Meggie’s newest work of art — blue crayon on pink construction paper — describes our town in little girl simplicity. Houses are drunken boxes with triangle hats set side by side on bowling alley streets. Down the most center of these her father, a tall, handsome stick figure, strides into town toward a smiling moppet that is Meggie herself, who has her stick figure arms raised in welcome.
I search the drawing again and find a tiny person atop a faraway hill, back turned, moving toward the drop edge of her cotton candy landscape. The figure is blurred, like a…
Flea pulled at the sleeves of the old shirt and looked through the branches to the ground below. He felt like a coward.
He was fifteen feet up, obscured by the shadows and the leaves that had remained through the autumn rains. Their heavy, powdery scent of postponed death clogged his nose.
Why did Vastian hate him? Cora was right that he did. Flea was so used to indifference and even pity from their neighbors, it no longer affected him. But Vastian was the only one to hate, and then, only Flea.
Flea had long ago ceased to wonder or…
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How can someone swagger and sneak at the same time, Cora wondered. They watched Vastian pick his way through the gloom with practiced ease.
“What was he doing in the woods past the village so late?” Robert whispered.
“Torturing small animals and consorting with dark spirits, most likely.” Cora muttered.
“Cora.” Flea admonished.
“What? You don’t like him, either.”
Robert gaped at Cora. “Did they tell you that?”
“Which?” Flea sent a hooded glance toward his sister. “The small animals or the dark spirits?”
“Quiet, you jerk-tails, or he’ll hear us.” She grabbed both boys and pulled them into the…
Flea closed the cottage door behind him, his small hands careful on the loose door-latch. Aortiz said he needed quiet to take care of Caoimhe. So he would have quiet.
The bitter wind cut through the over-large woolen shirt that hung from Flea’s bony shoulders like a slack sail. He liked Jonas’s old shirts even if they didn’t fit him well. Caoimhe promised to alter a few when she was better. Cold snaked under the collar and up the sleeves as he moved along the rutted cart path toward the oak tree in the middle of Larkwood.
He hated nights…
It took hours.
By the time the trees’ shadows merged into twilight they were both sick: sick of the listless heels dragging through last year’s leaves, sick of the stink of blood-iron seeping into their skin and embedding in their nostrils, sick of the images forever steeped into their souls.
The flies descended in a buzzing black cloud as the heat of the day aged and ripened. They worked methodically, trying to think of other things. …
Jonas glanced at the man standing above him, then at mud beneath his feet. He did not look again at the dead girl half-buried in the mire. Somewhere in the muck behind her were the broken bodies of her brother and parents, mangled like Alyssa’s. He knew this without looking.
He had grown fond of them in the weeks of travel, especially the brave little girl. She was a little older than his son Liam and not afraid of anything, even the hooting, scraping things in the darkness.
She had been a little older than Liam.
…and not for the better.
Imagine living in a world where you hook up with your S.O. in the place where you also attend to your spiritual needs. Or where conversations with your Aunt Hilda (who still treats you like you’re in kindergarten) overlap with make-or-break million dollar work discussions with your team.
Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
That’s the world many of us are living in today. And yes, it can be disconcerting. It’s exhausting to work, eat, play and live in a single location during extended stay-at-home orders, even if you normally love staying home. You may notice a…
I want to talk to all of you. Sit down for a moment.
Look. Many of you have posted how silly all of this is — this panic, this prepping, this worrying. I see you talking on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram. And y’know, I agree. Panic gets you nowhere.
But let’s talk about what else some of you keep posting. I keep seeing comparisons to influenza numbers and influenza deaths, and how this is not anywhere near that bad. That’s your justification for making light of this problem, your reason for brushing this aside.
But look: influenza is…