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ARROYO / Laura Hendrie WHEN I HEARD DINAH crowing, I got up and dressed in the dark. Pa Jopa was snoring and Brice was grinding his teeth, and from the kitchen it sounded Uke one person whistUng and walking back and forth in the gravel outside. I cut two pieces of bread, wrapped them in a dish towel, and put them in my pocket. The rest I left on the table where Brice and Pa Jopa could find it, and then I went out to the barn. The sky was beginning to turn but inside it was dark as ink. Brice's horse, Jacob, nickered to me from the middle staU. I felt past him, put my hand out and Mattie breathed warmth there. Mattie's my horse. She's too old for work—Pa Jopa called her the knacker's gas money—but she has more common sense than aU the horses we'd bought and sold put together. Pa Jopa's gray was in the farthest staU. When he smeUed me, he shied so hard he slammed into the back wall. I felt my way over to the ladder and cUmbed up to the hay loft. Through the cracks in the barn the day was beginning. I crawled over the bales, unlatched the loading door and swung it open. There was enough Ught now to make out the corral and the house and Dinah perched on the couch out in the yard, but out beyond the yard it was stiU dark. Behind me something skittered under the hay. I took a seat on the threshold with my legs dangUng, heels bumping the outside of the barn, and watched the dark roU back. First our fence Une, then CaUahan's, then across the flats to the long black cut of the arroyo and beyond that, on the far rim, the pale green of the beet fields where the rest of the world begins. Sammy the milk goat wandered into the yard and settled on the couch next to Dinah. Just before the sun leaked over the horizon, the dirt road leading up to our house turned gold. When Pa Jopa came out in his undershirt, he peed off the porch, bawüng for me and Brice to get up. He'd lost weight since his heart attack and when he turned to go in, his pants hung off their suspenders Uke laundry on clothes pins. A few minutes later, Brice staggered out, scratching his head, hair sticking out in aU directions. He and I are twins, but his hair is paler than mine, a soft color like shocks of wheat. He started to unbutton, but then The Missouri Review · 9 he saw me watching and stepped around the corner. When he came back, he did not look up. Through the open door, I could hear Pa Jopa looking for the coffee and yelling at me to wake up and Brice asking questions about the gray. I ate my bread a crumb at a time. Most days Td be there to answer Brice myself, even if it made Pa Jopa and Brice mad. But today Brice was on his own. Pa Jopa wasn't even Ustening. When Pa Jopa was done he came out on the porch and locked his thumbs in his belt. Brice blew out the door, buttoning his shirt, talking, grinning, and stiU chewing breakfast. Pa Jopa stared until Brice stopped. Brice has nice teeth but Pa Jopa thinks they're too big. He says he's got a beaver for a son. He started across the yard for the barn and Brice foUowed Uke he'd been yanked. They passed under my feet and went inside. I lay back and Ustened through the floor boards. "You don't have to if you don't want to." The straw hissed as he kicked it aside. "I want to," said Brice. The gray snorted and blew air, banging the side boards. "Where's that sister of yours? Don't she want to watch you ride?" I held my breath. There was the sharp sound of iron against wood and the gray squealed. "Okay, sweetie pie," said Pa Jopa, "no...


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