02 August, 2012

2 August 2012

Liz certainly had other ideas about the appropriate timeline for retrieving the traps; “soon” had no place in her vocabulary so far as that particular expedition was concerned, but she saw no need to belabor the point just then.  Einar didn’t appear inclined to go anywhere at all that day, and she hated to think she could leave him more anxious to do so by implying that he might be incapable of managing the task just then, even if it was true.  Sometimes, things worked that way.  She was learning.  So said nothing.  Einar let the matter go.  The way things were thawing, the making of jerky had to be first priority, anyway, and he left the cabin--giving Liz a moment’s consternation when she thought he might have decided to take off after the traps, with no preparation whatsoever and without even having eaten any lunch--squinting at the new snow in all its sloppy, melting brightness and scanning the trees, choosing a good-sized deer quarter which had been left largely untouched though the winter and lowering it to the snow, wanting to bring it in for a bit more thawing so that the perfect slicing texture could be reached, still icy but no longer frozen solid.

Which is--he laughed, shivered a little--just about the perfect temperature for me, too, if only I could find a balance somewhere in there.  Because frozen solid certainly doesn’t work, at least when it comes to feet and such., but icy is good.  Well.  Can work some more on that balance later.  For now, pretty sure the only thing that’s gonna keep me out of hot water--which I definitely don’t want--is to do my deed and get back in there pretty quick, before Liz decides I’m taking too long and comes after me with the rabbit stick.  She didn’t look too pleased when I left the place a bit ago, none too pleased at all, and I’m expecting to start hearing stealthy, squishy footsteps in the snow behind me any second now...  

No footsteps came, but Liz was indeed watching him through the barely cracked front door of the cabin, feeling slightly guilty for doing it but quite determined not to stand silently by as he took off on a tremendously ill-advised and likely even fatal quest in the deep, wet snow.  It was with relief that she saw him lower the deer quarter and begin retracing his steps to the cabin, stumbling, weaving, catching himself against a tree and narrowly avoiding a fall; wouldn’t have made it too far at all had he indeed charted a course for the valley, would have ended up face down and soaked in snowmelt water within minutes…which much to her dismay, she had to admit probably wouldn’t have displeased him in the least.  She shook her head, eased the door closed in the hopes that he hadn’t discovered her spying.  Jerky.  It was a good project and a necessary one, something that ought to keep him not only occupied, but off of his feet for a while, and she added a log to the fire, retrieved the coils of cordage on which they usually hung drying jerky and stretched them in the warm air above the stove so that everything would be ready.   First though, lunch for both of them.

Eyes able to focus far better, somehow, after he’d had a bit of Liz’s lunch stew, Einar recovered the envelope and resumed his reading as she changed the dressings on his feet--a rather poor choice of timing, she thought, but only he could really know that and apparently it seemed to him as good a time as any--managing with some difficulty to set the thing aside and help her when the time came to wrap the extremities with fresh bandage strips.  The respite did not last long; Einar hadn’t even got his breath back from the dressing change before he was reading again, taking up right where he’d left off.  Liz could see what it was doing to him, and once when he stopped for a brief breath of air she put firm hands over his own, took the papers, gently loosening his grip and, when he did not resist her, setting the documents aside.

“When I first knew you…hey, don’t try to get away.  Sit here with me for a minute, and then you can go back to your reading if you have to.  Please.  Now I was saying…  You taught me so many things here in your mountains, showed me so much, would go on and on about this or that plant or animal, how it lived and its many uses when it came to our survival and life out here…I remember long expositions on the Inuit or the Utes where you’d go into excruciating detail about some little aspect of their lives and how they interacted with the land until I couldn’t imagine how any one person could remember and recite so many obscure and fascinating details, and I loved it!  It was like being able to see that little slice of the world through your eyes for a while, like I really was seeing every little rock and leaf and movement of the trees for the first time, reading stories in bits of scuffed earth and in the clouds...  But you don’t do that anymore.  You live in the jungle now, don’t you?  In that box, between walls of woven bamboo.  Almost all of the time…”

No, he wanted to protest,  do not.  Spend most all of my time right here with the two of you, just getting through the day and trying to provide for…yeah, but that’s not what you’re talking about, is it?  Not exactly.   Truth was, he didn’t know the answer.  Was too close to the thing to have any perspective, really, but supposed in the sense she seemed to mean it, she might be right.  He hadn’t really thought about it, and did not especially want to do so, but she seemed sad when recollecting what she saw as different times they’d had together, and he did not want to be the cause of her sadness. Yet it was what it was, the situation, himself, no changing any of that, no turning away from the path he was on…

“What is it you want me to do?”  It was asked honestly and without pretense, not a rhetorical question.

“Come back to us.  Come out of the box.  So long as you stay in there…Einar, this is just going to keep happening, I’m afraid.  You ending up…mostly dead, one way or another, pushing yourself way beyond the limits, even if you don’t really mean to do it. And one of these times, it’ll be too far…  You said yourself a little bit ago that you’re concerned about making sure you’re here for Will as he grows, and this seems one real obvious way for you to help that happen.  We want you here.  Please come back.”

A shrug.  I don’t know how.  And--Lizzie, I can’t tell you this part, can’t talk about it--don’t know if I have any right, either, to turn away from this stuff and whatever it brings me.  Any at all.  Just have to find a way to do both. 

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