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Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba

Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba

Author:Sachiko Kashiwaba
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Restless Books
Published: 2021-08-15T00:00:00+00:00


The room’s doorway led to a larger room like a hall. Each of its four corners had a wood burning stove. The stoves were lit. Was it night? The heat of noontime seemed a dream now. My skin felt cool. The flames in the stoves rose tall. The hall had only the four stoves inside—nothing more. To the left stood another doorway with no door in it. The opening revealed darkness. It was indeed night.

“Adi. That’s your name, right? I am Stonebird.”

I didn’t see the witch, but I could hear her speak through the sculpted birds on top of each of the four stoves. The four stone birds were carved with long wings that protected each stove as if it held an egg. The birds had long necks, and their heads all tilted to the same side. Their eyes were open. The witch’s voice seemed to come first from one corner and then from another: the right rear bird, then the left front bird.

The hall spooked me. I began to edge toward the exit.

“You can’t escape,” said the voice from the right rear bird. The eyes of all four birds, eight eyes total, bore into me. My feet stopped as if glued to the floor.

“You have black fingernails, I see,” the front right bird said.

“I wonder why?” the right rear bird asked.

I looked at my fingernails. The ends were black. Even when I cut them, they always looked that way, as if mud had soaked into my fingertips. Everyone in my family had such fingernails.

“It’s from digging in the mud,” I explained.

“Why would you do such a thing?”

I bit my lip. I didn’t think of my fingernails as dirty, but I did not want others knowing the details of why my family dug through mud.



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