The river was smooth here. And quiet. But then the canyon tilted sharply, stretching the river until its surface ruptured in a series of descending grottos.
Native trout spawned above the falls. Ander had fished for them since he was seven years old, with his stepfather, Ramiro—after his own father had been killed in Bilbao.
Ramiro brought Ander here on weekends. The upper river was an easy two-hour walk from the small house Ramiro had inherited in Sahún.
“What do you think about revenge?” Elijah asks, slapping a pack of smokes against his palm as the three, step out of the truck
and onto the hill. Trees thin enough to look malnourished spread out beneath them. A line of transmission towers marches through the forest to the nearest town, which is a grey smudge on the horizon. Cackling birds packed shoulder to shoulder occupy sections of the power lines. The wind, as it rolls past the hill, smells like rain.
“What do you mean?” Ryker asks, chewing the inside of his mouth.
One day, your brother crashed into an invisible wall, and when you landed among the sparse blades of grass to mourn his twisted frame, they came. There were three of them. You flew away at their approach, perched on a branch and watched them gather around him, on his back, wiry legs twitching in the air. The smaller person—one of the two smaller ones, actually—cried to the largest, tried to scoop your brother up in his pudgy little hands. The larger one held him back but eventually could not take the crying. He scooped your brother up in his hands himself, placed him in a box, and buried him among his own brood. The little ones painted a stone to mark the place where your brother slept forever, never to see another spring, but never to flee another winter either.
MARO AND THE CROWS
He had been wasting his time on reading— or rather, trying to read—the tracks along the road. When the attack came, it came from above.
The snapping of twigs in the trees above provided some warning. He got a glimpse of a dark falling mass with claws crashing down through the trees towards him. Reacting instinctively, he crouched and, dropping the briefcase he carried, wrapped his arms over his head.
All Zakai Maro wanted was to manage his aunt’s Sushiten, their small family restau- rant, in peace, but Maro was born into bad luck. Four was an unlucky number. Maro had been born at four in the morning of April fourth, the son of a fourth gaijin — foreign — son.
All Maro ever did wrong was try to help.
I woke to monstrous sounds that shook me from my dreams.
Groggy, I rubbed my eyes and glanced at the clock. I blinked until the green lines came into focus from the bedside table.
The hammering continued, and I sighed as I pulled myself to my feet. My head ached.
I grabbed my robe from the foot of my bed and put it on as I pulled open the door.
Light blinded my eyes. My mother had turned on all of the lights in the house. She was standing unsteadily on the sofa with a picture frame in each hand. She turned her head and nodded at me, mumbling hello between lips clenching long silver nails.
She set down the picture frames and took a nail from her mouth. She squinted her eyes, lining it up, and started hammering. The bangs rang around the room. I cringed with memory.
“Mom,” I choked out. “What are you doing?”
Mom didn’t stop to answer. Instead, she spoke between thin lips. “This wall is a mess. None of these pictures even line up.”