A Cooking the Books Appetizer – E. Catherine Tobler’s Watermark

Occasionally the Cooking the Books staff (that is, for the moment, me, myself, and I) discovers an tidbit from something you might like. Such is the case with the following appetizer – a food related excerpt from one of October’s Cooking the Books guest hosts, E. Catherine Tobler.

Coming Sept. 22, 2014 from Masque Books
Coming Sept. 22, 2014 from Masque Books

E. Catherine Tobler is the senior editor of Shimmer Magazine and author of works including Rings of Anubis (Masque Books, 2014), and an ever growing ring of stories that collects beneath the Jackson’s Circus tent.

Her latest novel, Watermark, will be released by Masque Books on September 22, but you can read a specially selected, food-related excerpt here, right now. When you’re through, head on over to E. Catherine Tobler’s website, where she’s hosting a giveaway for Watermark through Saturday, October 4.

Meantime, enjoy, and keep an eye out for more October Cooking the Books!

Watermark, excerpt

Little Darkness, we will talk soon.

It was like the press of dirt all around, warm and wormy, and then gone. I sank to one of the stools, both relieved and annoyed. The food would not feed me the way Finn’s voice might.

“You should take what you want,” Dia said to me, “and if you don’t know what you want, then try everything.” Her eyes gleamed as if this was fun, introducing wayward girls to new foods.

She had spread a variety of items upon the counter, some of which I knew and some I did not. There were brightly colored cans cold to the touch, bags of wrapped breads, thin slices of meat, round tomatoes, and blocks of cheese.

“Is this what you do?” I asked as she began to fill a plate for me. “Finn has the bakery, Haven has his books…”

Dia shook her head, and while I watched her hands move easily through the foods, it was the beat of her heart I was drawn to. So steady, so uncluttered. She had nothing lurking beneath the surface, no true self. She was only what I saw.

“This is not my job,” she said.

A sharp longing filled her words, and although she was only what I saw, there were other layers to her; not a second face as with the others, but something else even so.

“I work at the bookstore, not that Haven and Daniel need much help, but as summer comes on, I tell fortunes. Plenty of people coming through Peak now, on their way further into the mountains. They love us for our quaint shit, don’t they? They stop, gape at my tattoos, get their fortune told, and then they’re gone.”

“It’s good,” I whispered. “To know what you are.”

Dia looked up from the sandwich she was building. She laughed, but it wasn’t a happy kind of laugh. “Do you think so? What if in the knowing there is a curse too? Once you know a thing, how can you be anything else? Maybe it’s better to not know, to build something new.”

The longing inside me wouldn’t let me agree with her. I had to know, no matter the answer.

I was hungry, but my body didn’t care how much I ate; there was a hole inside me that mere food could not fill. Dia offered a variety of edibles, but wasn’t overly surprised when I remained unsatisfied.

Want to read more? Head to E. Catherine Tobler’s website and enter a giveaway for Watermark through Saturday, Oct. 4.

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