Jane’s pockets sag with smooth stones. She takes the incline easy, walks with eyes on the ground. Now and then, Then-Jane reaches back to hand her a piece of mottled slate. The green moss breathes and so does everything else.
The Mariner stares directly into the sun and Jane feels suddenly proud—of the sun, of the trail and all its green abilities. When she was a girl, she broke her wrist falling from a dogwood, and her arm was shrouded in plaster for six weeks. The day the doctor sawed off the cast, he told her she had healed herself. For 50 more years, no moment of wonder quite like that.
A dog in a pink vest appears and sniffs The Cowboy skeptically. “Death and despair flame about me!” The Cowboy tells the dog. “Oh my, that little country boy could play.” Jane looks at the rivers in her hands, at the heavy oak branches, at Then-Jane. Her icy knees click as they ascend.