Today I thought I would share an excerpt from one of my novels. Twelve Urns can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at River Run Bookstore.
Twelve Urns Excerpt
by Kristy Gherlone
The first time Adolph saw Magdalena, he was a small child. He had been sent outside of his home to play in the cool spring air. Bundled up in the itchy wool coat and hat Mama made him wear, he sat on the steps, licking an icicle that had fallen from the house.
He heard a noise and turned to look. A woman stood in the snow outside of the house next door. He was tentative as she called to him from across the yard, holding a cookie in her hand. She was beautiful, with long, reddish blonde curls flowing down her back. Even from a distance, he could see her blue eyes. The snow reflected on them and made them appear like some of the jewels he had seen in Mama’s special box. Her dress was like none he had ever seen before. It was long to the ground, and seemingly made of shimmering gold. He could see her bare feet that peeked out the bottom, and her toenails were decorated with silver jewels. She was speaking to him. It sounded strange. He did not understand her words, but she wanted him to come closer, that much he knew. He was hungry and wanted the cookie, so he got up from the steps and walked to the edge of his yard.
A dog, large and growling, ran toward her from across the icy road and bared its teeth. It wanted the cookie also. Skinny and starving, its bones were visible through tight yellow fur, and its tongue hung from its large gaping mouth, dripping with white foam. The dog was almost to her, and for a moment, he feared the cookie would be lost, but the dog, close enough to drool on her feet suddenly stopped. It yelped and began to whine, then dropped to the ground. It rolled onto its back in a submissive pose, eyes pleading and wet with sudden fear. Magdalena looked over toward Adolph to see if he was watching. A small smile played on her lips. She placed the cookie on the stairs and turned toward the dog, which was writhing at her feet, quite seemingly in pain. She uttered a few words in a strange language Adolph was not familiar with and pointed a crooked finger over the dog, swirling it around and around, as though she were stirring coffee. Its belly began to swell. Bigger and bigger it grew. Adolph’s eyes widened as he tried to get a better look. He was fascinated. The dog’s gut was so tight with pressure that the tiny hairs lining its belly jutted out like a porcupine. Blood began to trickle in small lines that looked like tiny red rivers. Magdalena extracted a shiny object from her pocket. A knife? A letter opener like Papa had on his desk? He couldn’t see it clearly. He craned his neck, but he was too far away. He wanted to see, so he went closer to watch. Magdalena bent over and suddenly jabbed the object into the lower half of the dog’s stomach. It made a whooshing sound, like air letting out of a balloon. The dog made a small guttural sound. Its face registered both surprise and fear before it fell silent as she cut it up to its neck. It was still twitching, legs kicking wildly in the air as dark red blood flowed out and stained the snow. She squatted over the dog and placed her hands within the cut. Adolph could hear its ribs cracking as she spread the dog’s body wider. He was mesmerized. She grabbed hold of something inside the dog and tugged slightly. He stepped closer still, almost to her then, but just out of reach. He felt tingly. The tiny hairs on his neck tickled him. It was frightening, but it excited him too. Magdalena stood up. She had something in her hands. Closer. Closer. He was right next to her then and could see that Magdalena held a small, squirming puppy. It was beautiful. He’d always wanted a puppy. Papa vowed that he would never have one. ‘An unnecessary burden’ he had proclaimed. She placed it in his arms, and it began to lick his face. Magdalena patted his head, her hands still wet with blood. “ Gudkinsic ”, she said. He didn’t know that word, but she was smiling at him. He carried the puppy the last few feet to her house and snatched the cookie from the stairs, quickly shoving it into his mouth. She laughed, and opened her door for him to go in. “Happy Birthday” she offered in his language. He didn’t know how she knew.