To my husband, Pancho, for your patience, love, friendship, humor, and willingness to eat out. And also to my children, Gabe, Seth, and Eli,
For letting me experience the kind of love that people freely die for.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
ALL OUR ATTEMPTS AT SUBTERFUGE HAD BEEN IN VAIN.
With ice in my heart, I watched him prepare to defend me. His intense concentration betrayed no hint of doubt, though he was outnumbered. I knew that we could expect no help – at this moment, his family was fighting for their lives just as surely as he was for ours.
Would I ever learn the outcome of that other fight? Find out who the winners and the losers were? Would I live long enough for that?
The odds of that didn’t look so great.
Black eyes, wild with their fierce craving for my death, watched for the moment when my protector’s attention would be diverted. The moment when I would surely die.
Somewhere, far, far away in the cold forest, a wolf howled.
I don’t know why you’re making Charlie carry notes to Billy like we’re in second grade – if I wanted to talk to you I would answer the
You made the choice here, okay? You can’t have it both ways when
What part of ‘mortal enemies’ is too complicated for you to
Look, I know I’m being a jerk, but there’s just no way around
We can’t be friends when you’re spending all your time with a bunch of
It just makes it worse when I think about you too much, so don’t write
Yeah, I miss you, too. A lot. Doesn’t change anything. Sorry.
I ran my fingers across the page, feeling the dents where he had pressed the pen to the paper so hard that it had nearly broken through. I could picture him writing this – scrawling the angry letters in his rough handwriting, slashing through line after line when the words came out wrong, maybe even snapping the pen in his too big hand; that would explain the ink splatters. I could imagine the frustration pulling his black eyebrows together and crumpling his forehead. If I’d been there, I might have laughed. Don’t give yourself a brain hemorrhage, Jacob, I would have told him. Just spit it out.
Laughing was the last thing I felt like doing now as I reread the words I’d already memorized. His answer to my pleading note – passed from Charlie to Billy to him, just like second grade, as he’d pointed out – was no surprise. I’d known the essence of what it would say before I’d opened it.
What was surprising was how much each crossed out line wounded me – as if the points of the letters had cutting edges. More than that, behind each angry beginning lurked a vast pool of hurt; Jacob’s pain cut me deeper than my own.
While I was pondering this, I caught the unmistakable scent of a smoking burner rising from the kitchen. In another house, the fact that someone besides myself was cooking might not be a cause for panicking.
I shoved the wrinkled paper into my back pocket and ran, making it downstairs in the nick of time.
The jar of spaghetti sauce Charlie’d stuck in the microwave was only on its first revolution when I yanked the door open and pulled it out.
“What did I do wrong?” Charlie demanded.
“You’re supposed to take the lid off first, Dad.