I know we are not due for a snippet until tomorrow, but I also know that a lot of you read the blog at work, and Saturday mornings are for lazy not for web surfing
Wednesday rolled around way too fast.
A white truck sped by her, its horn blaring. Rose didn’t even spare a glance. The needle on her fuel gauge had rolled to the left of the yellow “E.”
“Just make it to the Edge,” she murmured. “That’s all I ask.”
The old Ford rumbled on, creaking. She kept the speed at thirty miles an hour to save the gas. In the distance, the sun setslowly, threatening the sky with red. She was so late.
She had to stay overtime—at the regular seven bucks an hour rate as usual. The T-shirt printer had an emergency. Some disgruntled employee had sprayed the floor with the tacky liquid they used to keep the T-shirts in place while the designs were inked into them. By the time the owners realized what had happened and called Clean-n-Bright, the floor was a horrid mess of every type of dirt imaginable. Only one thing removed the tacky spray—turpentine. She and Latoya had spent the last two hours crawling on their hands and knees drenching the tile in it. Her fingers smelled like turpentine. It was everywhere, on her skin, in her hair, on her shoes . . . Her back ached. She needed to get home and take a shower. True, she was a cleaning lady, but that didn’t mean she had to smell like one.
A small part of her regretted not accepting William’s offer. He wasn’t boyfriend material, but he could’ve been a friend. Someone outside the Edge to talk to. Water under the bridge, she told herself. She said no and she’d live with it.
Ahead the familiar curve of Potter Road appeared from the greenery. Finally.
The truck sneezed.
“Come on, boy. You can do it.”
The Ford sneezed again. She took her foot off the gas, guiding the old truck into a turn, and let it roll up the road into the trees. They were down to ten miles per hour now. A bit more gas. A bit more . . .
They crossed the boundary, and the magic flared within her, filling her with warmth. The engine died with a soft murmur, and Rose let the truck glide off the road into the tangled brush. The greenery snapped shut behind her. She parked, got out, locking the Ford, and patted the hot hood. “Thanks.”
It was the first day of school and she was out of gas. At least Grandma had agreed to pick the kids up at the end of the road and watch them until Rose got home from work. Usually they walked by themselves, but today had to be special. They’d be bursting at the seams with earth-shattering revelations about going back to school.
Rose started up the road. Around her the Wood crowded the dirt path: huge trees braided their dark twisted limbs, the ground between their trunks soft with centuries of autumn. Pale blue horsetail vines tinseled the branches. Twilight crouched among the trees. The blanket of kudzu that swallowed trees whole in the Broken stopped at the boundary, and here the Edge moss had taken over, hugging the tree trunks like a velvet sleeve and sending forth tiny flowers on thin stalks that looked like overturned lady shoes: bright purple, mint green, lavender, pink. The scents of a dozen herbs mixed into an earthy, slightly bitter spice in the air.
Sinister noises came from the gloomy depths of the Wood, and occasionally a glowing pair of eyes ignited in the canopy. Rose paid it little mind. The Wood was the Wood; most things around these parts knew who she was and let her be.
Two miles separated her from the turnoff to the house, and Rose fell into a familiar, comfortable stride. It lasted until the third turn of the road. She halted. This was the spot where the man with two swords had leaped onto her truck.
Rose looked at the dirt tracks. Now that had been something else. As far as she could remember, the truck hood came to a little above her waist. She rocked experimentally on her toes and jumped as high as she could. Not even close. If she took a running start, she could maybe get one leg up on the hood. But he had leaped onto the moving truck, landed on his feet, and kept going like it was nothing.
A tiny high-pitched noise from above made her raise her head. To the left a tall tree spread its branches over the path, leaning to the road. About nine feet off the ground, just before the tree trunk forked in two, a skinny shape hugged the bark. Kenny Jo Ogletree.