Echo Chamber

Mares’s father wakes her in the aching hours before dawn. Summer, and all is stagnant, unmoving, save the crickets who call through her open window uneasily in their warm night’s cadence. “I have something to show you,” her father says, scooping Mares in his arms.

Mares is half asleep, doesn’t understand what her father wants. He’s been gone some time, a month or more. He is often gone for weeks on end. “When did you get home?” Mares asks, her voice filled with sand and dreams. Her father struggles to stand with her in his arms. She’s eleven years old. “My, you’re getting big,” he whispers. “Soon the boys will be trying this on you,” he says. “A word of advice: don’t let them.”

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