#ExcerptWeek – M. E. Hembroff @margiesart1


Today, I’d like to welcome children’s author M. E. Hembroff. Hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from her book, and please don’t forget to share, thanks!


Bess’s Magical Garden

Chapter 1

The sun streamed in the window and illuminated the ivy wallpaper. Bess looked around and felt bewildered until she remembered that she was in their new home in Pineview. After she was fully awake, she realized that the room looked different in the daylight. The streetlights were on when they arrived the night before. She looked out the bay window and noticed the snow-white apple blossoms. So that was the fragrance she had smelt.

          Bess’s thoughts drifted back to the day she had collapsed in ballet class. An ambulance had rushed her to the hospital, where her parents met her. After several tests the doctors told them that she had a mild case of polio. She ended up spending many months in the hospital undergoing treatment and physical therapy before she was ready to go home. She had worked hard, but she still had to wear a brace and use a crutch.

          Her thoughts were interrupted when Mother breezed into the room. “Rise and shine.”

          “Don’t want to,” Bess grumbled, as she brushed some tousled hair out of her eyes.

          Mother smiled. “It’s a warm sunny day. Let’s have breakfast in the garden.” The air was filled with the scent of jasmine as she walked past. Mother took the clean clothes out of the open suitcase on the window seat.

          Bess rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. “Would rather eat here,” she said. Didn’t Mother know how difficult it was to walk that far? Megan, her cousin and best friend, had always dropped in before school, so they could have breakfast together. Megan had lived in the apartment across the hall. Bess had stayed at Megan’s last weekend, while Mother and Uncle Joe moved the furniture. Megan beat her at snakes and ladders and checkers several times. The fun-filled weekend ended too soon, and her new life suddenly began. She and her mother had left the city early Monday morning and arrived at their Pineview home late last night.

          It wasn’t fair that Mother had wanted to move. The doctors had told Mother that Bess needed fresh air and light exercise and not to lie around the apartment all day.

          “Get up and get dressed,” Mother said firmly. “There will be all kinds of fun things to do this summer. Would you like to decorate your room?”

          “What’s the point? There isn’t anything to do without Megan,” Bess grumbled, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

          “There is a path near the patio door that leads into a sheltered garden. See you there shortly,” Mother answered.

Chapter 2

          Bess reluctantly got out of bed. After tucking her crutch under her arm, she hobbled across the room to look at the clothes that Mother had laid out. Why did Mother want her to dress up? Weren’t her everyday clothes good enough? As Bess tried to decide whether to wear the skirt or a pair of slacks, her thoughts drifted to that day six months ago when they’d received the news about the car crash that took Father away forever. Bess had waited at the hospital with Mother, because she had been released the same afternoon to continue therapy as an out-patient. She and her mother had received the news that someone had sped through a green light and rammed into the driver’s side of the car, killing Father instantly.

          Bess proceeded down the hallway to the patio door and hobbled down the path. She stopped and looked around in amazement. For a brief second, she thought that she saw an archway covered with orange flowers that lead into a colourful garden…. but it was gone in an instant. Instead, an arch covered in tangled vines with a broken gate swung on its hinges. The space was overgrown with weeds and surrounded by a crumbling stone wall. A tangle of weeds almost hid the stepping stones.

          She proceeded to the stone bench in the middle of the yard. Not until Mother arranged a tray with an assortment of muffins and fruit did Bess realise how hungry she was.

M. E. Hembroff

I was creative and shy as a child. I spent a lot of time outside either playing by myself or with my younger sister. There was an embankment on the south side of the house with a path that led down into my mother’s sunken flower bed that was sheltered on three sides by caragana and lilac bushes. It was fun skipping around among the flowers and it was a great place to let the imagination run wild. The clay was great for making small dishes and utensils. I made a lot of them and dried them in the sun. There was a couple of places among the trees where tables and chairs and swings were set up. We would often play house or pretend it was a store. Our snacks came fresh out of the large vegetable garden on the other side of the caragana hedge. The leaves off the lilac bushes became money. I was impulsive and some of my ideas got me in trouble. A few years later I drew a picture of the Flying Purple People Eater from the hit song.  I was always making up stories in my head but never wrote any of them down. It was easy to become someone totally different whenever I wanted.

I grew up on a farm in southwestern Manitoba, Canada before there was TV and our entertainment was usually listening to the radio, reading, listening to Father play the fiddle and doing crafts. I was the fourth in a family of five and imaginative and impulsive. We went to a red-brick one room schoolhouse three miles from home. Most of the grades consisted of three or four students taught by one teacher.

Many years later when I had young children I started to take courses and put my ideas onto paper. While the children grew up I took art and writing courses. My stories disappointed me so I concentrated on my art for a long time. When I turned sixty five I started to write in earnest and developed stories that I was starting to feel proud of. That was when the idea for Bess’s Magical Garden came and Bess was born. At that time I took an online course to get me started and after four years finally had a completed manuscript. It is my belief that one is never too old to learn a new skill.

Social Media Links:

My book can be purchased at the following:

8 thoughts on “#ExcerptWeek – M. E. Hembroff @margiesart1

  1. Aw, poor Bess and her mother have gone through so much tragedy in their lives already. Yes, brings back memories of The Secret Garden…and children I knew who suffered paralysis from polio, before the advent of the Salk vaccine. Beautifully written! Sounds like a story with heartbreak and promise.

    Pinned and shared. 🙂


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