Where the Crawdads Sing (31 page)

BOOK: Where the Crawdads Sing
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Tate sat at the kitchen table for a long while, taking it in, imagining her riding on night buses, catching a riptide, planning around the moon. Softly calling to Chase in the darkness. Pushing him backward. Then, squatting in mud at the bottom, lifting his head, heavy with death, to retrieve the necklace. Covering her footprints; leaving no trace.

Breaking kindling into bits, Tate built a fire in the old woodstove and, envelope by envelope, burned the poems. Maybe he didn’t need to burn them all, maybe he should have destroyed just the one, but he wasn’t thinking clearly. The old, yellowed papers made a great
whoosh
a foot high, then smoldered. He took the shell off the rawhide, dropped the rawhide in the fire, and put the boards back in the floor.

Then, in near dusk, he walked to the beach and stood on a sharp bed of white and cracked mollusks and crab pieces. For a second he stared at Chase’s shell in his open palm and then dropped it on the sand. Looking the same as all the others, it vanished. The tide was coming in, and a wave flowed over his feet, taking with it hundreds of seashells back into the sea. Kya had been of this land and of this water; now they would take her back. Keep her secrets deep.

And then the gulls came. Seeing him there, they spiraled above his head. Calling. Calling.

As night fell, Tate walked back toward the shack. But when he reached the lagoon, he stopped under the deep canopy and watched hundreds of fireflies beckoning far into the dark reaches of the marsh. Way out yonder, where the crawdads sing.

Acknowledgments

To my twin brother, Bobby Dykes, my deepest thanks for a lifetime of unimaginable encouragement and support. Thank you to my sister, Helen Cooper, for always being there for me, and to my brother Lee Dykes, for believing in me. I am so grateful to my forever friends and family for their unwavering support, encouragement, and laughter: Amanda Walker Hall, Margaret Walker Weatherly, Barbara Clark Copeland, Joanne and Tim Cady, Mona Kim Brown, Bob Ivey and Jill Bowman, Mary Dykes, Doug Kim Brown, Ken Eastwell, Jesse Chastain, Steve O’Neil, Andy Vann, Napier Murphy, Linda Denton (and for the horse and ski trails), Sabine Dahlmann, and Greg and Alicia Johnson.

For reading and commenting on the manuscript, I thank: Joanne and Tim Cady (multiple readings!), Jill Bowman, Bob Ivey, Carolyn Testa, Dick Burgheim, Helen Cooper, Peter Matson, Mary Dykes, Alexandra Fuller, Mark Owens, Dick Houston, Janet Gause, Jennifer Durbin, John O’Connor, and Leslie Anne Keller.

To my agent, Russell Galen, thank you for loving and understanding Kya and fireflies, and for your enthusiastic determination to get this story told.

Thank you, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, for publishing my words. I am so
grateful to my editor, Tara Singh Carlson, for all your encouragement, beautiful editing, and vision for my novel. Also at Putnam, my thanks to Helen Richard for helping at every turn.

Special thanks to Hannah Cady for your cheerful assistance with some of the more mundane and gritty jobs—like the bonfires—of writing a novel.

About the Author

Delia Owens
is the coauthor of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa—
Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant
, and
Secrets of the Savanna
. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in
Nature,
the
African Journal of Ecology
, and
International Wildlife
, among many other publications. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia.
Where the Crawdads Sing
is her first novel.

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