Blood Red Road Page 1

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Then me. Two hours later.

That pret y much says it al .

Lugh goes first, always first, an I fol ow on behind.

An that’s fine.

That’s right.

That’s how it’s meant to be.

Because everythin’s set. It’s al fixed.

The lives of everybody who’s ever bin born.

The lives of everybody stil waitin to be born.

It was al set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.

If you know how to read the stars, you can read the story of people’s lives. The story of yer own life. What’s gone, what’s now an what’s stil to come.

Back when Pa was a boy, he met up with a traveler, a man who knew many things. He learned Pa how to read the stars. Pa never says what he sees in the night sky but you can see it lays heavy on him.

Because you cain’t change what’s writ en.

Even if Pa was to say what he knew, even if he was to warn you, it would stil come to pass.

I see the way he looks at Lugh sometimes. The way he looks at me.

An I wish he’d tel us what he knows.

I believe Pa wishes he’d never met that traveler.

If you seen me an Lugh together, you’d never think we was the same blood.

Never think we grew together in the same womb.

He’s got gold hair. I got black.

Blue eyes. Brown eyes.

Strong. Scrawny.

Beautiful. Ugly.

He’s my light.

I’m his shadow.

Lugh shines like the sun.

That must of made it easy fer them to find him.

Al they had to do was fol ow his light.

SILVERLAKE

THE DAY’S HOT. SO HOT AN SO DRY THAT ALL I CAN TASTE IN my mouth is dust. The kinda white heat day when you can hear th’earth crack.

We ain’t had a drop of rain fer near six months now. Even the spring that feeds the lake’s startin to run dry. You got a walk some ways out now to fil a bucket. Pret y soon, there won’t be no point in cal in it by its name.

Silverlake.

Every day Pa tries another one of his charms or spel s. An every day, big bel ied rainclouds gather on the horizon. Our hearts beat faster an our hopes rise as they creep our way. But, wel before they reach us, they break apart, thin out an disappear. Every time.

Pa never says naught. He jest stares at the sky, the clear cruel sky. Then he gathers up the stones or twigs or whatever he’s set out on the ground this time, an puts ’em away fer tomorrow.

Today, he shoves his hat back. Tips his head up an studies the sky fer a long while.

I do believe I’l try a circle, he says. Yuh, I reckon a circle might be jest the thing.

Lugh’s bin sayin it fer a while now. Pa’s git in worse. With every dry day that passes, a lit le bit more of Pa seems to … I guess disappear’s the best word fer it.

Once we could count on pul in a sh from the lake an a beast from our traps. Fer everythin else, we planted some, foraged some, an, al in al , we made out okay. But fer the last year, whatever we do, however hard we try, it jest ain’t enough. Not without rain. We bin watchin the land die, bit by bit.

An it’s the same with Pa. Day by day, what’s best in him withers away. Mind you, he ain’t bin right fer a long time. Not since Ma died. But what Lugh says is true. Jest like the land, Pa’s git in worse an his eyes look more’n more to the sky instead of what’s here in front of him.

I don’t think he even sees us no more. Not real y.

Emmi runs wild these days, with filthy hair an a runny nose. If it warn’t fer Lugh, I don’t think she’d ever wash at al .

Before Emmi was born, when Ma was stil alive an everythin was happy, Pa was di erent. Ma could always make him laugh. He’d chase me an Lugh around, or throw us up over his head til we shrieked fer him to stop. An he’d warn us about the wickedness of the world beyond Silverlake. Back then, I didn’t think there could be anybody ever lived who was tal er or stronger or smarter’n our pa.

I watch him out a the corner of my eye while me an Lugh git on with repairs to the shanty roof. The wal s is sturdy enough, bein that they’re made from tires al piled one on top of th’other. But the wicked hotwinds that whip across the lake sneak their way into the smal est chink an lift whole parts of the roof at once. We’re always havin to mend the damn thing.

So, after last night’s hotwind, me an Lugh was down at the land l at rst light scavengin. We dug around a part of it we ain’t never tried before an damn if we didn’t manage to score ourselves some primo Wrecker junk. A nice big sheet of metal, not too rusted, an a cookin pot that’s stil got its handle.

Lugh works on the roof while I do what I always do, which is clamber up an down the ladder an hand him what he needs.

Nero does what he always does, which is perch on my shoulder an caw real loud, right in my ear, to tel me what he’s thinkin. He’s always got a opinion does Nero, an he’s real smart too. I gger if only we could unnerstand crow talk, we’d nd he was tel in us a thing or two about the best way to fix a roof.

He’l of thought about it, you can bet on that. He’s watched us x it fer ve year now. Ever since I found him fel out a the nest an his ma nowhere to be seen. Pa warn’t too happy to see me bring a crow babby home. He told me some folk consider crows bring death, but I was set on rearin him by hand an once I set my mind on somethin I stick with it.

An then there’s Emmi. She’s doin what she always does, which is pester me an Lugh. She dogs my heels as I go from the ladder to the junk pile an back.

I wanna help, she says.

Hold the ladder then, I says.

No! I mean real y help! Al you ever let me do is hold the ladder!

Wel , I says, maybe that’s al yer fit fer. You ever think of that?

She folds her arms across her skinny lit le chest an scowls at me. Yer mean, she says.

So you keep tel in me, I says.

I start up the ladder, a piece of rusty metal in my hand, but I ain’t gone more’n three rungs before she takes hold an starts shakin it. I grab on to stop myself from fal in. Nero squawks an flaps of in a flurry of feathers. I glare down at Em.

Cut that out! I says. What’re you tryin to do, break my neck?

Lugh’s head pops over the side of the roof. Al right, Em, he says, that’s enough. Go help Pa.

Right away, she lets go. Emmi always does what Lugh tel s her.

But I wanna help you, she says with her sulky face.

We don’t need yer help, I says. We’re doin jest fine without you.

Yer the meanest sister that ever lived! I hate you, Saba!

Good! Cuz I hate you too!

That’s enough! says Lugh. Both of yuz!

Emmi sticks her tongue out at me an stomps of . I shin up the ladder onto the roof, crawl along an hand him the metal sheet.

I swear I’m gonna kil her one of these days, I says.

She’s only nine, Saba, says Lugh. You might try bein nice to her fer a change.

I grunt an hunker down nearby. Up here on the roof, I can see everythin. Emmi ridin around on her rickety two-wheeler that Lugh found in the landfil . Pa at his spel circle.

It ain’t nuthin more’n a bit of ground that he leveled o by stompin it down with his boots. We ain’t permit ed nowhere near it, not without his say so. He’s always fussin around, sweepin clear any twigs or sand that blow onto it. He ain’t set out none of the sticks fer his rain circle on the ground yet. I watch as he lays down the broom. Then he takes three steps to the right an three steps to the left. Then he does it agin. An agin.

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