There is a rustle of dead leaves. Dried sap, a branch crack, the whirring teeth of Mr. Omaru's saw. My father--my real father--is a limb that got axed off the family tree a long time ago now. My mother coughs and cleans phantom juices off her silver with a cloth doily. My sisters clench their knives.
I look for my sister but it's hopeless. The goggles are all fogged up. Every fish burns lantern-bright, and I can't tell the living from the dead. It's all just blurry light, light smeared like some celestial fingerprint all over the rocks and the reef and the sunken garbage. Olivia could be everywhere.
I could have warned her. If we were back home, and Mirabella had come under attack by territorial beavers or snow-blind bears, I would have warned her. But the truth is that by Stage 3 I wanted her gone. Mirabella's inability to adapt was taking a visible toll. Her teeth were ground down to nubbins; her hair was falling out. ... her ribs were poking through her uniform. Her bright eyes had dulled to a sour whiskey color. But you couldn't show Mirabella the slightest kindness anymore-she'd never leave you alone!
It's go time.' He takes my elbow and gentles me down the planks with such tenderness that I am suddenly very afraid. But there's no sense making the plunge slow and unbearable. I take a running leap down the pier- ... -and launch over the water. It's my favorite moment: when I'm one toe away from flight and my body takes over. The choice is made, but the consequence is still just an inky shimmer beneath me. And I'm flying, I'm rushing to meet my own reflection-
Rangi doesn't look happy; his face is still a mask of old fury. I wonder what it feels like to be angry at everyone except for a dead bear. It scares me to think about it. I picture the dead bear loping and slathering forever inside of Rangi, a long-toothed loyal animal, his one memory of love. Digger Gibson should never have adopted him. Who wants salvation when it just orphans you futher?
Anger flames through me and my muscles tense to hit him, a violence that clenches once and then vanishes. My fists uncurl wihtout my conscious intervention. I stare down at my open palms with real surprise, feeling shaky and defeated. It's as if my body knows before I do that it's too dangerous to feel this way towards Rangi. Right now, he's the only other human around for thousands of vertical miles.
I had an ear for languages, and I could read before I could adequately wash myself. I probably could have vied with Jeanette for the number one spot, but I'd seen what happened if you gave in to your natural aptitudes. This wasn't like the woods, where you had to be your fastest and your strongest and your bravest self. Different sorts of calculations were required to survive at the home.
Behind us, Brauser is moaning. His cries swell and sky-crawl. It's a wordless sound, a wild sound, this animal pain that can't be haltered and led to meaning. ... This is the worst sound, I think, the very worst sound in the whole world.Then the moaning stops. Brauser's movement stops. And I regret all my hastier judgments. Any sound is better than this.
We sang at the chapel annexed to the home every morning. We understood that this was the humans' moon, the place for howling beyond purpose. Not for mating, not for hunting, not for fighting, not for anything but the sound itself. And we'd howl along with the choir, hurling every pitted thing within us at the stained glass.