Kat is at loose ends after her husband ditched her and their daughter followed suit. When a lost time traveler appears in her Pennsylvania kitchen, she grasps at the chance to give her life meaning by helping the woman find her way home. But a mysterious stranger insists they are together for a purpose. Slipping through a portal to an 1825 Polish village, Kat meets her own ancestors and discovers how her own mistakes derailed her life. Can she bring her new understanding of forgiveness and unconditional love back to the present and heal her family before it’s too late?
Where the Stork Flies – excerpt
By Linda C. Wisniewski
The winter Regina arrived, I had a lot on my mind. My part-time job at the public library was going nowhere. My husband had left me over a crazy misunderstanding, and our 19-year-old daughter, who had always favored him, blamed me and followed him out the door. Lonely and confused by the turn my life had taken, I stumbled into the kitchen that morning and found the back door standing open, letting in a few flakes of snow.
Get a grip. I slammed the door closed. A whimper came from behind me. I whirled around to see an old woman in a long brown skirt, loose white blouse, and a muslin headscarf. She stood beside my kitchen table, shivering. A scream escaped my throat and then hers, both of us yelling like a crazy banshee duet.
“Who the hell are you?”
She jumped back, knocking over a chair. Selene, my old gray kitty, meowed loudly and ran from the room.
“What do you want?” I shouted as she scuttled over to a corner, clutching a piece of cheese. Her wide eyes looked so terrified I felt for a second as if I were the intruder, not she. Her face was wrinkled parchment and her hair around the edges of her headscarf was gray, but her round cheeks, those small brown eyes above a long straight nose: I had seen them before. On my grandmother’s face. A woman who raised me from the age of ten. A woman who had died over thirty years before. It was her. And not her. A queasy little wave traveled through my stomach.
“Who are you?” I said again, my voice shaking. I wondered if she was some sort of hallucination brought on by lack of sleep. My hands groped for the back of a chair.
She licked dry lips and held out both trembling hands, still clutching the cheese. “Przepraszam, Pani, she pleaded. “Prosze mi wybaczyc!”
A wash of pity flooded my heart. Her voice was soft and hoarse, and though I didn’t
understand her words, I knew their rhythm, the pattern of her sentence, the rise and fall and cadence. She spoke Polish like my Babcia, and my mind responded with words from my childhood to ask what she was doing.
“Co ty robisz?”
The old woman’s lips trembled. “Pani, mi wybaczyc,” she whispered and waved the cheese in her hands, still begging forgiveness as her gaze darted around the room as if she was expecting punishment to come from some corner.
I didn’t know how to say, Relax, it’s okay, so I grabbed another phrase from my childhood, the one that meant Hello. “Dzien dobry. My name is Kat. Katherine.” I pointed at my chest, where my heart thumped a jagged rhythm.
She nodded and positioned her feet on the floor as if ready to run.
Linda C. Wisniewski is a former librarian and journalist. Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies, and on her blog, http://www.lindawis.com. She is the author of a memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother and Her Polish Heritage. Linda lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA.
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