01 May 2014

Because I'm busy ... an excerpt

Busy, lazy, maybe both. Either way, I'm posting an excerpt.

This is from the time-travel/historical fiction/romance story I'm currently revising. The main character has got determination in spades ...


Akeva saw the clod of dirt coming and felt the slap as it hit. Tears squeezed out from under her right lid and streaked down her cheeks. She tried to blink her eye, she'd need the jaws of life to pry it open. With her other eye, she looked up at the sky and asked, “Really?”

A gust of wind pulled at her skirts and blew at her hair, as if the universe was answering her with a “Yes, really.” As if the universe could answer her. She laughed at her own craziness.

She fought the temptation to rub at her eye with her dirt and rust covered hands. The last thing she needed right now was to scratch her cornea. If she hadn’t forgotten to bring water, she could rinse out her eye.

She took a mental inventory and realized the only items she’d brought with her today that were of any use were her work-in-the-fields clothes, rough and dirty. She pushed out a sigh.

Using the hammer as a cane of sorts, she lowered herself to the ground. Akeva rubbed off as much junk from her hands as she could on the outer skirt. She carefully folded the skirt back on itself exposing the shift underneath. It reeked of days of sweat, but looked relatively free of dirt. She used it to wipe away the dirt from her eye. What else would go wrong today?

First she’d endured Meriel’s lecture about Akeva being part of the Faradoch den Beithe Cearcall family, how Akeva needed to help her family with the harvest, how she owed it to Meriel to stay away from the stones. Twinges of guilt still tried to poke through Akeva’s determination, but she ignored them now just as she did this morning.

Then she’d wandered around lost for who knew how long before she found the path to the hill. When she finally arrived at the stone circle, she could’ve killed Jean. The woman had to have known there was no way for the horse to make it up the rocky hill. Anger and determination had propelled Akeva up and down the craggy hillside with the rods and tools, until that last trip when she’d slipped down the hillside and twisted her ankle.

She’d tried to finish as much as she could before lunch, but the hobbling, digging, and hammering had left her with quite an appetite. So when she finally stopped for a bite to eat, with half the rods in the ground, Akeva could’ve kicked herself when she realized she’d forgotten to pack food and water in her haste to get to the circle. With nothing to do but get back to work, she hammered and wished for just one break.

Akeva hadn’t thought it had been too much to ask for. As she wiped the dirt and tears away from her eye, she wondered if it had.

Without a mirror, she couldn’t be sure she’d wiped all the dirt off her face, but figured it didn’t matter. It was the dirt left on the surface of her eye that was the problem. So much so that several minutes passed before she could open her eye. At least she only had one more rod to stake in the ground.

Off to the East, she noticed clouds. Nice, thick, dark ones, the kind that storms were made of. Were they really moving towards her? Akeva held her breath as she watched the clouds. Could her luck have changed?

She saw a light in the clouds, not a big one, but a flash none the less. “Perfect.”

The lightning kindled hope in her chest, a tiny spark right in that empty hole in her heart. Finally. The break she’d asked for.

How long until the storm hovered over the stone circle? Akeva had no way of knowing if it would be an hour or the rest of the day. At least the rods were in place to attract the lightning.

Rods. “Crap.” She still had one more to stake.

She pushed herself up and limped to the last rod, determined that a sprained ankle and a little bit of dirt weren’t getting the best of her. Several blows to the rod and it still hadn’t slipped into the ground like the others.

She’d planned to place the metal stakes in a small circle inside the standing stones. Akeva didn’t expect anyone to come looking at the circle, especially the way they all seemed to avoid even talking about them. But if they passed by, they wouldn’t see the spikes hiding in the inner shadow of the stones. However, her rod circle had to be big enough so she could stand in the center.

The ground in this area, closest to the hillside, consisted of that same rocky terrain she’d slipped on earlier. Not even the pick was going to help. At this point, it was better to have the thing in the ground than not: the more metal, the better. Still trying to keep the rods as evenly spaced as possible, she found a spot that looked softer. With the pick, she dug a hole deep enough that it should hold the rod.

Akeva didn’t know if it was it because this was the last rod, or if it was the one that didn’t fit her plan, but she knew she’d remember each lift of the pick, each eruption of dirt, the cold rod in her hand, the clang of each hammer blow, and the satisfaction of watching the rod inch down into the ground. Before she knew it, the rod stood on its own. With a few sweeps and pats of the pick to move the displaced dirt around the rod, she finished. Almost home.

She took a step back to inspect her work. So what if the rods stood at different heights and odd angles? “Not great, but good enough.” They didn’t need to be perfect to attract the lightning into the circle.

All she needed now was that storm. And she’d only be a lightning strike away.

A part of her worried she’d imagined the clouds or that they had disappeared. She glanced at the sky again and relief trickled over her skin. The approaching storm was still there. In fact, it had come closer. The lightning might arrive sooner than she’d hoped.

What a crazy thought: purposefully putting herself in the middle of a lightning storm. Goosebumps erupted on her skin, and not entirely from fear. If this worked…she didn’t even want to think about it in case she jinxed herself.

With nothing else to do until the storm arrived, she moved the hammer and pick to the side before she settled down in the center of her pseudo-circle.

To think, that on her way to the standing stones, she’d started to doubt her plan. Now with the storm approaching, if she’d given up, she would’ve missed this opportunity. Maybe the universe was talking to her.

Now that she’d sat down to wait, the clouds had stopped their advance towards her. Akeva figured it was because now she had nothing else to occupy her mind but to count the seconds until she felt that first raindrop, the first tingle that foreshadowed that something was about to send her home.

Minutes passed and boredom set in, but determination kept her inside the two circles. She studied the sparse grass, the rusty rods, the stone circle rocks, her filthy dress, her swollen ankle, her chipped fingernails, and of course, the oncoming clouds until she couldn’t study them any more. She wished she’d brought something to read, some food and drink, and a pillow. The ground, while soft enough to place the rods, was still hard, especially while waiting for who knew how long.

With nothing else to occupy it, her mind filled with questions. What if today’s attempt didn’t work? How many storms would she race to the stone circle so she wouldn’t miss her chance to get back home? Was there a way to forecast the storms? If her computer still worked, could she have created a forecasting model? Why was the storm taking so long?

In all her planning, she’d ignored an important fact which now smacked her in the face. Mother Nature, no matter the place or era, would take her own time. The most important aspect of her plan to get back home was completely and utterly out of her control.

She hadn’t let Meriel or Ennis stop her. Getting lost hadn’t been a detriment, nor a sprained ankle or a nearly scratched cornea. Mother Nature could take her time. Akeva would keep coming back if need be, she was getting back home and to her family.


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