Excerpt from The Fruit of Stone by Mark Spragg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Fruit of Stone

by Mark Spragg

The Fruit of Stone by Mark Spragg
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2002, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2003, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


He watches her stand from the bed and step her long legs into her underpants, hook her bra at her waist, turn it, shrug into its cool lace, run her thumbs under its straps. She drops her dress over her head and pulls it away from her belly and hips, and it settles and hangs in the morning light. She takes up her canvas bookbag from the back of the chair and ducks through its single strap and adjusts the strap between her breasts.

He knows the bookbag holds field guides for flowers, birds, trees. At least one novel. No doubt two, perhaps three, books of poetry. And Milton. She doesn't go out of the house without Milton.

Woody yips and bounces on his front legs, and they look at him. He blocks the bedroom doorway and is anxious for his day's labor. His tongue lolls from his muzzle, his brindled body bleeding out of definition in the still-dark hallway.

Gretchen squats at the dog's head and rubs his shoulders, works the length of his ribs. His eyes go soft with pleasure. He forgets he is ugly and common and owned to work cows.

"I love you," she says. Her hands are deep in the dog's ruff, and she muscles him back and forth over his shoulders, and he mouths at her wrists.

"I love you more," McEban says. He has not stood from the edge of the bed.

She looks over her shoulder. "It's not a contest," she says.

"It feels like it is."

She stands away from the dog. She leans into the doorjamb. "You love me more than I love you, or more than Bennett loves me?"

"Both," he says. He knows he is capable of saying anything. He knows a prayer has been answered and a vacancy made in his desires. He has no control over what may be sucked into the void.

"You remember what it was like before?" he asks.

"Before what?"

"The time before last night. When we were kids."

"That was a lifetime ago," she says.

"It doesn't seem that way to me."

She adjusts the bookbag against her hip.

"I remember the light," he says. He looks up at her.

She squares herself in the doorway. She doesn't look away. "I can't remember whether it was day or night. Not even the time of year." She still doesn't look away. She means to hold him there, in front of her, without the escape of memory.

He nods and looks down to where his hands cap his knees. "You want me to pick you up for the auction?" he asks.

"Yes, I do."

"Tomorrow?"

"Yes."

"I thought you might've changed your mind."

"How would Bennett get home?" she asks. "If I changed my mind?"

She turns away and he hears her in the shaded hallway and the dog's toenails on the floorboards at her heels. He hears the screendoor slam, and the dog barking once from the kitchen, and then again.

He walks to the window and squints into the glare. He watches her drive across the plank bridge, the boards thumping against their loose spikes. He watches her on the dirt section road, the rise of the red talc behind her. The wind has hushed, and the dust swells to the roadside and powders the borrow ditches rusty.

"It was the first of June," he says. "It was the very last part of the day."

He sat at the kitchen table with his mother and grandmother. His heels were hooked on the front rung of his chair, and his knees pressed against the underside of the table. He was eight. It was 1968. He does not remember that they spoke. There was the tinny clink of silverware. The burble of the electric coffeepot on the counter. He was waiting for the day to happen to him. He was working his way to the bottom of a bowl of creamed wheat.

He heard his father in the hallway and looked up from his breakfast and smiled at the man. His father was in a hurry. He didn't smile back. He moved to them, and passed without so much as a nod. He held a pistol at his side, low against his thigh. He kicked through the screendoor and marched to the center of the yard and stopped. He gripped the gun in both hands. He raised it slightly away from his waist and took a deep breath and emptied all six chambers into the ground between his feet. Boom, boom, boom. Boom, boom, boom. Just like that.

Copyright © 2002 by Mark Spragg. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Putnam.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice


Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Seven Days of Us
    by Francesca Hornak

    A warm, wry debut novel about a family forced to spend a week together over the holidays.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.