Another five-star story from Evolved Publishing’s anthology Evolution: Volume One is “Courage through Fear” by Ruby Standing Deer. This story caught me off guard with my immediate fear and concern for the main character. This 21 year old girl grifting cross-country with alcoholic husband finds out too late the cost of their freedom. Emotional attachment and the temptations for survival prevent her from escaping just as they would anyone else in her situation. This is a story that will keep your firm attention till the end. There is a brief content warning, though I won’t say what to keep the surprise. I asked Ruby to read a section from the story that is sure to pull you in to the young woman’s plight.
Ruby has a book out with Evolved Publishing called Circles.
In her bio, she says “Life presents us a path; how we choose to navigate that ‘circle’ is up to us.” I would say this philosophy is part of what nailed me into the hero’s quest in “Courage through Fear;” I was captured by her dilemma and cared deeply for her to find her way to safety. I imagine her novel, Circles, will evoke the same sense of connection with the main character’s quest.
I asked Ruby to share a little about the unique setting of Circles, and she also gave us a brief excerpt to illustrate the main character’s voice.
Circles is set in a time rarely written about, in a place of plenty and peace. Seldom bothered by outsiders their culture’s not challenged, but rather deeply rooted in every person from birth. Families passionately connected through bonds with band member share everything, be it food or goings on within the band. Little happens that others do not share in.
Life is happy with humor always part of everyday experiences as well as Spirituality, and fears.
Dreaming of the Spirit world is as natural as breathing…unless you are a confused eight winters old boy who only wants to play, and be free from responsibilities. Feather’s dreams show him a being that frightens him. In its wake only grey dust remains, no life is able to escape the coming advancement his dreams show him. Not even his grandmother can get him to fully open up to her, and she is an important teacher in his life.
White Paws, a grey wolf comes to share his life, offering guidance he does not see at first. They become fast friends; one never is without the other…then a Great Elder of a ragged band of survivors finds her way to the “Shining Light” in her dreams—the camp of Feather’s people. She shows him how to find his way within the Circle of All Living. Now, he must learn what to do with this knowledge, how to use it to save his people from a grey future he cannot see beyond.
Now, the excerpt from her debut novel, Circles:
He picked out a nice thick splay of grass upon which to sit, and called to his grandson, whose many stones spilled over his tunic. “Let the stones go free and come sit beside this old man. I have a story to tell you.”
The stones fell from Feather’s tunic as he turned and ran to Hawk Soaring.
“Dust off your breechclout and sit.” Before Hawk Soaring could add, “away from my face,” sparkling dust sprinkled his cheeks and eyes— and his mouth tasted of dirt. With his grandson now sitting, he stood to brush himself off.
The young boy looked puzzled by his dirty tunic. “How did you get so dirty, Grandfather? I do not remember you throwing stones.”
“Oh, I think it was maybe some boy who tossed dirt on me.” He laughed as Feather turned looking for that boy.
“I did not see him. He must have been very fast!”
“Yes, he was very fast. Too fast to see.” He sat down again. “Fast, all right.”
“Why do birds have wings and we just have arms? That boy was maybe a bird, but he was too fast to see for sure. If we all had wings, would the sky get too crowded? I bet then birds would have to walk. But then—”
“Feather! Too many words spill out of your mouth all at once.” He grabbed his middle and laughed. “You will make this old man’s belly come apart if you do not slow down.”
The boy’s eyes widened with disbelief. “How could your belly come apart? Everything would fall out, and then I would have to run and get Grandmother and Mother to sew you back up before you turned into nothing but skin!”
Hawk Soaring fell and rolled onto his side, until he choked and had to stop to catch his breath. Tears streamed down his cheeks and chin. “Oh! Oooohhh, you are a precious little one. I hope you never grow up!”
He rolled back over, sat up, pulled his hand through the soft hair on the boy’s head, and yanked on it. “Soon, your hair will be as long as mine. You will grow up to be a proud hunter with a woman and children. Maybe even more than one woman.”
No sooner had he said it, than he wished he could stuff the words back into his big mouth.
Feather Floating In Water’s jaw dropped. He cocked his head and stared at him. “Why do I have only Grandmother? I bet she would love it if you got another woman. She would have somebody else to help her and my mother, and they could all be friends. I would have two grandmothers, and they could take turns cooking and helping each other with all the hides after a hunt. And when it was time to move our people deeper into the canyons during the colder winters, we would have more help, and…. Why do you look like you are holding your breath? Are you choking on something? Why is your face a strange color?”
“I… I just took too much air in all at once. I think a drink from the river will help me feel better.” Learning not to let words spill from my mouth before my mind has a chance to think would also help!
He leaned forward and used his hands to pull himself up. He laughed and shook his head as they walked to the river.
The boy mimicked his actions by kneeling beside him at the water. The drink soothed Hawk Soaring’s throat and gave him a chance to catch his breath.
The boy also sipped the cool water from the bank’s edge. “What if we sucked up a fish? Would he just go down with the water? I bet that would tickle. Have you ever sucked up a fish?”
Hawk Soaring choked and spit out his water, and choked some more through his laughter. He would definitely have to let the boy walk him more. He had forgotten how much fun a child could be, especially one as amusing as Feather.
Man, then boy, stood and turned around… and remained still.
An unexpected guest stared at them from just a few steps away.
Cute little guy. I wonder whom the unexpected guest is. Go check out Ruby’s stories, and come back soon; I’m releasing the first part of two podcast episodes interviewing the founders of Evolved Publishing, Lane Diamond and D.T. Conklin, on Wednesday, February 15th.