Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand.
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
– W. B. Yeats, The Stolen Child
“You’ve always been my favorite,” he said.
Dried blood colored the white whiskers surrounding his lips. His teeth wore a buttery film and dark circles called attention to the liver-spotted skin pulled taut over his cheekbones.
“Rest, father.” I pushed him gently back down onto the bed.
He turned his head and moaned, squinting at the straw-packed wall of the hut.
“Was he talking to you or to me?”
I looked at my young brother and shrugged. “Probably neither.”
Thin clouds filtered the blurry light of the half-moon. The sun wouldn’t rise for another hour, but we had to set off now.
Dhonu and I stopped at the memorial outside of our sleepy village and visited two familiar mounds–a single pair among the hundreds. I set down our equipment, got on my knees, and kissed the stones which had been piled on top of each tiny lump of grass. The cold from the rocks felt like shocks of tiny lightning. I imagined the ashes which had been buried beneath them had long since been absorbed into the Earth.
Dhonu hesitated, always afraid to get too close. I grabbed his hand and gently pulled him over. He quickly kissed the markers as well, though I’m not sure his lips even made contact. He slipped out of my grasp and ran back toward the road.
I supposed I couldn’t blame him. He was too young to remember Mother and our sister, Gitika. I looked down to my left at the hole which I’d already begun to dig and realized we had better be on our way.
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