I CLIMB DOWN, duck through the crowd, and run nearer to the edge. I clasp my hands over my ears to muffle the painful cries. I see ribbons of blue diminishing into the depths, but I’m not close enough to see the bottom. The crashing sounds of metal are distant pings underscored with explosions. The thump of each body hitting the rocks so far below is not audible even to me, but I know when each scream breaks off.
Lydia and her mother, Jenny, come up on either side of me. Lydia pulls my arms down from my ears and takes hold of my hand. There is only a single breath of silence before a cheer goes up.
The joy is palpable. From their sleds and packs people pull out banners and flags. Children grab the ends and parade around while adults shout and sing and whistle and make more noise than a thousand lions.
Mira leads dozens of women in a dance line that follows the children as they snake among us. When she passes us she pulls Lydia away and I hate that I’m no longer touching her hand. Without her euphoria coursing through my being I feel as if my special gemfry powers are shutting down.
Suddenly the shouts and claps fade to nothing. I spot a large group of Reds who have stopped their jubilation and appear to be marching toward me. As they pass through the crowd people act bewildered, ashamed, even horrified. All eyes are riveted on this group. The spontaneous excitement of our victory over the Blues has morphed into a wretched misery. Too quiet.
“The Mourners,” Jenny whispers.
“What do they want?”