You are reading Fiddleblack #11
From a little ways down the dirt road, the memorial looked like a huge dirty tooth sticking out of the sugar sand. It was my place. I went there when the moon shook its head low and the small animals still crawled about, sniffing in the humid air for a direction. The memorial was for a man named Carranza, a pilot who crashed himself in the Pine Barrens by accident a hundred years ago. I thought me and Carranza were soul mates after reading about him in a copy of the book my Grandpa wrote before he died: The New Jersey Pine Barrens: An Untruncated History.
“I’m gonna marry a man like you one day, Carranza.” I said, saluting the rock chunk, then sticking my arms out like an airplane. “To fly me away.”
That morning the new sun spilled in from the tree tips, some of it snagging there, the rest falling soft on my skin like a glow. No pinkish light shone off the memorial’s roughened stone surface. I lay on my back in the sugar sand, the flat of my head just touching the cold stone. Carranza’s memorial stretched wide into the sky. I made plans for my own memorial. I’d build it for my mom. The engravings on one side of her own ugly-tooth memorial would say: “I leave you here where you left me, so there.”
From behind the neverwet bushes surrounding the memorial ground there came a rustle. A flash of something silvery caught my eye. It darted a smooth swiftness, in and out of the leaning pines. I thought I saw a woman wearing a white coat, hair wild. My heart gummed up in throat, that thick-blooded feeling. Then it slowed, stepped closer. The nearer it stepped, the more it filled in, transforming from the mirage of Mom’s ghost into a real-life six-point white buck with watery red eyes. He came all the way to the clearing’s edge, letting me stare, wanting me to see him.
As soon as I called him by name he sifted back into the brush. My heart grew fizzy and odd. I had a theory about Gabe, it went like this: a man predicted his own death by auto accident on route 206, and he drove the road every day until one of those days he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. On impact his spirit fled into a witnessing buck (a bad thing if what you really wanted was to be good and dead). The buck turned albino with the shock of being haunted by the spirit of a suicidal prophet. That was Gabe, the same white buck.
Gabe was the real Prophet of the Pine Barrens, I was convinced, because he only ever showed up when something was going to happen. Joe and me proved that fact, since some big event has followed every sighting—historic events, even. One time we saw Gabe, and that same night the stars fell out of the sky, a million streaking down to meet us. They seemed to fall so close, we ran around and around to find their landing spots. I thought of watching my mother walk out of the wood, how she turned into the buck. Maybe this time Gabe wanted me to known she would come back.
The second he disappeared the morning quiet shuttered away. My bare feet on the dirt slapped a frantic beat into the air like a pair of weak war drums.
Up Grandma’s porch I stomped, hitting the chain of the swinging bench and pausing at the front door. Grandma sometimes thought herself a prophet, like Gabe. Whenever Grandma got into her strange moods—those days she’d claim to be a reincarnated ancient medicine woman from the long-gone Lenape tribe—I stayed away. I wanted to believe that she could heal things with her clumsy magic or make certain things happen or bring my mom back. But the pretending got old fast, if I happened look too hard at the truth of it. I couldn’t remember when the moods started – how long after my mom dropped me off the last time—I only knew the space between the moods were getting shorter and shorter.
I took a few extra breaths, wiped my leaking nose with the back of my hand, and pushed the front door open, wagering with myself which Grandma I’d get when I walked inside. She was in the kitchen, up and cooking. It was weird to see her standing there in an apron, so normal, shifting her weight by the stove and even slippered at the feet, not a trace of feathers in her fraying hair.
Grandma slept a lot most days, but that morning the moon barely silvered out of the sun’s way, and there she was—herself. She didn’t turn around when I took my seat at the table behind her.
“Your hands, Edna,” she said. The words hung off the edge of her bottom lip.
“Aw my hands are fine. I just woke up.”
“I’ll have you know your grandfather said the same thing, and see what happened to him.” She tip-toed for two plates on the highest shelf, without clattering.
“I thought it was the cancer that got Grandpa.”
Grandpa died just before the time my mom left me with Grandma. I saw a lot of weekends since then, even a few seasons. I’d only met Grandpa—and Grandma—a few times before that, a few other weekends, a few small instances.
Grandma slid a crumpled fried egg and turned toward me. “You have dirt on your face.”
I whipped my long stringy hair back and sighed over to the sink.
“You can eat now,” she announced, as if I always needed permission. “Tonight we can have cutlets.” She smiled down at her orange juice and then the smile went away.
Whenever Grandma was in one of her moods, she never cooked. She’d go around the backyard to preach the plight of her imaginary Lenape tribe to a crowd of rusty spare tractor parts and garden spades or anything that looked like it would listen long enough. She did that all day sometimes. Once in a while she played with fire, too, and that, I hated most. I tried to tell her, but she never listened. So I hid the matches, just in case, whenever I remembered it.
“Hey, I saw that white buck, just now,” I said. I stopped my fork over the plate.
“Your grandfather used to love that buck. Used to go looking for him to feed him carrots.”
“Well did Grandpa run into him a lot, you think?”
“He never said anything about that, but he made me grow an extra plot of carrots in the garden.” She wasn’t eating her egg, just picking and picking. It started oozing. “Too many carrots, now.”
“I don’t know. I don’t see him a lot, the buck.” I swirled the ketchup around my egg. “I think seeing him means something will happen.”
Grandma stared off to space for a little and blinked and blinked.
“Your grandfather used to feed that one carrots,” she said.
“But you think Mom’s coming, Grandma? Maybe she’s coming. You said she’d come back someday.”
Grandma gave me a sad look with all the lines on her face.
She had told me for a while that my mom was just tired, but she couldn’t be tired forever. It didn’t make sense to me. People fell asleep when they were tired and woke up when they weren’t tired anymore. I couldn’t see a reason for a tired person to leave her daughter in the middle of the woods for good.
Her eyes started to open wider and get hazy. It could’ve been in my head, but the air in the room got heavier.
“Your grandfather wrote a book,” she said. “He loved it here.”
“I’m not asking about him, Grandma,” I said. “I think Mom’s coming back.”
What I really wanted was to hug Grandma to keep her there, slippered and awake, but that kind of normal stuff didn’t happen a lot—not the hugging or the keeping.
“I’ll be at Joe’s. For today.” I said. “I can bring back some cranberries?”
“Yes,” she said. She was so like a baby vulture, the way she perched her bony fingers together at the edge of her sloppy plate, “that would be very nice, Edna.”
After washing my dish, I watched my own feet all the way out the door and hoped for the day I wouldn’t have to come back. Then I felt bad for the thought and touched Grandma on the back of the hand as I skipped off.
I almost made it out of the house before I remembered Grandpa’s book. What I loved most about the-grandpa-I-never-knew was his book.. I first found it in Grandma’s dusty room while exploring, one day soon after I was left. The New Jersey Pine Barrens: An Untruncated History, right next to the Bible in the chest at the foot of Grandma’s bed.
Grandpa must’ve studied the place pretty good, because the book spilled over with names and descriptions for sand-growing trees and the animals that live in them. Joe and I liked to consult the book about the things we didn’t understand. But there was nothing in there about what to do when people stop thinking they are themselves. There was nothing about mourning people who were still alive, about finding all those people long gone or missing but never – certainly not—dead.
In Joe’s pop’s cranberry bog, I went on and on about Gabe and what it could mean, flipping through the pages of Grandpa’s book hoping something would jump out at me and grab my ear and whisper in it. The cranberries bobbed and twinkled around Joe’s scrawny body. He was wearing the “sc-cran-uba suit,” an awkward overall slick that covered him like a body-sized boot. Joe’s bog rake extended from his left arm like a robotic attachment. The long arm lopsided his dwarfish body to the right, so the left side looked shriveled. He swung the rake up, he slapped it down. The berry-blanket swished to reveal a rip of gritty water.
Joe was older then me, turning teenager once fall came around, but I could beat him up easily, so we were even. He pretended not to be impressed with the Gabe incident.
“I don’t know. Probably Gabe is just some blind old buck,” he said
“What about the stars? You saw them fall like that. The other times, too, like when that heavy rain flooded out the roads and the time we found—”
“It’s called a coincidence.” He rolled his eyes. “You know that word?”
“Easy for you to say. You know your mom ain’t coming back.”
He raised the rake like he would chuck it at me. Instead, in the next breath, he set it down and crawled up onto the bank next to me. “Before you got here that buck was just a buck.”
“Nah, you just been here too long to see a difference.”
Joe cracked his knuckles by pressing his fists together. He looked up at the sky. “Dead doesn’t mean good, ya know. It’s bad. I’m missing that, same as you.”
Joe was never too much of a talker about this stuff. Even after he got to know every detail about my situation four times over. I only found out about his mom awhile later, after stumbling across a loose picture in Joe’s room and asking some questions one day. Before that I had no choice but to like Joe since he was the only kid around, but after that it was different. We had a sameness.
“Well, yeah, I was just saying.”
“You wanna trade places? I’ll live with your Gran for a week and you can slave away in this dumb bog all day.” He picked at the body suit, lifting it from his skin and letting the fabric snap back again.
“We should look for Gabe again, to ask him. He can speak some way, you think? He can tell us what’s going on.”
“Is this like the time you wanted to go looking for Carranza’s ghost? Come on, Ed.”
“This isn’t like that, this is a for-sure thing.”
“I have a new crab spider, found it the other day. Pretty cool, you should check it out.”
“And you expect me to care about a spider!” I throw my hands up. Joe never cared about anything more than collecting bugs. He’d catch one at a time and study it for a few days and let it go after getting way too attached way too easily. “You can’t just wait around like this all day, all eternity, counting bug legs.”
“Yeah, so what?” He shrugged
Joe seemed more and more like a lost cause to me, then, and just when I was about to tell him, he froze for a second, then sat up straight and tense like a twitchy rabbit. “Hey, you smell that?”
“Smell what?” I laughed. He really did look like a rabbit, the way his nose stuck in the air.
“Don’t you smell that? It smells like…smoke or something, wood burning.” He lifted his chin into the air and sucked in deep.
And then I smell it, too. My palms tested the dryness of the ground, scrunched around a layer of flaky dead summer leaves. Bonfire.
Joe jumped up. “Where’s it coming from?”
“Probably someone at a barbecue,” I suggested, “some campsite. There’s a billion of those here.” Grandpa’s book told us we lived at the edge of a state forest. I turned to a map dotted with tiny brown triangles for campsites.
“No, this is different. You don’t know.” Joe started to peel off the sc-cran-uba suit. “You’re not from around here.”
“Joe, Stop. What is it?”
Before he could answer a quaggy man stomped toward us through the cedars that circle the bog. I knew it was Joe’s pop by his faded deer club cap and by the fact that no one else lived around that area of Wharton, not close anyway.
“Boy, did I say you could take breaks?” he said.
“No, sir. But I smelled smoke.”
“Damn right you did. We got a rager comin’ our way. Clean up your things and let’s go.”
Mr. Upton looked at Joe only when he needed to, and then only through a constant squint, the way someone watching a horror movie might dare himself to look. Instead of focusing on Joe while he gathered the bogger equipment, Mr. Upton eyed me.
“Hey, your mamma come back for ya yet?” He shot some air through his teeth and then leaned forward like an animal in warning stance. “Tell Gran to stay out of my bog before I call ‘em on her. This is my damn property, hear me? I’ll have the crazy dog put down.”
“She’s coming,” I said, knowing right then how far-fetched the words sounded on my tongue. If my father had been anything like Mr. Upton I was glad to never koew him.
“Just get on home, girl. Can’t you smell the smoke? I’d bet it’s the old fool who set it. Wouldn’t be surprised.”
Joe started forward with Mr. Upton and glanced back, the crease between his eyes heavy. Between us the smoke hung over my head like a thin black veil. Joe trudged off with his horrible pop while I sniffed the hurting words to the back of my brain. Some smoke got caught in there and burned. The fire could’ve turned up anywhere, behind any birch or catalpa tree, a falling burst from the strange sky—even inside my skin somewhere. I’d been in some doozies, but getting back to Grandma seemed like the longest quest. I hugged Grandpa’s book like it had fire shield properties and set off down the scrawny-pined path.
Almost a year ago, during that first weekend with Grandma, I spent my time scratching around alone in the yard while Grandma poured through book after book in a moldy brown chair in the den. We met for only meals, and once in awhile she’d say a few things straight to me, usually a comment on how I was too skinny.
I’d only been to my grandparents’ place a few times before that weekend, but the visits felt routine. When my mother didn’t come for me on Sunday night—that was the first time I knew something had to be wrong. The wind whispered through the pine trees outside the open window in the spare bedroom and honed a dread in me. She always came back when she said she would. The cedar water smell blowing over from the bogs told me about death. There were ghosts all over and in my head.
Grandma worried a lot, complained that she didn’t have the right stuff to raise a ten-year-old, fretted over my mom’s unexplained show-up and back-out. Four days after my mother was supposed to pick me up, Grandma started the station wagon and drove me out of the woods to look for her. She did no complaining, then. She didn’t even seem surprised when we got to the place I called home and found it empty. Grandma stood in front of the door and I pressed myself into the grass, wanting to sink in. I already knew no grass could grow in Grandma’s Pine Barrens. It was a grassless place with no kids and no neighbors and no sound except the groaning trees.
When we got back we both sat in the car for a little while, breathing together. I asked Grandma if my mom was dead and she said no, but I would have to stay with her now. Grandma put her knotted hand on my lap. I pushed it away like something dead had fallen on my knee.
I drew these pictures of my mother scrolled with headlines like MISSING and WANTED and scattered them around the house and taped them to Grandma’s door. I made the words on my posters bigger and bigger until they were all that was left, until the images faded into black-eyed outlines that looked nothing like my real-life mother. I ran through the forest, stomping on pinecones and slashing at branches and scratching my jagged name in the bark of every tree I could find until I made a forest of EDNA.
Grandma tried to yell at me a few times for not listening, but when she did I called 9-11 and policemen came and asked the wrong questions and Grandma said if I called again they might take me away, and if that’s what I wanted I should just do it.
I kept quiet then. But it was hard, things changed. When she started acting different—like someone else, like a stranger—it turned out that it was harder to be cruel and easier to feel what it would really be like alone.
Even as my running feet give way to the backyard clearing, I still didn’t feel safe—I felt less safe, actually, because the smoke had grown thicker and floated in heavier patches by then. My eyes widened and jumped at any hint of the color orange and my throat tasted like steel wool. Every noise sounded like flames crackling nearby. I shuffled the noises around in my head to discard the harmless ones.
When I separated a string of chants from the other sounds, they led me to Grandma, no longer normal, sitting in the middle of a lumpy dirt-drawn circle facing the woods’ edge and holding a bundle of small sticks. Dirt strung up in her hair. The stranger from the Leni-Lenape who called herself a medicine woman seemed to be preparing for a ceremony.
“You smell the smoke?” she asked.
“Yes!” I shrieked. “We have to go before the fire comes, please.”
“This is the only way.”
“We have to learn how dead things can live. The fire tells us.”
“This isn’t a game, Grandma. Stop!”
I threw Grandpa’s books down on the ground, and she held her palm over its cover.
“A fire heals us,” she said.
“We’ll die if we don’t go.”
“Come and sit, child.”
I reached for her arm again, but her eyes were large and dark and deep and hazy. She pulled away and leaned off into a string of muttering. I turned on my heel and ran through the double-screen backdoor and to the junk drawer where Grandma kept the car keys and then back out to where the woman sat. Twig pieces tangled all in her hair.
I jangled the keys in my hand to get her attention.
“The car—let’s get in the car, Grandma.”
A breeze picked up and carried a new curtain of smoke, the scent of char. A fire spread faster in wind, I learned in science class. Grandma lifted up her arms and howled her triumphant reply to the gusting gods.
I shook the keys harder, this time like a weapon. She flinched and stared up at me again.
“I bet you started it, huh? You, with the matches. This is your fault,” I hollered. Then I deflated, leaked out the rest. “I thought you’d be okay today.”
Even Joe’s awful pop came to get him from the bog when he smelled the smoke. I threw the keys at her feet and plunked to the ground and covered my face and my ears and hummed, so the sound of my humming filled my head and covered over Grandma’s chants.
When I opened my wet eyes and unplugged my ears, the medicine woman—my Grandma—was gone, gone with Granpa’s book. Panic fluttered around my lungs. The fire had lost its tame bonfire smell, tinged with something heavier.
Then I spotted her, far off through the trees. I ran to catch her, but even old she’d gone so far. She disappeared through the flaky pine. The running made me cough. I stopped and turned back, the house barely visible through the thick pines. All the tip-tops of the trees swished above me. My name jumped out from the hide of every pine where I carved it: Edna, Edna, Edna. The whole forest wore my name. No one there, just me and the drifting smoke. And so quiet I could almost hear it, the smoke, which sounded something like a whisper.
“Don’t leave,” I shouted into the shivering woods. “Don’t leave me again!”
I ran back from the woods, reached the clearing, the porch steps, the porch, and stretched out my arm to push open the back door. My fingertips seemed to be a lot better at touch than I remembered. The wood on the doorframe was made of a million separate splinters and I could feel all of them.
No book or Mom or Grandma, I had to come up with something. One memory stood out best through the hovering smoke and racing-heart rhythm. It was a night a few months before the fire, Joe showed up at the house with a bruise gathering under his wet eye and asked if he could come in. He’d never been in the house before. I didn’t want to let him in, because Grandma was in her mood. She’d conjured a wooden tambourine from somewhere and was shaking it around and humming to herself and doing a weird little two-step.
We sat down on the sofa and tried not to talk about what she was doing or what happened to Joe. In my frantic flight for a solution I got this idea. A bag of uncooked rice and a couple of paper plates later, we were ready. I laid out the supplies for Joe and poured some rice onto a plate and folded the plate and stapled it over and shook it. He smiled, did the same with his, and we ran upstairs to join Grandma’s tambourining. She didn’t startle, like I thought she might. She looked over her shoulder at us and nodded her head and played louder. Joe shook his paper tambourine and loosened. I held up both arms and danced with my Grandma and let nonsense words spill from my mouth.
I stood at the kitchen sink, looking out of the window on tippy toes, watching. But I couldn’t wait and watch forever. If being someone else worked for Grandma then it would have to work for me, too. In a game of can’t-beat-em-join-em, a little fire would be no match for me. It was time, I decided, to dress for war. A little voice from when I was younger soothed into my head and told me to calm down, Edna. I took my time up the stairs to Grandma’s room.
Grandma’s cedar closet smelled strange and sweet and not like smoke. Toward the back behind some coats I spotted a long skirt splashed with yellows and oranges. She liked to wear it sometimes when the shaman in her came out. I ripped the skirt from its hanger and also an itchy straw-colored blouse and pressed them to my face to inhale the cedar.
Then I got dressed. In the bathroom my fingers managed to find a stained case full of moldy old makeup. My eyes shone large and green in the mirror as I smeared the lipstick around my cheeks. War paint. I frayed up my hair and pull a knot in elastics in random spots. Wetting my skin seemed like a good idea. I’d be less flammable that way. My heart followed the sound of the quick-dripping faucet.
I danced a dance that felt old to me, like my bones always knew it. I wiggled through all the rooms of the house, up and down the stairs, pausing at each window to watch for changes in the scenery. After a while the pine trees began to look like starved people that had grown a green prickly hair from their pain.
My eyes hurt and all I could think about was what it might be like to burn to death. How long would it take to go numb? Would I still be alive by the time the fire wore down my hands and feet to nubs? Would I still be alive by the time my hair crisped to ash? How much of me would remain? That was the thing that stuck with me—how much would remain for someone to find me. My shoes? My eyes? My heart?
I danced to the kitchen. At the top of a piece of poster paper I wrote, “Long Gone, Dead and Missing Persons,” underlined with two thick, red lines. Then I composed an unholy list of betrayers: Mom, Grandma, Gabe. I wrote Joe’s name and then crossed it out again. After some white space I scribbled my own name.
I danced out back again, chanting like I’d heard Grandma chant, waving my list and a canteen of water, my last-second weapon. I coughed at the smoke and started to gather sticks and brush to make a weird kind of nest, like I’d seen Grandma do. When the fire came I would offer the list from my throne, like food.
The pines shivered off to left and I screamed a little thinking fire! fire!
But it was only Gabe. He stepped between the sandwort bushes and stared at me. His silverish body dirtied behind the haze of smoke. Just seeing him there like that made my blood burn without any fire to heat it. I crouched down low, slowly, scratching in the dirt for a stone. All I could find was a heavy sand clod. Gabe still stared, frozen in front of me, one hoof lifted a few inches off the ground. His six-horn crown tilted his head a little to the side.
I rose again as slow as I could manage, the clod tight in my fingers. I puffed out my chest and swung my arm back, ready to holler and throw, but when I tried to launch the dirt clod, someone caught me by the wrist. Gabe sprinted off. I spun around, half expecting a fire demon.
“It’s okay,” Grandma said. She panted a little. I couldn’t tell if she was normal or not. A worried furrow stamped on her face, though she still wore the dress of the medicine woman. Feathers and twig pieces still scattered through her hair. “Let him be.”
She reached out to touch my lipsticked face and then tested the texture between finger and thumb. I must’ve looked crazy, too.
“War paint,” I said. Just when I thought I would smile a lump hardened in my throat. “You left me here.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I am so sorry, Eddie.” She looked away and shifted her weight a little. A heavy bag of scarlet cranberries hung by her side.
In the kitchen Grandma set down the cranberries, guided me to a chair and searched out her portable radio from behind the beehive-shaped sugar bowl on the counter. She twisted the knobs around and fiddled with the feeler-like antennas at the top of the radio. A voice fizzed into clarity. A woman’s voice. It might have be my mother, just as easily as it might have been a stranger. I couldn’t be sure I knew what she sounded like anymore. But no, I thought, my mother never said her A’s with that kind of breathiness. The stranger announced something about the weather and her voice disappeared again inside the static. I listened for words and continued to watch through the back door even though all my eyes wanted to do was close.
Grandma folded the antennas to the right and the woman’s voice crackled back in: “…Latest update from Leektown is that…fire is still raging, but under control. Firefighters…to contain the blaze south…and east of Wharton State Forest, minimizing damages and… All those evacuated are being told to return to their homes at this hour. No one has been reported injured or missing, police say…”
“So the fire’s not coming?” I wasn’t sure I believed it. Maybe the fire wasn’t fire at all, just a smoky fear of the thing.
“Sounds like it,” Grandma said.
When she decided to look up at me I knew she hadn’t set the blaze. A guilty coil heated in my stomach. “Where did you go?” I asked.
“Hm.” She held up a clear plastic bag filled with red juice. “I brought us some cranberries. You forgot them this morning.”
She stretched out a hand and wiped my cheek. I plucked a stray feather from her white hair. After I let her know where I’d hidden all the matches, we lit a lumpy candle and set it in the middle of the table where the little flame twisted in either agony or dance. She adjusted the dial on the radio to a music channel. We ate straight from the bag of wet cranberries, passing it back and forth between us. My tongue numbed from the bitter taste and swelled, soaking up all the space in my mouth. I took another handful of cranberries and passed the bag back to Grandma.
“There’s a story in your grandfather’s Pine Barrens book about the myth of the cranberry,” she said. I noticed she’d placed the book on the counter by the table. “Have you read it?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. In truth I only ever read a small part of the book, not much at all. Mostly I just liked to feel its lizardy skin in my hands when I couldn’t sleep or think.
Grandma took a few berries and rolled them around in her palm. Our hands shined red with juice.
“In these Pine Barrens,” she began, “the cranberry grows in the bog. The bog got its start after a great war, led by a shaman of the Lenape tribe.” She paused and watched my face for some reaction. “The shaman told the people that a herd of mastodons was coming for them, and that they would have to fight for their land. They fought four days and nights. Many died, but the Lenape managed to drive off the beasts. The battlegrounds were scarred with large holes from the trampling and the struggle, and these filled with water that covered the bones of the dead.”
She held up a single cranberry between thumb and pointer finger.
“Cranberries grow in the bogs as a reminder of the war that kept the land alive. The dark red is said to be infused with the blood of those that fell to protect their kin.”
She popped the berry into her mouth. The candle jittered between us.
“This place is magic,” I said. “You think?”
Grandma thought a minute, shifted her eyes up toward the ceiling like she was watching something moving there. Over the music I could hear a clock ticking.
“I think it’s got more to do with memory,” she said, “but why should that be different from magic?”
“Memory,” I repeated.
What did I still remember? My mother, late to pick me up for school yet again, her hair spiraled and sweaty. My mother, nodding off in the middle of a bedtime story. My mother, backing out Grandma’s door for the last time and promising to return with bug spray and white bread. She would cut off the crusts of mine and we would eat together again.
I walked over to the sink, stood on the tips of my toes to see out of the small kitchen window. Past two plaid curtains waited a wash of night, torn here and there along ragged edges of pine trees. I couldn’t make out the new moon because new moons never show off any light, but I sensed it had to be there, stuck behind a shade of leftover smoke.
Lindsay D’Andrea is an MFA candidate for creative writing at Iowa State University. She is currently working on a collection of fictional stories set in the very real Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where she is from originally.