Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Kathy Martone who’ll be sharing an excerpt from her latest release Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.
About the Book
Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery
The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.
You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel
It is a cool winter evening in mid-January, and the moon is full, casting her alabaster veil over the tiny house nestled among the forest of trees deep within the Ozark Mountains of northwestern Arkansas. The three-room cabin is home to Hank and Jane, a newly married couple in their twenties. Where Hank is dark haired, rail thin, and movie-star handsome, his wife is an auburn-haired beauty with big, green eyes. Jane is nine months pregnant with their first child and frequently troubled with the anxiety of a first-time mom.
“O-o-oh I wish this baby would get on with it!” Jane complains to her husband, who is engrossed in the newspaper he holds in front of his face. “Honey, would you hand me my knitting needles?” she asks as she awkwardly deposits her very large bottom into the antique rocking chair. Silently Hank tosses her the pointed plastic tools, letting the ball of yarn unravel across the room behind them. “Ha-a-ank! Can’t you please just hand me the yarn too? I can’t exactly do
much without it, ya know.”
Hank begrudgingly stands up and slaps the newspaper onto the yellow-and-red plaid couch while bending over to retrieve the pesky fabric sphere. Handing Jane the desired object, he ambles over to the record player, a wedding present from his parents, and moves the needle up and over the black plastic disk already in place. As he gently drops the tip of the pin onto the shiny grooves, the silky melody of Frank Sinatra’s voice fills the room with its soothing refrain:
I look at you and suddenly
Something in your eyes I see
Soon begins bewitching me
It’s that old devil moon
That you stole from the skies
It’s that old devil moon in your eyes
Blinds me with love
Blinds me with love
Closing his eyes as he sways to the music, Hank doesn’t notice his wife’s grimace of pain and her back-arching exit from the chair. “Hank!” she yells. “I think this is it! Better call Jessie and get me a towel. I think my water just broke.”
Instantly Hank snaps to attention, his eyes wide open with concern. “Of course, my darling. Of course. Let’s get you into the bedroom first.”
One hour later, Jane is lying drenched in sweat in their double bed, waiting for the midwife to arrive. Tearfully she clenches Hank’s right hand in a viselike grip, causing him to wince in pain. “Honey, stop! You’re hurting me,” he says as he gets up to answer the knock at the front door. “Hope this is Jessie,” he mumbles. “Don’t think I can deal with this much longer.”
Hank hurries into the living room and jerks open the door, relieved to see Jessie standing there with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Winnie. “Black as the Ace of Spades, the both of them,” he mumbles under his breath.
“Sorry, Mistah. What was dat you jus said?” Jessie asks. “I couldna unnerstan a word dat you jes spoke.”
“Never you mind, Jessie. Just please get into that bedroom and take care of Jane, will ya?”
Jessie nods her head and bobbles her round, short body across the living room, pulling her daughter along with her. “Jessie, is that you?” Jane calls from the bowels of the birthing room.
“Yes ma’am,” Jessie replies. “’Tis Jessie fer sure come to hep you, Miss Jane.” Jessie enters the small room and looks around before moving to the bed and taking Jane’s hand in hers. “It’s goin’ to be okay, Missie,” she whispers.
Minutes later, Jane’s high-pitched screech causes Hank to stop dead in his tracks just outside the bedroom door. “Holy shit,” Hank snorts. “This is more than I bargained for.” Taking a deep breath, he cracks open the door and cautiously peeks inside the semi-dark room. Jessie has her back to him as she peers between his wife’s spreadopen legs on the bed. “Everything okay?” Hank whispers.
Jessie turns around slowly and escorts him out of the room, ordering him to boil some water. Once she thinks he is out of sight, she shakes her head and makes the sign of the cross over her forehead. “Poor thang,” she mutters to herself. “This ain’t goin’ to be no easy birth, no way.” Looking out the window at the moon scudded with bluish-colored dark clouds, she brings her hand to her mouth. “Oh my, my!” she utters between her fingers. “We in fer a long night, sure ‘nuf!”
Lying peacefully in their bed the next morning, Hank and Jane can’t stop smiling at their baby daughter sound asleep between them. “She’s such a pretty thing, Hank, isn’t she?” Jane gushes to her husband. Hank nods in silent, blissful agreement. “But, sweetheart, did you notice this ugly, red birthmark on the back of her neck?”
Hank gently turns the infant over onto his arm and there he sees it—a dark red mark in the shape of a crescent moon, of all things. “What the hell?” Hank mouths silently to his wife.
A knock at the front door startles them both, and Hank places his precious child back in her mother’s arms to go see who could be bothering them so early in the day. Hank’s scowl turns to a bright smile when he sees Jessie standing before him. “Oh, goodness, Jessie! I almost forgot about you. Come on in and have a seat. Jane’s resting with the baby and besides, I want to have a chat with you, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure ‘nuf, Hank,” Jessie replies as she sits in the rocking chair. “What name did you give dat little one?” she asks as she sways back and forth.
“Kate,” Hank responds. “We named her Kate, after my mother. She looks like a Kate, don’t you think?”
Jessie smiles and nods her head, clearly enjoying the soothing motion of the rocker. “Kate’s a might purty name, sure ‘nuf, Mistah Hank.”
“Oh, Jessie. I almost forgot. Here’s your money—well earned, I must say!” Hank hands her a wad of dollar bills. “Now then, about our chat.”
Jessie comes to a halting stop in the rocker and takes the payment, placing the money in the front pocket of her red calico dress. Then placing both hands on her knees and staring right at Jane’s husband, she says, “Yessir. What you wanna talk ‘bout?”
Hank clears his throat and stammers. “Well, uh, gosh, Jessie, um, I’m not sure how to bring this up. But well, geesh, I was watching how you reacted to that moon outside the bedroom window last night. Something upset you, didn’t it?” Coughing into his fist, Hank continues. “And on top of that, why Jane and I saw that awful red birthmark on the back of our baby’s neck. We want to know what you make of that too!”
For several long minutes, Jessie sits stone quiet in the chair just staring at Hank. Finally she stands up, never taking her eyes off his, folds her arms, and says, “Thought you didn’t b’lieve in my dealins in dat dere magic, Mistah Hank. I ‘member you tellin’ me lossa times never to bring any o’ dat nonsense into yore house, ‘member? You called it nonsense, ‘member?”
“Yes. Yes, I remember, Jessie,” Hank says, waving his right hand in a gesture of dismissal. “You know me. I’m always spouting off saying things I don’t really mean. Now can we please talk? I really am interested in what you have to say, okay? Please, Jessie. This is my daughter we’re talking about here!”
“Okay, Mistah Hank, if you be sure den.” Jessie speaks slowly, holding her breath as she resumes her seat in the rocking chair and begins to swing back and forth, back and forth, her eyes closed and her hands placed solemnly on her knees. After what seems like an eternity to Hank, she exhales loudly, opens her eyes, and says, “Dat chile o’ yorn, Mistah Hank, is mighty gifted, being she was born on da night o’ da Devil Moon. Dat birthmark, as you call it, is da mark of dat light in da night sky. She goin’ to be quite a magician but her life also goin’ to be harder dan most. Quite distressin’, actually, poor thang.” Jessie looks down at her hands and shakes her head slowly.
“Devil moons, they give an’ they take, Mistah Hank,” she continues. “Tragic.” Jessie’s expression turns even more decidedly downcast. “Mos’ likely she gonna feel like she don’t b’long nowhere. Shapeshifter she be, scarin’ folks as Miss Kate won’t never appear same ways twice.” Taking a deep breath, she finishes, “Now da givin’ part of da lady in da night sky. Da givin’ part is a spirit man, Mistah Hank. A spirit man who goin’ to love Miss Kate like none udder. A spirit man wit’ big ole yeller eyes.”
Standing up and wiping her hands on the front of her dress, the black-skinned sorceress speaks her final words. “And lastly, Mistah Hank, yor preshus chile, she gonna ‘member lots o’ da happenins in her early livin’, mark my words. She even gonna ‘member this here night wit’ dat moon. Oh, she won’t know dat what she ‘members but she’ll ‘member jus da same. Good day to ya and thanks fer the cash,” she says, patting her front dress pocket. “You take good care now, ya hear? You and da missus, you take good care.” And Jessie the shamaness turns on her heel and exits the house, leaving Hank feeling dumbfounded.
“Aw, shit—what a bunch of nonsense!” Hank exclaims quietly.
About The Author
Dr. Kathy Martone
Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones. Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story. Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow. In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.
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