Welcome to Day 28 of the Summer Blog-a-day event!
Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my novel Beyond Stone. This is the story of an artist who, reeling from grief and guilt, starts to fall down the rabbit hole. But at her darkest moment, three of her sculptures come alive to try and save her. It’s a story in which Andie walks the line between reality and fantasy, never sure which side she’s on.
This is a slightly abridged excerpt. Also, while this novel does not have a lot of strong language, it has some, so any instances of such language in the excerpt have been removed or changed for the purposes of this blog post.
The moonless night cloaked them from prying eyes. But it also made their job harder.
“Hurry up, Andie”
“I’m trying not to hurt any of the roses.”
“Forget the roses, let’s get out of here before somebody sees us.”
“I’m almost finished. Help me position her.” He moved from his lookout position over to Andie. “I can’t believe you talked me into this.”
“Quiet, Eddie. Just come over to this side of her and lift.”
They worked swiftly. When they finished, they looked at each other, then ran off in different directions still cloaked by the darkness of a moonless night.
Andie felt the sunshine on her face and knew she had overslept. She jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to the living room and switched on the television. The news was just ending. She started to switch channels but caught herself just in time. She hit the reverse arrow on the remote and the DVR rewound through the news to the beginning. She sat down to watch.
Nothing. She checked all the news channels. There was nothing in the news about her and Eddie’s exploits in the park.
She went into the kitchen and made coffee. She was just about to sit down and write a few lines for her speech when her cell phone rang.
“It’s all over the internet,” Eddie said.
“What are they saying?” she asked, excited that it was starting.
“Check it out. Gotta go.” He hung up.
Andie ran upstairs and grabbed her laptop off the nightstand. She ran back downstairs and set it on the table before her. She turned it on and took a sip of her coffee as it powered up.
When her start page came up, she clicked on the bookmark for her favorite news site. And there it was. The photographer had captured the scene of her and Eddie’s crime perfectly. And it was a thing of beauty.
Andie moved swiftly through the crowd toward a small makeshift stage placed in front of a heavily-veiled secret. She stopped as she neared the front of the crowd that seemed to be held in-check by some invisible barrier, and watched a band of dark clouds rise out of the horizon and sprint across the sky.
A microphone squealed sending birds flying and squirrels scampering. The crowd grew. A man’s voice boomed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I think we better start before it begins to rain.”
The man with the microphone was short with a pleasant round face and a rather square body. A fringe of brown hair laced with grey circled his balding head. He waited while the crowd quieted and turned their attention to him.
“It is with great honor that I introduce you to the artist that created the installation you are about to see. She is known world wide for her innovative public art. Her installations and sculptures have won her many prestigious awards. Ladies and gentlemen, Andrea Connor.”
She emerged from the crowd, walked to the stage, and took the proffered microphone from the Mayor.
“Thank you, Mayor Evans. And thank you all for coming. The inspiration for this installation came from negotiating the busy streets of this City and wanting a moment of respite. I hope you enjoy it.”
She looked over at the two workmen standing in front of the veils. She gave a slight nod and they pulled them down.
The crowd emitted a collective gasp. Then, applause.
Nestled in a circle of freshly mowed grass were three sandstone benches, each with an intricate carving along the top and sides. A slate monument stood in the middle of the circle. Tall like a monolith. Carved on the face of the monument were the words: “Take a seat, sit awhile, breathe in the sea, feel the sunlight kiss the earth — ecstasy.”
The Mayor took the microphone again.
“Please walk around this Circle of Tranquility as Andrea has named it. Sit and enjoy a moment of respite.”
As the Mayor talked, Andie’s eyes skimmed the crowd, passing over but then swinging back to pair of dark eyes staring at her. Tommy? She moved a little to her left to get a better look at the man’s face but he’d already melded back into the crowd.
“Thank you all for coming,” the Mayor said.
Andie watched a man dressed in a dark suit push his way through the crowd. Not good. A cop? Did Eddie and I screw up somehow? She started to turn around but then saw the microphone in his hand. A reporter.
The man continued to push through the crowd toward her. Behind him, a man dressed in jeans and a polo shirt hoisted a large video camera onto his shoulder. When they got to where Andie stood, the man with the microphone introduced himself as Bob Monroe and asked her a few questions about the Circle of Tranquility. Then he got to the real reason he was there.
“Andrea, what do you think of LuCent’s latest stunt?”
“I haven’t had a chance to see it yet,” she answered, then leveled her gaze at him. “What do you think of it?”
Put on the spot, Bob hesitated then stammered something only he could hear. The cameraman smiled as he filmed Andie walking away.
She walked over to her latest creation and watched a man run his fingers over the small discreet gem inlaid in the monument above her signature. This was her trademark. In every sculpture she created, she imbedded a gem somewhere in the piece.
Several people walked up to her. Among them was a man she estimated to be in his mid-twenties. A little boy, who Andie guessed was about five, hung on his back piggyback style, and a little girl, who couldn’t have been much older, held his hand.
“Did you carve all those pieces by hand?” the man asked. The girl released his hand and moved behind him clinging to his pant leg.
“Yes,” she answered noticing the deep blue of his eyes. She looked at the child, who peeked out at her from behind her father’s leg with the same blue eyes. They played peek-a-boo until her father took her hand and walked away.
A touch on her arm pulled her attention back to a small group of people that had gathered around the installation. Questions flew at her. Smart phones recorded everything. Tweets about her work were sent around the world. Selfies were taken.
She watched the little boy and girl play in the Circle while their father talked on his cell phone. Her brother used to play with her like that. The man put his cell phone in his pocket and called to them. She watched as the boy took his sister’s hand and led her out of the Circle to their father’s side. She missed her brother.
The threatened rain began to fall. Andie turned her face up toward the sky and let the drops fall on her. But in moments, it was a downpour. She watched the few remaining people run for shelter. She was about to do the same, when the rain suddenly stopped. She started to walk toward her car, but then turned and looked back at the Circle of Tranquility and saw a leprechaun having lunch.
Thank you for visiting my blog today.
Before you go I would like to share some exciting news with you. Two days ago, I launched The Roney Writes Podcast! The tagline for the podcast is “let me tell you a story….” And that’s what it’s about – stories. I’ll be sharing stories that I have written every week. Some will be several episodes long told over several weeks, others will be just one episode. I’m unbounded by genre so there will be stories for everyone! If you’d like to learn more, please click here.
Go to the Summer Blog-a-day event page to visit more blogs!