Welcome to My Cozie Corner's stop on the
"Desert Rice" book tour.
This tour is brought to you by Innovative Book Tours.
"Grab 'er feet!"
To grab her feet, I'd have to touch her, and nothing could be worse than putting my hands on a dead body, even my own mama's. The very idea sent fear itching and scratching through my veins and creepy-crawlies wiggling down my spine. Goosebumps covered my body from the top of my blonde head to the tips of my toes.
"Don't just stand there." Jacob bent over and took hold of Mama's dead body by the shoulders. "I can't do this on my own."
The stench caused me to gag, and I shook my head. The collar of my shirt, pulled over my nose, barely diffused the smell. I wished Jacob could find someone else, anyone else, to help, but we were alone.
He straightened himself and put his hands on his hips. "Samantha Jean"—I didn’t like it when he used my full name—"You have to help me. Just grab 'er feet so we can get this over with."
I shook my head once more, my feet anchored to the earth. I couldn't move. I wanted to take off for the trees that lined our property, disappear in the shadows of the thick foliage, and forget about this whole day, but my mind and body worked separately of each other. My mind already kicked up dust and took for the trees, but my body stood plumb still.
"So you want to leave her here?" He swung his arm. I flinched, but my brother didn't hit me, he only emphasized his point with the wave of the arm. "People will see her and the wild dogs might get at her. Is that what you want?"
No, of course not, but I still didn't want to touch her. I'd never stood so close to death before, unless dead animals counted, which they didn't. This was different for sure. Whatever it felt like to touch a dead body—stiff and rigid, or rubbery like a piece of chicken—I'd no plans to find out.
"We have to get her inside," Jacob said. "It's the right thing to do and you know it. I need your help, Sam. You have to help me."
He'd already wrapped her in a bed sheet and rolled her up tight, like in the movies where they roll a dead body in a rug.
I was mighty grateful that he covered her up, especially when he said that death made a person look frightful, and that I shouldn't even attempt to look.
Yeah, no problem there.
"Just do it or I'll clock you upside your head." He bent down and placed his hands under her arms to get a good grip. "Grab 'er feet, and when I say lift, you'd better lift, or else."
I wanted to tell him to leave me alone, and that just because he was older than me didn’t give him the right to tell me what to do, but his warning look kept me from saying a word. I bent over to take hold of her feet and accidently breathed in the acidic smell of decay, alcohol, and cheap perfume permeating from the sheet.
Bile burned in my throat, and my eyes stung and began watering. I rolled my shoulders forward when my stomach lurched, but despite my body's mad attempt to force me to puke my guts out, only dry heaves followed, over and over. It took a while for the waves of nausea to settle, but my head swam in dizziness and my body ached—boy, did I hurt. My legs wobbled and my insides twisted and cramped, but I didn't throw up. Once the dry heaving stopped, I swiped the back of my hand over my mouth to remove a fine thread of spittle from my lips.
"I'm sorry." Jacob's face softened, though he continued to hold onto Mama's shoulders, letting me know we still needed to move a dead body. "I really am."
"Whatever." I gave in, bending and grabbing my dead mama's ankles. "Let's do this."
It proved a lot harder to move a dead body than it looked on TV. We tried to be careful, but we accidentally bumped her along the four steps that led into our single-wide trailer home, and even dropped her a couple times—mostly my fault. Near the end, we just dragged her down the length of the hallway.
"Let's put her on the bed," he said, but no matter how much we tried, I couldn't lift her more than a foot off the ground. We laid her next to it instead, and he placed a pillow under her head.
She was dead. What did she need a pillow for?
After we shut the door, my stomach coiled in on itself again. I pushed past Jacob and ran outside for some fresh air, and to get far away from Mama. My hands smelled just like her—spoiled and musty—and I scrubbed them in the barrel that collected rainwater until my skin rubbed raw. I wanted no trace of her anywhere on me, but no matter how hard I washed, it would always be there. It would follow me forever.
"How you feeling?" Jacob placed his hand on my shoulder as I dried my cold, pink hands on my cutoff shorts.
"Fine." In fact, I felt the exact opposite of fine. My insides ached, my stomach sucked itself into a tight little ball, and no matter how much country air I breathed, I still smelled her.
"You know we can't stay here, right?"
"They'll split us up and put us in foster care. That's what they'll do, and I don't want that. Do you?"
I shook my head.
"Then let's get the hell out of here."
Most people cry when their mothers die, but I didn't, not even when I packed my things in the very next room from where her body lay. Alive or dead, it didn't much matter; I couldn't grieve a mother who rarely mothered me, couldn't muster the tears. If she'd wanted me to cry when she died, she should have tried harder to love me. That just seemed fair.
I don't think Jacob cried either, though he may have shed a tear or two when he was by himself. He knew her longer than I did, and if he wanted to cry, that was fine by me.
"Pack it up. We need to get out of here soon." Jacob stuffed his duffle bag with clothes—his clothes, my clothes. "Grab what you can, but take only what's necessary. Remember, you have to carry whatever you put in there."
I understood that. I wasn't dumb or anything, but deciding which things had more value was so difficult. My books meant a lot to me, but they'd be too heavy to carry for long. Besides, they'd take up the space for more important things like food or blankets, so they stayed on my rickety shelf. I ran my fingers over their worn, cracked spines and sighed. Most likely, they'd end up at Goodwill, right back where I bought them in the first place. Best not to think about it anymore. Best not to think about anything at all.
"Canned food is heavy." He shoved a few cans of vegetables and tuna into his bag. "But they'll last longer. Grab that can opener over there. We're going to need it, and that knife, too."
I did as he said and packed the can opener into a side pocket. The knife I held out to him.
The cupboards and shelves held little food, but I searched out whatever might travel well—hard bread, two weeks past its expiration, a jar of half-eaten peanut butter, a can of coffee, a couple cans of pork and beans, a bag of rice, a box of macaroni, and one can of stewed tomatoes. Everything in the fridge had either expired weeks before or smelled bad, except for a bottle of ketchup, and so I stuffed that into my bag. Ketchup tasted good with just about everything.
Jacob zipped up his bag and then looked at me. "I think that's about it."
He glanced around the room, so I did too, though I didn't quite know why. The mobile home we rented stood in shambles, rented to us in that condition—broken windows, no real plumbing, and a hole in the roof big enough to poke a head through. We'd fixed what we could with whatever we got our hands on, and made do. We always made do. Jacob had tacked cardboard over the broken windows, and he'd nailed down an old tarp on the roof to keep most of the rain from pouring in. My brother was resourceful like that, one of the smartest people I knew.
"You ready?" He slung his bag onto his shoulders.
I nodded and grabbed my bag. The weight caused me to stagger, but I refused to complain. I couldn't think of one thing it contained that I should get rid of.
"You know," he said, looking at me rather serious. "I won't let anything happen to you. Never again."
He'd been taking care of me for years, probably ever since our mama brought me home as an infant. How he survived as a baby and toddler baffled me. Jacob must have been one resilient kid, or perhaps Mama had it a bit more together back then—hard to imagine, but possible.
When we started down our dirt pathway, he surprised me by stopping suddenly. I almost rammed into his back, but caught myself before tumbling into him. He turned and glanced back at the beat-up old Chevy. Every time we'd thought it was on its last leg, the sucker proved us wrong and kept on running.
"We need to take the car." He walked toward it.
I followed him because it seemed the right thing to do. "Take it where?"
He didn't answer. Instead, he opened one of the back doors and threw his bag on the seat, then grabbed my bag and tossed it next to his.
"It'll be better this way." He looked at me without looking at me at all. "I'm going back inside for more blankets and things. I've got to find the keys, too."
I hoped for his sake that Mama hadn't tucked them into her pockets or something. I'd hate for him to have to unroll her and search her body.
I watched him go and continued to stand there, not knowing what to do. My stomach still bothered me, my insides cramping together like a roly-poly bug, but I refused to dry heave again.
When he returned, he flipped open the trunk latch and placed more blankets and pillows inside.
"Here." He handed me one of the books from my room. "You can take this, but when we have to ditch the car, you'll have to leave it."
I hugged the book to my chest. "Jacob?"
"You're not old enough to drive."
He shrugged and opened the passenger door. "Doesn't matter. Get in."
"Are you sure?"
He rested his hand on the roof of the car, his head hung low. "I'm not really sure of anything right now." He looked back to me. "But if we want to stay together, then you'll have to trust me, okay?"
I nodded. I did trust him—more than I trusted
About the Author, Angela Scott:
I hear voices. Tiny fictional people sit on my shoulders and whisper their stories in my ear. Instead of medicating myself, I decided to pick up a pen, write down everything those voices tell me, and turn it into a book. I’m not crazy. I’m an author. For the most part, I write contemporary Young Adult novels.
However, through a writing exercise that spiraled out of control, I found myself writing about zombies terrorizing the Wild Wild West—and loving it. My zombies don’t sparkle, and they definitely don’t cuddle. At least, I wouldn’t suggest it.
I live on the benches of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with two lovely children, one teenager, and a very patient husband. I graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. degree in English, not because of my love for the written word, but because it was the only major that didn’t require math. I can’t spell, and grammar is my arch nemesis. But they gave me the degree, and there are no take backs.
As a child, I never sucked on a pacifier; I chewed on a pencil. I’ve been writing that long. It has only
been the past few years that I’ve pursued it professionally, forged relationships with other like-minded individuals, and determined to make a career out of it.
You can find me at my website, where I blog obsessively about my writing process and post updates on my current works. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook, but be forewarned, I tweet and post more than a normal person.
Learn more about Angela and her books on:
Purchase "Desert Rice" on:
Read my full review on "Desert Rice" HERE.
Follow the full tour:
10/18 Yvonne Mikell Review
10/18 Off the Page Guest Post, and Giveaway
10/19 My Cozie Corner First chapter
10/25 Sweet Southern Home First Chapter and Giveaway
10/26 Janiera Eldridge First Chapter and Giveaway
10/29 The Cover by Brittany Review
10/30 T B R First Chapter and Giveaway
10/31 A Daydreamer's Thoughts Review
11/1 The Bunny's Review Review, First Chapter, Interview, & Giveaway
11/1 Andi's Young Adult Books First Chapter, Guest Post, & Giveaway
11/2 I am, Indeed Review and Giveaway
11/5 Books Down My Pillow Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway
11/7 All Things Writing Guest Post
11/7 Reflections of a Bookworm Review
11/8 Books, Books and More Books Review
11/9 Window on the World Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway
11/13 Keeping Up With The Rheinlander's Review and Interview
11/14 Confessions of an Inner Aspen Review and Guest Post
11/15 Red Headed Bookworm Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway
11/16 5 Girls Book Reviews Review
11/16 Everyone Loves A SiNner Review and Guest Post
* Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Innovative Online Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Innovated Online Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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