From the Sky - Part IV

"You're a foolish man," said Rae. "You think that as long as you stay behind your fence that evil can't touch you. But a curse poisons everything. What means more to you than Renata? Nothing, Gio. If the curse can't take you, it will take what you love."

"Rae, let's go," Sal urged. "Fight later. Maybe Renata walked to one of our houses."

Rae wagged her finger one last time, shaking her head, and then she and Sal pivoted around and hurried down the walk. Uncle watched them go, running his hands through his hair. He sighed and walked toward the picnic bench. He sat down almost directly beneath me and absent-mindedly picked up the field glasses. After a few moments, he became perfectly still. He was staring down at the field glasses. Slowly his head turned up and his eyes fixed on mine. His mouth dropped open, his skin paled.

"Renata, don't move! I'll get the ladder! Don't move one inch!"

Of course, his fear infected me immediately. Suddenly the firm branch I was perched upon seemed far too small. I had to get down, and started shimmying toward the trunk.

"No, Renata, no!"

I didn't answer, I just started climbing down. My school shoes were slipping across the tree's bark. My arms were shaking, and I think I was starting to cry.

"Stop, Renata, please stop!"

"I'm coming down, Uncle!" I cried.

I'm still not sure what happened next. I can't remember if I lost my grip or lost my footing. I just remember leaves flashing by as I tumbled. There was a branch, and I reached out and grabbed it. In the movies or on television, that's what always saves someone when they fall off a cliff: they reach out at the last second and latch onto a stray branch. I suppose the branch saved me because grabbing it did slow me down, but my body was twisting around and I half-felt, half-heard an odd, thick snap in my right arm and then I was tumbling again, now toward the trunk of the tree. Somewhere a girl was screaming, an oddly familiar voice I couldn't quite place. I slammed against the trunk, and there was a sharp, slicing, searing pain across my forehead. I tumbled again, the ground rushing up, and I instinctively extended my right arm to break the fall. I hit the earth hard, and a second dull crack rippled up my arm as I rolled onto my back.

Uncle stood above me, his eyes wide. He didn't seem to be breathing. I blinked and he exhaled. I sat up, using my left arm to push my body off the ground. My right arm didn't want to cooperate.


"I'm okay, Uncle. Really, I'm okay."

"Oh, no, Renata!"

Something poured down my face. I touched it with my left hand and looked down. Blood, a lot of it. It was falling in big, fat drops all over my school dress, ruining it. I tried to stand up, but my right arm seemed to be glued to the ground. I looked at it. It was bent oddly, and there was a big bump near the wrist where no big bump belonged.

"Look at my arm, Uncle. Do you think it's broken?"

"Oh, Renata, Renata!"

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