About the Author

Christine Higdon

Books by this Author
The Very Marrow of Our Bones
Excerpt

It was under the milk jug on the kitchen table. A wet ring cut across the centre of the paper, a lined sheet she’d torn from one of our scribblers. Mine probably. The ink had run milky blue, veins emptied onto the page. Why I hid it, I can’t say. Why I didn’t say anything about it to anyone, even when the police came, even years later, when my brother Trevor hammered a little wooden cross with her name on it into the garden, like for a dog’s grave, and I kicked it over, I will never know.

The note said: Wally, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life. Love, Bette.

None of us knew about pain. Not the kind that leaves you shattered and speechless. I had watched Trevor fly from the tree fort once—a graceless trapeze artist—and heard the sharp, unexpected snap of his wrist against the moss and cedar blanket of the forest floor. I’d seen my twin brothers Alan and Ambrose knocked bloody and unconscious in a dirt-bike crash at the gravelly corner of Forward Road and Hemlock Street. And when Jed was a puppy he ran headlong into the moving wheel of Mr. Tenpenny’s half ton. But no one had died. No one had left us. Not even a dog.

Once, my eldest brother Geordie and I came across the carcass of a freshly killed young possum in the back woods. Its arms were raised above its head, as if in disbelief. Beseeching. Whatever killed it had ripped open its belly and eaten all its tender bits. My mother’s disappearance left us all like that. Gutted, hapless creatures flung unceremoniously into raw isolation.

Sometimes pain brings people together, helps them to cross the grand abyss of human discord. The lost are found. Sons reach out to fathers after years of silence. Sisters forgive brothers. Sometimes it’s too late.

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