“Boys scattered around the hills never would play with Ben. They said it was because he was so little and nervous. But M.C. had played with Ben from the time he was a child and didn’t know better. When he was older, he had been told. Now he guessed Ben was like a bad habit he couldn’t break and had to keep secret.”
“Suddenly he was aware of the deep whine of machines in the hills behind Sarah’s to the north. He raised his arm so that his hand seemed to slide over the perfect roll and curve of the hill range before him to the south. He fluffed the trees out there and smoothed out the sky. All was still and ordered, the way he liked to pretend he arranged it every day.”
“There she was, hurrying over the last hill facing the mountain. She always glanced behind her, never trusting the empty trail as she raced ahead, carrying something. M.C. knew the story by heart. He knew she ran for freedom. She carried a baby.”
“Will it really be mine—this mountain?
Daddy says it will one day. He loved the mountain, its long, lingering dawns.
But he frowned, squinting off at the hills with night still huddled in their folds. Now it won’t ever be mine.”
“Calling like birds and animals wasn’t just a game they played. It was the way M.C. announced he was there without Ben’s daddy and his uncles finding out. M.C. wouldn’t have wanted to run into the Killburn men any more than he would want his own father to know he was playing with Ben.”
“As if in a trance, M.C. gazed out over the rolling hills. He sensed Sarah moving through undergrowth up the mountainside. As if past were present. As if he were a ghost, waiting, and she, the living.”