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I knew we weren’t alone.

I looked out from our shelter into the rain-soaked forest.

Unnamed things lived there. Things breathed and I heard them. Perhaps they called me from the old cave we had found last year when we were just three instead of four. Or from the magic river that started and ended in stone. Perhaps it was something else that came from the high mountains that surrounded us. Or something from the lake that wound like a screwworm back into the mountains. Or from the folds of cottonwoods’ green leaf-shadows.

“Honey,” Mother said, as she came to me, put her hand on my shoulder trying to stroke away my anger. “This is family time, time to be together.”

I looked up at her. My mother who couldn’t understand how I felt? I would not love her.

“I’m going for a walk,” I said and stood.

Mom allowed her hand to fall away. “Don’t be angry, Carla. You’re the one who’ll get hurt. Learn to love.”

I set my jaw and looked at her. Don’t tell me what to feel, I thought. You have no right when you don’t want me.

She sighed and looked back at the card game.

“Don’t go far,” she said and smiled at me. “Dinner will be soon.”

The potatoes roasting on the open fire sent a blackened crusty scent into the air with the sparks and wood smoke. Soon there would be lake trout frying.

I nodded.

“Can I come?” asked Daniel. He set down his hand of gin rummy and looked at me – all of six-years-old, expectant, hopeful, still trying to be a brother – whatever that meant.

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