12 October, 2012

12 October 2012

“Your thoughts,” Juni replied with little hesitation,  “that’s all I want from you.  Nothing more.”

“You have no right to my thoughts.”

“No, I  don’t.  But look, I’m not here as a journalist anymore.  I can’t write about any of this!  Surely you know that.  Can’t let anyone know I was up here again, because who knows what would happen, then?  It would be the end of my freedom, for sure…they’d want me to give them details of when and where and it would become a ‘national security’ matter where journalistic privilege and shield laws had no sway whatsoever, and because I don’t want to spend the next three years in a federal detention cell--or at Guantanamo--without charges or access to an attorney, I really can’t write about any of it.  So it’s not about that anymore.  Getting a story.  I just want…  Listen, this may sound goofy or something, but you’ve been…a huge inspiration to me, and not just me, but thousands who have heard your story, what you’ve done up here, defying all the odds, staying one step ahead of them and raising a family while you do it--though of course no one knows about that last part, exactly--and now I come up here on a personal journey sort of a thing to learn more about how you do it and what keeps you going, only to find you…”  she shook her head, glanced at Liz, but Liz, gazing steadily at Einar, would not meet her eye; no help there…  “to find you nearly dead for no apparent good reason at all, starving in the midst of plenty and barely able to get through the night without freezing to death, and I wonder if you even realize why.  I just want you to live, that’s all I want.  To be able to go on with your life out here, and the answer is in those documents, isn’t it?  If you’d just let yourself admit it.”

“Easy enough to figure that one out,” Einar snarled, his voice cold, level, but things decidedly taking on a more dangerous feel, as far as Liz was concerned.  She edged back slightly from the fire, up against the cliff, giving Will a bit of distance from the whole thing.  “Sure didn’t need you to come all the way up here just to tell me all about my own business,” he was continuing.  “Besides which, you’re exaggerating to a ridiculous degree which renders your arguments entirely…”

“Stop!  Don’t get all rhetorical on me.  You can’t hide behind that stuff.  I’m not exaggerating anything, and you know it.  If anything, I’m understating what I see, just so I won’t come across as too dismal.  Are you really that blind?  I can see what’s happening, and I know you can get through it, but first you have to recognize it, and want…to see its end.”

It doesn’t end.  Ever.  It…why was he doing this?  Allowing her in, debating her on the matter, even if only in his head.  He didn’t want to hear anymore, to be pinned down like this, questioned.  It was bad enough when Liz--  But this woman, this stranger, she certainly had no right, and yet now the thoughts were coming, clamoring at him with an insistence which could hardly be ignored even had he wanted to do so, but somewhat strangely he found that he didn’t, just sat there staring into the dancing flames--bit of blue down there near the coals where the air rushed and shimmered through a burnt-out gap in one of the logs, and he focused on it, needed it, needed something, if he was to keep his hold on reality--and letting them wash over him until he found himself once more jammed into the close confines of that bamboo enclosure, stench rising from below, vision going all dark and cloudy with the hurt of the thing and world fading around him until it threatened to entirely disappear, and at that point he fought it a bit, not wanting to allow himself to become so completely disconnected when in the presence of a person who ostensibly still represented an enemy, a threat, and fighting it, he won, keeping by the barest thread his hold on the world around him.  At the same time, victorious, he found himself half wishing he’d brought the transcripts along, wanting to review them, but really, they would have been unnecessary.  Extraneous.  He had them all but memorized, by then.

Looked up at Juni.  She knew exactly what she’d done, he could see it in her face, a look, almost, of satisfaction but there was a sadness in there, too, a deep, knowing sadness, and for the first time he wondered what she might be hiding, herself, behind the nose ring and glasses and that weird hippie hair--dreadlocks, he supposed they would be called, though at least this time they were a more natural-looking color, with no hints of green or pink--which made up her bold, forward exterior.  He might have turned the conversation around on her and halted it in its tracks at that point by asking, but did not do so.  Instead, never taking his eyes off of her, gaze cold, piercing, dangerous, he slowly nodded after the passage of a long minute.  “Ok.”

“Ok, what?

“I’ll do this thing.  I’ll talk to you.”

Oh, no,  Liz thought to herself.  What is he thinking?  Guess this is when I have to step in…with my knife.  Probably should have done it a day or two ago before things could get all stirred up…  But she did not move.  Wanted to see where it was headed, first.  Wanted to give him a chance.  The past week or so had been bad, and getting worse, and perhaps talking about it, even with this unwelcome guest--or perhaps especially with her; maybe, though it stung to admit the possibility, he would have an easier time discussing the matter with the almost-stranger than with her--might do something to break the grip the thing was gaining on him.  She had to hope so.  Knew that otherwise, the way things were going, she was soon to be left with a very serious choice between using the rabbit stick, and seeing him wander off into the snow for hours at a time as he had done in the past, and though he surely didn’t recognize the fact, he simply couldn’t afford to be doing that just then.  He was eating more, trying to, but hadn’t been at it for long enough to benefit, especially considering all the miles he’d been covering.  She’d lose him.  So, not much to lose, perhaps, in his exchange with the reporter.  The not-reporter, if her word could be believed, for she had said she was leaving that role behind for the moment, and strangely, despite her natural dislike for the woman’s intrusion into their lives and the necessary and rather considerable suspicion which comes along with living the sort of life their little family had been living, she found herself believing Juni on that matter.  Which really did call her true motivations into question.  If she wasn’t after a story, then what?  Well, I guess we’ll be finding out, and the knife is always still an option, if it comes to that…


  1. Another great chapter, thank you!

    (Captain Caveman)


  2. Hi, CC! Good to hear from you. :)