Title: Forty Days
Author: Stephanie Parent
Published date: February 12th, 2013
Where to Buy: Amazon
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A crash comes out of nowhere, a sound not of water but of something solid rending, splitting, falling, followed by shill screaming. I run to the door without thinking and the water hits me like a wall, blinding me, pushing me back. It takes all my strength to force my way outside, where, eyes narrowed, I make out children bracing themselves, hands on knees, some down on all fours in the now-slippery earth. The rains can be ferocious, yes, especially when they first arrive…but have they ever been like this before? Not in my lifetime, I don’t think.
I struggle forward till I can just glimpse the cause of that solid crash, blurred through a curtain of rain: a cottage has crumbled to the ground, its roof split down the middle, its foundation collapsed under the weight of the roof and the water. My throat tightens: that is—or was—Hannah’s dwelling. As a widow with no sons, Hannah had no one to shore up her cottage before the rainy season. How many years have passed since anyone’s even offered to patch her roof?
I look for Hannah herself, knowing Mother would want me to offer her shelter, but I can’t see past the crowd of taller villagers quickly forming around her cottage. Someone will take care of her, at least.
Another crash rings out over the rain, the sound reverberating down to my bones, and before my eyes the roof of another cottage slides forward, over the still-standing walls and all the way down to the ground, as easily as mud sliding down a hillside. And this is Emir’s house. I saw him repairing his roof just a day or two ago.
I’m trapped in place, suddenly, my body turned solid as stone in my bewilderment and fear, even as the world is tearing to pieces before me and the rain seems determined to knock me onto my knees. And then, through the swirl of wind and water, a single word rises, a harsh, cutting word, repeating and gathering strength like a chant:
“Curse. Curse. Curse. Curse. The ark has brought this curse upon us.”
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.