There’s always one of them – the lost ones. Just before the weather changes, a single bird or a pair, migrating with unhurried ease as the clouds close in behind them.
I try not to think about what happens to them.
This is not a forgiving land.
Mistakes are etched deep into the grooves left by glaciers and those sudden deadfalls across every ridge, every turn of the river.
In the cliff faces by the ocean, I saw a small cave once. Inside was the skeleton of a deer, caught by the tide as it tried to escape a storm.
Its head was bowed in death, facing the inevitable, not with fear, but with resignation.
It knew that knife’s edge of choice and consequence.
It knew when it had fallen on the blade.
I read fiction because sometimes I want mistakes to not be permanent. To know that through the magic of narrative (or through literal magic), that it is possible to err deeply and still rise upwards. To make a late-season flight and arrive at the migration point shaken, but unharmed.
In between the snow drifts the remnants of last year’s growth rot in place. They appear almost startled, caught by surprise by the frost, by the snow, by the inevitable grinding of the unrelenting wheel.
Sometimes I want stories that take me away from here.
But sometimes I want stories that remember this-
A deer’s skeleton.
A lost bird.
A dead frond, its roots waiting for spring.
Sometimes we need to talk about consequences in a variety of ways.
If you’d like to see my take on consequences of various kinds, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.