In the deepest hour of night, Halian slides off the dirt platform of his bed. Shivering, he tucks the blankets back around his daughter, Lituwa, who just turned four. Her dark hair splays across the grass-stuffed mattress. He kisses his wife’s forehead, then her lips. She smiles in her sleep.
Segowa, his wife, embroidered the top blanket. The arrowhead leaves of her family crest intertwine with the ghostblossom of Halian’s. Two plants that rarely meet in the rainforest understory, yet here they are, twisted together in green and white thread. One of the few marks of his existence in this plank house.
Coals cast soft orange light on Segowa’s sleeping family – sister, parents, mother’s parents. Beyond them are rows of beds in both directions. Several families live under one vaulted ceiling. Halian married into the house four years ago, but the carved stone animals on the hearth mantelpieces still watch him. He swears their eyes glow.
He lifts a polished wood