by F. J. Bergmann
The children learned mountain-climbing from the goats they watched, leaping from crag to crag as the high sun lit snowy peaks. Sometimes they heard the light click of steps on stone during pauses in the giddy shrieks and laughter, fading, just out of sight, or a strange, soft breathing behind them as they ran home in the dark. When one boy climbed into the clouds and did not come back, the men went out with ropes and torches. They found him huddled in a litter of shed fur, feathers, and tiny bones, a skullful of wild berries set beside him, his broken leg splinted carefully. Snow around the cave was freshly trodden with cloven hoofprints. They hid and waited fearfully for it to come back, cornered it against a sheer escarpment, and buried it under a cairn of stones with a stake through its broken heart.
F. J. Bergmann lives at the center of the world, or so the map claims — a center, anyway — growing pears, cherries, apples, strawberries, and raspberries, and making nasturtium ice cream. Recent endeavors include the web design for Eye to the Telescope and the editorship of Star*Line. "Favorite" would, as always, be the craving of the moment: in this case, durian — in the form of ice cream, it has a disgusting odor, but an extraordinary flavor (like lutefisk, another acquired taste, impossible to recall when one is not in the midst of consuming it).
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