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Bone Fire: A Novelby Mark Spragg
Synopses & Reviews
She lunged the horse forward because that was all that was left to them, the slope too sheer to turn him, the shale his hooves struck loose skidding away, wheeling downward. She felt him slip from under her, struggling to regain his feet, the air snapping with the sound of stones colliding, echoes rebounding against the headwall of the cirque. It was the second time he'd come close to falling, and now he stood bunched and quivering, his ears flattened against his skull. They were both breathing hard.
She glanced back over her shoulder. Below her the ridgeline rose up sharp-edged, spangling in the sunlight, seeming to beckon as madness is sometimes said to. The bands of muscle in her back and shoulders burned, and her mouth had gone dry.
She inched higher against the long run of his neck, careful not to unbalance them, whispering Just this to urge him forward again. She felt him gather his weight in his hindquarters, heard him groan. He still trembled. Just this, she whispered again, and there was the chopping of his iron shoes against the broken rim and they were over all at once, unexpectedly, the horse staggering, standing finally with his legs splayed, his head hung low, braced up against the suck of his own breathing.
She slipped to the ground, tried to walk and couldn't, then squatted with her arms thrown over her knees. She smelled like the horse: salty, souring, indelicate. Her hands shook when she held them in front of her face. She'd acted like a goddamn tourist bringing them straight up out of the head of Owl Creek, ignoring the game trails. Sweat ran into her eyes, down the beaded course of her spine.
She shaded her eyes, looking southeast over Clear Creek, Crazy Woman Creek, across the Powder River Basin toward the Black Hills, the horizon a hundred miles away, faintly edging the dome of blue sky. This was the secret she'd kept from her East Coast classmates, the exhilaration of this perfect air, filtered clear--as she has believed since childhood--by the rising souls of the dead. In her early teens, she even imagined she could feel the press of them in their passing, those assemblages of spirits retracing the very same watercourses that flow east and west from this divide, much as salmon would climb them, single-minded in their desire for homecoming, lifting themselves toward the advantage of heaven.
She straightened her legs. The insides of her thighs prickled from the chafing of the climb. Her belly hummed and she pressed a hand against her abdomen, turning to check the horse where he stepped carefully through the lichen-covered stones bearing the imprints of Cretaceous fishes. His name is Royal, and except for days like this when they're at work, she rides him bareback. Always. She trusts him that much. He nickered softly and she watched her reflections in the dark globes of his eyes. She smiled and her reflections smiled, and she thought there's joy in a horse, laughter in its movement, even at this point of exhaustion. She stood, stomping her legs until they were just shaky.
Her grandfather had asked her only to check the new grasses before they pasture the cattle on these Forest Service leases, but she was concerned--as she has always been--not to disappoint him, not to waste his time with her carelessness. So she and Royal have weaved among the cows where they've f
While Wyoming sheriff Crane Carlson struggles with a meth-influenced murder, his wife's addictions and his own manifestation of a genetic disease, octogenarian Einar Gilkyson takes stock of his life and reluctantly accepts help from his college dropout granddaughter. By the award-winning author of An Unfinished Life.
The inhabitants of Ishawooa, Wyoming have enough to contend with on a daily basis, from runaway children to Lou Gehrig's disease, even before a teenager is found dead in a meth lab and motorcycle rallies and rodeos fill the tiny local jail.
About the Author
Mark Spragg is the author of Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, and the novels The Fruit of Stone and An Unfinished Life, which was chosen by the Rocky Mountain News as the Best Book of 2004. All three were top-ten Book Sense selections and have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives with his wife, Virginia, in Wyoming.
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