margaret coel
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        Winter's Child
        Man Who Fell from Sky
        Night of the White Buffalo
        Killing Custer
        Buffalo Bill's Dead Now
        The Perfect Suspect
        The Spider's Web
        Silent Spirit
        Blood Memory
        Girl w/ Braided Hair
        Drowning Man
        Eye of the Wolf
        Wife of Moon
        Killing Raven
        Shadow Dancer
        Thunder Keeper
        Spirit Woman
        Lost Bird
        Story Teller
        Dream Stalker
        Ghost Walker
        Eagle Catcher
readers guides

short stories

wind river




Winter's Child

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The Spirit Woman The Spirit Woman: Excerpt

Suddenly he realized Walks-On hadn't returned. He walked a little way along the path before turning into the clump of cottonwoods where he'd sailed the Frisbee. He heard the sounds of his own breathing over the crunch of his boots on the scrubbrush, the hush of the wind in the trees. "Here, boy," he shouted. There was no sign of the dog. And then he heard it—a faint scratching noise. He stood still a moment, listening, then started toward the noise.

The dried bushes and undergrowth snapped under his boots as he ducked past a low-hanging branch, peering through the trees for the dog. Finally he spotted him, nose to the ground, front paws digging out a narrow trench in the earth. The frisbee lay at his side.

At first he thought the dog had found a buried bone, a cow bone, perhaps. "Come here, boy," he called.

Walks-On kept pawing, shoulders hunched to the task. As Father John moved closer, he saw something long and yellowish-brown partially submerged in the trench. He grabbed the dog's collar and pulled him back a few feet. The dog gave a little yelp of protest. "Stay," he ordered.

As he stepped back, he realized the chips scattered about like broken pieces of pottery were bone chips. Wild animals had been here before Walks-On, judging by the ridges of soil pushed here and there. He stooped down and brushed away some of the loose soil in the trench Walks-On had been working. Gradually what looked like a femur emerged. He brushed away more soil. Another bone appeared, small and gnarled, like a joint. Reaching across the trench, he began scraping at a pile of soil until his fingers found something hard and round. He pulled at it with both hands until he realized that he was holding a human skull...

© Margaret Coel