The Purest Water


The Rocky Orchard, the novel that I am currently writing, has a multitude of underlying themes.  In terms of the tone, however, it is meant to have the feel of a long, rambling, wondrous walk through the woods.  I hope the following section engenders that spirit:

“The first trip Eddie and I took together, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We’d only been dating a couple of months.  Eddie planned it.  He wanted to make me happy, and knew that being outside and hiking and immersed in the mountains would be perfect.  We found an adorable little inn – equal parts cute and kitsch – with a remote-control fireplace in the room and our own jacuzzi on the private outdoor deck.  We arrived at night, popped open the bottle of wine Eddie had arranged to be waiting for us in the room.  We couldn’t stop playing with the remote, turning the fireplace on and off, cracking up so much we spilled red wine all over our clothes, so we ripped them off and ran naked out to the hot tub.  That was when I learned that Eddie had a thing about water.  Hot tub, shower, ocean – whatever – something took hold of him the second he got wet.  He had an immediate and overpowering need to make love.  So we did.  In our own little hot tub on our own little deck of the room in Estes Park.

“The next morning was one of those Colorado days you remember your whole life.  The sky so vast and blue that the whole world seems to be in sharper focus.  We took this amazing hike – straight up, like pretty much all hikes in the mountains; and when we got to the topmost point, we kicked off our shoes and waded in a stream not so much bigger than this one.  I took a picture of Eddie standing in the middle of that creek, right about the time he was saying to me, ‘This may be the purest water we taste in our entire lives, baby.  Drink up before we head down.’

“In a heartbeat, that blue sky darkened to a menacing, steely gray.  The temperature dropped probably twenty degrees, and hail the size of marbles slammed us with such force it seemed like it must be trying to hurt us.  We started running as fast as we could, and since it was a steep downhill, it felt like we must be flying.  Flying and freezing and getting pelted.  And laughing.  Laughing so hard.

“Right about the time we could spot our car in the parking lot at the trail head, the hail stopped and the skies cleared.  Poof.  The same stunningly beautiful, warm day as before.  Like the universe just wanted to play a funny little trick on us.  Know what else, Lula?  That ‘purest water we ever taste in our entire lives?’  I got a parasite from drinking it.  Was sick as a dog for months.  That is, I believe, an outstanding example of the concept of irony.  Eddie was fine, by the way.”

Mazie couched down at the creek’s edge and submerged both her hands in the cool water.  She spread her fingers wide, letting the creek’s slow current flow over and around and between them.  She turned her hands palm-side-up, raised them out of the creek, and let the water run between her fingers.

With a great effort, Lula knelt beside Mazie.

Neither woman said a word for quite a while.

“Is Eddie fine now, Lula?” Mazie asked.  “Is he all right?”

painting: Megan Gibbons

new writing, new newsletter

swing

Let’s start out with a new tidbit from my novel-in-progress, The Rocky Orchard:

Swing

I am barefoot.  My absolute favorite thing.  I reach down with one toe, just my big toe, to give us the barest little push to keep the swing going.  I feel tiny grains of dirt on the porch floor as my toe kisses against them.  The extra length of the swing’s chain clanks against the section of chain that’s holding the swing from the porch ceiling.  How long has this swing been here?  We have never once had to fix it, or adjust it, or anything. Not like the old wooden swing outside, with its absurdly long ropes hanging from the giant pine.  We have had to fix that swing a million times, it seems; but the porch one, never.  I toss my head back and look up at the ceiling bolt that holds the porch swing in place, ancient and rusty and painted over so many times. The thought of its strength, its endurance, amaze me. And makes me tired, exhausted. The strain of years upon years of holding up the weight of human beings. I twirl the extra chain through my fingers, I clunk it against the taut chain that is doing the work of holding us up.  I look over at you. My Eddie. 

            A line of sweat is just beginning to break out in the crease of your neck. I want to capture the expression on your face and put it in a jar.  I want to carry the jar around with me like precious fireflies from a summer night.  I have never seen you so relaxed, so contented. As if you know what I’m thinking, you reach for my hand and you kiss it.  I am staring at you and you know that I am staring at you, and I tear up, and you laugh.  You kiss my hand again.  You have that shy-but-formidable look, the one you had on our first date, our real first date.  The look that makes you one dimple sing out.  The look that made me think that maybe, just maybe, we might end up right here someday, swinging on this swing.

            Your hand in mine is sweaty.  The cool moistness of your palm against mine sends a ripple through my body, a shudder of feeling. I reach across your body to trace the line of sweat on your neck with the index finger of my other hand.  I taste it.  The salt of you.  I cannot get enough of you. 

couple.legs

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