. Seriously. Maneuvering a boat full of people and gear to the island is a lot easier if you don’t have to pick your way through rocky ledges in an ebb tide, especially if the fog starts rolling in.
I’m sure you’ll let me know if I’ve forgotten anything. Remember, this week is yours to do whatever, without the distraction of men and other assorted children—hah! Oh, and a caveat to that long list of things I just suggested you bring? Remember it’s a good half-mile slog from dock to house, and the only person schlepping your stuff will be you. Guaranteed.
Have to run; got a new author coming in for a reading.
Island Women rule!
The Reese’s Leap Book Launch was held Thursday night at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH and was a real blast! Here’s the line-up through the next few weeks: tonight, April 6, I’ll be reading and signing books alongside fellow novelist Jen Blood as part of the monthly “Lit: Readings and Libations” program at the Slainte Wine Bar & Lounge in Portland ME (http://www.slaintewinebar.com/). On Monday evening, April 8, I’ll be on the Literary New England Radio Show on Blog Talk radio (http://www.litnewengland.com/).
Where can we find you online?
My website, www.DarcyScott.net, contains all kinds of information, including audiofile excerpts and a link where readers can order personalized books. My FB address is www.Facebook.com/Author.Darcy.Scott, and I tweet @Darcy_Scott.
And where can readers buy your books?
At select independent bookstores in Maine and New Hampshire, and online at Amazon in both softcover and Kindle. It’s also available in Nook, and all the other e-formats.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DARCY SCOTT is a live-aboard sailor and experienced ocean cruiser who’s sailed to Grenada and back on a whim, island-hopped through the Caribbean, and been struck by lightning in the middle of the Gulf Stream. Her favorite cruising ground remains the coast of Maine, however, and her appreciation of the history and rugged beauty of its sparsely populated out-islands serves as inspiration for her Maine Island Mystery Series, which includes 2012’s award-winning Matinicus and the newly released Reese’s Leap. Book three, Ragged Island, is currently in the works. Her debut novel, Hunter Huntress, was published in June, 2010 by Snowbooks, Ltd., UK.