There is one path into the city called Cedar, and Cedar takes it, wriggling her way through the narrow canyon walls, dizzy and breathless with the high mountain air. She comes to a high place overlooking the plains, and she stops to roll a cigarette, blunt stained fingers wise around tobacco, paper, spittle.

High blue skies, and a windless day. Far, far off to the west is the glimmer of water, peering from the curving throat of the earth. Behind her are the mountains, weeks and days of mountains, barren of people, just her and the rocks and the furs. Months since she saw a bath, and her pants are filthy enough to stand on their own when she climbs out of them at night. She is laden with trapping for her namesake city below; maybe she’ll take a husband to clean for her when she’s home, some soft-limbed, dreamy poet she can keep in luxury for three days of balling the jack. Down in the city they know little of the mountains, and less of the woods; she spins a figure of romance for them, once she’s cleaned and oiled to their taste. Always good money in lecturing; enough to keep her out in the wilds for months at a stretch.

She twists fingers and thumb together to give the butt to the wind, and descends.