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NEW ORLEANS, NOW
ONCE, WHEN SHE WAS ten, Madeleine brought home pockets full of potatoes she'd found behind the school cafeteria. Mother was already long gone by that time, and Daddy had been away for weeks, so potatoes were a nice break from the usual scrounging. Madeleine and her brother Marc were getting sick of redfish from Bayou Black.
Zenon had come that day, too, escaping his own empty kitchen. He was also their brother, but none of them knew that yet.
That was a good long while ago. Long before they'd learned how to separate their ghosts from their bodies and walk the briar world with its winding, shadowed river. Before Zenon had become a murderer.
Madeleine remembered how she'd stood on the step stool and laid out one potato for Marc, one for Zenon, and the last for herself. All three potatoes were sprouting tails. The boys had watched while Madeleine took the first one and lopped off the end where a long, snaking root had been growing.
"Three blind mice!" Marc had said. "She cut off the tail with a carving knife!"
They'd laughed, all three kids, laughed themselves dizzy over a bunch of sprouted potatoes.
There were no parents around that fall, not anywhere.
Now, two decades later, Madeleine wondered about Marc's baby, out there somewhere, semi-orphaned. The child was most certainly safe, she told herself. Marc was dead, Daddy was dead, and Zenon was as good as dead. The baby's mother had gone and hidden with it somewhere in Nova Scotia. That was good. She should hide. Madeleine didn't want to know where they were.
"Three blind mice!" Marc had said way back when.
She thought of it every time she saw a potato.
Copyright © 2012 by Rhodi Hawk