February


I had once—mistakenly—judged Carla to be a one-dimensionally corrupt person: a self-absorbed person who claimed power over the small miseries but none of the larger darknesses within her; a destructive person who tirelessly destroyed every fragile wonder in her path. In our community of Asheville she had a reputation for being undetectably unethical. When my parents died—my mother of cancer in 1993—my father of unknown causes in 1997—my sister hired her to adjudicate the oddest parts of their odd will dedicating most of their savings to a cause dear to their daughters Samantha and Elaine: The National Treasure Tree Project. Carla was a divorce lawyer; the choice made no sense to her. But you couldn’t tell Elaine. You could not ever expect that she would hear.


I have learned recently—from a bundle of my father and mother’s letters exchanged during a period they were in different hospitals—that they had contacted Carla about divorcing. Carla was familiar to my mother through the friendship between Carla and Elaine and Robert and Robert’s sister Amelia. My mother’s illness was clearly fatal at that time; yet they were considering divorce, actually considering it very seriously. My mother put it this way in one of her letters to my father:

We could go into the vault having left the vault—had we the courage.

Do you agree? You should say you do if you do. Like this, my dear: “I do.”


Carla expertly saw to it that the will my father, the survivor, had “corrected” to split the funds between her and me and the Tree Project was de-corrected so that the Tree Project would receive a ridiculous fifty dollars semi-annually. Justice was done. So said my sister who sincerely thought that would please me.


When I was divorcing Robert, Carla murdered his spirit exactly as I asked her to. Already understanding that the process would diminish my own power in every regard, she motivated me to name for her the unspoken debts Robert owed me and others, every professional and personal shame that his unfaithfulness could possibly make him feel, every unanswered injury he had thoughtlessly inflicted upon me or others that I remembered from the past though he had forgotten.


At my very first session with her, she asked me about Robert’s relationship to the members of his own family of origin. As his so-called friend, she already possessed much of this information. She and Elaine and Robert’s sister Amelia had known each other for at least fifty years; the group had been friends since grade school, an alliance that did not include me.


She said she could not simply fill in the pieces of information she might know. She emphasized that it was not important to be accurate; it was important that it all be convincing, believable to everyone, including Robert.


I obliged.


She took meticulous notes. If I had them, I would include them in this album.


One thing I told her: Robert and his brother Tim had only recently recovered the loving relationship they had lost through Robert’s neglect of it.


One thing I told her: Robert was close to his sister; as an adult, Amelia came to love me. She came to love me as much or more than she did him.


Another: he was close to my sister Elaine, who came to love him as much or more than she did me.


He was close to his own father and mother, affected deeply by their divorce early in his life. He had been surprised by the force of that event, but, in any case, after decades of alienation from them, he had shown them and told them he loved them. It was a resolution he had made, and he had kept the resolution. At the very stage in his life when he broke his promise of faithfulness to me, all his other relationships brimmed with new promise and new vows of permanence.


I should have known—I did know—I did—what she would do with the information I fed her. She would turn it, as if on a lathe. She would shape it. It is not so difficult for a practiced lawyer to make a divorce agreement wildly unjust. In typed letters accompanying proposed divorce terms, she wrote to him that she strongly recom- mended an efficient divorce in order to restrict the time frame of his friends and family members learning about and responding to his adultery. She asked whether he had informed his colleagues at the elementary school. “Do they,” she asked, “have any idea who you truly are?”


During each stage of negotiation she burned into him more shame about his affair by asking me to write him punishing letters. There in her office, coached at her giant polished steel conference desk, I wrote down variations on these words, which I understood were terribly truthful: Your father and mother would be ashamed of you, Robert. Your father and mother would understand that no ordinary divorce agreement can make it right.


At that desk, a shining paten, I left him long phone messages that would break him. The first words of the messages dared him, “Erase this, you coward . . . ” and begged him, “Would you let me say what I need you to hear?” and bled him, “Do you want something from me—do you?—then listen . . . ”


When I would mildly question the tactics, she would tell me it was laughable that he had to live in his own shit, and it was pathetic that a man of his age cared at all what his father or mother thought.


They were cruelties I committed more easily as they compounded. I could live with them.


At any point that his sister Amelia might be bending toward showing Robert the smallest signs of compassion or understanding or, worst of all, support, Carla asked Amelia, younger than he, to say it to him, to write it to him, to say it again: how ashamed he should be. Amelia quickly understood: she should show no mercy in the processes of shaming and isolating him, threatening his livelihood in the community, demeaning him as a son and a husband, and as her brother.


*


Their graymother delivered the two to me promptly at 3 PM, clothed appropriately and already fed, carrying in their small frame packs the week’s supplies of food for them and for me. She brought filters for our Katadyn Drip water purifier. Needless to say, she and the other grayparents paid for all my equipment, including the expensive purifying device.


Carla said she was glad to see me. I knew that she was. As far as she could determine based on our professional and personal relationship, I was a good influence on the two.


She had paid me in advance for all thirteen weeks of sonic adventure. At the beginning of each new month of the adventure, she would tip me for the last one if she was pleased with her children’s after-report. She gave me my tip check in a crisp new sealed envelope.


(Such generosity and calculation is hidden from children, and therefore it gives me pleasure to reveal the tip amount: $376.00. Each month, except for April and October when she offered no tip of any kind, she tipped me that exact amount. Total tip amount: $4,512.00)


She asked me once more about “the referral” she had made to me (three females, seven, six, and five; a prosperous mother who was a “Greenie,” a term she inflected with amused distance). Once more I explained that my sonic adventure enterprise, which was now focused upon only these two, would end in eight months and would never again resume.


I asked for a favor. “I would like that,” I said, and pointed to her throat. She wore an expensive matte-black silk scarf, unusually long, the lightest material, almost sheer. Its finely sewn single seam was glossy black and it had no tasseled ends. I do not like tassels, which are, in all cases, an absurd experiment in affectation.


Without hesitation, she gave it to me. She arranged it around my neck, throwing one end over my shoulder where some of it pooled into the hood of my sweatshirt. She stepped back so that we could both look at me.


“I am so much like you,” I said.


A pleased-startled person smiles a certain uncanny way. I could hear the sigh inside her smile. “Sam,” she said. “Oh, Sam.”


The three of us were groaning under our frame packs now. I said, “Unless we get lost we’ll see you here in seven days.”


She said to the one, “It will be only a week.”


She said to the other, “I will know.”


She did not perceive that I understood the matter to which she referred. She had slapped the other hard enough that her ring ripped the child’s cheek. It had been one episode; it really had been a single unprecedented event. They had been ordered: it must never be spoken about.


Explicitly disobeying her older sister, the other had blurted the story out to me. The one said the other was lying. The other flung at her older sister the molten truth that it was only her, only she was slapped. It was clear that the injustice of that hurt her almost as much as the physical injury.


And then the two told me everything, including the efforts of Judge Warren to stop the whole episode. And they told me that his photographs of her bruised and scabbed face were so vivid and he was so proud of the photos that he secretly showed them to the two. And they told me about the break-up. And they told me the mysterious details of Judge Warren’s visits to their home during the last two weeks in January. And that made it possible for me to read between the lines that he was establishing the narrowly focused negotiating framework for systematic blackmail.


As it turns out, he also visited their home—without their mother present—in April and May.


They might now wish they had not told me all. (And did they tell me all?) And why would I include it here? And, a better question yet: why am I assembling this album for them in which I return the specimens of wonder and horror we observed together?


Tribute, I suppose.


The one and the other received hugs from Carla. She held the other for a long time, looking upon the involucrate leaves of the child’s face. She was looking for the innermost leaves where the wonder of their love for her might be found, the wonder of her love for them. When the younger child was a newborn and the older child was two, Carla had effectively represented their birth mother in her divorce settlement. Less than a year later, their mother drowned during a rafting trip on the French Broad River. Their father would not assume responsibility for them. When it was clear the two would become wards of the state, Carla adopted them, surprising everyone who knew her, and surprising herself that she had made that choice.


It was as if you two chose her.


If I am giving you certain pieces of information you have not had, I do not regret it. I believe that even twelve years ago you knew the darkness-deepening incontrovertible and controvertible love the eyes cannot prove.


Her arms around her two forms of surpassing awe, Carla said goodbye in the usual manner: “Don’t get lost!”


*


On the trail, I said, “You are aware that I earn a handsome salary from you two?”


My statement made them laugh, made their frame packs shift. I tightened the straps at their shoulders.


I sized them up, and I said, “By weight, height, and relative intelligence, I have placed you on a scale, and entered you in my automated cash register.”


The one said, “Ka-ching!”


The other said, “Ka-ching!”


At the campsite, we inventoried. We stowed our water. We then carried the food (saltines, turkey jerky, unsalted peanuts) to the location where we could encase the Tupperware container inside the tin box with the metal clasps. As they pulleyed it into the tree canopy, I said that I had trapped some shrews and meadow mice, and we would eat them tomorrow when they quit complaining so pitifully in their traps. (The two knew, of course, that we would be eating saltines and turkey jerky and peanuts.)


That evening, we heard great horned owls mating, a sound like a pillow fight in which there is crockery inside the feather pillows.


I asked whether there was more.


“It goes on a long time,” said the other.


“The other birds don’t like it,” said the one, “they’re making a lot of noise.”


I asked, “Do you hear that they don’t like it? Or do you assume that?”


“They are vocalizing,” said the other. I was pleased that she used the appropriate term.


“They are responding,” I said. “There are more of them this season, the mast season. They have enough food, so some have decided against heading south.”


The owl racket continued. The two were in their sleeping bags, and they had grubbed themselves against my bag. The half moon above us gave light with an icy wind traveling down through it. That is how it felt.


I firmly took the outer whorls of their ears between my fingers and thumbs: the one’s left ear, the other’s right. I gave further instruction on the auricle. I will never be done with instructing in the word-signals that fail inside and against the reverberating objects they find. I said that I felt their ears would need to be slightly larger and less symmetrical for them to survive to adulthood. I taught them about owl ears. On each side of the owl’s head there are holes. The holes are not identical in shape, size, function. And this asymmetry assists the owl in locating prey in the dark—that is the theory. With one ear the owl reacts to the patterns of the familiar; with one ear the owl responds to the array of the unfamiliar. One ear directs attention; one ear decides the proportion of attention. I asked if they would like their ears back, but I held them. I touched the gristly petals more gently. I said, “We are going into the fog tomorrow morning before sunrise in search of The Place of Nothing There. On our way we will pass through The Star Nests and we will listen for the winter timbre at Klingfarbe’s Gorge. We will travel through Dog Hobble and Hell to the place of The Black Tongue.“


This part of my shtick, except for The Black Tongue part, was well-rehearsed. The sonic adventure always included this particular tightly plotted February excursion. The travelers and their leader easily got “lost” in search of The Place of Nothing There. It was all specified in the sonic adventure contract I signed and the grayparents countersigned.


The one sputter-hummed in her sleep. When the moon shifted to a different drama in the forest’s story, I pulled down my harp sling from its place behind my head. On the C harp I drew one note, my embouchure very soft. I lightly stopped my left ear with my little finger, and drew G-minor more quietly, and heard its acoustic location instantan-eously move far inside me.


The other’s open eyes were nacreous.


I almost completely stopped my left ear, and dropped my chin in order to sip the note from my lower lip. The sound took the shape of the other.


“You have meteors in your eyes,” I said.


She burrowed into her bag, hiding herself.


I tongue-stopped the note and through my left and right embouchure blended into the draw the chord.


I said, “I met you when I was your age.” I was glad for the mummified giggle my honest statement produced.


I did not say it to her then: I had met her in my first childhood moments in the secret garden. And I had never forgotten her:

When Mary Lennox was sent to Missellthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too.


A giggling lift of sound in her soft palate. Her breath shifting register. Asleep.


Asleep.


*


I was grateful for the thick morning fog when we set out. The faces of the slopes had disappeared behind the fog but not the reverberating sounds of the waiting and the waited upon. Through the night I could hear the unlikely gentling sounds of a vulture keeping its vigil near a dying creature. (The creature sounded like an opossum, but it might have been a fox). And I could hear that the vulture was still squawking and waiting. It would not begin eating until its food was dead, and it would not hurry the death along. It would stay near.


The two could identify the sound, but they did not wish to walk toward it in the unweaving darkness and mist. Still only half-awake, they held hands. They remained quiet so that they could hear. From one of the more isolated slope faces ahead came the bawl of coon dogs, English red ticks or black-and-tans, at a slick tree where scent brought them to a dead end. The failed hunters blew their squallers, and the raccoon answered in a sporting chortle. The calls of opossums and squirrels detonated inside their refuges.


The wildcat screams, at a great distance from us, were immersive, that is, we moved inside their chilling sheaths and not away from or toward them. We shortened our strides, softened our footfalls, looked into each other’s damp faces as if to ask, Have you heard? Water, moving water, river, river’s changing pitch and timbre, breathing and beating, its leaving and returning, the amniotic language to which our ears are tuned.


After his final stroke, Robert’s breathing shifted in tempo, in pitch. In depth. Elaine was there, and she gave me her account of it. Tim visited, but he left and did not return. Amelia felt it would be disloyal to me to visit him, and so she did not go until the very end when she and Elaine heard his last words.


They did not tell me. I asked, and they did not tell me. I learned what his words were in July 2003.


I remember that in the final stages of the divorce agreement, he had asked for his copy of The Secret Garden, a volume over sixty years old. His father’s name, William H. Peabody, was handwritten in the upper right-hand corner of the flyleaf. William had read to him from his very first day of life, read this one copy to him many times. His mother Julia had read his favorite chapters to him during the year before he could read it himself, claim it for his own room. Mary and Dickon and Colin were as real to Robert as any of his childhood friends. It had made him happy that The Secret Garden had also profoundly affected me as a child.


I kept all of his library. Carla strongly recommended it. Keep the librarian’s library, every book in it: “a punch to the Adam’s apple,” she called it.


On the day she acquired his signature on the divorce agreement, I considered giving him the book he requested. Instead, I had her give him a fancy Barnes & Noble copy of The Secret Garden that he had lovingly inscribed for me in the first year of our marriage, “The two of us in the secret garden. A miracle, Sam. A miracle.”


On the next part of our trail, the mist changed in movement and color. We walked through a field of Queen Anne’s Lace, and the plant’s high starry nests brushed dew onto us. Through this diamond fog below green-gold fog, which was below jewel-gold fog, a straight row of trees grew from a nurse log; it appeared, falsely, as if a farmer had carefully planted them. Together, we silently counted them: twelve. We were wearing our green gloves, our green socks; only for that moment, our hoods were closed tight over our heads and snapped closed under our chins. We were well muffled in our layers, including our silk long underwear, but it was cold and the wind’s long proboscises reached in, and since our effort to be absolutely quiet had cooled us down, we were not too happy to hear the fountains of cold air gushing upward from the place ahead.


I took smaller steps, and the two did the same. The whooshing plumes of freezing air had fine, reflective particulate in them, mica and leaf litter and exploded pollen sacks and molted flight feathers. Fragrances and rank odors shot up and dispersed so high they were scrubbed to their essences by the time we breathed them in.


The inner maw of the gorge was ringed in gray-velvet descending fog; the outer golden ring of ascending fog was made dense by the sunrise’s full signal.


The idea now was to walk so slowly toward Klingfarbe’s Gorge that we could take in the sounds in the far and near orbit of its fount. Walking there we wanted to feel the radial zones of sound on the way to the internal zones; had we been climbing up a wall of the gorge, we would have wanted to feel the internal zones of sound on the way to the radial zones.


They unsnapped their chin straps. The two were trying very hard to hear. They wished to hear the resonances converging before them; they wished to hear the one great reverberating presence that causes affinity with the All.


How do I know this?


I don’t. I don’t. It is a prayer I made up. I find myself making it up again each time I enter another item in this album.


We pulled back our earflaps. We progressed approximately two feet each three minutes toward the orchestral center. We did not speak though we looked into each other’s eyes often. I interposed so that I could have my hands inside theirs. The one’s stomach burbled. The other’s stomach burbled, as if in response.


The two understood that smiles would have been unacceptable.


We heard planets and major and minor moons of sound. We heard churnings of sound, and eruptions and meteor bombings and comet tails of sound. We heard our imaginations making some of the sounds into music and some few into noise.


A little less than two hours later, at about 8:45 we were at the maw, a southern exposure. I let their hands go, but I kept them close. By this time, our ears were gorges hearing the gorge hear itself. We had not noticed the disappearance of the two rings of fog. We could have easily stepped off and fallen hundreds of feet.


We only glanced down. I closed my eyes in order to silently command them to close theirs and to listen down. I held my hands on their shoulders. Their eyes were not clamped shut; they were lightly closed upon the sonic pleasure of the gorge solo.


I moved my fingers on the slender necks: fa—so—la.


I pulled them back from their impulse to make the dreamer’s dive. I whispered the first words spoken in hours: “Let’s not die today.”


There was a safe ledge a few yards from us, a good place to sit with our legs dangling and have the sensation of them dangling from the lip of the void.


It did not at all constantly blow, though that is how it seemed. The other said, “That’s pretty far down.”


“Duh,” said the one.


The one’s eyeglasses were in need of cleaning, so I took them from her face, handed her my gloves, and polished. I put them on her face again. She and the other: how would they ever know that my connection to them on that day was, deep in the spirit, more pure than I had ever experienced? I felt convergent with them. Okay, yes, it is another prayer. I prayed more than any scientist should; no wonder that my highest achievement as a scientist was to become the leader of sonic expeditions for children, for stupid little things whose graymothers needed relief.


But there is this: in the years I have been apart from the two, I have truly only known purity of love for the woods around me when I have remembered to receive the transmissions of the infinite worlds here with the intensity and precision and presence with which the two would hear it.


“Your frames are crooked,” I said.


I asked the other, “You’ve brought the scarf?” I had not told her why we brought it.


“Bring it out,” I said.


To glory in being its exclusive keeper, she held it tightly in her green fists.


I explained that at the right moment she was going to throw it into the gorge as an offering. I warned the two against trying to run to it. I forewarned them that it might fly back to us and call out to us, “Whish-whish whiiiiiish!” and fall back from us, “Whish!” I ordered them to sit and to let it come to them—if that was meant to be.


I said, “We are waiting for northwest wind to hit the flume of the rock walls. This is quite exactly the time of year and the right weather conditions. It is the perfect time of day.”


The one said, “I’m scared.”


“Duh,” I said.


“Duh,” said the other.


Something writhed in the stillness of the gorge floor.


I shook my head no so the two could clearly see my gesture; and when the something grunted, I gave the other the not-yet signal. A witch’s ladle stirs Klingfarbe’s Gorge, the old people say. Her gown is gold, alive as webworm shrouds. Some of them have seen flutterings far inside the fog, and they have called her Mother Covey. Some who remember their father’s great-grandfather’s memories of flintlock smoke call her Flint Mist. When you see her, they tell you, it is already too late.


The one and the other gazed at me to know they were all right. They looked at each other to erase doubt.


We heard up-wickings, up-sputterings, up-twistings coming from far below.


It was not hard to imagine an inverted tornado whirligigging and whisking. The Silvershawl who causes it has worn the fog for eons, say the old ones.


When we suddenly heard the whirlwind change in volume from blast to after-blast, my command was that she throw it high and directly in front of her, which she did.


The propulsive tongue of air searched with a slurping sound, it lengthened and strained to lengthen more—thit! thit!—it torqued, it licked up the scarf from over our heads. It tasted our scalps.


It swallowed the fine black tail.


Our faint flames of laughter were extinguished in hearing it kiting down there—whithit whithit whithit—before it corkscrewed back into our sight and up at least twenty feet above the gorge—whish-whish whiiiiiiiish—but not within our grasp—whish-whish whiiiiiiish—then it was within our grasp, then not, then within if we would follow it down—whish!—and, without moving from our ledge, we vibrated against each other like scales of cliff-slate giving way.


The vertical drilling brilliance became horizontal in an instant.


(I have the scarf in my possession. I have willed the scarf to the other who, after all, pitched it like a pro. A copy of my will is in Drummer’s possession. She and I are not growing younger; at the appropriate time, please request it from her.)


It floated down upon my shoulders, and stayed silent.


“Sam Peabody,” the gorge called.


“Sam Peabody!” I echoed back.


“Would you,” I asked, “like to see Drummer’s cabin? It’s not far from here.”


*


All approaches to her cabin were mined with dog hobble and rhododendron hells. It is nearly impossible to step into that maze and not twist an ankle or fall and wrench your arm. They call the rhododendron thickets “hells” because each one is a different kind of perfect grave. Old bears, who have chosen their dens and their hunting grounds well, will chase prey into the hobbles and the hells where snakes also rest and wait.


There is a visual illusion of escape possibilities as you enter, and the first steps for some reason increase the illusion, until steps backward or to the side cannot be made, until the mesh and the web of it is a small fixed shoe and many ankle chains. If one bends over too far or gets down on all fours in order to re-balance, one is at once wearing a larger restriction that feels like so much more than the consequence of a momentary bad choice.


In the hill stories, ripe blackberries and raspberries grow there. In the hill stories, the special labor that has chosen people also names them and theirs: Sapper, Cobbler, Shiner, Parson’s Oldest, Hod’s Boy, Sharp’s Wild Card. It grows on you. You grow into it there where blackberries and raspberries and paw paw grow.


And greedy children who do not work hard enough grow there. They envy the blackberries and raspberries and paw paw and red sumac berries that are the lean children’s harvest tasks.


The children who do not work hard enough are unproductive children. They are selfish children who want to go in under the friendly sunlight. They are secretive because they want the berries for themselves. They are unprepared.


A dozen steps past the hobble into the hells, their gluttony has made them almost sick under the burning sun.


They crawl beneath the branches and they curl up like thousand-leggers. And when they wake under the glittering edge of the sun, a net of shadow has been thrown over them. The slender ropy branches restrict with any pull against them.


In the afternoon, beetles and ants investigate the cool insides of their socks and their pants legs. In some of the stories a bright orange eft with red spots and a long speaking tail arrives. Its tail whips left, it whips right, it asks, “How long? How long?”


The tale of the eft is a long tale, of course. The eft has a long path from being a land eft to eventually becoming a newt in a pond. It has traveled a long path from the first pond where it was once a tadpole, brown, and with gills.


Evening comes under the sun’s last seethings.


The children call for help, but they were never hardworking, good children.


And a season passes before the mother and father notice less food goes to and from the table.


It is often winter at the end of these stories. Usually it has been a heavy winter, and when all the snow has melted, the thirsty mantle of rhodo and hobble growth has drunk its fill and has stretched its fingers and limbs, and is impenetrable.


Sometimes a grandmother will want the little body found. Dead honeysuckle or kudzu has streamered every part of the freakish decaying cemetery the child should never have entered when it was so resplendently green. But the grandmother. She has made herself heard.


All of it, all of it covering the wasted little human-fruit must be burned. It is set on fire by young children who have been given fistfuls of splinters. The youngest of them provides the flaming punk. It is a happy day for the fire-setters.


A low-burning fire’s flames lick downward.


Old heads of rank smoke rise from the bed. They offer warnings to all bad, greedy children. The small and graceful heads coming later also offer warnings to them, to the selfish, unprepared children who do not work hard.


A charcoal the shape of a bad child will be found and buried.


Or. If no fire is set, the goats must be loosed on it, and they will eat down to the dirt, and drag out the skeleton the shape of a foolish child who will be forever left under the demon sun.


I pointed to the small cabin and said, “You can’t get to it without crawling.”


The one said she was hungry, that she didn’t see the cabin at all.


The other said, “You know the way?”


“You’re my scouts,” I said, “you go in.” I was standing in a specific location familiar to me through many years of March and September meetings with Drummer and through many sonic expeditions.


“But. I don’t even see it,” said the one.


“Me neither,” said the other.


“Listen,” I said, “remember that when raccoons go in there they are food for the snakes; chickens go in there and they are food for the fox; the fox go in there and they’re there for the wildcats.” I did not say that the coyote watches it all and howls with laughter. I did not say that the coyote knows the way in there and, like Drummer and Samantha Peabody, it knows the way out.


Nearly one hour later, the two, a little scratched up, more than a little frightened but in control of their fear, made it through. I had called directions to them from my special tree perch. On all fours, their shoulders bunched, their teeth bared in anger, they could not see me as I could see them.


They called out, “Pea!”


I said, “I’m here.”


They were almost out. Almost free. The other crouched down. The one crouched down, too. Like previous sonic expeditioners, they should have felt abandoned, terrified.


Not these two.


They called out, “Pea!” and called out again.


They were not at all surprised when I said, “I’m up here on a tree above you. You have two more feet to crawl. Bear right.”


We then sat under my observation tree and ate the little meal I had packed for us. A jug band of a dozen birdhouse gourds lit and rekindled and let the last air out of three bars of song. I pointed at Drummer’s place where wind set off the gourd-band again. Her cabin was there behind a natural berm, under dense successions of cove hardwood and in a depression that was out of fog for only a few hours a day in January and February.


They could not see it. They did not believe me.


They were sure nothing was there.  

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