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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 8

I can see me tryin’ to say, “You’ll be turnin’ in yer grave, hearin’ ’bout my life,” but it ain’t true, ’cause you dead or alive was always like Hide Mountain settin’ there backa town. Even with the ski slope rippin’ down through it, it looks wild to me ’cause of those caves off to the left where we saw a bear when I was eight years old. We was walkin’ up to the slope ’cause you was seein’ ’bout work for the winter and they said “too late” and you headed off into the woods, you was so mad. That’s when we saw the bear and you looked square at him and said “Margaret, there’s yer first bear,” and I was so much like you for that second I said to myself, “Yup. A bear.”

Later, I felt more of that feelin’ of bein’ like you, big and full of caves like that mountain, and the bear was only one of the hundreds of animals—there was a whole bunch of ’em. You never changed from that. Even walkin’ back out to where they bulldozed off all the trees for a ski trail, you didn’t say nothin’ though your face I remember looked almost scarred. It looked like that even in the coffin after Bunner puffed up your cheeks and pasted you over.

I remember Billy and me, we got the giggles both the same time lookin’ at you layin’ stiff in there and we snuck out the back of the funeral home so no one could see us, especially Ma, and we both had the same thing in our minds so we headed for the Tilford farm only a few houses down, both of us not sayin’ a thing. We stepped over the manure real careful so our shoes wouldn’t turn green and we’d be hit. Then we did that trick you taught us the summer before when we was all at Pete Teator’s and Billy and me was watchin’ the cows chew and lift their heads and stare with them dull eyes and chew and keep starin’, and you come down between us and whisper, “Stare back and you’ll go through like jumpin’ into pond water and comin’ back up.” And it happened. I was on the other side lookin’ back at the three of us: we was real big, bigger’n life, and you was crouchin’ in the middle holdin’ us, standin’ there like we was all the Poughkeepsie Bridge, your arms like them big steel cables and us the tall towers either side. It was all in a split second ’cause I surfaced quick and

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