I’ve met many writers in the virtual world where we now increasingly live. They all want you to read their blogs, comment, retweet their tweets and like them on Facebook but not all of them return the favor. So it’s a true honor to post an excerpt from Jennifer Hotes’ debut novel Four Rubbings. She is a champion supporter of other writers, a hospice volunteer, and still very much in touch with the magical, tormented world of teenagers. She’s also a very talented artist. From Four Rubbings:
“As I kneel down next to my mother’s grave, I notice the withered flowers that slump over the sides of the vase. The sunflowers we brought for her birthday have exploded with rotting gray seeds. I dig my nails into my palms to keep from tossing the dead bouquet behind a bush. The leaves crawl with gnats and tiny worms that feast on the fetid offering.
“You guys are glad I forgot fresh flowers, aren’t you?” I say, content to leave the rotten bouquet in place. I stretch across the grave and goosebumps erupt down my naked arms and legs. I suck in the air that hangs thick around my face, a mix of rotting leaves and smoky sweet mulch that tickles my nose and makes me sneeze. After blessing myself, I cross my legs at the ankles. I close my eyes and picture the porcelain white vault below that encases the last of my mother’s earthly remains. I imagine the cedar roots that have wrapped around her coffin by now, blotting out the delicate gold leaf details entirely. I think about my mom the gardener, tucked inside the roots of a tree, and smile. Desperate to feel my mother’s spirit, I paint a vivid mental picture of her, plucked from fuzzy memories and fading photographs. In this particular time capsule, I’m seven and she snuggles next to me in bed. Lush copper hair drapes over her shoulders. It was before the days when she hid her chemo-ravaged head with scarves. Her eyes glint with mischief as she looks down to ask which book I want first. My tiny hands reach for The Runaway Bunny. She wraps her arms around me and opens the worn board book. The thick spine creaks as she turns to the first page and I nestle deeper into her. Resting her chin on the top of my head, she begins to read a book we both know by heart. Her voice vibrates down my back, and her warm breath washes over me like a blessing as she whispers:
“Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, ‘I am running away.’ ‘If you run away,’ said his mother, ‘I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.’”
Today brought the news of my mother’s cancer and her dire prognosis. So tonight, my favorite baby book brings me a special comfort. She won’t die. Mothers don’t die. She will be here to watch my whole life, because I need her. That’s what mothers do. As she closes the book, I lean into her and breathe in baby powder, sunshine, and coffee. She kisses the top of my head and tucks a curl behind my ear. “Josie, before you were born, our hearts were stitched together in heaven. I’ll always be this close.” She lays her hand across my bony rib cage. Lying on her grave, I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from crying and taste blood. I hold a hand over my ribs and ache to feel a trace of the string that ties our hearts together, but all I feel is cheap fringe and fake beads.
Read more about Jennifer Hotes.
As a part of her blog tour Jennifer is raffling off free copies of her book plus several other other goodies, including a free peek at the next book in her Stone Witch series. Click here to enter the drawing.
8 thoughts on “Kind Spirit: Jennifer Hotes”
Oh, Jan. YOU, my dear, are the kindest soul in cyberspace. Thanks for allowing me to share the book with new readers on your blog. (kicks dirt with boot and blushes)
You deserve every bit of praise anyone can hoist upon you!
This lady certainly has huge energy. :))
Jenn does have huge energy! And she is a champion of others. She’s certainly my champion!
A terrific piece of writing–wholly gripping, indeed. And how kind of you Jan to highlight someone who has obviously touched you with her kindness. As it appears I’m too late for the raffle, I shall hunt down Jenn’s work elsewhere, but there is little doubt it is worthy reading.
Cheers to you!
How kind of you! If you’d ever like to be featured on my lowly blog, please let me know! I love your blog – it’s one of my favorites!
How lovely to feature Jennifer’s writing here on your blog. Good stuff, especially the image created by the final line.
I’m late to this party, but I adore Jenn & you too, Jan. Two great women who work great together.