.

 

Gorge

A gorge, on the way to the earthship.

There was fighting in the car when we came to the gorge. All had been fine, then we stopped for some elk jerky and something changed. I made a joke about Christmas - “I wonder if Santa eats elf jerky” - and then something was said, and something else, and suddenly 6 exchanges later, including a short speech by me explaining how certain things were never changing, we were sullen. The sign for the gorge appeared, and she parked.

I opened the door and a wind so cold as to make a Yeti cry appeared. It slammed right into my grudge. I walked from the car, always a few feet away from her. It was so cold my breath could see its breath. A cloud froze and fell to the ground. My fingernails frosted over and I began to sweat snowflakes. On the flat desert plain to my right, a herd of Norse frost giants ran south.

I stood over the bridge in my jeans and light brown coat, remembering how my fingers worked, willing them to move. She came to my side. “That can't be pleasant,” she said, in her expensive all-weather jacket with hood, hat, thick red mittens, slacks, heavy wool socks, and brown suede boots. She looked like a pop-tart inside a toaster.

I considered it for a moment. “You know, it really is incredibly unpleasant,” I said. “I am the most unhappy person in the world at this moment.”

We walked back to the car. The cold made it take a long time. It took so long that by the time we got to the car the stock market was up. A Democrat was in the white house. Rock music was good. Moore's law had been rescinded. By the time I put my hand on the handle, knowing that I gripped it only by sight, we had three kids and lived in Vermont. I was 43 years old and had a cat named Nana Sparkles. “What if I couldn't find my keys?” she asked.

I thought about it for a moment. “Medical emergency,” I said, teeth clacking like a horror-movie skull. Then she turned the key in the lock and it was all forgotten, the argument frozen out of me, so we drove to see the earthships.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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