Moose Tracks Sneak Peek #2 – Meet Jesse

Actual Final copy with endorsement

From Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, available for preorder now for Kindle and Kobo, and for sale in print and all other venues on February 3, 2015.

Diary entry #1: June 30, 1981

This is Elena Elizabeth, and it’s my first time writing even though I got this diary five months ago when I turned twelve. I’ve been feeling a little guilty cuz Ma says I should be using it, so here goes. I met a new kid near Caveman Rock today. He seems like a jerk. . . .

      The first time Elena saw Jesse James Wilder she was up to her elbows in

dirt and a rotting layer of last autumn’s leaves. She was a definite outdoors

girl, tall for her age and in the habit of running free all day each summer—

sometimes playing with Jen (less often Zippy or Patricia) or maybe the

across-the-field-neighbors Lisa and Debbie. But lots of times she just

rummaged around in the woods by herself.

      She could spend hours looking at plants, collecting feathers,

pretending to be a pioneer or an Indian, and finding dead birds and other

animals to bury in the little animal graveyard Pa had helped them lay out

behind the camp’s outhouse. She’d be the first to admit that with only one

bathroom at the homestead, the outhouse could be useful in a pinch, even if

it was stinky and dark.

      She felt safe playing outside by herself all day. Ma had never had

to worry about weirdos trolling the streets and byways for kids to pick up.

Not in rural areas like Moose Junction, and certainly not out in the acres of

woods behind their house.

      On the rare occasions when Elena went with her sisters on the ten minute

bike ride down the highway to the lake (from which the nearby

town of Lake Pines derived its name), they’d all stuck together. The older

girls watched out for the younger ones, and bad drivers were more of a

concern than kidnappers.

      All in all, Elena relished those summer days of freedom, coming

home at dusk and covered in dirt, and, more often than not, with twigs and

even burdocks tangled in her hair.

      As it was already nearing suppertime on that particular day, she

looked quite a sight as she crouched in the dappled light, trying to scoop a

half mummified chipmunk carcass into an improvised Maple bark coffin.

She’d been concentrating so hard that she hadn’t been paying

attention to her surroundings. So when Jesse Wilder surprised her by

stepping into her little clearing with his size thirteen feet, snapping twigs

like a black bear, she’d lurched to a partial stand and nearly clocked him

with the stick she’d been using to dig at the dirt around the dead chipmunk.

In fact, she swung her improvised weapon within a few inches of his head

at the same time that she pretty much growled at him.

      Both of his big hands shot up in front of him in a fist-clenched,

defensive pose as he yelled, “Holy shit!” But the terrified look on his face

immediately made her feel a little better, considering her temporary lapse

of attention to her surroundings.

      “What the hell!” he added as his fists slowly came down, but his

shock was still apparent by the way his voice cracked on the last word.

Elena’s mouth turned down at the double profanities. She gave him

a quick onceover, none too impressed. First of all, he was obviously a city

slicker, and second of all, he was a boy (a.k.a. an alien species). A tall,

wiry boy, sporting a shock of honey-colored hair streaked with blond, and

staring at her through narrowed blue eyes.

      She finally let out her breath, standing up out of her stooped

position. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to use that kind

of language?”

      “My mother died when I was six.”

      That kind of set Elena back on her heels. “Oh . . . sorry.”

She didn’t really know what else to say. The truth was that she

didn’t know anyone on a personal basis who didn’t have a mother. The

thought of what it would be like not to have Ma, with her soft hands, sweet

smile, and gentle voice (except when Trish, Zippy, and Elena had been

squabbling so much that they’d driven her up one wall and down another)

took away some of the sting of indignation she’d been feeling.

      But the temporary peace lasted only as long as it took for the tall,

scrawny blond kid to open his mouth again, right after he returned the

favor Elena had given him with a disdainful onceover, his expression

having shifted by now from his initial shock to a look of cool mocking.

“What are you, some kind of crazy mountain girl?” His sarcasm

was only fair considering the way she looked, she supposed, but she didn’t

much care for logic at that moment. She snorted, taking in his Jordache

jeans, Nike sneakers, and perfectly pressed Ralph Lauren shirt.

      “Yeah. Just like you’re a walking billboard for name brands.”

      He did something Elena didn’t expect then. He laughed.

7 thoughts on “Moose Tracks Sneak Peek #2 – Meet Jesse

    • Thank you! Jesse is one of my favorite characters in the book…and his interplay with Elena (who is the main POV character of the entire novel – though she’s mostly in her late 30’s in the “present” scenes and an 18 year-old teen in all the diary entries except this one) was a lot of fun to write. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Burdocks! Haven’t heard or read that word in, well, too many years. They had them in bunches in NW Pennsylvania where I grew up. It was my job to pry them (kicking and screaming if a plant can do so) from the legs and underbelly of our Brittany. Somehow the Beagles never managed to get stuck with them. Perils of having flamboyant dog hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NW Pennsylvania is also beautiful country! I haven’t spent as much time there as I’d like, but it’s really quite similar to Upstate NY, if I recall correctly. What kind of dog was Brittany?

      And yes, my collie, Lassie, (very original name, I know) used to get clumps of them in her underbelly fur, too. My poor mother had to “de-burdock” us all (I’m the sixth of seven sisters – no brothers). 🙂

      Like

      • Along with a beagle, German shepherd, 2 Labs and a half wolf half hound, I have included a Brittany as “characters” in my novels. They add much to the stories and make me laugh at the goofy things I have them do. I’ve always been a sucker for a good dog story. Who didn’t cry during “Old Yeller”.

        Liked by 1 person

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