A few years ago Billy brought a girl to the cabin but it didn’t go so good. He thought she’d be impressed by how he knew how to do things, how he could split wood or shoot a rifle, or how he could keep the fire in the stove going all night so they were warm throughout. What he didn’t count on was that she wasn’t all the fussed about using an outhouse and the deer flies that drove her to stay inside, or inside where there were mice scurrying in the walls and across the floors. But as much as she didn’t like the mice she didn’t like them getting killed in the traps either. Billy sat on the deck and drank his father’s whiskey and wished the wind were the only thing he could hear.
Not all girls were like this he knew. His mother loved the cabin, loved it even more than their house in town. She would sit on the deck with his father while Billy was out in the woods, and she would sit there calmly with her husband with the deer flies buzzing through the air when it was still, and as a praying mantis her hand would shoot out into the air grabbing a fly and crushing its wings, throwing it to the ground and reaching for her iced tea.
Billy knew from stories his parents told that on their first date his father invited his mother salmon fishing in the Saugeen River. He knew that his mother was surprised that they were fishing through the night, only leaving town close to midnight to drive to the river. He also knew that when one of the two fishing rods broke his father kept on fishing while his mother shivered on the shore of the black river and watched her date cast and cast and cast and not catch fish. They drove home as the sun lit on the eastern horizon and blinded their sleepless eyes all the way back, and he knew that they were together since, at least until she got sick and died and wasn’t around anymore, but he knew his father was still together with her but with his heart broken and with his missing her every minute.
She wasn’t sick all at once. First, she was just coughing a bunch more than usual, but just like a cold in the winter or like Billy when his allergies were bad from smelling the fur of their dog. Then one day when he was playing in the garden below the kitchen window waiting for his dad to come home from work he heard a crash in the kitchen like plates breaking. Billy froze in the dirt of the garden and waited to hear more, but there was no more. Confused he waited still but then finally grabbed the rough sill of the window with it’s paint flaking off into his palms and lifted himself up to see inside, but all he saw was an empty kitchen where his mother should have been. He tiptoed to the screen door and called inside. “Mom? Hey, Mom.”
He walked through the kitchen and sure enough there were plates broken and crashed on the floor. Shuffling in the bathroom and he found his mother kneeling on the floor with her head cradled in her arm over the toilet bowl.
“Mom?” Billy whispered.
“It’s okay sweetheart. It’ll be okay. I just had an accident.” She responded.
“What is it? What can I do?” Billy asked.
“Nothing Billy. It’s okay. Your dad will be home soon.”
Billy stood in the doorway of the bathroom and looked at his dirty feet. He folded one big toe over the other and squeezed and watched as the blood in the nail of his bottom toe flushed and colored it from white to pink. There was a spot of blood on the floor by the bathroom sink.
“Billy it’s okay. Go back outside and play. Wait for your dad outside.” Her voice was weak from the cold that was getting worse, but Billy went back outside and sat on the front stairs waiting for his father and wondered what he could do to help her get better.