How is it women of the village know to come? But they do, one by one, to sit with Balboa, with our memories of her childhood, moments of laughter and tears. We breathe. We are present, witness to her grief, sharing her sorrow.
We are miles from the Village–Janine, Sena, Cheyenne, Ruby, Merilee, Betty, and I–on our first campout of the season. Minimalists, we sleep on bare ground, our bags zippered close for warmth, thick trampled grasses beneath for cushion.
Sena’s shoulders are high and rigid. She runs a hand through her nappy hair for the umpteenth time and clenches and unclenches her jaw, but her eyes sparkle and her voice is full of mirth.
Sweat trickles from the band round my brow into my ears and down my cheek. The back of my hand, as I wipe my face, smells of dirt, more sweat and the oils of well-used, well-kept tools.