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Excerpt from Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Rain Village

by Carolyn Turgeon

Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon X
Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon
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    Oct 2006, 320 pages

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Tea in hand, we made our way back to the front desk. I couldn’t take my eyes off my cup and walked slowly, deliberately. With relief, I set it down on the desk and breathed in the hot herb scent.

Suddenly the door slammed open. I turned to see a woman walking hesitantly into the room, someone I didn’t recognize from the farm or square.

“Hi,” she whispered, approaching Mary and eyeing me nervously. “Can you help me? They say you can see the future.” She walked in small steps toward the desk.

Mary set down her tea and laughed, a warm, rich laugh that made me think of honey. “I used to know a woman who could see the future—visions, she called it—but I’ve never had that gift, my friend.”

The woman just stood there. “I don’t have anywhere else to go,” she said. “I’m being eaten alive, and there’s nothing I can do. Please help me.” Her face was flushed red. Her breath labored and quick. There was a yearning so strong in her I could almost reach out and stroke it there beside her.

“What is it?” I asked, surprising myself. I had never seen anyone so raw before, just laid bare.

Mary turned and looked at the woman then. “She’s in love,” she whispered. She rose from her chair and walked toward the woman, staring right at her.

The woman shut her eyes. Faint lines stretched out from her eyes and mouth and faded into her hair. You could see all her days in the field, all the harvesting she’d done. Her cow-milking hands were red and chapped.

“She’s burning up,” Mary said softly, pressing the back of her hand against the woman’s forehead. “Tessa, could you make up a batch of tea, black leaves with cranberry bark crushed in, maybe?” She winked at me. “The last jar on the left and second from the right.”

I nodded and scurried off my stool as if an army were beating at the door.

My hands shook as I pushed a stool up to the side of the stove and climbed up and stared at the jars. Mary’s words jumbled in my head. Last on the right or left? Second from the left? I squinted at the black markings scribbled on tape stuck to the jars but couldn’t make them out. The herbs inside looked reddish black on either side. I panicked, then reached out and grabbed the last jar on the left and the second from the right. This is wrong, I thought, close to tears, as I sprinkled a bit of herb from each jar onto a piece of cheesecloth and folded it into a pouch.

By the time I was done, I could hear sobbing from the front of the room. I raced back, holding up the cup so it wouldn’t spill. The tea made me a part of this, and I felt necessary in a way I never had before.

The woman was hunched over Mary’s desk, weeping.

I set down the tea in front of the woman. “Here you go,” I said, my heart pounding.

“She’s in love with her neighbor’s husband,” Mary whispered.

The woman jolted up then. “I can’t help it,” she said. “I feel so dirty, like a criminal. I feel it in every vein of my body.”

“I know,” Mary soothed. “I know. My friend Tessa here made you some tea; why don’t you try it?”

“Yes,” the woman said, picking up the cup. “Oh, yes, I’m sorry, thank you. My name is Beatrice, by the way. I come from outside Springfield. I’m sorry for this, for being this way.”

Mary leaned over and put her hand on Beatrice’s shoulder. Her hair fell forward as she peered in Beatrice’s face. I watched Beatrice take a sip of tea and was relieved when she didn’t collapse afterward.

“I’ve been in love like that, too,” Mary said.

I was confused. “But isn’t that good?” I asked. Not that I knew anything about it.

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.

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