‘They come at night.’
It is the last clear thing Hutter says. Afterwards there is only the hint of words amid the sweats and anguished mumbles.
As Frau Weber gives over her second best bed sheet for the binding, the party is solemn but nothing more – death is an unwelcome but assumed companion on such an arduous journey.
Then Oma Jansen passes, slumped over her washing stone like a bundle of her own laundry. I sense true fear after Uwe dies. A big man – strong as a bull – falling like a rotten larch. No one speaks of it but later prayers echo loud in the darkness.
It is only after my Margarethe goes that I remember Hutter’s words … at night.
The sun sinks behind the mountain for the last time. Something shifts through the fir trees, sending crows laughing skyward. Cold metal presses against my throat.
Margarethe, I come.