A Town Bewitched

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It’s tough for Kira, growing up in the small town of Hope as a child prodigy in classical violin, especially when her dad just died. And to make matters worse, Kate McDonough, the red-haired fiddler appears out of nowhere, bewitching the town with her mysterious Celtic music. Even Uncle Jack succumbs to her charms, forgetting his promise to look after Kira’s family. But when someone begins vandalizing the town leaving dead and gutted birds as a calling card, Kira knows without a doubt who’s behind it. Will anyone believe her?

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Publié par
Date de parution 15 septembre 2016
Nombre de visites sur la page 0
EAN13 9781772991215
Langue English

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A Town Bewitched By Suzanne de Montigny Digital ISBNs: EPUB 9781772991215 Kinble 9781772991222 We/PDF 9781772991239 Print ISBN 9781772991246
Copyright 2016 y Suzanne be Montigny Cover art Michelle Lee All rights reserveb. Without limiting the rights un ber copyright reserveb aove, no part of this pulication may e reprobuceb, storeb in or introbuceb into a retrieval system, or transmitteb, in any form, or y any mean s (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recorbing, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of oth the copyright owner anb the pulisher of this ook.
Dedication To my dad. A fine doctor and a legendary father who influenced me and many others to be the best people we could be, one perso n at a time. You are sorely missed by all. Acknowledgements I’d like to thank all the members of The Writer’s S tudio at SFD for helping me shape this novel into the best it could be: Hiromi Goto, Kim Aippersbach, Melanie Berezan, Joanne Betzler, Alison Brewin, Sarah Brown, eborah Patton, Isaac Torres, and Kiran Sunar. A big thank you also goes to Stuart West, Ma deleine McLaughlin, Melanie Berezan, Winnie Chow, and Louise de Montigny for be ta reading my manuscript. And finally, a huge thank you to Roger Mangas and Mairi Rankin for the musical inspiration behind the story. Without you two, A Town Bewitched would have never been written.
Chapter 1 The Hrrival Today they’re burying my father –myfather. The man who loved me and stood by me through tough times, the man who carried me on h is shoulders when I was small, and the man who applauded louder than anyone else w hen I played my violin. My shoulders hunched, I drift up the aisle of the c hurch to where Dad’s body lies in the open casket, so pale and stiff, his teasing gri n gone forever. “He looks so peaceful – like he’s sleeping,” whispe rs an old lady standing next to me, her voice gentle like she’s talking to a small child instead of a fourteen-year-old. I nod politely, but a voice whispers inside my head –No! He’s stone cold dead! Dullness envelopes my mind as I step toward the carved wooden pews reserved for the choir where my violin awaits me. The violin tha t’s been a close friend to me since I was four when I began taking lessons, when Mr. Bach insky declared me a child prodigy. Child prodigy. It sounds so glamorous, but really – it’s more of a curse than a gift when you live in a small town like Hope. I pick up the bow and tighten it, sliding rosin up and down the strings. Then I lift my violin and rest it on my shoulder, my fingers cradl ing the neck. The notes echo in the church as I tune – A-E-D-G. My accompanist, Monica, nods. It’s time. I turn and face the congregation and perch my bow on the strings. The sweet notes of Dan ny Boy fill the church as though someone else plays them. They run through me, movin g, gliding, even glowing with colour though it’s just sound. The notes pierce my soul. Images whirl through my brain, wracking me with the grief I suffered over the past year while I watched Dad grow thinner and weaker as the cancer in his lungs killed him. His voice echoes in my mind. “Play me your violin, Kira. I want to hear Danny Boy,” the words he called to me while he lay on the flowe red couch waiting for death to steal him from me. And every day I played it for him, bit ing my lip, trying to be strong, trying to survive. With the passing of each month, his voi ce grew weaker and weaker, and now here I am, and there he is, separated by this thing called death. The final notes slide to the last fermata where the y fade into nothingness. I hold the bow above the D-string, and then lower my instrumen t and break into a sob, vowing to myself never to play Danny Boy again. Monica gently places her arm around my shoulder and leads me to the pew where I cry in gulps while she tries to console me. Six solemn pallbearers move forward and carry the c offin to the waiting hearse that’ll take Dad and bury him in the ground. I climb into the black car beside Mom and my little brother, Dylan. His face is stained from crying. Mom pushes her glasses back over her curly, brown h air and hugs me, saying, “Well-played, Kira. Your Danny Boy was so moving.” Always a compliment for every performance. Next to Dad, she’s always been my bigg est fan. The trip to the cemetery is never-ending. A long li ne of cars crawls to the graveyard and the skies grow dark and ominous.
Oh, please, no rain. At least wait until we’ve buried him. When we arrive, the crowd pours out of freshly-wash ed cars and gathers round the black hole that will swallow up Dad for the rest of eternity. Father Justin begins chanting long prayers, his voice droning and echoing in the surrounding mountains. I turn my attention to the people who came to say g ood-bye to Dad: my Uncle Jack, my cousins, several businesspeople, teachers, the m ayor, and lots of loggers. Even Constable Douglas and Constable Fortier are here – all faces I know well, except one. “Who’s she?” I ask Mom, pointing to a woman who sta nds alone on the edge of the crowd. “I don’t know,” she says, squinting. The woman seems out of place, wearing tall boots an d a purple scarf, even though it’s only late August. Her long, red hair curls sli ghtly as it tumbles over her shoulders. A worn skirt hides the tops of her brown, leather boo ts with a slight ruffle. She carries a battered case in her hands. “She has a violin,” I whisper. Mom slides her glasses to her nose, still straining her eyes. “I’ve never seen her before.” It’s strange because I know every kid and adult who plays in this town. There aren’t very many since Mr. Bachinsky is the only violin te acher in Hope. He comes two days a week from Chilliwack with his wife, Monica, to teac h a small handful of students who dare to be different. Father Justin ends his prayers, and the congregatio n sings a very slow and mournful Amazing Grace while each person drops a si ngle red rose that thuds on the lid of the simple pine coffin. After the casket is lowe red to its final resting place, Uncle Jack grabs a handful of dirt and tosses it on the box, c rossing himself. I fill my hand with the soil and drop it, turning my head so as not to see. “Good-bye, Daddy,” I whisper. The crowd drifts toward their vehicles, their heads bowed, mumbling in low voices. As we leave, Uncle Jack draws Dylan and me close, d raping his arms over our shoulders. “Don’t worry. I promise I’ll take care o f you guys from now on. I’ll be like a second dad to you.” I smile through a tear, grateful for his words and slip my hand around his waist. “Thanks, Uncle Jack.” As we drive back into the town, the clouds unleash their fury. The wipers beat their rhythm against the windshield, hypnotizing me.Swish-bump, swish-bump.The potholes in the road fill with murky water, and brown-grey m ud forms along the sides of the road. The car pulls over close to the curb at the old chu rch hall. I drift in and slide my violin under the head table decorated with purple f lowers. My BFF, Charlotte, whom I’ve known since we both began Suzuki violin when we were four, waves to me. I motion her over. She’s by my side in seconds, and we fall into each other’s arms. We’re like twins, really – the same long, dark hair and bangs, and sk inny – only she’s Chinese. “That was really sad, Kira,” she says, tears flowin g freely from her warm, brown
eyes. “I know.” The smell of coffee lingers in the air. I glance at the food laid out on the long tables. “I don’t feel much like eating,” I say. “I don’t blame you,” says Charlotte, but she eyes the peanut butter and banana rolls held together with toothpicks and glances around. C harlotte’s always hungry. “Think it’s okay to start?” Not waiting for me to answer, she loads up her plate with food. I watch her devour the fancy sandwiches and sweet d esserts while I sip on a glass of strawberry punch and wait for the speeches to be gin. The mayor grabs the microphone, taps it, and clears his throat. The cro wd grows quiet. “Friends,” he says, “If there’s anything anyone cou ld say about Paul Montgomery, it’s that he was a good man.” Several heads nod. “A finer doctor never existed. I think I can attest to the fact that he helped pretty much e veryone in this town.” Again people nod and mumble. He describes my father’s life, his rise from povert y to a self-made man. Of his marriage to my mother, Pierrette, and their two bea utiful children, myself and my ten-year-old brother, or should I say my ‘bother’, Dyla n. The audience applauds heartily when his speech come s to an end. Others come to the mic and share tales of Dad. The stories, mostly funny or about good deeds, lift my spirits until the last speaker lays down the mic an d walks back to her seat. I heave a sigh of relief. It’s over. As we exit the hall, a flash of orange catches my e ye. I do a double-take. Across Main Street, the red-haired woman from the cemetery walks with long strides, her wet strands clinging to her clothes, her leather boots muddied. She walked all the way from the graveyard in the storm? She holds her head high as she moves, her eyes fier ce. When she passes me, she pauses and stares at me as though she knows me. For a moment, I think I know her too. There’s something … familiar. My gaze locks fo r a few seconds with the iciest blue eyes I have ever seen, eyes almost inhuman – like a wild animal’s. I wrench myself away from the stare and shiver as she makes an abru pt turn and steps into our town’s only hotel.
Chapter2 TheGolD VIolIn The next week passes by in a haze. I stumble through the motions of everyday life, trying to survive. Mom doesn’t seem fazed at all by Dad’s death. She buries herself in her school work, leafing through stacks of music, p ulling out scores, and then shoving them back into the filing cabinet after making note s about which class will play what piece. When she finishes that, she drags us to Chil liwack and dives into buying us school supplies and clothes. Then she attacks the g arden as though each weed is a mortal enemy, filling the red wheelbarrow to overfl owing over and over. She finishes off by painting the fence and washing all the walls in our house claiming they’re dirty. Dylan, on the other hand, has become four foot seve n and sixty-five pounds of pure torture. “Freeze!” he shouts the day after Dad’s funeral, po inting his red, double-barreled Dead-Eye Dart Gun at me, his face screwed up like a GI Joe. Before I have a chance to react, dozens of orange darts litter my room and stick to my hair and clothes. “Mom!” I shout. “Mm-hm?” she mumbles from the downstairs bathroom s he’s scrubbing. “Mom!” I yell again, but she’s not listening. I bolt after Dylan, snatch his plastic gun and shov e it on the top shelf of my closet where his short, little arms can’t reach it. Height is one thing I still have over him. “Ha!” I brush my hands together in victory. Dylan bounces up and down like a kangaroo, his stra ight, brown hair flying as he tries to reach his gun. Racing to his bedroom, he returns with another one. He has eight of the darn things, some bigger and some meaner. Af ter a couple of frustrating days, I triumphantly guard eight Dead-Eye Dart Guns in my c loset, the white doors tied together with the most complicated knot I can come up with. The house is cluttered with darts, but Mom doesn’t seem to notice. Thank goodness Uncle Jack has kept his promise to t ake care of us and comes by nearly every day. He takes Dylan out and oftentimes cooks supper afterward. I love Uncle Jack and don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s my lifeline now that Dad’s gone. Ten years younger than Dad, he has a warm smi le on his lips for anyone and a joke to make us laugh whenever he thinks we need on e. He’s handsome too, with thick, brown hair, and dimples, but he’s not Dad. Sighing, I recall the pact Dad and I made last year . He had promised me a new violin and put aside a lot of money for it, saying, “Any kid who plays the violin like that deserves it. Besides, you’ll need it to do your ARCT.” An ARCT! Finally – that certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto that says I’m as good as anyone who’s done two years of unive rsity. A real degree before I’m out of high school – if only Dad were here to see it. I remember the day last summer when Dad and I stopp ed at the luthier’s tiny shop on Fraser Street in Vancouver to try out violins ju st for fun. Kristoff, the tall gentleman whose greying blond hair trailed down below his ear s, had taken out dozens of shiny,
new violins, but each time I tried one, I shook my head. “You don’t like that one either?” He sighed, his Po lish accent colouring the words as he placed back violin after violin on the neatly ke pt shelves. “No. I know the sound I want,” I said, determined. “What sort of sound?” Kristoff asked. “It has to be sweet,” I said, a finger to my lip. “ It’s hard to describe, but I’ll know it when I hear it.” Kristoff turned to Dad. “I have some better ones, b ut they’re very expensive. They’re the type of instrument someone in the VSO would buy.” Dad raised his brown eyebrows at me, questioning. “The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Dad.” I giggled. He could be so out of it sometimes. My heart leapt when Dad nodded, and Kristoff return ed to the back room, trying to hide a grin of excitement. He came back holding the most exquisite instrument I had ever seen. A dark brown, it smelled of fresh wood and varnish and shimmered in the light. I picked it up, thrilled at the lightness of it. Kristoff rosined the new bow a nd handed it to me. Raising the violin to my shoulder, I tested the wolf note that drove m e nuts onmyviolin. A crystal clear F rang out in the tiny shop, deep and warm and sweet. Excited, I played another and another. Then I broke into Dad’s favourite – Danny Boy. “This is it, Dad,” I said, smiling. “This is what I’ve been looking for – the very sound.” Dad turned to Kristoff. “How much?” Looking a little unsure, the luthier mumbled the price. Dad nearly choked. “Please, Dad?” I begged. “Let’s wait until next summer. I doubt it’s going a nywhere,” he said. “Aw, Dad.” I clapped my hands together, but still h e shook his head. “You don’t need it just yet, but I promise you’ll h ave it to do your ARCT.” “Honest?” I asked. “Have I ever broken a promise before?” “No.” I dropped my hands, defeated, but I was okay. Dad never went back on his word. He always came through. I could handle the old violin for a while longer. We carefully laid the precious instrument in its bo x lined with gold velvet. And that’s when I named it – the Gold Violin. Kristoff looked a little disappointed, but the pact had been made. Two weeks later we got the news – Dad had cancer. I sigh at the memory, and then glance at Mom. She’s washing the dishes in the kitchen.iT’s now or never, I think as I take tentative steps toward her. “So when are we going to Vancouver to get my new vi olin?” I crack my knuckles over and over, a bad habit I have when I’m nervous. Mom flinches as though she’s forgotten something im portant, but instead of saying, “Oh yeah, I forgot,” like I thought she would, she dries her hands, places one on my shoulder, and leads me to the living room.
I know something bad is about to happen by the seri ous look in her eyes. She motions me to sit down in the armchair while she se ttles into the matching couch opposite. I stare down at the patterns on the light blue rug and wait for her to drop the bomb. “You’re going to have to wait for the new violin, K ira. I’m afraid we just can’t afford it right now,” she blurts out. “What?” I cry. “But you bought Dylan’s!” “Yeah, but his isn’t anywhere near as expensive as yours,” she says as though she thinks I’m too young to understand. “This is more l ike … an investment. It’s a lot of money. And besides, we got Dylan’sbeforeDad died.” My chin drops. “What difference does it make if Dad ’s gone or not?” I say, a lump welling up in my throat. “He put the money aside fo r it. He promised me.” Mom sighs. “Honey, Dad and I didn’t prepare for his death the way we should have. The lawyer explained it to me yesterday. You see, w e didn’t have joint accounts, and Dad didn’t even have a proper will. So now we have to wait until everything goes through the courts before I inherit his money. We’l l need that cash to live on.” “But Mom. How am I going to do my ARCT?” My voice t rembles, and I can feel hot tears forming in my eyes. “You can still do your ARCT. You’ll just have to us e your old violin until the money comes through,” she says in her Mom-knows-best voic e. My eyelids blink fast, uncontrolled. “But it’ll sou nd awful.” “No, it won’t.” The lump in my throat threatens to burst. “But I’ve waited a whole year for this.” “Kira.” Mom rises from the couch and digs her hands into her hips, “Be reasonable. We simply can’t afford it right now.” “Mom, I can’t play that violin anymore. It’s got a really bad wolf tone on it that sounds like a yowling cat. It’s a block of wood with nails and strings attached.” My voice breaks. “And besides …” I throw the final punch, “I used it to play at Dad’s funeral!” The last words are choked as the lump in my throat erupts and I burst into tears, running up to my room, taking two steps at a time. Mom calls after me, but I ignore her and throw myself on my bed, sobbing.
Chapter3 Fiddler in the Tavern I guess I must have drifted off to sleep because wh en I open my eyes again, it’s twilight. I love the sky just after sunset, when th e stars appear, one by one. First the planets, then slowly, the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia .. . it’s the deepest blue I can think of. They call it cerulean. So beautiful and calm. It se ems to carry me from far across the universe, back to here and now, but there’s somethi ng else – the sound of a violin. What is it? Fiddling? Like something I’ve heard on one of those CBC specials – Live from Cape Breton. Not at all like the country and western band whose music leaks out of Uncle Jack’s tavern, the Stompin’ Boot Pub. I lie there letting the music pass through me, tugg ing and pulling, like waves on the ocean, filling me with peace. Then it changes, boun cing and jigging in wild rhythms that force me to sit up with a start. It leaps, it dives . Rolling off my bed, I grab the hoodie that lies on my wicker chair and creep down the carpeted stairs to the front door, opening it e ver so quietly to slip into the twilight. The cool September night air feels good on my hot face, burned from crying. I follow the notes of the music, the trail leading me to Uncle Jack’s pub. Peeking into the low-lit tavern through the diamond-shaped dividers of the front glass, I see the crowd, speechless, mesmerised. They’re focussed on the performer who sits on a carved chair, center stage. It’s her! It’s that red-headed woman from the funeral! Her foot stomps rhythmically to the beat of her mus ic, driving the tune into a frenzy. She lifts her chin from time to time, readjusting h er fiddle, and flings her hair back as she does. The tune becomes more and more frantic an d soon, the crowd follows the wild rhythm, beating their feet on the hollow, wood en floor. Her fingers fly, her pinky whipping out like a serpent’s tongue to capture fas t trills. The crowd thumps along, chins nodding. The music races ahead, untamed. Then , like a wild horse that’s been lassoed and pulled hard, it ends on a single octave . The red-haired woman glances at the audience as tho ugh nothing out of the ordinary happened. The crowd cheers and whistles. S he gives a humble smile, and then raises her worn fiddle, tucking it under her c hin to begin the next tune. Uncle Jack sits close by her, grinning from ear to ear. He bends over, placing his head close enough to her ear to touch her hair, and says something. She throws back her head and lets out a loud, ringing laugh. I flin ch.Does he like her? Uncle Jack’s promise to take care of us threatens to vaporize. He’s my uncle. We need him right now. As though she hears my thoughts, the woman’s eyes m eet mine through the glass. The intensity of her gaze pierces me, raising the h airs on my arms. She holds me captive for what seems minutes, and then begins the very tune I vowed never to play again – Danny Boy. If Dad thought I played it well, he would surely rise from the dead hearing this woman perform it. Her fiddle might be old and beat-up, but there’s something about it – something hypnotic. I listen t o a few phrases, the notes drawing