An Island Between Two Shores
enough. The cold was ravenous, gnawing on her energy like a big cat pouncing on a chunk of raw meat. Each day found her less alert and aware. Her bones ached so painfully that she had no wish to move. It would be so easy to doze, to sleep, to sleep forever.
    A story Henry had told her played in Liana’s head again and again. Of all Henry’s stories, this was the one that Liana had come to hate since being washed onto the barren island. She wondered if it were based on a true story and assumed it was. The situation was very similar to her current plight. Henry told her the tale one afternoon as they stacked firewood. It was about a Cree woman stranded near a river with her children, slowly starving to death. In desperation, she cut herself for fish bait. She managed to catch a grayling and the family survived. Liana felt this was one of the few stories that Henry had told her that didn’t seem mystical.
    “Your stories in stories,” thought Liana, gritting her teeth in frustration. “I don’t understand them.” But the problem with this story was that it seemed plausible to her, perhaps even probable. “Henry’s people know how to survive,” she thought. What terrified Liana most was that she knew what she must do. Lying under the log slowly starving and freezing was a horrible fate but using her own flesh as bait was unthinkable. “Will the ice ever reach me, or will I die here?” she muttered into the morning.
    The soul-robbing quiet made her feel like the only living thing in the forest. Nothing ever seemed to move or make a noise in the frozen expanse. Liana pushed air from her chest to empty it and then inhaled an icy breath deep into her lungs. The day absorbed her sigh and the sound trailed to nothing. Liana felt more alone than ever. Once again she waited patiently for clarity.
    She emptied her bladder quickly, hating to expose her naked backside to the cold air, and then raised her arms over her head and stretched until she felt more alert. She was as ready as she would ever be. Taking a deep breath, she reached her shaking right hand for the knife on her belt. With a deft motion she flipped its glinting blade open with one hand while lifting her jacket and shirts with her other hand. Her pale hip, coated with goose bumps, shivered in the bracing morning air. Liana grasped a pinch of skin and with an anticipatory wince fixed her gaze on the featureless sky. She hesitated momentarily and then drew the knife through her flesh. Dark blood rushed into the incision as if a dam had broken. A guttural moan escaped involuntarily from her throat and resonated through her clenched teeth. She twisted her head to examine the cut. Thin blood trickled through her fingers and onto the gravel of the frozen beach. She felt dizzy and closed her eyes.
    Before she could think further or suffer the intensity of the fresh wound a second longer, she drew the knife across her hip a second time. A bloody ribbon of warm flesh the size of her little finger dropped into her hand. Liana dropped the knife and carefully placed the flesh on a flat rock. Then she lay on her back on the icy gravel nearby. Tears filled her eyes as she shuddered with the pain of her sacrifice. Her breath whispered rhythmically with her heartbeat. Somewhere nearby an enormous raven croaked a greeting to the rising sun and then the forest became still once more.
    When her breathing slowed, Liana reached into a jacket pocket and removed a woolen sock. She pressed it gingerly against the wound and felt the wet warmth of blood fill the loose fibers. It was as close to a bandage as she could muster. In preparation for this morning, she had removed and washed the sock in the clear river two days earlier. Liana tried to remain still and pushed her hand against the wound to slow the bleeding. She breathed shallowly and continued lying on her back until the sun had climbed high into the sky. The thought of cutting her hip had tortured her, and she had spent the night

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