Shadow of Turning
by Joan L. Savage
I have searched for my son ever since the sorcerer stole him, a cooing toddler, from
beneath my apple tree. So long ago now, my son could not possibly remember me.
I have searched anyway.
I set my peddler's pack beside my door, ready to go out again.
"You've only been home a day." My wife clasped my hand. Her hands were so
cold, as if the life slowly ebbing from her was withdrawing its warmth. "Stay with
me, Thomas. Stop looking for him. After twenty-five years he's surely dead."
I cleared my voice. It was rough, unused to speech. But she understood the curse
that had been placed on me, so with her I tried to talk. "I'll find a nowhere I've
My wife wiped at her eyes. "You've been everywhere. You've probably walked
every road a hundred times. He's lost to us. Accept it. Grieve, like I've grieved
. . ."
I could not. I pulled my hand from her grasp, shouldered my pack, and stepped
through the doorway. Behind me, I heard her crying. I wanted to weep too, but
instead I laughed, as those who are cursed must laugh, as those who are mad.
My son could be anywhere; one path seemed just as likely to lead to him as any
other. I wandered towards the mountains and, on the last morning of spring, chose
a track that went up the mountain. It was so rough it would bounce the wheels from
any cart that tried to traverse it. Because I had walked so many years barefooted,
my calloused feet barely felt the stones. Grass fawned at my knees. From its
depths, the occasional shadow-form of a snake darted across the road, eager to
reach whatever now fed its insatiable hunger.
Me, the snakes ignored. I have heard that grief gives off no scent. Maybe that made
me invisible to them. Maybe they ignored me because I had no place left in their
schemes. Either way, it didn't matter.