Herewith, a short excerpt from Tammy Greenwood’s novel, Two Rivers, from Kensington Press (2009). Harper Montgomery’s wife has been dead for a dozen years. He’s raising a daughter on his own and still grieving the death of his wife. He’s also hiding his involvement in a violent crime. Everything changes when a train derails in the fictional town of Two Rivers, Vermont. Amidst the wreckage, Harper finds Maggie, a fifteen-year-old pregnant girl with dark skin and nowhere to live. Harper takes Maggie into his home and begins his journey toward redemption. Howard Frank Mosher described Two Rivers as ‘the story that people want to read: the one they have never read before.”
This excerpt is from the novel’s prologue. Read an interview with Tammy Greenwood here.
from Two Rivers
by T. Greenwood
Blackberries. The man’s skin reminds him of late summer blackberries. The color of not-quite midnight. The color of bruise. This is what Harper thinks as he looks at the man they have taken to the river, the one who is half-drowned now, pleading for his life: the miracle that human skin can have the same blue-black stillness as ripe fruit, as evening, as sorrow itself.
Of course he also thinks about what you might see (if you were here at the confluence of rivers). Three white boys. One black man, begging to be saved. The harvest moon casting an orange haze over everything: just a sepia picture on a lynching postcard like the ones his mother had shown him once. He’d had to look away then, both because the hanged man had no eyes, and because it was the only time he’d seen his mother cry. And he knows that if she were still alive she’d be weeping now too, but not only because of the black man about to die.
It was anger that brought him here. After he understood that Betsy was dead (not wounded, not hurt, but gone), everything else — the grief, the sadness, the horror — became distilled, watery sap boiled down into thick syrup. All that was left then was anger, in its purest form. It was rage that brought him here. But somehow, now, in the cool forest at the place where the two rivers meet, as the man looks straight into Harper’s eyes and pleads, the anger is gone. Swallowed up by the night, by old sadness and new regret.
“Please,” the man says, and Harper thinks only of blackberries.
He will see this color when he closes his eyes tonight and every night afterward and wonder what, if anything, it has to do with the most despicable thing he’s ever done.