19 November, 2011

19 November 2011

Liz, rising, returning Einar's grin--goofy guy--had not been especially worried that he was about to begin hacking into the wall with her lying right there in the bed beside it but nonetheless grateful for his assurance of such, found herself far more concerned at his apparent condition that morning, as she knew he would never crawl when he could walk, and here he was moving about the cabin on hands and knees as he did his work, looking terribly pale and cold and a bit confused despite his quick response to her waking, short of breath and clearly having to work hard just to keep himself upright and somewhat oriented to the location of the floor. She wanted to suggest that he come back to bed for a while and warm up--he'd been outside, had spent a good deal of time out there in the wind, from the looks of him; melting snow still clung to his hair and he appeared badly chilled--but knew any such attempt would almost certainly prove fruitless, set as he seemed on preparing for and cutting in that new door. So she did the next best thing, which was to get up, herself, and start some breakfast.

"Looks like you've got the stove good and hot! What's it doing outside, still storming? Thought I'd heard some wind a while ago..."

"Yeah, snowing pretty hard still, and gusty. Wanted to do the trapline this morning, but..." He raised his hands in a gesture of dismay, but Liz said a silent prayer of thanks. They had plenty of food just then, and the traps could wait. Einar, on the other hand, did not appear as though he could wait, needed some sustenance without further delay and preferably a good solid day of rest if he was to begin heading in the right direction. Wouldn't like that she'd noticed any of that, though, so Liz kept it to herself for the time, simply joining him beside the stove and beginning her breakfast preparations.

"Well, if you're set on doing the door now, just watch that you don't get any wood ships in my stew!"

A shaky laugh from Einar as he used the axe, head braced on the ground, to help hoist himself to his feet. Looked like a major effort, and Liz tried not to watch. He wouldn't want her watching. Wished she could help though, because the standing was clearly causing him some pain; she could see it in his face. Einar wasn't paying the hurt any attention, mind still on the prospect of adding wood chips to their breakfast stew. "Aw, it's good solid spruce, this wall is, not the least bit rotted or punky. If you boil the chips long enough, they'll probably soften up and make a fine addition to the stew, add some bulk and stretch our meat supply even further...might become a favorite of ours before thewinter is over--wood chip stew!"

"Oh, I certainly hope not! I've eaten roasted inner bark from spruces before, last winter when we were on the move and didn't have anything else to eat for a while, and it wasn't too bad but just can't fill a person up and keep them warm the way a good thick sheep or elk stew can, and I imagine wood chips would be very much the same way! So let's stick to the meat and berries we've already got, why don't we?"

Another laugh from Einar as he hobbled over to the wall, yeah, I hope we don't have to go back to that anytime soon, can't very well be expected to grow or feed a baby on spruce bark and wood chips, now can you? Well, I'm gonna do everything I can to see that it doesn't come to that, this year. Taking aim with the axe, he removed a precisely-placed chip from the log just inside his charcoal markings, another, using as little force as necessary in the hopes of causing minimal disruption to the interior of the cabin and all the things hanging on the walls and from the ceiling, and succeeding, freeing the log section with several more well-controlled blows to its opposite side, Had to rest after that, sinking to the floor and pulling the newly freed length of log along with him--it had been held in place by the tangle and press of leaf and needle insulation lacked against its outside--crouching there with head bent, struggling for breath. Wanted to keep going but his arms simply wouldn't cooperate, trembling and cramping up on him when he once more attempted to raise the axe, and he tried to breathe his way through the difficulty, ignoring the cramps and forcing his hands to close around the handle through sheer strength of will, managed it, got to his feet but didn't swing the axe. Too small in the cabin, too confined and the potential consequences of a mistake--what if he lost his grip while swinging the thing, and Liz happened to be in the way?--too severe to risk it until he could be a bit more sure of himself. Hit him hard, the realization that he couldn't even chop through two consecutive logs in a row without the risk of turning the axe into a dangerous but unintended weapon, and he stood there bracing himself against the wall and fighting through a series of vicious cramps until Liz finally put her hands over his, loosened his grip and took the tool from him, leaning it against the wall.

"Come sit down Einar, and have some breakfast."

Unsteadied by Liz's removal of the axe and about to fall, anyway, Einar sat, wanted to resist when Liz wordlessly began removing one of his boots--didn't want her seeing his legs that morning, seeing how bad things had got--but instead he began working on the other boot, knowing he was risking permanent injury to his feet by leaving them stuffed into the boots that way, especially in the cold. Liz was not pleased with what she saw, immediately got a deer hide rolled up and propped beneath his ankles, rabbit fur blanket draped over his shoulders and Einar objected, wanted to stand back up only he couldn't, was too dizzy. So he remained where he was, shivering in the blanket and wondering just how he might convince Liz to stop fussing over him. He found the attention somewhat distressing, and it was interfering with his work on the door. And with Liz's day, too. She needed to eat, and to feed the little one. Tired. Dead tired all of a sudden. didn't know what had come over him, but knew he must fight it because he could feel himself slipping, wanting to curl up in the wonderful warmth of Liz's woven rabbit fur blanket and not wake for a very, very long time. Shrugged out of the blanket and got to his feet, not too steady but at least he was standing.

"Only way I can get this swelling to start going down is to walk, got to walk it off."

Liz took his arm, her motions sure, forceful and there he was sitting again despite his best efforts. "No. Face it. Walking isn't the solution to everything, and it isn't likely to help this time. I'm glad you're eating, but you need to rest, too, or your body just isn't going to be able to catch up, and you're going to keep getting worse, and you're going to die. Please don't do that."

Einar shrugged, rubbed his clenched fists against the floor in frustration until he'd bloodied his knuckles, but had no answer for her. Remained sitting though, knowing she was probably right despite an increasingly frantic and insistent voice telling him to get up, head outside and work until he'd got some of his balance back, some strength, do it or he would surely die, and soon.

"Yeah, I'll sit for a while. Not gonna die, though. Not going anywhere. Just having a rough time with all this food, think I've been getting too much of it at once, and had better slow down. Good food, your stew's the best, but my body just doesn't know what to do with it. Yet. I'll keep at this, but got to go slow."

"I understand, and I think you're probably right. I won't rush you. How about taking it just a little more slowly on the work, too? Let's eat, and then I'll help with the door. We'll get it all chopped out and the tunnel cleared just like you were talking about."

Difficult to argue with that, and though Einar wanted to--felt as though he was fighting for his life, mustn't give in on even this arguably small matter, or he'd end up in some real trouble out of which he might not have the strength to drag himself--he kept quiet instead, taking the soup pot Liz was offering him, sitting there with his head bowed, breathing its steam. You're one persistent woman, Lizzie, and I'm just too tired to know how to respond to all this right now. Which is probably a good thing, isn't it? 'Cause I'd just get myself in trouble trying...

1 comment:

  1. Good to have you back. Very good chapter. Thank you.

    You are allowed to go back "up there" to stay but only if you have an internet connection. ;-)