Jasna was silent as we completed the Ancestor Night rituals and songs and laid the wreaths over our parents. On the way back to the house, we walked unspeaking, joined by the dark figures of others who had finished their rituals. Jasna walked apart from us, as she had since last spring, and the rest of us linked hands.
For months she prayed for a puppy, but God did not relent, and one chill October morning she wandered off into the forest to find a pup herself. She was seven years old, hemmed in on all sides by chores and rules and commandments, her brother scampering in her wake. As always, she was supposed to watch him, the louse, same as every day since he’d been born.