The entire text of Crowsnest can be found here.

Hiding’s not going to work. That’s what I’m thinking to myself as I hang an armload of linens outside the back step. Every minute I’m expecting my body to be plucked from the ground to start flapping like the sheets — that’s how hard the wind’s blowing through the pass. My hands are chapped and they sting each time I grab a soggy sheet, the cold seeping into the cracks in my skin.

I hadn’t intended to hide here. After all, I’m the one who took the train ticket out of Edwina’s dresser drawer that night. Not just the ticket, either. I took her last week’s wages, her clean skirt, her best blouse, her shawl, everything. All while she lay on the bed like a ceramic doll with skin with colour of paste. Not a sound in the room but my own breathing.

It was still dark as I tiptoed down the back stairs, clutching my valise in one hand and my shoes in the other, careful not to bang the narrow walls with either. As I creaked open the back door — a sound that seemed like a screeching banshee in the dark — the dog picked up his head and banged his tail on the porch boards, as if to play. I hissed at him to stay and he did, thank the Lord. Then I was off across the yard in the moonlight, practically turning into a whole new, unknown person as I went.

So there it is. Just me and no one else to blame. And even before Edwina died, wasn’t it me who wrote the letter promising Mr. Baecker a wife?

I clip the last sheet to the line and duck back inside, tucking my fingers into my armpits to thaw them. That’s it then. It’s decided. I stay out of Mr. MacLeod’s way. I marry Mr. Baecker the minute the minister finally does arrive, and they’ll be no more hesitation about it. Not a single snake.

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