excerpt from The Blue Hour
As soon as Joshua finished his homework, he went out to the garden, sat on the bench by the flower bed and felt the clear breeze brush across his skin. The sky was just turning a deep blue and shadows stretched across the grass. His stomach felt bruised, but he had insisted on staying at school for the rest of the day. He hadn’t wanted his mother to come get him again and he liked being there without Harry and Damon. The two boys had, of course, been sent home for jumping him and beating him up and would be kept home the following day as well.
Joshua looked up as the first stars emerged in a deepening sky. Shades of blue folded around him and he could almost forget that on the other side of time another boy once sat in this same yard, crying and bloodied and frightened of his own father.
At the top of Oak Hill, where long neglected graves were covered with moss and strewn with leaves, an old German Shepherd nestled against a young female coyote. The rest of the pack lay calmly beneath the trees, waiting for night. The dog had learned to eat rabbits that the coyotes hunted and shared with him; he had been drinking water from a cold narrow creek. It was a life that felt strangely familiar to him, as if it had waited inside him for centuries, as if his heart and bones had always understood what it meant to be wild.
But sometimes in the still late hours, sorrow ached in him. He missed his master — the familiar smell of him, the weight of his hand, the sound of his voice. Over time, both man and dog had slowed down; their steps had grown shorter, more hesitant. But they belonged to each other; they were hardly ever apart. They were in sinc in that mysterious way that animals and humans often are.
Since Nico had started running with the coyotes, there would be moments when he’d look up from the pack of coyotes around him and feel a hand stroking him — a hand that was weightless as a moonbeam.
He knew who the hand belonged to. On the day his life changed, Nico followed a pale shape that beckoned him, called him down streets, across lawns, and up to the hill. He ran like the wind on legs that were fast as his puppy legs once were. It was like he was being pulled by an invisible rope, but it was a rope he wanted to grab onto.