Road Through Woods by Betsy James with permission.
When Hally Kass died, his father put a bridge in his hand.
Anyone would have said it was a reed, the jointed kind that Hally, when he was small, had liked to pull apart and put back together. But it was a bridge, and when his father laid it–it was about eight inches long–on his son’s chest and wrapped his cool fingers around it, he told Hally how he was to use it.
“Go out the door,” he said. “Turn east and follow the road to the mountain. Any being you meet is a demon. Don’t speak.” A willow twig, burned to charcoal, had been laid between the boy’s lips to remind him of what, now, he was.