Thistle is a young woman, in 1979 Georgia, who buys an old house and finds herself haunted by its shallowly buried past and by those still alive who can't help but remember. Her story proves that we tread literally on the bones of our past, and raises the doubt whether anything is ever truly over.
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Jack's Creek, Georgia
October 29, 1863
Walking down a lonely twin-rut wagon road, William Jakes whistled to himself. His jacket draped behind him like a funeral procession, in black with blacker folds. The only sound was the slightest breeze over his ear-tops with breath like that of breathing over ice.
Oaks, maples, and tulip trees gave way to scrappy pines and finally to mountain laurels and rhododendrons as he shuffled to the bottom of the hill and to the shallow ford there. His boots were brown leather mongrels, soiled and worn with last year’s miles. William didn’t mind stepping into the arch-high clear reflecting water. In mid-stream, he knelt down near the surface to study the image of the blue-grey sky that tumbled down there, over his head. He touched the crisp water, and let the currents pass around and between his fingertips. Hard-working, large calloused hands could turn soft against the penetrating magic liquid. He reached with both hands behind his head to pull back his ponytail, sweeping his dark walnut hair over his collar. A flock of birds fluttered off, spooked by his presence, repaying him startle for startle.
Looking up at once, he realized his solitude. He felt the strange soft place in his gut, rough though he was. His muscles tightened and heated, from lower side to breast in one passing moment. A single sigh escaped into the fullness of the air. He stood slowly erect, turning around in native caution, never mind how unlikely any other journeying soul was standing there. Nothing there, of course, but the road back up from whence he’d come, the road to Arlbury. The wind picked up and complained of the cooling weather coming. The evening lengthened twisted laurel shadows. William Jakes moved with purpose down and around the ever dark-obscuring trail. He resumed his whistling for a few more notes until he remembered respect for the silence of the forest. He turned toward his lodgings, with his shadow at his stride before him. The path wound upward and outward. Three more miles waxed colder and darker.
It was full dark by the time he crossed the bridge. From there he saw his humble town, with the few lights glowing safely there.