MiroLand by Guernica Editions

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The Voyageur 2

Into The New World
by Jeff Sturge
illustrated by Nick Marinkovich
edition:Paperback
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Quill of the Dove
Excerpt

Hoda walks toward her parents' house. The main street is now pitch-black. She sees a lighted cigarette several metres in front of her. A dark shape in a dishdasha is pulling down the metal door to a shop. It's the olive oil shop, Akil's shop. She moves to the other side of the street to avoid him. Too late. He calls out to her. "Wait, I want to talk to you."Hoda hesitates. Should she make a run for it?"Sharmouta--whore, how dare you speak to my uncle!"Hoda freezes. She doesn't know how to answer the angry young man.He's now facing her, a padlock in his left hand. He grabs her arm."Come with me.""Stop, Akil! You're hurting me!""I'll teach you a lesson."Hoda swings hard at Akil. He blocks her blow. Intense pain shoots up her forearm. Then she feels the padlock in his fist strike the side of her face. When she comes to, he has dragged her back to his shop. She looks up. The place is crammed with bottles of olive oil and barrels of olives in brine. An old oil lamp on the counter offers a dim light. Beside it is the padlock. Akil paces in front of her. It is clear he doesn't know what to do next. He has struck a woman who defied him, but whose cousin is a Palestinian commander. Hoda feels for her hijab. It's gone. It must have fallen off in the street. Her hair tosses wildly on her shoulders. Her skirt is torn. Her legs are exposed. She desperately tries to cover herself."Akil, listen. I won't say anything. Just let me go.""Quiet!"The shop's door is still open. Hoda scrambles to her feet and begins running toward it. Akil grabs her shoulders and throws her back onto the floor."Sharmouta, you will pay for trying to dishonour my family."He leans over her. His eyes burn with rage. She whispers, no, Akil, no. He pins her arms down. She screams. He clamps his right hand over her mouth. Her left arm reaches out searching for a weapon. Nothing. He yanks her over onto her stomach and presses one hand against the small of her back, pinning her to the ground and forcing the air from her lungs. She wants to scream again but she can't. She tries futilely to push away from the ground, but Akil's hand on her back forces her down. This time with such force, she hears one of her ribs crack. His other hand is fumbling to pull up her skirt. His knee pries her legs apart. Her mind races to find some means to defend herself as fear cuts through her like a razor.

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Seeker

Seeker

A Sea Odyssey
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Hour after hour we tossed about in a savage ocean, the Santa Rita no more consequential than a speck of lint in a vast washing machine. There was no horizon. There was no sign of anything sentient. There was nothing out there but wave after wave of black, rolling water with its deafening roar, accompanied by loud cracks of thunder and sheet lightening coming from all directions. We dared not think about how long our thin-skinned hull could hold its own against the fury of the wind and the pounding of the waves.And then it all stopped. The rain tapered off. The wind died away. The ocean flattened. Bernard tumbled into the cabin. He collapsed on the floor next to Stefan and fell into a deep sleep. Almost two days had passed since this nightmare began, and then it abated as abruptly as it came. We were alive. We had not only survived the storm from hell, but we were nearing Indonesia where we would no longer have to face the threat from India's southwest monsoons. When Bernard awoke, I brought him a coffee and sat on the floor beside him. I loved this man so much. I stroked his back, his arm, his hair. Bernard never responded to words, never trusted them. But he understood touch. He put his free arm around me and held me against his still damp slicker. We drank in the warmth of each other's bodies until he was ready to get out of his wet clothes and re-chart our course.I went on deck and surveyed the ocean with awe and a newfound respect. I wondered at the tempest we had endured. It seemed as though the entire ocean was out of control. But it wasn't. Only the surface was in turmoil. The ocean by its very depth could not have moved. I felt the presence of a vast stillness that lay beneath the surface. There is a constant in the universe, I thought. Only the playbill changes. The stage set remains. Underneath there is something subtle and profound and eternal.

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Philipovna

Philipovna

Daughter of Sorrow
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

I started down the path toward the orchard. I was so involved in my mind's wanderings that I almost bumped into the stooped, old man who was walking up the path toward me."Good day Uncle," said Xenkovna from behind me. "What can I do for you this morning?""Xenkovna, don't you recognize me?" he asked.Then it dawned on me."Uncle Paulo?" I asked. "Is that you, really?" "Philipovna, mind your manners." Xenkovna stepped up on the path beside me.We stared at him as if we'd never seen him before. This once solid well-built, robust man with ruddy cheeks and kind eyes looked as if he'd emerged from a grave. His gray skin hung in bags from his cheeks and chin and his eyes had lost their brown lustre. It looked as if every step would be his last."Is that really you?" Xenkovna, who usually could control her composure as well as Auntie, wept openly. "Come in, come in. Mama will be glad to see you. I'm sure we'll find a cup of tea - or something for you."We turned back into the house and found Auntie praying before the icon."For the love of God, what have they done to you?" she exclaimed upon recognizing Uncle Paulo. She stopped and took a long look too."I haven't got much strength left," he said. "Is Misha around here somewhere? I'd like to say what I have to say to the both of you.""No, he's not. The Comrades came and collected the men to bring in wood today," said Auntie. She proceeded to tell Uncle Paulo what happened over the last winter since he had been here for his chess game."Dear God," he sighed and wiped his eyes with his sleeve. "How wrong I was. Please tell Misha that he's right. Though these devils have broken our spirit and taken our land, by the Cross, Misha is right and has been right all along. They will surely defeat us and I say by the Name of our Saviour, they will be worse than any Czar we've ever known. They preach well-being and prosperity but they'll take everything we have and all we stand for."The tears flowed freely over his sunken cheeks."But we know all of that," he continued. "I guess Misha doesn't really need to hear it again. Would you please tell him that I came to ask for his forgiveness? I doubt I'll see the end of this week. I couldn't go to my precious Maria without asking you to pardon me. I should have never given them my land. My heart broke in two when I watched them chase your Children out of my cherries. I used to love to see the joy on all of the faces that my orchard blessed. My dear neighbour, by the Grace of God, I ask for your forgiveness too." He reached for Auntie's hand and kissed it.Xenkovna and I stared at him in silence."I have one more thing to tell you," he went on. "Take Philipovna away from here. Take her as far away as you can, so that Ivan can't get his hands on her. After he and Simon found out what she said to Asimov, they've been looking for pay back. I won't say what he threatened as she is so young and still innocent but you must get her away - at all costs or death will be the least of her trials."He wiped the sweat off his forehead and finished his tea while we three women sat with our mouths gaping."Where should I take her?" Auntie was the first to speak. "Where? Do you have any ideas?""But I don't want to go anywhere," I protested."What you want, Child, is irrelevant," said Uncle Paulo. "What we all want doesn't matter. We want you to survive. That's what matters. If you young ones don't make it, our lives are worth nothing. Our history, our culture, it'll all surely die. I won't make it; but you must! You must. For the love of God, for the love of our land and for the love of our ancestors, you must."He said goodbye and went on his way. We didn't get up to see him to the door. We were so stunned by what he had come to say. We knew that we would never see him again. His words rang in our ears. Each one of us knew that the others were playing them over and over in our minds but we didn't have the energy to speak or move for a very long time."Come along," Auntie, finally said. She got up from her chair and went into the room where Mama's sewing machine was. She pulled out her trunk and started rifling through its contents."We have to find something that we can wrap around you under your clothes," she said. "I don't imagine that they keep a good fire at the orphanage. Now put on this shirt under your blouse. It's old but it will keep you warm." She handed me one of the boy cousins under garments."Orphanage!" I screamed at her. "I don't want to go. I won't go. I'll run away the first chance I get." I stamped my foot."Settle down Child. Today isn't the first time I've thought of taking you there," Auntie admitted. "I promised your mother, on her bible - see. It's right here. I look at it often and remember. If no one else survives, you have to - you must. I promised."Her tears flowed and she clutched the bible in the same way as I remembered her doing on the day that Godfather decided that I should go with her. She put her arms around me with Mama's bible between our chests."Do it for your precious Mama, if you can't do it for me," she whispered. "God has set you aside for something. I don't know what it is, but I'm sure there is something special that you are being prepared for. Please, Child, do it for your Mama if you can't for me. I promised your Mama and Godfather...there is no other way. You must survive." I put on two layers of clothing under my regular blouse; I wrapped my feet with extra rags and stuffed them into a pair of felt boots. Auntie took a small bundle of poppy tea and told me to keep it under my inner clothing."Don't use this all of the time," she said. "Save it for those nights that you absolutely can't sleep or when you really can't tolerate the pain. It will stand you in good stead if you can manage it. And, for the love of our Blessed Jesus, don't let any grownup find you with it. You're smart enough to do this."She tucked some raw carrots into another small bundle. She found the Unravelled One's coat that she had almost frozen to death in last winter. She put ashes into her dark brown hair, although she didn't have to use as many as last time. She kissed Xenkovna goodbye and waited while Xenkovna hugged me with her tears falling all over my face."Tell the men what happened," she said. "I'll be back as soon as I can. At least I won't freeze my hands and feet off this time."

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Trapped

Trapped

A Mother's Quest to Reclaim Her Daughters
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Expo Affair

The Expo Affair

A Cold War Escape Story
edition:eBook
tagged : literary
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In the Backyard

In the Backyard

Relearning the Art of Aging, Dying and Making Love
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Daring to Dream

Daring to Dream

A Handbook for Hope in the Time of Trump
edition:eBook
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