Peanut leaned on a fence, panting, watching Ransom walk away under the staggered streetlights. The pain in his head was crystallizing, it shimmered and glinted. White facets strobed behind his eyes. He slipped between the bars of the gated construction area and meandered along a row of new homes.
We break up a piece of bread and place the crumbs in each bowl. “They’ll jump out of those bowls trying to grab that bread. I hope you saved us enough slices of bread for your lunches tomorrow.” She sighs heavily, then stands on a chair and starts scrounging around in the cupboards. “Here, take this old pickle jar. We need those bowls for breakfast. What kind of people think giving kids a fish is a prize? Ain’t no prize for me.”
My brother Marco believes he is the reincarnation of an Aztec warrior. He returned from another tour of the desert as a luchador, still in costume, and he told me about the ghost inside him as he leapt around the living room, practicing for some wrestling match he fears will be his last. He is determined to die in the ring, figures it's his destiny. He finds omens in swirling desert sand, in the cloud a bit of milk makes in coffee.
It begins with a deep brown Alaskan lake lined with thick, silky muck. A spindly forest of spruce, willow, and alder. A swamp of bog blueberry, cinquefoil, cotton grass, and aromatic Labrador tea. Mosquitos, fierce and dense. Trout and salmon. Loons, ducks, grebes, gulls. Beaver, muskrat, moose, and bears. Berries. Once a place of fish camps and villages, hunters and trappers. Once a place of plenty. On a map, lines are drawn, long thin rectangles, each with a slice of ragged lakeshore. Little boxes of land, sold at a tidy profit. One goes to my father.
Growing up on a farm was a lot like being a fighter pilot. Most days played out in tedious monotony interlaced with brief moments of sheer terror. This was never more evident than the afternoon my brother and I set out to plunder the bee tree and return to the house with their comb victorious.