24 January, 2012

24 January 2012

“Found Einar all curled up in the tunnel just now,” Susan began, “and it looks like he must have had a pretty rough night out there. Don’t think my supper worked out too well for him, but at least it seemed like he was trying, last night. I’d like you to seriously consider what Bud was saying yesterday, Liz. About his house in Arizona. I see how hard Einar works to take care of you and the little one, and he does a great job, but you know, I really don’t see how he can make it too much longer if things keep going the way they have been, and to expect him to survive the winter…well, he’s near the end of his rope right now, physically. All it’s going to take is him having one of his little incidents out in the snow when he’s up collecting firewood or running the trapline, and he’ll be gone.”

Liz was sitting up in bed, gently easing the baby down onto the hides beside her and facing Susan. “However things may look, he’s had it a lot worse, and I’ve seen him come through it. Like the time with his toes, the frostbite, amputation and blood loss, nearly losing him to infection and a fever so high he went into a coma for three days…and after that he was right back up on his feet, working on his balance and struggling to get his legs strong again…he’s going to get through this. He’s going to fight.”

“The difference,” Susan was gentle, her voice hushed so as not to be heard by the men out in the tunnel, “is that he wanted to get through those things, to get past them. This one’s coming from inside him in a way, not from outside forces that he can devote himself to resisting as he’s done in the past, and I’m not so sure he really does want to get past it right now, despite his being so devoted to you and the baby and obviously wanting very badly to be here for you. Seems to be hanging onto it pretty tightly, actually, despite occasionally making an effort in the right direction like he did last night. And that may make all the difference between this time and those past difficulties he’s overcome. You need to get him out of here for a while, Liz. Need to help us talk him into it.”

Liz knew she was at least partially correct, had seen his struggle and knew there existed some chance of his present difficulty proving too powerful for him, not stronger than his ability to resist, but than his desire to do so. It was not an easy thing to puzzle out, but Liz knew what the answer must be, at least in this case. She shook her head.

“He’ll never agree to leaving here. And I don’t know that I’d want to, even if he could somehow be talked into it. If we got down there to Bud’s and somehow ended up being found out…there’s no fixing what would happen then! It would be the end for all of us. And besides, I don’t really see that it would be likely to make a difference. If he’s going to continue on this path--and believe me, I’ve tried more than once to talk him out of it--well, chances are he’d be doing it down there just the same as he is here. He certainly doesn’t lack for food up here. None of us do.”

“Might make a difference for you and your son, though. Especially if Einar ends up not…”


“But you’ve got to realize that he’s…”

“Oh, I realize it every day, and I think here lately he does, too. Which would be a good thing. Either way, we’re not leaving.”

“Well I do hope you’ll reconsider. Bud’s good at all this spook stuff, and besides, he’s got an inside position at the Task Force and a good idea of what’s going on with the search at any given time--the ability to influence it, even, to some extent--so if he says he can get you safely to that house, I believe him. Think about it. Talk with Einar. And in the meantime, how about at least letting me try and get him started on eating, again? Get him past this rough spot if we can. Otherwise I really don’t think he’s got too many more days with us. He’s gone too far. Too far gone.”

Liz nodded. “Of course you can do that. If he’ll do it. What do you have in mind?”

“Hopefully just getting him re-hydrated for starters, then a little broth every couple of hours with some honey, maybe little bits of liver mashed into it, too, from that frozen liver you’ve got in a tree out there. What is that, anyway? Elk? Deer?”

“Sheep. Bighorn sheep.”

“Ah! You really did get ahold of a variety of game for the winter. That’s great. Sometimes I wish Bud and I could move up here with you, build our own stout little cabin next door and watch that boy of yours grow up, have Roger Kiesl airdrop us a bunch of canning jars and my big kettles so we could can together in the summers--wouldn’t that be nice, to have some of this meat all canned up and ready to go?”

“It keeps just fine frozen, but yes! I hardly think Einar is looking for neighbors, though, and if it’s hard for two and now three people to keep off the feds’ radar, a small community would be even more difficult! That, and the fact that Bud’s employers would surely miss him and wonder where he’d gone off to, all of a sudden…”

“I know it isn’t practical, but a person can dream… Now. I don’t know what’s taking Bud and Einar so long out there, but I’d better be getting a batch of that broth going, and some breakfast for all of us, too. Would you like some oatmeal? That’s what I packed for our breakfasts, and thickened up with a bunch of raisins, walnuts and a good scoop of peanut butter, it’s pretty filling!”

Liz’s eyes sparkled at the offer, their customary soups and stews providing good solid nutrition but the variety sounding very appealing. “Alright, I’ll start the oatmeal and broth, but you know what? It would really increase the value of that broth, add to its digestibility, maybe, if we had some milk to stir in…”

About to shake her head and make a quick comment about how they hadn’t quite managed to tame a mountain goat and get it to show up at milking time, Li caught herself when she realized just what Susan might mean. Sure. Why not? I do seem to have an abundance, these days. So long as we don’t tell him where the milk came from this ought to work, because I hardly think he’d go for that, would consider it stealing from little Snorri, which it isn’t, but I’d be hard pressed to convince him…

Susan working on a big batch of oatmeal in one pot and Einar’s broth in another, Liz--who had just added the precious ingredient the two of them hoped might help get Einar turned around and eating again--began to grow concerned at Einar and Bud’s continued absence, handed little Will to Susan and ducked into the tunnel to check on him, suddenly fearful lest all of their efforts prove just a bit too late…

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