Today at Painted Pony Books we are giving away an e-copy of Waiting For a Comet to one person who comments chosen by Random.org.
WAITING FOR A COMET—RICHARD PROSCH
During the long, hot spring of 1910 it seemed all 12-year-old Jo Harper could do was wait. Wait for her father, wait for her friends, wait for the comet that might appear in the sky and wipe out the whole town of Willowby, Wyoming once and for all. But when wild west legend Abby Drake arrives in town lugging an orphaned baby calf, an old-fashioned revolver, and a mystery shrouded with superstition, it’s up to Jo to take action. Why is Abby in town? Who is she after? And what secrets can Jo coax out of her own arch enemy, Emily Bly?
Summer came late to eastern Wyoming, but it was full of vinegar. Like an ornery schoolboy it dried up the trickles of a stream here or ruined a bed of flowers there. Equally mischievous storm clouds passed overhead without bothering to send down a single drop of rain. The air in Willowby (population: 300) smelled of parched sage, while everything in the basin tasted like dust.
Down at the railway cattle yards, Jo Harper took Emily Bly’s rotten dare and stood in the shallow, cracked bed of a dry alkali pond, looking around for monster bones that Emily claimed were remnants of giant animals drowned in the Great Flood. Jo remembered how the cowboys tended their animals there the year before and wondered what happened to all of the water. Her cotton shirt was the same faded green as her eyes, and she wore tough beige canvas trousers. Her hair was vibrant and rich and dark like the bottom of a well, and she wore it long in a sturdy braid that hung straight down her back. Jo squirmed as splinters of baking mud crumbled up between her bare toes.
The stupid wind made Jo’s watering eyes blink rapidly to fight off the blowing dust.
“I double dare you to dig,” said thirteen-year-old Emily. Only one year older than Jo, she was at least twenty pounds heavier. Emily teetered on the rim of the irregular circle, her left fist planted on her hip and a brown flour sack dress pulling up on that side. She stepped over the bank, past where Jo left her lace up boots, and held an iron trowel high in her sweaty paw before dropping it down.
“Dig for them fish like I told you to do.”
“I won’t,” said Jo. “You can dare me to walk in quicksand, but I won’t dig.”
“Ain’t no quicksand,” said Frog Carpenter, Jo’s ten-year old friend. Dressed in striped train engineer overalls with no shirt and no shoes, he kicked at a dirt clod and studied his thumbnail up close before jamming it between his front teeth. “Too dry.”
The rotten little pill! The turncoat!
If he were a real friend, he’d put his head down real low, then charge ahead like Chet Dilly’s bull calf and send old Emily topsy-turvy down into the stinky dirt. But Frog, who was an orphan in Willowby, had had just enough discipline from Jeb Climber, who ran the livery and the general store, so as not to go around plowing into girls even when the girl in question deserved it.
Even a piggy mean girl like Emily.
Or maybe he was just scared.
Or stupid. Jo couldn’t decide.
“There’s disease in that mud,” said Emily, emphasizing the end of the word: dis-EASE. “Tapeworms, too.”
“Are not,” said Jo.
“They burrow through the soles of your feet.”
A sudden itch left Jo wanting to wiggle her toes.
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