parched, bald, and uneven, and Parrish makes his way with care. All he
needs is to turn an ankle.
He braces himself. Picturing his daughter’s sorrow, how her face will
change with the knowledge. His imagination does him no favors. In it he
discovers a deflated, lifeless form that, he can admit to himself, is family.
He grew up farming; animals were resources, not friends. Yet the image
seizes him, and an unconscious growl rises out of him as he fights the
helplessness that comes with it. Pain is almost never what he thinks it
As he moves into the trees, the dense barricade brings a quick dusk.
His breath sounds like a furnace in his ears. It drowns out everything but
his thoughts, until a strange bawling breaks from deeper in the wood.
Blowing air, he stops dead. He hears it again. Maybe a calf, but he cannot
imagine why anyone would run cattle up here, not after the fire. Then
from the same direction a different noise rifles out of the trees, one that
he knows. A long series of yelps, like a coyote but deeper. Sadie doesn’t
bark or make much noise to speak of, but when she’s alarmed or joyful,
her cry is an elongated yodel. She sounds like a mariachi.
He breaks into a trot, fishes out his flashlight, and cuts the gloom. For
a couple of minutes he keeps moving, then stops and listens, reorients
himself, and goes on. He feels the steepening ground in his legs and
lower back and his heaving lungs. A few minutes later he intersects a
hiking trail running perpendicular to his path. He stops again and locates the chorus of yelping and bawling. He’s gone astray; the sounds are
no longer in front of him. He angles down the trail and sets off, thankful
that he’s no longer running uphill.
As he moves into the trees, the dense barricade brings
a quick dusk. His breath sounds like a furnace in his
ears. It drowns out everything but his thoughts, un-
til a strange bawling breaks from deeper in the wood.
Blowing air, he stops dead. He hears it again.