It seemed a relentless winter, and the cold sucked life out of everything. She lived but two days, her father pacing the house, clutching at hope, stoking the little coal stove in the corner. But it was no use, and he knew it. His thoughts as black as the coal in the stove, the coal he dug every day from the belly of the mountain. His hands black, everything black. The pupils of his wife’s eyes as she silently begged him to do something, anything, to save their baby. Ingrained into the rough-hewn floorboards, the black tracks of their shoes — the spoor of their daily doings. The blackness opened up beneath him as he contemplated breaking ground tomorrow. Mining the virgin snow for the black earth beneath, the dark, frozen place he knew they were going to have to put her.