48.1 - Winter 2019

Page 24

“No.” “Vicious.” Ana feels the unblinking focus of the birds through the walls of her house. “Well. They do what they need to survive.” She goes to pour him another glass, but the guest twitches. Ceremoniously, he palms the mouth of his cup. “I should leave.” “It is night.” She lets a little challenge seep into her voice, knowing it will shepherd him closer to departure. And it does. Later, in her bed, Ana cannot tell dream sound from waking sound. A feast of bone and muscle in the woods, wings batting the rafters, or simply the wind. She feels the creep of fear, but also senses its steady withdrawal, a delicate balance kept in check by what? She wakes thinking of the old women of the mountain and their rules that generation after generation all inhabitants have followed, and then the bottle of raki. She reminds herself to thank her husband for his restraint. Perhaps she can depend on him after all.

FICTION | 15