Tanning a face is tender work, and Alzado uses the dull knife like a lover’s touch: each pass frees a little more hair from the edges. It’s a good sign that the six rings punched through the mask haven’t begun to tear away yet. The brine is starting to dry him out, so he shakes down fresh water from the dripping willow: rubs his hands clean, splashes his face.
In the cool shadows of the indoor room, Melora lies on a flat cot. There are peyote buttons under her tongue. She’s breathing. A second willow drips water on her lidless eyes.