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A Fine Quiet
(Chapter from SHADOW MOUNTAIN)
—-Appalachian Mountains, July 1863 -
TOLLIVER LAND, KEEP OFF OR FACE THE OWNER. The crude sign, painted in bright red letters on rotting fence wood, hung directly over ten-year old Lafette Marlon's head. Over his favorite frog pond as well. Damp circles marked his trousers at the knees as he crawled underneath the fence through weeds as tall as his head. The yellowed marsh grass, frosted with morning dew, sprouted from mounds of doughy mud. Green and yellow algae coated the water's edge and his fingers sank into soft, wet sand.
He mashed a clump of grass and wiped it with a burlap sack to make it dry enough to lie on. Sliding on his stomach, he propped up on his chest and stretched out his legs. Then, silently, he waited. A woodpecker hammered a birch tree. A cow mooed. A grasshopper whipped past his nose. Bullfrogs croaked like old women hollering gossip to each other from across the road. Lafette smiled.
His burlap sack twitched from movement of the dozen or so frogs he'd caught early that morning. He peeked over the marsh grass one last time. An overcast sky melted into a gray fog wafting over the pond. Past the marsh, the land sloped into cleared farmland where cattle grazed. Lafette saw no one. He ventured onto the Tolliver property. If Valentine Tolliver, his former best friend, saw him… fight for sure.
Last time he'd frogged in this pond, Valentine demanded half the frogs since the pond was partly on Tolliver land. Lafette's anger pumped through him as he recalled Valentine rubbing his face in slimy green algae before stealing his frogs. One of these days, he'd leave Valentine with less teeth then he'd started with. Lafette wished his mother would let him frog at night then he wouldn't have to hide from Valentine.
Lafette wiggled his hand into the weeds and tapped the ground with one finger. The croaks stopped. He held still, sensing the direction one might jump. A fist-size bullfrog leaped over his head. Lafette spun backwards and caught a hind leg. Lafette held it by the back bones to see its full size. The frog gyrated its legs. "Healthy-sized feller." He dropped it into his burlap sack, satisfied with the catch then wiped his hand on his pants and squatted down into the grass.
Water spiders shot across the bright green algae in crisscross patterns. Good sign of big frogs, he thought, counting the insects. The pond's grassy smell made him sneeze as another deep croak rasped out. He held his breath delaying a second sneeze and staring into the weeds, daydreaming of what he'd do with the frogs. He'd save half for his mother to fry. Others he'd barter for maple syrup and soda pop unless Delta insisted he get something sensible like white flour or salt. Might be enough left for sugar-rock candy.
His mouth watered thinking of sucking on rock candy. Next to him, the pond water splashed, sprinkling his forehead. He spun around and was hit in the jaw by a rock. Salty tasting blood filled his mouth. His gums stung as he held his hand across his mouth, looking for his attacker. Another rock struck his shoulder, knocking him off balance. His leg slid into the green, slimy water. He grabbed a handful of weeds and pulled himself onto land. Three more rocks landed to the right of him, but he could no more see who was throwing them than a fish could see who had hooked it.
Lafette scrambled out of the line of fire. Rocks steadily pelted the dirt around him. He lay tightly against the ground, hoping that the tall weeds hid him. His burlap sack popped up from the frog's springing motion and Lafette got an idea. He twisted the sack opening loosely and waited for the next rock. Soon as he saw the brown stone glide through the air, Lafette tossed the frog sack high as he could.
As the bag opened, frogs flew through the air like sailing leaves. Lafette whipped up to see who attacked him. On the hill, Valentine Tolliver crouched behind a tulip tree. His mouth hung open and his head cranked upward watching the flying frogs.
Valentine, creek rock piled beside him, held a stone in his hand poised for throwing. Fury surged through Lafette like grass fire and he ran the narrow strip around the pond. A rock barrage pelted the ground. Lafette dodged, forging his way uphill toward the other boy.
One rock struck Lafette on the shin and he ducked behind a maple tree. Close enough to hear Valentine grunt each time he hurled a rock, Lafette curled around the opposite side of the tree. Valentine stretched out his neck, looking for him, and Lafette sped toward him. Another stone hit him just above the ear as Lafette aimed. With all his might, he butted Valentine in the stomach.
The boys tumbled downhill, locked in each other's arms, kicking, scratching and biting. They landed on a grassy embankment, cussing each other for all they were worth.
"Damn you!" Lafette swung at the air. "Ain't on your property."
"Are too!" Valentine shouted, pulling Lafette's hair with one hand and protecting his stomach with the other. "Gonna beat the tar out of you.
Lafette whacked him on head and ran up an embankment. Valentine grunted, chasing Lafette to the next ridge. Breathless, they confronted each other on a mossy knoll.
"I'll sock you!" Lafette cocked his arm. A neighing horse distracted Lafette, and Valentine's punch dropped him to his knees. Lafette rolled sideways, expecting Valentine to be on top of him. Instead his enemy stared past him, down a rocky embankment to a dusty, worn horse path. A galloping horse slowed to a trot.
"Make a sound, I'll sock you one good." Valentine shook a fist.
Lafette rolled onto his stomach and watched a gray horse stop beside a shack. An older man, covered with road dust, dismounted. The horse was packed with a pick and shovel and several empty canvas bags. The man stood cupped his hands around his mouth and whistled like a whippoorwill. He walked by his horse, wrapping and unwrapping the leather reins around his fingers.
Lafette wondered what Valentine's interest in this man could be. He decided then and there that if Valentine had in mind tricking this gent, he'd warn the feller right off. Lafette wiped blood from his mouth. Yeah, I'll warn him good, Lafette thought, smiling at the trouble he'd cause Valentine.
Before Lafette could come up with a plan, a voice called from the behind the shack, "Over here." Polk Owens stepped cautiously toward the man, looking up and down his body, and then close up at his head. "Take off yer hat so I can see yer eyes," Polk said. The man let the horse reins drop.
"Gonna buy moonshine from Polk," Lafette whispered to Valentine. All the same, Lafette found himself unable to look away as the man dropped his hat.
"Shut your mouth! Been studying Polk for a week now, and it ain't moonshine he's a'sellin'." Valentine pointed to a flattened ledge, hidden by the interlocking branches of two pine trees. The boys slipped over the hill and waddled like ducks to inch their way to the shelf. They lay flat with only their heads hanging over the two men.
"You hear somethin'?" Polk said.
Polk looked toward their hiding place, and Lafette pulled Valentine back to keep from being seen. Both boys held their breath.
"Don't hear a thing," answered the stranger.
Only the thickness of the Pine trees hid them from Polk's keen eyesight. Lafette had once seen the wiry Polk throw his ax with such strength and aim that he split a Tyme log from the distance of ten paces.
"If'n some friends are hiding out yonder, thinking your gonna ambush ole Polk, just you remember, I got me more kin in these hills than a hare." Polk stared intently at the man while scratching his fingers through a growth of black beard.
The man shook his head to indicate he was alone. Polk's cold voice made Lafette afraid for the man. "Hope he's telling the truth," Lafette whispered. Polk stretched out his narrow hand and Lafette saw yellow dandelions on the ground between Polk's fingers. The stranger dug into his pocket and pulled out crisp, green bills.
"Law-be!" Lafette tried to stretch for a closer look. "Look at that."
"Bejesuz! Shut up!" Valentine whispered
"Ain't seen cash in a month of Sundays," Lafette said.
"Knew something odd was going on. Everybody that comes for moonshine barters for it, but lately, only strangers are coming and paying cash for that paper."
"Wonder what it is?" Lafette's curiosity now burned hot as Valentine's. Lafette held to a pine branch, trying for a better view. Mud caked his pants, weighing him down. His jaw and arm pulsed painfully. Valentine motioned him toward the path down the hill.
"Aiming to find out what they're doing." Valentine clenched his fist and punched his open hand.
For a moment, Lafette suspected this might be a trick to pull him into trouble with Polk. "You a fool? Polk Owens'll shoot you soon as look at your sorry hind-end."
The boys peered over the ledge at the two men again. Lafette too wondered what Polk might be doing. Short and scrawny with a face hard and crinkled as cave rock, Polk stroked an ax handle looped through his pants, keeping his eyes roving in case someone might be out in the woods watching him.
"Whatever he's got, it's making him rich," Valentine said. "A sorry coot like him can get rich, then I can too."
"Watch him." Valentine pointed through the pine branches.
Polk pulled a folded paper from his jacket then handed it to the man. Lafette wished he could hear the man's mumbles as he mounted his horse, clutching the paper tightly to his chest. After the stranger rode away, Polk chuckled and kicked a pinecone.
Lafette and Valentine scooted to the right keeping Polk in sight. He skipped to his shack and lifted a melon-sized gray rock off a waist-high shed built just below his kitchen window. He reached inside and pulled out a folded paper like the one he'd given the stranger. Polk's gait was happy as a puppy who'd treed his first opossum. He tapped the paper to his lips for a kiss then placed it inside his coat.
"We can steal a bunch of papers and sell 'em just as easy." Valentine's eyes opened wide with excitement.
Lafette rubbed his neck, looking at Polk who made a game of tossing his hand ax up in the air and catching it before it hit the ground. Other than being afraid of Polk, he didn't feel right about stealing, and if Delta found out, she'd tan his hide. But if they could get cash for that paper, they'd sell twice as many in town as Polk could way out here. Polk would probably not go into the towns because too likely of running into kinfolk of people he'd killed. Lafette could buy his momma a dress or maybe a fancy, knitted shawls he always saw her admiring, and he could buy all the sugar-rock candy he could eat.
"Then sit here like a Cedarhead!" Valentine grunted. "I'm gonna get rich!"
"Not without me, you're not!" Lafette followed him down the hill, behind Polk's cabin. Polk whistled to the ax thrust against a log, and after a while, he sang:
New Orleans Woman, won't ya come out tonight.
Won't ya come out tonight, Won't ya come out tonight.
New Orleans Woman, won't ya come out tonight,
And dance by the light of the moon.
"I'll lift," Valentine whispered. "You grab as many as you can carry."
The boys tiptoed along side the cabin. Lafette ducked at an open window though he was fairly sure Polk was along. They listened to for the steady chop. Valentine circled his arms around the large stone and gritted his teeth as he lifted. It scraped against the wood and tottered on the shed's edge. Lafette anchored his back against Valentine wobbling to and from, trying to steady the rock. Polk stopped chopping. A fiery heat raced through Lafette and it was all he could do to keep from running.
He twisted around so he could see Valentine whose bottom lip trembled and his upper curved in a grimace resembling a frog's mouth. Lafette's own quake emerged when he noticed a tuft of black hair nailed to the wall above Valentine's head. Beside it another scalp of short gray hair, and beyond that a whole line of gray, withered skins with varying hair lengths. Lafette had heard the story of Polk's grandfather's Indian scalps but this was the first time he'd ever seen them. He hoped it'd be the last time as his hand smoothed the back of his own head.
Lafette eyed the mountain for an escape route. Valentine unwound one arm from the rock long enough to punch Lafette's shoulder. Both boys inhaled in unison, the sound more a gasp than a breath. Polk began chopping again, more slowly this time, and whistling rather than singing. Valentine lifted the rock three inches, just enough for Lafette to squeeze an arm into a small crack. He grabbed a fistful of papers only to have them slide from his grip. Valentine's cheeks puffed out into round circles filled with air.
Lafette stared at the Indian scalps, absorbing the eerie power of men whose heads grew that hair. He reached deeper into the shed until his finger caught hold of a string binding a paper bundle. The heavy rock weighted on the lid of the shed mashed against Lafette's arm. Lafette drew the packet toward himself and Valentine stifled a grunt. Lafette jerked his arm free just as Valentine dropped the rock.
"See why you volunteered to lift the rock," Lafette growled, mad enough to punch Valentine. He shoved the bundle into the front of his pants.
"It's him!" Valentine yelled, pointing a shaking finger at Polk who barreled around the cabin. Valentine sped toward the mountains leaving Lafette to face the descendent of an Indian scalper.
"Aiiiiieeee!" Lafette screamed. His leg muscles hardened like rock and his chest expanded like a balloon ready to burst.
"Daggone it!" Polk hollered, seeing papers sticking from Lafette's pants. "Wait 'til I get my hands on you, young'un!" His mouth hung open, huge and wide like a cave. Most of his side teeth were missing, and for a brief moment, Lafette had the feeling of being swallowed. The moonshiner swung his ax up over his head and whirled it around so fast it became a silverish blur.
Lafette broke his trance and galloped after Valentine. The dusty mountain uphill path crumbled under his boots and Lafette slid. His left foot landed on Polk's head. Lafette grabbed onto ivy vines trailing down the mountain and propelled upwards. Polk stomped behind him, cussing as ivy vines snapped under his weight.
Lafette looked up. Valentine motioned him to the top.
"Give me my maps!" Polk shouted.
His gravely voice spurred Lafette the last few feet like a fox running from dogs. They ran along the ridge top through oak trees the size of monuments and poplar trees so tall they seemed like strings dropping from the sky. Both boys were too scared to look back, but every shadow, every noise, even a bird flitting through a tree could have been Polk and the boys ran a little faster.
As the mountain sloped into a gentle valley, they panted so hard their faces flushed cherry red. Valentine pointed to a ridge across from them. Lafette nodded to indicate he understood that Cumberland Gap was on the other side and Polk probably wouldn't venture that far to find them.
They slowed to a trot. Valentine held his side and looked as if he might be sick. A shallow creek cut through the crease of the valley and both boys fell on their stomachs and sucked in water. Lafette sat up first and leaned against a fallen cedar tree. He pulled the bundle of papers from the top of his pants and straightened them in a pile before him.
"I earned more of these then you did," Lafette said.
Valentine rolled over onto his back and stared blankly at the sky. "What do you mean, you earned more?"
"I'm the one who almost had his scalp hung on Polk's wall." Lafette pushed up his shirtsleeves. "I'm the one who lost all my frogs on account of you, and I'll go straight to your daddy and tell him that you put them baby chicks in Teacher's boots that caused us get kicked out of school."
"Was only second grade we got kicked out of." Valentine rolled his eyes.
"Momma got real upset."
"Never could figure why Teacher thought you put them chicks in his boots. He kicked me out cause I laughed at him, not cause he thought I had anything to do with it."
"He kicked me out cause of who my daddy is."
"Sure was funny when he squished them chicks."
The silence that followed was one the boys had shared many times. They'd fall into their silence on days when Valentine's father had worked him in the fields from sun up to sun down, or at times when Lafette was forced into defending the character of his own father, usually against adults whose cowardice and ignorance gave them pleasure in taunting children. A fine quiet, Valentine had once called it. After every fight, they fell into their silence and listened to squirrels chatter to one another, the gurgle of creek water or the sound of their own breathing as they sat on a high mountain peak, staring out at nothing in particular.
"Let's see what we got." Lafette opened a paper. He recognized Shadow Mountain but it was drawn as if someone had guessed about the northern slope where the witch lived. Cumberland Mountain was sketched on the wrong side and Midnight Valley situated too far away. But a stranger might never figure it out, Lafette thought. And a dunderhead like Valentine would never see the mountain in a bunch of lines.
"Swift's Silver Mine Map." Valentine slowly sounded out the words as well as his second grade education allowed.
"Reckon these might bring a good price in town," Lafette said. "We'd have to go somewhere where they'd believe in Swift's Silver."
"I believe in Swift's Silver," Valentine said, strumming his thumb against his sleeve for good luck.
"Momma told me it was made up." Lafette scrunched his face to mock Valentine.
"Daddy thinks Old Man Kingsley owns the land where Swift found his silver."
Lafette looked at the map again and wondered if he should tell Valentine that it was a diagram of Shadow Mountain. "Where on his land?" Lafette asked.
"Don't rightly know, but Daddy's gonna buy land from Old Man Kingsley."
"All the more reason for us to sell these maps to somebody we can fool into believing it."
"We ought to follow it ourselves." Valentine's eyes sparkled at the prospect of treasure.
"Mountain people won't waste the money buying a thing like this and I won't waste the time." Lafette tossed the map to the ground to indicate his disbelief in the legend. "Think Polk'll come after us?"
"Naw, he don't take to town folk and they'd never believe him over us anyhow."
"Yeah, I'm sure. I'm a Tolliver, and you're a... a dern good salesman. You're in charge of selling the first map."
Lafette folded the paper and rebound the maps together with the string. A bluebird pecked in the dirt a few yards away. "Momma always says a Blue Jay is good luck," Lafette said, pointing at the bird. "Reckon we can't help but get rich."
Valentine beat his fists against his chest and howled like a wolf. "Richer than everybody in the world!" He jumped on a cedar log and marched along it until he missed a step and fell into a clover patch. "I'm so happy I could die!"
"Sorry is what you'll be when I get my hands on two little heathens!" Polk Owens stood twenty feet away. He spit tobacco juice about half that distance, then aimed and threw his ax. It lodged into the wood beside Lafette's head.
"Run for it!" Lafette yelled.
The boys splashed across the creek and into the woods. Polk whooped and hollered as he pursued them. He laughed a high-pitched nasal honk, almost as if chasing them was more fun than catching them.
They slid down an embankment to a seldom used road leading to Cumberland Gap. Lafette pointed at a rickety, wooden bridge strung across Cave Creek. "Hide there." They scrambled under the bridge, holding their hands over their mouths to slow their huffing breath.
"Look." Valentine pointed at a set of three cracked slats in the bridge's crosswalk. He reached up and pushed against the wood. A shower of rotting wood slivers dusted the boys. Valentine grinned crookedly.
"It'd never work," Lafette said, "He'll kill us if he catches us."
Valentine held his hands to his side, drawing in air gulps. "Can't run no more."
Lafette helped Valentine push the broken wooden slats so they looked solid as the rest of the bridge. Polk hollered uphill from them.
Valentine cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, "Over here, Cedarhead!" He motioned for Lafette to help him hold up the bridge slats.
Lafette moaned. Why had he let Valentine talk him into this? Polk stepped onto the bridge. The wooden slats creaked. Lafette squeezed his eyes closed. Any minute Polk's ax might slice into his skull. He opened one eye and stared into the water at tiny, brown minnows scurrying about.
Polk took another step closer. "Hee, hee, hee, gonna hang me some boys by their heels. Hee, hee, hee, gonna skin ye like squirrels. Fatten ye up, and feed ye to hogs."
Dirt and wood-shedding sprayed Lafette from above. Polk stopped directly over him. Lafette held his breath. Sweat dripped down his forehead and tickled his nose. One more step. Please take one more step, Lafette prayed harder than he ever had.
"Now!" Valentine yelled.
Lafette released the slats just as Polk stepped onto them. Polk fell through and landed face down in the creek. He floated for several seconds, sat up and groaned. One hand rubbed a bump on his head, then he slid backwards, knocked out as if he'd drunk too much of his own moonshine.
The boys waited until they were sure he was not playing opossum, then dragged Polk from the creek. They left him on shore with a map open across his face and the initials L.M. and V.T. painted with mud on each of his cheeks. Now, on to the next adventure… John Swift's Silver.
Tess Collins is a coal miner's granddaughter with Cherokee ancestry on her mother's side and a legend of being descended from a mountain clan known as the Seven Big Sisters on her father's. Raised in the southeastern Kentucky town of Middlesboro, she spent her early years listening to mountain tales of haunted hollows, ghosts, moonshiners and unsolved murders. No doubt they influenced her writing. She is the author of three thrillers set in Appalachia: THE LAW OF REVENGE, THE LAW OF THE DEAD, and THE LAW OF BETRAYAL, a finalist for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year in the mystery category. Her non-fiction book HOW THEATER MANAGERS MANAGE was published by Rowman and Littlefield's Scarecrow Press.
Visit this author's homepage at http://www.tesscollins.com/
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MY GRANDMOTHER'S SEA
by Socorro Venegas
Translated by Toshiya Kamei
My grandmother's sea was an antidote for the pain of my childhood.
On the dry land, at the edge of a volcano that spat out ashes, the great expanse of water could be a splendid dream. In the glow of bonfires, I promised her that we'd go to the sea together. Each time we tossed pieces of wood into the fire, sparks shot into the air like stars coming out of our bodies. I know my grandmother's flickering eyes never stopped dreaming about the trip.
Over the years, in the tides of my life, the village and my grandmother ebbed away. Until she almost died.
My mother called. "Remember when you were a child you promised to take her to the sea?"
Silence. I became tongue-tied. I didn't know how to answer because I expected her to say something like 'It's not going to happen now.'
Mother continued. "She's sick. You know, her old heart. Come and see her."
The way home, the smells, the dust from the inland roads, far from the sea.
My childhood came back to me. A girl with long pigtails, dark, tearful eyes. A girl who cried for any reason. An only child. Like my mother. Like my grandmother. My tears, passed down through the family, belonged to the three of us.
The house has hardly changed. High roofs, beams, the tiles where spiders leap out. The large orchard brimming with fruit. The fragrance of quince. My mother receives me solemnly, as usual. Tall and straight, broad forehead. Her eyes disapprove of the stud in my nose, but she kisses me and hugs me tight.
I lie down next to my grandmother. I bury my face in her hair, as I used to do. Half-asleep, she repeats, "The sea. The sea."
Grandmother smiles softly. She tries to rise. "Let me get up. I want to cook you something. How long has it been since we saw each other?"
I smell alcohol on her breath. I turn around in bed, find the bottle between the sheets, pick it up, and take a sip. It's cuatecomate, a mixture of alcohol from sugar cane and fruits. It's strong; it burns my throat. Grandmother laughs, my mother pretends to amuse herself with something from the orchard. Grandmother raises her finger and cleans the corners of my lips. Then we look at each other. We notice our changes, my plucked eyebrows, her left eye smaller than her right one, my dyed red hair, her pale complexion, her pointed chin, my nose piercing, the sadness we don't hide from each other. My mother comes near. I step aside as she comes between us. She takes our hands and says, "Why don't we leave all this behind and go to the sea?"
She follows an exchange of looks and grunts. All our lives it didn't take us much to understand each other. We throw what we think we need in the car trunk. They sit in the backseat and I start the car, with the map of my dreams stuck in my forehead.
Three women who have never seen the sea, under the spell of its enigma.
This is the first time my grandmother leaves the village.
On the day she told him she was pregnant, my grandfather said, "Ana, don't wait for me. I'm going to sea."
The sandcastle my grandfather built stayed there, with her inside it.
Dust from the road flies up again.
Hours later the air holds other secrets. I glance in the rearview mirror, spying on them in the backseat. They fidget, look around, trying to guess where this smell of the wet air comes from, where this sound that caresses and stings goes. Finally, still far, a wavering blue mass. A moving sky. Our hearts trembling. It's fear, pure fear. In a faint voice, my grandmother tells me to stop. I pull over to the edge of the road. I look into the rearview mirror again. They struggle, my mother trying to take away the bottle of cuatecomate. With a sigh of relief, I remember the cocaine in the glove compartment, take out some, and rub it on my gums while their whispers become an argument. In Nahuatl. So that I won't know what they're saying. I never learned the dialect. My mother swears that's because I didn't want to. Because I was a conceited child. And a crybaby. I don't understand a word. I cross my arms and keep watching them in the rearview mirror.
Exhausted, Mother says finally. "She doesn't want to go there. She says she's going to have a heart attack."
"Well, Grandmother. How are you going to have a heart attack?"
"Look, girls. I don't want to know anything about the sea. I'm sick and tired of the sea!"
We sink into silence for several minutes. It's unbearably hot. Because I have nothing else to do, I put on my dark glasses. Grandmother wobbles out of the car, stops after a few steps, looking for something in the distance. My mother grabs the bottle of cuatecomate, gets out, and hurls it away. Mesmerized by a line of far-off water, my grandmother doesn't hear the shattering of glass. Suddenly, she lifts her hand and waves goodbye many times. Almost relieved. They get back into the car, slamming the door shut.
I turn on the ignition and turn the car around.
"Grandmother, how do you say 'goodbye' in Nahuatl?" I ask, sticking a cigarette between my lips.
Before she answers, my mother smacks the cigarette out of my mouth.
Copyright © 2006 by Toshiya Kamei.
Previously published in The Modern Review 1.4 (June 2006): 108-10.
To visit The Modern Review, please click here:
The Modern Review
Toshiya Kamei has published translations of Socorro Venegas' stories in various literary journals, including Concho River Review, Literal, The Listening Eye, The Modern Review, and Coal City Review.
Toshiya Kamei is also the translator of The Curse of Eve and Other Stories by Liliana Blum, forthcoming from Host Publications.
Featured on ArLiJo.com in translation by Toshiya Kamei.
To read DIQUES PARA UN VIAJE in Spanish, please click on the link below:
Socorro Venegas was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, in 1972. Her most recent story collection Todas las islas was the winner of the 2002 Premio Nacional de Poesía y Cuento "Benemerito de America." Her first novel Será negra y blanca won the 2004 Premio Nacional de Novela Ópera Prima "Carlos Fuentes." Toshiya Kamei has published translations of her stories in various literary journals, including Concho River Review, Literal, The Listening Eye, The Modern Review, and Coal City Review.