Member No.: 1,026
Joined: 5-November 09
In the flame-danced shadows of the forge on the edge of town, Silvie Tupelo closed her eyes, holding her breath, and counting... counting... counting...
and when she opened them again, she looked up to Jayden with a faint smile.
"I know how it ends now."
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS LATER
"This is my town," Silvie Tupelo tells her invisible audience as she walks down the soot-laden streets, waving them to follow the little footprints her sneakers make in the thick black dust, "This is where my 'Amma was born, and where my mama was born, and it's where I was born."
Fire still burns here and there among the cinders of the South Bellamy Baptist Church, the burnt-out concrete blocks of the jail, and the fallen timbers of City Hall.
"S'not as bad as it looks, not really," Silvie continues as she leads the way. "There's the Inn, just fine as ever. Even got pies in the oven. And there's Ma'am Schooter!" Silvie waves, waiting for Ma'am Schooter to wave back before continuing, "Folk are sayin' she killed two Reavers with just the power of her mind, but I reckon it was that big ole gun she keeps under the counter).
"An' over there, that's Petaline, from the Heart, with the Reverend B and ole Mister Ripple."
"The doc's all set up in the schoolhouse there, tendin' the wounded and all. See him? That's Cal Foster. Sure picked a fine day to stop by town, huh? Guess it'll be like 'Amma's always a-sayin'. Folk come in and they don't ever leave for one reason or nother."
"The Methodist Church's all one piece- guess Reaver's don't like the taste of Methodists? Nah! That's bad! Don't you tell my 'Amma I said that! An' over there, Harry's Used Goods is still up an' runnin, and I bet if you swing by Judith was so busy cleanin' her junk she din't notice nothin' at all. Widow Burgess's house got some gunfire in the woodwork, but she was hidin' in the washbin at the City Hall."
Silvie turns back to her audience, eyes lowered and voice whispering to partake a big secret, "And I hear rumor she got robbed blind while we was under attack! Now who'd go along an' rob an ole lady that was too tough for the Reavers to wanna eat, I dunno!"
The girl stops, her disheveled pigtails cocked sideways as she studies the town around her. "Mister Richards din't make it, fell on the way to the factory. An'... Tom Brady's truck was found on the edge of town, all burnt up. No Tom or Sara-Jean or the baby. Ain't no one seen Quentin from out the Heart, and Sally Dray an' her mama were found out behind the schoolhouse. Sally shoulda been in school with me, but the sheep was lambin, and she stayed home to help. Stupid sheep."
"And Dizzy, they found her truck burnin' and thought the worst, but she got found alive. Doc Cal 'll see her right, I reckon. And that nice jockey who works on the Ripple Ranch, too, I bet."
She points out to the plains and the long scar in the dirt, marked by the still glowing wreckage. From the ditch, rises a pyre of smoke. "Town's burnin' the bodies. Judge is sayin' we aught hold on to 'em, study 'em, but no one wants to hear the judge when the church is all burnt and Mister and Missus Brady are dead an' gone."
She stops, and spreads her arms, spinning in a slow circle that takes in every inch of Burgesstown- the burning, the wounded, the weary, and the broken. And the still standing.
"I was born here." Silvie tells us slowly, her voice rising into a solid declaration, "This is my town. An' I'll tell you a secret. Gonna take more than Reavers. Gonna take more than the Gov'ment. Gonna take more than all the plagues in the Universe. Gonna maybe take the wrath of God himself to keep Burgesstown down."
A smile lights her little blue eye, a wink so fast we might miss it, "But I doan' think God 'll even bother to try."