(500 words) originally written: winter 2016
Edited: 10 March 2018
By S.R.A Markin
The stars above illuminate throughout the sky. Their intense twinkling is captivating out here in the open land. I lean back in the grass resting my head on a crooked tree trunk. I sit next to my best friend, and we both have our feet towards the fire. My damp socks steam from the earlier fight. Hers does too. I calmly breathe allowing my mind to finally clear. I think of very little, and the men across the fire speak to one another. They converse about their day’s rescue. A dog with a ringing bell chases a squirrel into a tree and stands at the base looking up while barking. The fire between the men and us blazes high and engulfs dry pieces of wood causing sharp crackles to shoot sparks up into the night. The flames cast dancing shadows on the men’s faces.
“I am happy here,” she said.
“Me too,” I said adjusting myself and gazing towards the glacier-fed lake.
I look onward thinking of how beautiful the body of cold water is, and how mighty the overlooking mountains are. I look towards the dock where three canoes are tied up. They bob with each wave that rolls under and reaches the shore of the bay. Much like the fire, the water here dances as well.
My tightly pressed jacket adds warmth to my fatigued body. My eyes begin to close, and the murmurs, the crackles, and the dog’s bark blends into an array of white noise, which lullabies as I slumber into sleep.
I take control of the canoe as the powerful frigid waves threaten us to dock. I paddle hard with one oar maneuvering obliquely and then parallel against each hit that floods into the boat, and she holds on directing us towards land. We align the boat 20- feet from shore slicing the waves trying to gain more distance towards our destination.
After four hours of paddling my efforts fade, and we are forced to dock into a log that protrudes from a hooked-shaped land mass. She ties the canoe to the log, and I jump into the cold water holding the boat for her. We walk to shore and shelter ourselves away from the tallest trees. She shivers. Lighting continues to illustrate the sky, which opens the dark clouds above with each strike. I dig into my rucksack. The rain fails to stimulate my skin.
We search for dryness and gather materials. I scrape a blade over magnesium causing sparks. I continue and more sparks. I scratch harder. The sparks collide with the kindling, and they are immediately extinguished. I shave wood and add wool from my kit. My fingers become more useless with each strike. She shivers while cutting wood into a pile of shavings. The raindrops moisten the land and thunder echoes throughout the forest. More sparks fail to ignite. She shakes profusely. And I awaken to wood crackling, faint voices, and a dog barking with a bell.