17 June, 2012

17 June 2012

Einar stayed in the cabin, sitting in the sun with Will and warming as the sun continued its path across the sky and began dipping below the spruces, a bit of wind sighing softly through their lithe, flexible forms and stirring the air in the cabin, which had warmed significantly since Liz’s opening of the door.  He shivered, draped his blanket over Will, who was no longer in full sunlight.

“Here you go, little one.  Might as well be warm, if you can.  Not working for me, anyway.  Hands are all thawed out by the feel of things, but the rest of me seems pretty well determined to stay frozen for the day."

Will smiled, reached for him with a little hand.  Einar had never seen him do that, before.  He smiled back.

“Getting to know this old world a little bit, aren’t you, Snorri?   Not too well yet, though.  Not with that big smile on your face.  Oh, there’s plenty to smile about, for sure…sunlight dancing through the aspens early on a summer morning, ridges sharp and white with new snow stretching off to the horizon and beyond and you staring out across them from the very top of the world, of your world, center of the world that you’ve worked so hard to climb…yeah, plenty to smile about, little one.  But I can see that your smile s that of one who doesn’t yet know the full story, when it comes to this world.  And I’d like to keep it that way for you, if I can.  Not for too long, though.  Doesn’t pay to keep a fella in the dark for too long.  He’s gonna find out one way or another, and  I figure some lessons are best had sooner than later.”

With which pronouncement Einar’s face went dark and he fell silent.  Reality returning, immediate realities, including the one in which he no longer belonged in the cabin and wouldn’t even be there, had it not been for the fact that he’d frozen mostly to death in the night, and Liz insisted.  Sure couldn’t stay the coming night, had to find some other place for himself, some ledge he could huddle beneath, curled up in his parka to face the night and see how his frozen hands might fare…the prospect, usually little challenge to him at all, appeared rather daunting at the moment, but not nearly so daunting as facing a night in there with Liz, Will and the unknown quantity which was himself.  He inched away from Will, an exile already, though still present.

Liz saw, guessed at the meaning behind his actions, read it in the stricken, hollow look with which he was regarding the sleeping child.

“Now.”  She sat down beside him.  “I said we’d talk about all of this later, and I guess now is later, isn’t it?”

He nodded.

“Well, what’re you thinking?  Last I heard, you wanted to run away and live out in the snow and probably die out there, and I’m telling you right now, that won’t do.  Not if I have any say in it, or Will.  We want you here.  So, let’s get down to it.  To the root of it.  Will you do that with me?”

“Liz…”  His voice was halting, uncertain, subject not something he spoke of.  Ever.  Yet he must.  Noting left to lose, and he owed her.  “ I want to get past all of this in one way or another, so I don’t have to be a person you shouldn’t trust…”

Einar.  You always did have a way with words, didn’t you?  Leaving me nothing much to say, here.  If you had said, “you don’t trust me,” I could have countered by saying that “yes, of course I trust you, and we’ll figure things out,” but you didn’t even leave that possibility did you?  That opening.  Never gave yourself a chance.  She did not say anything, just held him and tried to pull the blanket back up around his shoulders, but he wouldn’t let her.  

“I want that for you, too.”

“Don’t know how to do it.”

She thought.  She didn’t know, either.  Didn’t even know where to start.  Then, something came to her.

“Remember a long time ago when you were telling me about caving?”

“What about it?”

“How you used to enjoy it, but then when you came back, not so much?  And what you did about that?”

Einar was quiet for a minute, thoughtful.  “Grew up caving.  Loved it.  Loved being underground, the silence and the solitude and adventure of it.  Like I was exploring new worlds, touching things no one had ever touched before and forging routes that had never seen a human footprint…  Pretty hard to find that on the surface, these days.  But then when I came back…well, being underground reminded me of how I was captured, which of course made me think of what came after, which I believe I was just trying real hard not to think about, right then…so it was pretty rough trying to get back to it. 

“Hated that it was so doggone hard for me.  Decided one day just to go for it, take this unexplored line into a place I knew, ride out whatever might come ,and have that part of my life back again, if nothing else.  Big mistake.  Got about five hundred feet in there, unexplored territory, I hit a low crawlway, and I panicked.  Can’t do that.  Can’t panic in a cave, and I knew that of course, but it didn’t make any difference.  Rational parts of my brain just weren’t engaged, at the time.  Lost my light, couldn’t think to get to my backup and before I even started to get things sorted out in my head, I was lost with no idea which way I’d come from.  Took me two or three days—still to this day don’t know which—to find my way back out again, and I was quite a mess when finally I saw daylight again.”

“Guess maybe I ought to have just called it quits with caving, then, but I couldn’t.  Went back the very next weekend, different cave, same story, but I made myself stay in there, just beyond sight of the entrance, scared stiff of getting lost again and seeing that other tunnel and my captors far more of the time than I was seeing the darkness around me, and I just made myself stay until some of the strangeness passed and I was able to find my place in the world, again.  Never did have any more trouble with caves.  Even guided in that cave for a while, the one where I’d got myself lost, took groups through and showed them some of the flowing purple curtains, white-crystal walls and shapes of flowstone and calcite…yep, got the cave thing sorted.”

“Did they ever know, the people you guided?”

Eianr snorted, shook his head.  “Gosh, no!  Never talked about this stuff with anyone…other than at the debriefing, of course.  You’re the first.”

“Not even the guys you served with in Rhodesia?  Surely you must have got close with at least a few of them…”

“I was there to kill Communists, not to socialize!”

Liz—rather unexpectedly—laughed.  “I doubt you’ve ever gone anywhere for the purpose of socializing, Einar!  Surprised you know the meaning of the word, in fact…”

“Hey now…”

“Seriously, though.  You mean they never had questions about your past history?”

“Ah, well I’m afraid I had a bit of a reputation over there, actually…  I was that surly, silent guy who everyone knows better than to question or cross, unless said questions were asked by my direct superiors or had some relevance to the mission.”

She nodded.  That guy.  “Well, if you could do it with caves, then maybe you can do it with other things, too, don’t you think?”

“Do what?”

The disconnect baffled her.  Perhaps he was bluffing.  But Einar seldom bluffed, and she could see in his eyes  that he wasn't doing so, now.  She saw only misery there; he wanted to understand, but didn't.  Forget it.  Some other time.  Too great of a leap.  For now, let's just get through the night, here in the same place with other, and the rest of it can come later.


  1. Anonymous18 June, 2012

    Welcome Home, Chris...

    FOTH Wrote:
    FreedomoftheHills08 June, 2012

    Yes, that was the way I understood it, and no, I can't imagine how one would be expected to remember! Especially since I'm sure to you, it was just one ordinary word amongst many, in your sentence.

    You described it so much better than I could ~ever~ reply to her requests... Maybe that is why she broke our engagement, to marry her Therapist!

    Now there is a quandary, who is sicker than whom? But I seldom think of it anymore, I just know... I gave all, for naught... and happily receive those benefits!

    I had hopes to add to the energizer side story, however, I instead traveled north to PortLandia, where Grand Daughter Graduated at the same time Mother/Daughter was giving her Master's Dissertation...

    and those issues produced some late night awake times... as is the case now, upon my return.

    MOST of my life ~in~ RVN was ~night work~ and interestingly, as I became civilized again ~hee hee~ I kept jobs ~best~ that I worked nights on... in fact, if Richard was not in my Guest Bedroom, right now, I would walk into my Wood Shop and Create as Creative juices lead me... a zillion items need to be made, even such things as a Modem Mast, to lift it into the air, for better reception!



  2. Welcome back, glad you are writing again, though, I understand the calling...... God Bless.