Excerpt of Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon
(Page 2 of 14)
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Mary Finn, I thought. I honed in on the idea of her, grabbed on to it as if she
were a talisman. I just couldnt imagine anyoneor anythingthat beautiful. My
mind set to wondering about it, about what she was like. If she would be as mean
to me as all the rest of them, or if maybe there was something different about
her, that same thing that set all the old hags on edge. The more I thought, the
more I felt something crack open in me. Before then I had always kept to myself.
I had gone whole days without touching another human being or making a sound.
One morning a few weeks later, long after the hedge incident wed vowed never to
speak of again, my entire family except me left to look at the pumpkins a farmer
had grown two miles down the roadso big, they had heard, that two people could
fit into each one. I waited half an hour before dropping down from the curtain
rod and heading to the town square. With a pounding heart, I sat on the curb in
front of the Oakley courthouse to watch the people pass. I sat stiffly,
self-consciously, and tried to ignore the kids who walked by laughing. After an
hour, my back and legs were starting to ache, and I wondered if I should go to
Mercy Library itself to find her, though I had never been there before and the
idea filled me with terror.
It was then that I looked up and saw her, and I knew right then and there what
all the fuss was about. There was no mistaking hernor was there any mistaking
the old women who crossed themselves as she passed by, the men who stopped right
in their paths and were moved to dance or song or tears. She carried a straw
basket filled with red and yellow vegetables, with some papers and books poking
over the side, and she walked through the square with her head up, her black
hair glittering in the light, so wild it was like a field of weeds. She wore
silver earrings that hung to her shoulders and a bright skirt that swished
around her feet as she moved. The other townspeople scurried past or loped
along, but Mary walked calmly, like a dancer, her back perfectly straight. I
gazed up at her and thought she was the most beautiful woman Id ever seen, with
her blue eyes and brown, freckled skin; she was the kind of woman that adults
are wary of and children loveyou could just imagine that she had cabinets
filled with candy when your own parents had only milk and grain.
When Mary turned her cats eyes on me and then started walking toward me, I
gasped out loud. I didnt even know where I was. I felt like I was traveling up
and down a muddy river on some long, open boat, or slashing my way through crazy
branches and trees in some huge rain forest. The funny thing was, Id never even
known those other kinds of places existed before I saw Mary Finn walk toward me
with that hair no earthly comb could ever get through trailing out behind her,
smile at me, and sit down by my side.
She smelled of the spices my mother baked oranges in. Her wrists jingled with
bracelets. I felt myself enveloped in her scents and by her hair that brushed my
bare shoulders and made me shiver as she sat down.
For a few moments she just sat next to me, stretching her tanned legs into the
street, smoothing her skirt over her knees. I could only sit and stare. I
watched her hands and her calves and thought how her skin seemed warm, like a
blanket, or bread just out of the oven. When she turned to me and smiled, I felt
like Id been struck.
What a perfect little girl you are, she said. Why are you sitting here
I stared at her. I could barely believe that she was sitting right there in
front of me. Mary Finn, who was the closest thing to a movie star Oakley had
But she just rubbed her brown arms and stuck her hand in her hair the way other
women stick combs.
Excerpted from Rain Village
by Carolyn Turgeon. Copyright © 2006 by Carolyn Turgeon. Excerpted by
permission of Unbridled Books. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.