wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


14 Comments

Words like Gold Nuggets

I was reading “Fortune’s Rocks” by Anita Shreve and had a mixture of reactions throughout the experience.

First, I was dismayed at the use of such stuffy language, but I soon realized that it suited the 1899 New England setting perfectly. This was the way people in the wealthier class spoke and thought in those days.

In a short time I stopped noticing the stuffiness of the language, and felt immersed in that time and lifestyle.

So it was, that I scoffed only mildly when the mother who was hosting guests at her summer home did not want her photo taken. One of the guests had taken up photography and the hostess was not a fan of these new contraptions called cameras. The reaction of the hostess was not out of character, but had me chuckling about her overly sensitive personality.

When I read on, I was absolutely thrilled with Anita Shreve’s description of the photography session that followed.

This quote from the book tells how it played out as the other guests, one by one, sat to have their photos taken.

Even Olympia’s mother, in the end, relents and allows herself to be photographed, albeit behind a veil with eyes lowered, flinching each time she hears the shutter click, as though she might be shot.

This description had me laughing out loud, as I imagined the scene. It was then that I realized that much of the writing was so precisely worded that I was able to picture it clearly in my mind. Reading this book became like watching a movie.

I kept chuckling over the above quote for some time and finally decided I would write a short note to the author to tell her how much I was enjoying her book. I Googled her name to get a webpage contact, but immediately the search told me that Anita Shreve had died on March 29, 2018 at the young age of 71.  My happy mood was dashed and I felt shocked and saddened to find out this bad news.

Still, Anita has left a legacy of many fine books for us to enjoy.

Now I am wondering if you readers out there have had similar discoveries of passages that are nuggets of entertainment.

If you have, why not share them in your comments. Book title, author, and quote. We’d love to see what you’ve found.

I’m posting this on my anneli’s place blog as well, so you can comment on either one (or both).


29 Comments

Flower Power

I was happy that my orchid was blooming bravely through the winter, but the room cheered up considerably when our dinner guests brought a pot of primulas. Such bright colours made it hard to be anything but happy.

 

The winter colours all around,

Seem mute, and stay benign,

But springlike colours popping up,

Are bright and so divine.

 

Absorbing rays that warm and heal,

The blossoms open wide,

Displaying cheer, inviting joy,

I know they’re on my side.

***** If you like writing, why not pop over to my other blog that is dedicated to books and writing, at https:///annelisplace.wordpress.com.

 


67 Comments

Der Struwwelpeter

In a recent post on Peter Klopp’s blog, I was reminded of the book I’ve treasured since I was a small child.  I still have that book which my family brought to Canada from Germany in 1953, and about 50 years ago I managed to buy a newer copy of it in Vancouver. The old one is on the right, and the new one on the left.

They are almost identical, but in the new one, these first two pages (below) do not appear.

The poem on the left is about the expectations of how children should behave:

Eat your soup.

Don’t forget to eat the bread too.

Play with your toys without making too much noise.

Take Mama’s hand when you’re out with her for a walk.

And if you do all these things, the Christkind (the being who delivers gifts at Christmas) will bring you some nice presents, and a very pretty picture book.

My mother often read this to me when I was very little, and encouraged me to say the words with her. The last line was always, “But we don’t tear it.”

It was years before I realized that the last line was not part of the poem. She had just added it as if it belonged there, and I repeated it, thinking it did.

 

On the second page was a picture of a child (Peter) whose hair was all “struwwelig” – officially “strubbelig” I think (messy, to say the least), and his fingernails were dirty and long. This boy never allowed his Mama to comb his hair or cut his nails, and he was a horrible boy (not what any good child would want to be). He was called Struwwelpeter (messy or slovenly Peter).

 

NOW things get more controversial. The stories (in rhyme) which follow are now considered harsh and brutal and not fit for children to be exposed to, and there are many adults who believe they should be banned.

But in spite of the shocking way the lessons in childhood behaviour are presented, I want to say that although the stories had my full attention at a young age, they did not give me nightmares or upset me. I grew up in a loving home and when my mother read these stories to me, she assured me that I was safe with her and that the awful things in the stories only happened to very bad people.

Meanwhile, I loved the cadence of the words and the rhymes and the often justified (at some level) endings.

 

Here is the story of Friederich, who was a very cruel boy. He tore the wings off flies and was mean to animals and to his sister. A dog getting a drink from the fountain looked like an easy target. Friederich sneaked up on him and hit him with his whip. The dog cried and howled, but then he’d had enough. He bit Friederich’s leg and ran off with his whip.

 

Now comes the part that I liked. Friederich had to go to bed. The doctor was called and Friederich had to take some medicine that was very bitter. (YES!)

Meanwhile, the dog ate Friederich’s supper of liver sausage, and he even had a drink of wine (not so sure if that was good for either dog or boy). He had brought the whip with him and kept a close eye on it.

 

This next story about little Pauline was very, very sad. It brought out every bit of empathy I had in my small child’s body. Thinking back, I remember this story so well because the poor little girl ended up burning up.

Much later, as an adult I thought, “If only a certain little boy I knew (in real life), had been told this story, maybe he would not have done exactly what Pauline did.” Luckily, he only burned down the family home and not himself or his family.

The beautiful thing about this story/poem is the rhyme. The repeated refrain that tells the warning from the cats, Minz and Maunz, really hits home. 70 years later, I still know who Minz and Maunz are.

Pauline had been told not to play with matches but the temptation was so great, she had to do it anyway. The cats warned her again and again, but she wouldn’t listen to them. At the end of the story, you can see how upset the cats are. If only Pauline had listened to her parents. I was impressed as a child, that all that was left of Pauline was a pair of red shoes.

Kaspar is one guy I didn’t feel sorry for. All he had to do was eat his soup. But no! He had tantrums (another no-no) and refused to eat his soup every day even though he got thinner and thinner.

I see that his Mama must have missed him and loved him a lot because even beyond the grave she was still trying to get him to eat his soup. See the bowl on his grave?

This one about Philipp who misbehaved at the table left me cold. I didn’t feel sorry for Philipp. He got what he deserved. But Philipp’s Mama, in every verse, did the same stupid thing. She put her handheld spectacles to her eye and looked around the table wordlessly. The Papa, on the other hand, did a lot of admonishing,  but he also got no respect from me. He let his son ignore him. And see in the picture – look how he is holding the knife!

Well, Mama and Papa may have been ineffectual parents, but natural consequences taught them all a lesson and none of them got any supper that night.

I have to add one little anecdote. Whenever my mother made Jell-o at home, she called it Zappel-Philipp. For years I thought that’s what it was really called, but she only called it that because Philipp from the story “zappelled” (fidgeted and rocked around)  just like the Jell-o did.  Unless Jell-o is really called that and I don’t know it.

The last story is one that upsets a lot of people because the tailor comes with his huge shears and cuts off Conrad’s thumbs.

But hey! His Mama told him not to suck them. She told him what would happen if he did.

Okay, I’m just kidding. It is a bit brutal, but again, I did not have nightmares or even take the story seriously. You’d have to be pretty stupid to believe that this would really happen. Unfortunately there are many people who would ban the whole book for being too real and brutal and upsetting for children.

The truth is, I loved these stories. I loved the rhyme and the cadence and the funny pictures. This story has stayed in my head all the years of my life since pre-school, and I still love how it starts with,

“Conrad, sprach die Frau Mama,

Ich geh aus und du bleibst da.”

(Conrad, said his Mama,

I’m going out and you’re staying here.)

It’s such a catchy little rhyme. And then after she tells him to be good and not suck his thumbs or the tailor will come with the big shears and cut them off, he can hardly wait until the door closes. I love the word that tells how he puts his thumb in his mouth – WUPP!

And then the sound of the tailor coming in the door. BAUZ! (pronounced like BOWTS).

 

 

There are more stories in the Struwwelpeter book, but this post is already quite long so I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts.

Before you say how horrible these stories are, consider that it makes a difference how they are presented. I agree that I would not raise children using these stories as examples nowadays.

But I also feel that we don’t need a witch hunt to eradicate every book we don’t agree with, and those who consider themselves holier-than-the-rest-of-us don’t have a right to deprive everyone of the opportunity to see what went on in our history. It is not their right to erase our past – good or bad. We can learn from it either way.

 

 


47 Comments

Rufus

 

 

 

Still, still, still I sit,

Feathers fluffed and light,

Chill, chill, chill is it,

Going to freeze tonight.

 

Save, save, save my strength,

Lest my legs do fold,

Brave, brave, brave at length,

Need to be so bold.

 

Eat, eat, eat the seeds,

For the night is long,

Meet, meet, meet my needs,

Hope I can be strong.

 

Spring, spring, spring will come,

Bringing sun and life,

Sing, sing, sing and hum,

Ending winter’s strife.


40 Comments

A Harsh Surprise

The skiff of snow we had the other day was just the prelude to get us in tune for the magnum opus.

Some snow for Christmas was a fine seasonal touch, even if it was a bit hard on the birds, but the snowfall we had in the last two days, coupled with a drastic drop in temperatures and an increase in NW wind – well, let’s just say I’m praying for the return of my old friends, wind and rain.

Since the Arctic winds are coming from the north or northwest, I decided to put more birdseed on the leeward side of the house. Out of the wind, the picnic blanket won’t blow away or freeze to the ground as readily.

So, not being particularly house proud, I sprinkled bird seed liberally by my front door and in the dry edges near the house on the south and east sides.

Emma can’t believe her eyes. So many birds. You know she’s a “bird dog” but that is not supposed to apply to songbirds. She’s in shock that birds are right there on the other side of the glass – you know, that glass beside the door where she always looks out when she’s left behind.

“Wow!” she says. “A varied thrush!” And she tells herself to stop drooling.

“Oh, it’s you again,” says Vera Thrush. “You should stop poking your nose into the glass pane. You’re mucking it all up with noseprints.”

“On second thought,” thinks Vera, “I should maybe check out another area and come back later when that maniac killer dog is having a nap. But … does she ever sleep?” Vera turns to go. “Better safe than sorry…. Hmmpf! Can’t believe I said that. Such a cliché.”

Vera’s feathers fluff up soft,

Keeping warmer air aloft

Trapped beside her chilly skin,

She will not let winter in.

 

Hard to fathom so much cold,

Although pretty to behold,

But the chill is not a thrill,

It is often known to kill.

 

Thankfully, the seeds are spread,

All around the front door tread,

Even though they don’t belong,

Matters more that we stay strong.

 

First comes need and then decor,

Later we’ll clean up the door,

But we’ll wait till Emma’s busy

So she won’t get in a tizzy.

 

All these seeds are such a gift

Hard to find them in a drift,

Front door feeding works just fine,

Think I’ll grab some, make them mine.

 

 

 


10 Comments

Visiting at Luanne’s

 

My sweet Emma and I are happy to let you know that we are guests at Luanne Castle’s blog today. Why don’t you stop there for a quick visit?

   

 

Luanne Castle has written a lovely review of one of my books, Julia’s Violinist.

I’d be delighted if you would visit her blog post and find out more about this novel that is so dear to my heart.

Please visit: https://writersite.org/2021/12/20/my-review-of-julias-violinist-by-anneli-purchase-and-note-from-the-author/

 

 


24 Comments

Book Bargains

In the month before Christmas I have marked my novels down to US $.99. This way you can load up your e-reader with five novels to keep you turning pages for about $5.00 total. Hours of entertainment for very little cost.

What will you get for 99 cents each?

Orion’s Gift

When Sylvia receives devastating news, she knows she has to leave her California home. While hiding away in the Baja Peninsula, living in a camper van, she meets a man with a similar dilemma. Both must avoid the spouses pursuing them, or be forced to return to the intolerable misery of their past. Will the sparks they feel for each other help see them through or only make their problems worse?

Baja camping is not without its dangers and both runaways must learn to trust and mistrust at the right times.

*****

The Wind Weeps

Andrea leaves big-city boredom in Ontario to search for love and a new life on B.C.’s rugged coast. The love of two men and a woman leads her into the world of commercial fishing. But soon, her adventure becomes a nightmare. The beauty of her surroundings is at odds with the terror that she lives every day. Trapped in an isolated cabin on the coast, she will need to test her newly acquired wilderness skills if she ever hopes to escape. Be sure to follow up with the sequel, Reckoning Tide.

*****

 

Reckoning Tide

 

*****

 

Marlie

Unlucky in love, Marlie flees a bad relationship. She accepts a teaching job in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). The beauty of the islands and the rugged challenge of northern living enthrall her. A good-looking artist has his eye on her. The perfect gentleman. Or is he? And what about that handsome fisherman? Is he just a bit too real for her with his hunting and fishing? Just as Marlie hopes that her life has made a turn for the better, disaster strikes. She is shocked to see her life spiraling downwards yet again. How could she have made such an error in judgement—an error that sets more bad luck in motion?
Not willing to lose control, Marlie takes a deep breath and sets out to get her life back on track. But can she do it alone?
Set in the remote islands of coastal British Columbia, Marlie is a heartfelt romance of love and loss and love again.
Experience the fears and joys of northern island living and delight in a second chance at true love.

 

Julia’s Violinist

Julia’s Violinist takes us to postwar Europe for an unbiased story of a love triangle.  Julia is widowed with two children at the end of WWll. She remarries and hopes to pick up the pieces to put her broken life back together. It isn’t going well. A letter arrives from her first love from twenty years ago. After all these years, he is alive and wants her to join him in a new life. She struggles with morality and a chance for happiness. Life’s decisions are not always easy and they can come at a huge price.

*****

To find out more about these novels, you can visit my website:

www.anneli-purchase.com

You can also click on the book cover images at the side of this post to go to amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can go to smashwords.com to get these e-books for all types of e-reader formats.


26 Comments

How Do You Choose a Book?

For those of you who follow my other blog which is mainly for readers and writers, this post is a duplicate of the one I am posting on annelisplace.com today. If you are interested in posts about writing, reading, and copy-editing, you might like to click to follow annelisplace.com.

I don’t post there as frequently as I do on wordsfromanneli, but you might find some of the posts on annelisplace interesting, so please follow if you like to read or write.

Here is today’s post with some ideas about choosing a book to read.

 

In a bookstore, I hate to admit it but I judge a book by its cover. But let me qualify that. I only let that be my first criterion. Still, for writers out there, hoping to sell a book, that first impulse of the reader to pick up a book with an intriguing cover can add a lot to your sales, so make sure you get a great cover for your book.

Next, I like to read the flap on the jacket, or the back cover if it’s a paperback. I want to be drawn into the subject of the book and have a taste of the dilemma the characters find themselves in without having the ending spoiled for me. Just a teaser is all I want.

Then, if I think this subject might be something for me, I will read the opening sentence, and maybe as much as the first page or two. That will tell me most of what I need to know.

If I’m browsing for an e-book and I’m on a site like Amazon or Smashwords, I will click on the book cover where it says “Look Inside.”

This is where I make my decision.

Does the opening sentence hook me right away? Is it relevant to the plot of the story? Beware of the amateur opening sentences that begin the scene with:

  • the alarm clock going off
  • someone waking from a dream
  • someone driving by in a vehicle and describing the scenery
  • the narrator talking about the weather and telling you “It was a dark and stormy night.”

How does the author handle dialogue? Are there too many fancy, distracting words that  replace “said” and “asked”? If I see words like “inquired,” “responded,” “explained,” “answered,” “replied,” “questioned,” and “announced,” I will reluctantly leave that book for someone else to suffer through.  Even if the author uses the standard “said” and “asked” to move the story along more efficiently, if these words are followed by adverbs, I am also turned off. Once in a while, it is acceptable, but not as a general rule. It becomes tiresome to read:

  • “How did that happen?” she asked angrily.
  • “I have no idea,” he said, innocently.

The only thing that could make it worse is to have a gerund added into the mix:

  • “How did that happen?” she asked angrily, bunching up her fists on her hips.
  • “I have no idea,” he said, innocently, rolling his eyes.

These are clues you will find easily in the first few pages of a book. If you notice these examples of poor writing, you can still flip a few pages and check to see if the pattern continues. If it does, you will probably be glad if you give that book a pass and look for something else to read.

There are many other clues you might look for to see if you might like a book, but in this post I have tried to mention a few of the main ones that I look for.

How do you decide on your next book to read?  Do you have some ideas you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comment section.

 


36 Comments

Annie and the Honeydew Man

When my sisters and brother and I were little, we lived in a newly built, but unfinished house on the edge of town. The streets weren’t even put in place yet. Our road was just a track through a field of yellow grass. But it was perfect for us to play cowboys and gallop our pretend horses around the trails and up and down the hills of dirt that were not yet backfilled to the new house. We pretended to be characters from the western movies of the day — Annie Oakley, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evans.  But Annie was my favourite.  My sister was really too little to keep up with us as we tore around on the hills of dirt, so she played Annie Oakley and guarded the house while the rest of us were out on the range.

I don’t know what is wrapped around her right hand, and I just noticed for the first time in decades that there is a doll peeking out from behind her left shoulder.

Fast forward to more modern times. When the Captain and I were on one of our trips to Baja California, we stopped to do some shopping in Ensenada. I found a puppet-style doll that I couldn’t live without. She was the Mexican version of Annie Oakley. What made me even happier, was buying the doll that had to be her partner.  He is pictured in the photo below Annie.

The store proprietor told me that this doll represents the hen-pecked husband, the Honeydew man (Honey, do this and Honey, do that), but in Spanish they called this fellow a “mandelon,”  because he is ordered about. What woman would not want a mandelon to do things for her? I had to have this doll!

In my novel Orion’s Gift,  Sylvia is all alone in the world. It seems that her life has taken a sudden turn and everything has been going wrong for her.

She has “run away” to Baja California and is living in her VW van.

She really needs someone, so I gave her a mascot to lend her strength. Below is a short excerpt from Orion’s Gift, telling about how Sylvia came to adopt Annie.

Excerpt:

In one shop, handmade puppets on strings hung from the ceiling. Each doll had a unique character and, like orphans hoping to be adopted, seemed to call, “Take me with you.” I fell in love with a Mexican Annie Oakley. She held a mini six-gun in each hand and radiated confidence and self-reliance. I paid for her and happily carried her home to my van. I rigged up a spot on the curtain rod behind the seat for Annie to watch over me at night. She’d be my mascot, a reminder that I was strong and could take care of myself.

You can read Sylvia’s story in my novel “Orion’s Gift.”  She’s going to need Annie’s strength to face some of the challenges of being a woman travelling alone in Baja.

The e-book version is marked down to only 99 cents for the next few weeks.  Just click on the link to  amazon.com or smashwords.com for other e-reader versions.

 

 


32 Comments

Laws of Nature

YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

 

This is Book 2 of a trilogy and, for your own enjoyment, I recommend reading Book 1, “Born in a Treacherous Time,” as well, but even if you don’t, you will enjoy Laws of Nature as a stand alone.

 

Have a look at the trailer and you will get an idea of the setting and some of the challenges Lucy and her people faced. Click the link to see the trailer.

https://youtu.be/gbyA9rDSy9k

Here is our author, Jacqui Murray, the fine lady who had  the “staying power” to study and research the world of the early humans and the imagination to put together a believable story of what it might have been like to live in those days, over 1.8 million years ago.

I can tell you one thing without a doubt: Life then was NOT boring! And neither are Jacqui Murray’s novels.


About Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.

For more author info, click on any of the links below.

Amazon Author Page:       https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                  https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                         https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                           http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                           http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                              http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                            https://jacquimurray.net

 

Here is an excerpt from Laws of Nature.

Chapter 1

Hunting

South Africa

Lucy

Fresh blood streaked Short-tooth’s muzzle, her golden eyes alert to every movement around her as she munched on Gazelle’s meaty carcass. Each movement made the Cat’s tawny fur ripple over the powerful muscles beneath her skin. She raised her head, chewing slowly while studying the grass field in front of her, especially toward the back where it blended into the forest. She couldn’t see Mammoth but smelled it, close to the Uprights, maybe protecting them. Despite being the size of a boulder, this pachyderm could outrun most predators and would think nothing of crushing them beneath its massive feet.

Short-tooth wasn’t interested in the Uprights. Their bodies had little meat and less fat. Gazelle was more satisfying.

Cat ripped a slab of fragrant meat from the hind leg. Snarling-dog—to the far side—slapped the ground. He was hungry but wouldn’t eat Gazelle until Short-tooth finished. Cat purred loudly, close to a snarl, and Snarling-dog withdrew, but not far. Carrion-bird overhead tightened its circle and a tiny shrew the size of Short-tooth’s paw waited patiently, out of Cat’s range, eyes bright, nose twitching. A shred from the carcass was all it needed.

None of these creatures mattered to Short-tooth. She was the apex predator in her savannah habitat.

Sticky yellow globs of Mammoth dung slid down Lucy’s back and plopped to the dry thatch. The dung coat was melting under Sun’s intense heat, exactly as Lucy planned. Its purpose was to confuse Short-tooth Cat. The hotter Sun became, the stronger Mammoth’s smell.

Lucy and her young pairmate, Garv, lay motionless, like Snake sleeping, bodies pressed into the prickly grass, oblivious to the feathery feet that scurried over their backs. She and Garv, too, wanted what Short-tooth didn’t consume. They were more patient than Snarling-dog but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t eat first. The first to arrive got the best of the leftovers.

Lucy rubbed her raw eyes, bleary from watching Cat bite, rip, and chew. If Short-tooth knew of their presence, it was not because she saw them. Lucy and Garv blended into the landscape. Their skin was the color of dirt and dry grass, impossible to find if you weren’t looking. No part of their bodies moved except their narrowed eyes as they scanned the surroundings, evaluating each new arrival to the feast. The dominant scents never changed—Snarling-dog, Short-tooth Cat, something decaying in the nearby forest, her pairmate Garv’s sweaty body, and Gazelle’s ripening offal.

Sun’s relentless heat washed over Lucy in waves. Sweat dripped down her face, over her pronounced brow ridge and into her eyes, but for reasons she didn’t understand, despite his fur pelt, Snarling-dog was dry. He reminded Lucy of Ump, her tribe’s Canis member. Even on the hottest days, Ump didn’t sweat. Instead, he panted more.

Today, Snarling-dog panted hard.

Short-tooth raised her feline head, inspecting her habitat as her jaws crunched through the fresh carrion. She reeked of malevolence which meant scavengers like Lucy and Garv willingly waited their turn.

Sun climbed through the cloudless blue sky. The morning haze had burned off long ago. The dew Lucy hadn’t licked off the leaves, Sun’s heat had. Her throat was dry, lips cracked, but that mattered less than securing scavenge. Her tribe was hungry.

Lately, unexpectedly, when Lucy sat quietly as she did now, a tingle deep inside her chest told her Raza, her former pairmate, was in trouble. The first time she experienced this tingle, what Garv called “instinct,” it churned through her body as a current does in a stream. She thought she was sick until Garv explained this was instinct and it warned of danger, not illness. He told her always to listen, but how was she to do that? Raza had been captured by the tribe’s worst enemy, a formidable Upright called Man-who-preys. She didn’t know where they’d taken him. As often as she brushed the feeling away, it returned, each time stronger than the last.

Cat’s yellow eyes snapped open and her methodical jaws slowed. Something caught her interest, maybe Snarling-dog’s impatience or Carrion-bird’s relentless approach. After a warning hiss, Short-tooth shook her big head and pawed her face. A swarm of black flies lifted, buzzed briefly, and then resettled where they’d started, again gorging on the blood and carrion that stuck to Short-tooth’s face

The flies are thicker than usual.

Short-tooth returned to her meal and Lucy sniffed, wondering what drew Cat’s attention. She didn’t expect to see Man-who-preys here, but took nothing for granted. The tall, big-headed, hairless enemy always carried a long stick which he used to kill prey. Sometimes, he didn’t eat the animal, just watched it die. This unpredictability, that he followed no norms, made him more treacherous than other predators.

She inhaled, but didn’t smell his stench so turned her attention back to the hunt.

Carrion-bird floated overhead, feet tucked beneath its sleek body. The longer Cat ate, the more of the huge birds arrived. They thought their powerful sweeping wings, sharp claws, and piercing beaks made them the mightiest among the scavengers. What they didn’t realize was that Lucy and Garv possessed an even greater weapon: They could plan. Before Carrion-bird or Snarling-dog got too close, Lucy and Garv would take what they needed and flee.

They always did.

In the edging forest, Cousin Chimp hooted, the pitch and length describing the location of a tree newly bearing fruit. Leaves rustled as his band raced away. Lucy hoped they would leave enough of the succulent produce for her and Garv.

She hunkered deeper into the tall waving stalks, tracking the other scavengers and noting again how far away the trees were in case she needed to flee. A snake slithered over her foot, through the thatch and out of sight. She and Garv had been motionless for so long, Snake probably viewed them as dirt mounds in its path.

Garv tweaked an eyebrow and Lucy motioned, hands a tight circle in front of her chest, well hidden, “Dull colors, no knobs on snake’s tail—no danger.”

Her kind—Man-who-makes-tools—used a sophisticated blend of communication including body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, mimicking, and vocalization. One of their greatest defenses in this brutal world was the ability to become part of their surroundings. Voices were unusual sounds heard nowhere in nature except from Uprights, mostly the big-headed Man-who-preys. Lucy’s kind occasionally whispered and Tree-men, like Boah who was part of Lucy’s tribe, rarely made any sounds beyond huffs, grunts, howls, and moans. Only Man-who-preys jabbered endlessly.

 

Lucy’s eyelids drooped. This hunt had started yesterday when Lucy and Garv found the fresh cloven prints of a Gazelle herd. Lucy’s kind ate copious amounts of roots, nuts, fruit, juicy stems, and insects, but only meat gave them the energy to survive their dangerous lives. Because they hunted only dead animals, they depended upon predators to make the kill. Gazelle’s fleshy body always attracted Cat and its cousins, like Short-tooth. They would pick off the injured, and Lucy’s tribe would eat what they left.

Because not enough daylight remained yesterday, Lucy and Garv set out today, at Sun’s first light. They followed the herd while the rest of the tribe—the Tree-man Boah, the child Voi, and the Canis Ump—stayed at the homebase’s cave. Before Sun had traveled far, a snarl and a screech told Lucy a predator claimed its prey. When Carrion-bird and its cousins started to circle, she and Garv knew exactly where to go.

 

Garv nudged Lucy, the movement so subtle the grass didn’t even move. “Short-tooth is leaving.”

Lucy bit her lip and shot a look at Garv. His face radiated excitement.

She studied Short-tooth, tried to see what Garv saw and finally gestured, “I don’t see anything. Why do you think she’s finished?”

He motioned, one finger moving against his palm, “Instinct.” Nothing else.

But that was enough. Garv had taught her to stalk prey, knap tools, hunt, and protect herself. Because of him, she became an accomplished hunter, never missed a print, a bent frond, the fragrance left on leaves or bark, or any other sign. As partners, they always brought meat to the tribe. Most hunters didn’t.

Garv’s instinct had found more prey than Lucy’s tracking skills or senses ever did. She had no doubt Short-tooth would soon leave.

Cat’s big tongue, as long as Lucy’s forearm, licked the bloody scraps from her muzzle, a sign even to Lucy that she had finished. Lucy shifted to her hands and toes, knees hovering above the ground, prepared for what must come next. Garv did the same, his body hard from the life he lived, senses alert to every noise. Carrion-birds cawed and tightened their circle. On the opposite side of the field, Snarling-dog’s pack bared their canines, tails stiff. Drool dripped from their jowls and their gaze bounced between Cat and the Uprights, knowing from experience the scrawny but agile creatures were vigorous competitors.

You are fast, Snarling-dog, but we are smart. We will always get there first!

Lucy tensed as Short-tooth pushed up to her massive paws, canines red with blood, saliva dripping in strands from her jowls. She yawned, her mouth a dark cavity vast enough to swallow Lucy’s entire head, and ambled off. Lucy and Garv exploded to their feet and sprinted toward the carcass. Their powerful legs churned while nimble hands pulled cutters and stones from the sacks strung around their necks. Lucy’s job was to delay Snarling-dog and Carrion-bird while Garv stripped the carrion.

“Argh!” Lucy roared, waving a leafy branch through the air to make herself bigger to Snarling-dog while Garv attacked the carcass. Ignoring the fetid stench of dung and urine, he swung the sharp cutter and sliced through the hide and then muscle and tendon.

Lucy flung a stone at the lead Snarling-dog. It hit his temple, hard, and he dropped with a squeal. His pack slowed to reassess the upright creature and Lucy threw another stone, this one at the new leader’s eye. He yipped and stumbled, shook his head, and pawed at the blood that oozed from the wound and dribbled down his muzzle.

“Lucy!” Garv tossed an almost pristine haunch to her and then swung his chopper at Gazelle’s ribs. Carrion-bird, well into its death dive, talons extended, screeched its imminent attack.

“Let’s go!” Lucy called, the unexpected sound of her voice meant to startle the scavengers.

She hurled a rock at the lead Carrion-bird. It squawked and withdrew, which slowed the rest of the flock. Lucy grabbed an almost-meatless leg bone. It would be filled with nutritious bloody marrow. Meat secured over her shoulders, she and Garv fled. No one chased them. Why abandon certain meat for an uncertain meal? Lucy raced past a termite mound, noted its location, rounded a boulder bed, and lost sight of the fracas.

Not the scent, though. The tantalizing aroma sailed through the air, announcing to every scavenger around the availability of meat.

*****

Book information:

Title and author: Laws of Nature by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU  Kindle India