Poor, sad, neglected blog. All is well, just busy juggling knives and trying not to lose too many fingers in the process. Not playing with yarn much, but doing lots of writing. And so…playing along with Chuck’s Flash Fiction Challenge…I give you:
His footprints pointed to the top of the mountain. A snapped twig here, scuff in the snow there. No trace of him beyond that. I looked at my worn mittens. The colors from the felted yarn on the palms were bleeding together and dirty from clawing up the rocks. I wiped my hands on my thighs, trailing mud. Searched around for a path and moved on without one.
I heard a rustling behind me, turned my head, searched the trees hoping to find some trace of him. A bit of red on a brown, leafless bush drew my gaze. It was a small piece of yarn — mere fuzz. I took my mittens off and picked it from the branch. Dry. Not him. He couldn’t be far enough ahead of me that this wool was dry already. The coffee in the pot was still warm when I grabbed a cup, and that was only a half hour ago.
I sat down on a tree stump. Why must he always make things difficult? Everything was fine at breakfast yesterday. When I woke today and saw the note I knew I had to follow, even if I couldn’t help. I stretched my numb hands, shoved my mittens back on, and stood. Whistled, tongue curled against my fingers. I didn’t get a response, didn’t expect one. I walked some more.
I spotted a clearing up ahead, the last embers of a fire barely peeking through the charred wood. A pine branch rested near the fire, covering a damp corner of notebook paper with its thin needles. If I hadn’t been searching for a sign that he’d been through I would have missed it. It said: “I’ve had another dream. This must be the last.”
I pulled out the piece of paper I’d folded and placed in my jeans pocket this morning. Shivering, I tried to line up the ragged edges. The note read: “I’m going to the cabin for a bit. I’ve had another dream. This must be the last.” I shoved the slips of paper back in my pocket.
Ok. He’s had another dream, and it must be the last. He’s never mentioned any dreams. What could they be that it would drive him to the top of a mountain to stay in our cabin “for a bit” with no heat and a blizzard on the way? What is “a bit?” Days? A few months? I pulled out the note again and squinted at it. The torn edges didn’t line up properly — a piece was missing. Did I pass it on my way up the trail?
I decided to continue on. It was past noon and I hadn’t thought to pack food or water. We always left the non-perishables behind when we closed the cabin and I wanted to get there. The snow got deeper, the trees were sticky pine brushing my cheeks as I pushed through them. They pulled at my sweater and made me wish I had zipped on the sleeves of my vest before setting out. I felt the welts on my face through my sodden mittens.
The cabin wasn’t far, but I hadn’t seen a sign of him since the fire. Did this have something to do with what we talked about the other day? When he told me he felt restless, unfulfilled? If he were having dreams, wouldn’t he have mentioned it? We talked in long, deep paragraphs fueled by too much wine and not enough sleep. I sometimes thought we could solve all of the problems of the world if there were only enough wine and no need to rest. But our problems, mine, his — there were not enough words and no motivation, at least not now. As long as it stayed outside of us we’d be ok.
I finally reached our cabin, following the faint footsteps in the snow, and saw that he – or someone else? — had dusted off the steps. I walked around and tried to peek through the windows. The curtains were still drawn. It had to be dark in there – we turned the electricity off in October – and there was no sign that I would be welcomed by a crackling fire. Maybe I was wrong, he wasn’t here.
Seeing nothing out of the ordinary outside, I decided to go in. It was getting colder. The damp sky seemed ready to scatter more snow through the forest. I hoped I could find a warmer coat in the closet.
I stomped up the wooden steps, working the snow and mud out of the treads of my boots. “I’m going to have to get him to fix that second step in the spring, it feels a little spongy,” I thought. I opened the door and called into the darkness, “Hey, you here?”
“Get out,” he said. “This isn’t about you.”
“I found your note,” I said, stepping in and reaching into my pocket.
The floor wasn’t there when I took my next step. The faded rag rug my mother made for us years ago disappeared beneath me as I fell. My ankle cracked when I hit bottom. The sodden rug fell on top of me and wrapped me in screams. I scrambled to pull it off. Panting, I sat up and flashed my eyes around, trying to understand the darkness. He came over to the edge of the pit and looked down at me. He was so far away. “Fuck get me out of here what the fuck?!”
“Oh shit, no hold on, I’ll help you!” He vanished, footsteps stomping over the oak floor. Rummaging, cabinets opening and closing. “I’ll be right there!” Panic in his voice. Footsteps returning.
Flashbang. My throat disappeared. Flashbang. My knee disappeared. I collapsed back onto the dirt, felt the rug disentangle itself from my legs, watched it dance to the top of the pit, crumbs of sand skittering toward me. The blackness became darker as the rug slid across the opening in the floor.
Who knows? All of this might be a thing if I can figure out how to practice writing while simultaneously not fucking up every yarny thing I touch.