Not Far from the Peach Tree
by Sabrina Falk
Publication Date: February 1, 2019
Publisher: Peasantry Press
Anxiety has become the only thing Abigail Hartley can count on. Jobless, dreamless, loveless and stuck living with her parents—this isn’t the 22 she had in mind.
But when tragic news rattles the Hartley household and years of secrecy begin to surface, Abigail can no longer hide behind her fears. She joins forces with her sarcastic, pre-teen sister and heads to the only place that might have the answers she’s looking for. One month in Georgia is all it takes to change everything Abigail knows about, well, everything.
Excerpt – Not Far from the Peach Tree – Chapter Six – Pages 57-59
…I’m infuriated by his self-assuredness. “Who are you?”
“The landscaper.” Losing all sense of the situation, I round the corner. He’s tall and much bigger than I am. Now I wish I really had called the cops. But upon seeing me, his stance softens. “What are you doing in Mrs. Mayfield’s house?”
I’m flooded with relief. He knows Mae. “She’s my grandmother.”
His brown eyes become apologetic. “I’m sorry. If I’d have known—well, I wouldn’t have just barged in here like this. Name’s James Walden.” He extends a hand to me. His calloused grip confirms that he works, not thieves, for a living.
“I’m Abigail Hartley.”
He seems a little older than me, but not by much. His skin is darkened by the sun—probably from working long days outside. On a spectrum, his hair would fall smack dab in the middle of Maddy’s blonde and my dark brown.
“He’s not going to kill us?” Maddy asks from around the corner.
James cracks a somehow perfect smile. “Not today.”
I laugh, then become aware of myself. Thankfully, I changed out of my pajamas, but my socks are mismatched and my hair’s unbrushed.
Maddy surfaces beside me to investigate. “I’m Maddy,” she says, then gestures her thumb toward me. “This one’s my sister.” “Pleased to meet you both.” His face stirs with a thought.
“How’d y’all get here? Mine was the only vehicle outside.”
“We bused to town,” I explain. “Then walked.”
“And walked”—Maddy’s head goes limp from side to side—
“and walked, and walked, and walked.”
“Come on, Maddy, you’re a New Yorker. You should be
used to walking.”
“Not when it’s that hot outside.”
“I hear ya,” James says. “It can sure feel like the sun’s frying you up for breakfast sometimes.” His eyes turn down to my side. “But you should know all about that.”
I follow his stare to the frying pan still clutched in my hands. “Oh, ha,” I say, tucking the pan behind me. “You caught us in the middle of making lunch.”
“What are they?” Maddy asks with a quizzical brow.
James laughs. “They’re bikes. What else?”
I’m with Maddy on this one. They look more like relics than functional machines. The putrid green paint on both bikes is chipped, with spots of rust dotting the frame and wheel wells. The tires are so flat, they’re sagging, and some of the spokes are just plain missing. It’s clear they’ve been sitting unused in that shed for a long time.
I fold my arms. “I’m not getting on that thing.”
“What? It’ll be fine.” He pats the bike seat. “Here, hop on, Maddy.”
“That’s how it’s gonna be, huh? Okay.” James straddles the bike. The pedals stick at first but eventually ease into motion. He circles around us on the grass. “I can’t remember the last time I was on one of these.”
“Perhaps the eighteen hundreds.” Sarcasm is Maddy’s second language, arguably her first. She points and laughs. “You’re about as rusty as that chain.”
She’s also the queen of lame jokes.
“That bad, huh?” He hops off the bike and stares at it sideways. “I’ll grease up the gears and pump up the tires. They’ll work like new.”
He leaves for his truck, parked in front of the house. It’s an old truck, perhaps from the same time period as the bikes. Dad would affectionately refer to a truck like his as a rust bucket.
James steps up on the back wheel of the truck and leans over to grab a toolbox and bicycle pump.
Maddy nudges my arm. “He’s got a cute butt.”
I mean, she’s right. Obviously. I guess it’s just weird hearing my thoughts voiced out loud. “He’s a little old for you, don’t you think, Maddy?”
“Yeah, but not for you,” she says, wiggling her brows.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sabrina Falk is a Canadian Writer from Southern Manitoba. She received an English Language Arts scholarship at NCI in her graduating year. She is also the co-creator of Matt Falk’s Awful Podcast and played Melissa in the World Vision tour of POOF across Manitoba. She loves traveling all over the world with her family, but Southern Manitoba has always been her home.
Not Far from the Peach Tree is Sabrina Falk’s debut novel.