She was one of the many, les filles à les caissettes, named for the little sea chests they had been allowed for their voyage. Casquettes, as some on the river later mispronounced it, as if they had all worn little caps--although some of them did. Some of them were orphans and could afford no more, but many had come from better families, good, respectable Catholic girls. Often from convents. Just what would be needed to tame a frontier.
He shifted in his sleep. His growling snores reduced down almost to a sigh. A whisper. Wordless--although maybe if she leaned in close she'd understand. A whispered monologue of dreaming.
Amanda wondered how it felt to sleep. How it would feel to close her eyes then, eight or ten hours later, open them again and keep on living as if it hadn't even happened. Winter came to the mountains, and Xuan walked home through the snow.
Her family lived in a yurt on the northern slopes of Changbai, nestled in the shelter of an overhang. Her father was a fisherman, and spent the winter next to holes carved in the icy river. Her mother was her mother. Xuan loved them both. Your world is built on inevitable patterns, predictable results. But your recipes and assorted routines seem endless. The hardest heart of life is enduring your own competence. Rest is impossible. Reflection is rare. Details are an ocean salted with the occasionally urgent task, and you do what you must. Your basic nature is to always, always do what you must, aiming for perfection, and with skill and good fortune you occasionally exceed expectations. Yet these successes bring nothing but another ten million voices requesting and demanding, begging and demanding.
Endless responsibility: This is your burden. Hasagawa pressed the paper against the table with a delicate precision, creating a clean diagonal fold. The square of paper seemed to morph in front of him as he carefully turned, folded and crimped it between his dexterous fingers. Beside him his grandson, Taro, gazed on with the sincere awe only young children are capable of.
A distant explosion shook the foundations of Hasegawa's small house, rocking the table at which he worked. They were getting more frequent these days and alarmingly, he was becoming accustomed to them.
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