“Well where’s the hood?” he asked.
“The hood?” H- replied in kind.
“Which side is the hood facing?” he repeated.
The father-daughter duo were back in the tent from an early morning bathroom run. H- had really needed to go.
“Yeah, on good sleeping bags like yours they put a hood where your head goes for when it is super cold,” he explained.
With wide eyes and delicate hands she proceeded to maneuver the sleeping bag around until she thought it matched her father’s words.
“Good,” he confirmed. “Now get in like normal,” he suggested. “That’s right. Now-”
H- needed no further instruction. Once in, she pressed her head up against the top of the hood and pulled down on the sides, experiencing that sensation which must fall within the bounds of what more studied men call pure delight. Soon, no longer seen by H-, he observed that she had let the hood fall over her eyes all the way down to the tip of her nose. After she fiddled with the drawstring she carefully exposed her finger from within the bag once more, this time to touch her nostrils.
“What are you doing?” he inquired, chuckling to himself.
“What?” she feigned.
“Were you just checking to see if you could still breathe out of your nose?”
A pause–probably much longer for the girl in the dark.
The woods are
Always darkest first, I remember.
It’s just the two of us.
He says we need to hurry because
It’ll be too dark to see
Each step directly in front of the last,
The trail’s raised edges keep my vanishing course sure.
Darkness encroaching, he says to go faster.
I am struck by terror.
It is dark,
We’re separated from the group,
We are alone.
He is big,
I am small.
Could I out run him?
The plants are coming faster now,
Like my heartbeats, thoughts,
I want to sprint,
Campfire voices announce the end.
I look into his eyes.
He says he’d rather not
Be out so late next time.
“Relapses were inevitable,” he told himself. Everyone knew this, and he figured people would understand. It was only his inner circle that knew he was an addict anyhow.
And as much as he wanted to point a finger at her for causing the relapse, he couldn’t blame her. He wanted to. But he wouldn’t. She just wanted to have fun. What did she know?
He also wanted to blame work. Why did they have to give him two days off in a row? And in the winter? It’s like they had set him up for failure.
He had been clean for nine years. Nine years. Of course he missed it every single one of those days. Technically, he still was on the wagon. “Technically. Ha!” he laughed. He knew all about technically. No, he had fallen off the wagon–no “technically” about it.
It did feel amazing though. The rush. He could sense his blood flowing throughout his body as if it was reporting constantly that the journey was amazing–all while surrounded by a crowd of people. Wow. Naturally, he hid his high from everyone, avoiding any unwanted judgement, though deep down he knew that they all saw a man who was trying to pretend like he wasn’t high.
His primary thought then turned to money. Like any addiction, his had a price, and an expensive one at that. “Yep, I know it’s shameful, but I’ll just ask my parents for the money. Flat out. No lying this time. I’m just going to tell them what it’s for and if they love me, they’ll understand and help me,” he reasoned.
“Hello?” said the voice on the other end of the call.
“Mom, it’s me.”
“Are you alright?”
“Sure, yeah. Well, no. That’s what I’m calling about,” he said, forcing an undignified voice.
“What is it? You know I hate when you call like this.”
“You know how I took H-, your granddaughter who misses you very much, to the mountains yesterday to go tubing? Well, I saw people skiing and I couldn’t control myself. I need money to ski. The season’s nearly a quarter over, so it shouldn’t be too much, and of course you and dad are invited to come out and ski with me any time you want as well. Ballpark figure, I think that only $2000 should cover me, equipment and all.”
“Mom? You there?” he asked, looking at the screen only to see the call had ended. “I can’t believe she hung up. She never did love me. I guess I should’ve seen this coming. I don’t know why I punish myself. I should have just called the ol’ softy first anyhow. Besides being a true believer, everyone knows the man can’t say no to anyone.”
“Dad. Father. How’s it going? Are the Cubs still looking strong next season? Say, I’ve got this favor to ask…”
Breakfast at 7:00 am with his woman, a quick shower at 7:45, and they’d be out the door by 8:30 on their way to the home store. After picking up a few essentials it would be time to head to the hardware store. He desperately needed a new tool for weeding, and also a bit of potting soil. Oh, and winter fertilizer. If things went perfect, they’d be driving away from the hardware store at 11:00 on their way to meet friends for lunch at 11:30.
It wasn’t quite a sit-down restaurant, but the couples hadn’t seen each other in what seemed like forever, so he budgeted an hour and a half for the lunch. Farewell handshakes and hugs would conclude at 1:00 pm, so he figured they could be pulling out of the parking lot at 1:05, which would leave plenty of time to drive to the ‘burbs for their nephews game. The kid was only 6, so it wasn’t exactly organized. From his perspective it was more like a bunch of adults forming a fleshy boundary which attempted to keep sacred childhood. Either way, he was excited to see his sister and brother-in-law.
From there, the plan was to split-up for an hour or so to clean up. Then everyone would meet back up at 6:00 for some Colorado-style pizza. He figured they’d be out of the restaurant by 8:00–8:30 at the latest. Afterwards everyone would return to their respective homes, and have a nice quiet night on couches.
Yep, he was pretty proud of himself for having such a thought out plan, but now it was time for bed.
Pulling the covers up–awkwardly as usual–to warm the back of his neck, he shut his eyes, smiling.
He awoke. Widening his eyes as if that helped him regain consciousness faster, he reached for his phone. Seeing the time before noting who was calling, he read “5:30” with some confusion. “Who would be calling so early on a Saturday?” he wondered to himself. The screen informed him who it was, and he couldn’t help but smile.
“Honey,” he said. “Honey, wake up, wake up,” he said shaking her.
“What time is it?” she mumbled.
“Huh? Why? That doesn’t matter. We’ve got to cancel our plans for the day. The mountains called. They’re open!”