If there is one I’d like to see the sunrise tomorrow. It’d be nice from out here on the lake.
There was the sound of Billy’s dad’s sled coming closer but it stopped and started getting farther away again. It’s nice out here without the noise. The only thing I can hear now is the wind, some snow hitting my jacket. I like that I can see my breathing in the air up against the moon. I like that it’s bright tonight, I should watch the treeline for deer. Too bad we’re out of season this would be a great time to get a deer.
There is a darkness that’s settled but a light too from the moon. It’s a full moon and I like to think I picked this night because of it. I took a bottle of whiskey left by an American client at the camp and another bottle I had in the bunk, took a scarf and my heavy jacket, my gloves and a helmet, and I’m off on a sled that I pushed out of hearing range during daylight, during dinner actually when all else were inside scraping their plates and chatting with the new client, the guy from Germany with a German accent but pretty good English. When dark started to come soon after I took my pack with the whiskey and a blanket and my knife and walked out to the sled and started it up just past the small spruce grove and beyond the poplars out there too. I figured the moon would be bright and I could sled out to the third lake and be by myself, and I’d like to just watch that big moon come up over the treeline and settle everything in.
When I was a kid I’d leave on my own then too. I’d walk across the street and pass the framed houses, out into the corn field and sit down. One summer I stomped a bit of ground and set up a space for myself in the field, I could see the clouds and the sun if it were high, clouds and the old maple trees that lined the field. I’d take a book from my sister and I’d sit there flipping the pages like I was reading, I’d make up a story as I flipped the pages, and my shoulders would burn me flopped over the book and my back out there toward the sun. I’d sit there with my sister and my brother yelling, calling for me out of the field, I’d sit there and wouldn’t hear them at all, just flipping pages and sounding out words.
And here I’ve stomped my own place too, but it’s cold and there ain’t any corn, there ain’t any growing at all except the frost on the trees cause it’s cold tonight. The foam seat of this old sled is good, it’s soft and holds my heat but I can’t sit here for long, and I don’t want to sit here for long. I take one of the bottles that I’ve been at for a while now and I plow my way through the lake top snow to the forest edge where I saw coyote prints before the sun went down. They came out from the frozen creek through the forest to here at the lake and sauntered here and there around the lake, a coyote will do that kind of looking back and forth because they’re out for fun and chasing. And the snow is starting to come in heavy and there’s a little more wind, but I’ve got my stomped ground and I’m safe here on the lake that’s not so far from camp. I’ll walk back to the sled where my stuff is, there I’ve got my blanket and my big knife, my foam seat and a book I lifted from Billy’s shelf that he wasn’t reading, that I never saw him reading, that was left probably by a client at camp. The Story of An Artist as a Young Man. It’s a thin book so maybe easy, and I thought maybe while I was out here the moon would be bright and I could flip the pages and read some of the words I learned from my sister, but I didn’t bring a light and the moon isn’t light enough, and probably there’s only a couple words I’d pick up on anyways.
Anyways, I’ll get into that next bottle lying in the snow by the sled that I opened earlier on the ride in and took a few hits of, but it’s mostly full anyway so it’ll keep my busy at least until the moon’s crossed and near down by the far end of the lake. I’ve been here a thousand times, this end of times and throwing in the towel, been here plenty of times and I ain’t gone yet, I don’t really mean any of it, but I need my time apart to just unwind, just to put down everything and, well, just to put down everything. I just got to unwind.
I’ll sit here on this foam seat, and I bet Billy’s on his way here now so I’ll save him some of this whiskey. I remember my sister’s cat sitting on my lap when I was just sitting there too stunned to move, or sometimes just sitting there thinking and not moving and this cat would jump up and sit there and enjoy me just thinking, or sitting plain wasted. But now here I am on this foam seat and it’s got to be 20 below and I look down to my lap for this cat that must be there for the warmth but it’s not a cat making this warmth, I’ve lost myself in this night and it shakes me. By the treeline there are no more prints, no more animals have come but I should have been watching. The moon has crossed the sky and the sun is not yet close to rising. If I had a mirror and a light I’d see my blue lips, my cheeks frosted and white burning in the cold. It must be 30 below now, and a wind, and more snow.
I’ll watch the treeline now and I’m sure Billy and his old man will come over from the second lake, they’ll come on their sled if it can make it from camp, but at least they’ll be here by foot for sure. They know I’ve taken all the whiskey and my big knife and they know this sled can’t make it back to camp without gas. They’ll know I’ve come as far as I could and couldn’t go no further forward nor back. Billy knows, and he’ll be here to take me to camp.
Lying on the foam seat there’s red in the sky. The sunrise is here starting to bleed on the bottom of the clouds.