Please welcome Catherine today, with an excerpt from a work-in-progress:
Our theme for the blog tour this month is summer. My summer has been an on and off thing. I’ve had mini-vacations punctuated by work and my husband’s foot surgery, but I’ve had no real fun-in-the-sun experiences to share with you all. No heart-shaped sunglasses or margarita sipping pool antics either. So, I default to fiction.
The scene you are about to see is the opening sequence to a novel in a series called Gossamer and Veridian. The first book, one about trolls and winter, is the one I’m writing now. This book, about Sudanese folklore and the desert, would ideally be the second book. It doesn’t get any more summery than the imaginary sands of…Iowa.
We bury the past, all things past.
The voices brushed Nasma, mixing with the tempest of the desert storm. Grains of sand flickered like tiny beads as the storm makers sailed among them, glass spotting Nasma’s veils like violet diamonds in the night. Nasma’s voice joined that of her sisters. We bury the dead, all things gone. In front of her Leila spread her arms, the silk of her veils licking backwards, caressing Nasma’s cheek. The roar of the storm was their chorus. We bury treasure, all things secret. A whirlwind spiraled Nasma’s hair upwards. Leila and Myrrh each clasped a hand, and the three sisters spun in the storm. The sand blanketed the ground, the wind sculpted the sand into pockets, mountains, valleys, and graves.
“Stop!” Myrrh said, her voice light with joy. “Stop! I see something!”
“Can you not ride the storm, one night, without stopping?” Leila’s voice was not harsh enough tonight to scold. Myrrh released her sisters’ hands, and the wind bulleted her backward, out of the sand and into the moonlit calm behind them. The tiny grains of sand scattered from the center. Three sisters must ride the wind, three sisters must make the storm. With only two, the center could not hold.
“Let us see what she has found,” said Nasma.
“Another coin?” said Leila. “Or perhaps a bone?”
The sand was warm pleasure on Nasma’s bare feet. “I can not judge the value of another’s treasure. You can not either.” She brushed her thick hair behind her ears while her eyes searched for her sister in the darkness.
The moon revealed Myrrh, crouched low, brushing sand away at the bottom of a pit. “It’s alive,” said Myrrh, her voice dull with disappointment. “I think it is alive.”
“What is it?” Leila asked from the edge.
“A face.” Nasma and Leila slid down the slope to examine Myrrh’s prize. Myrrh’s delicate fingers traced away the sand, around the face, finding hair matted with sand. The moon’s rays made the face alabaster, statue white.
“Leave it,” said Leila. “It is of no interest to us.”
Myrrh rose, sand falling from her like a glass shower. Nasma knelt beside the face, and brushed grains gently from his cheek. “I am ready,” said Myrrh. “Maybe we can find something of real value!”
“This is mine,” said Nasma softly. “I claim this treasure.”
The night paused. Myrrh and Leila glanced at each other. “You never claim anything,” said Myrrh. “You say it is all rubbish.”
“This is mine,” Nasma repeated. “You may go on without me. I will claim this. This is mine.”
Myrrh and Leila helped Nasma push the sand back with their hands. When they had unearthed him, they sailed back to the oasis with the alabaster man in the center of the storm.