It began out near the Borderlands. None of us knew what it meant at the time. The Borderlands had been out of bounds ever since the Dark Time. People died out there in the Early Days, and those that survived and came back to the Homeplace, they soon got sick and died too. Or, at least, those were the stories the old ones told us they had been told, by their old ones, back when they were young.
So, no matter where we roamed in the rest of the wild world, no-one ever went near the Borderlands, not until Jonas, anyway.
Silver was crying that morning; the other women were there in minutes, holding her, comforting her. My woman, Summer, was there bathing the cuts on Silver’s face as she sobbed out the story of her and Jonas.
Summer came to me minutes later. I was standing in the dust outside Silver’s pace, looking up at the roof and wondering why Jonas never repaired it.
Summer stood by me. ‘You’ll have to go after him.’
‘You are the Lawman. It is your job.’
I looked back towards our place. ‘The crops?’
‘I’ll take care of them… me and the kids. They are old enough now.’ Summer touched my arm and looked at me in that way I can’t ignore. ‘Silver needs you to put it right.’
I nodded and walked off to fetch back Jonas to make him pay, try to put it right.
Although, as I left I turned back, seeing Silver standing in her doorway, watching me. She had that look in her eye that nothing can put right. At least I could try. I waved a farewell to her, but Silver did not respond.
I asked around the Homeplace, but not many had much to say. Jonas was not popular. But I was the Lawman and people do not trust me either. Probably because they know I’m sworn to do what is right, and we all – even me – have done something that’s not right. We all carry the weight of it too, waiting for someone to find out.
As the Lawman, I’m usually the one that ends up doing that finding out.
I discovered eventually that the only place Jonas could have gone was over into the Borderlands. I thought that if he did he would be dead by now if he was lucky, or crawling back to die if he wasn’t.
But I have sworn to do what’s right. So, for the first time since I was a kid, a long time ago now, I went out to the Borderlands.
It was only then I saw how everything had changed out there.