Snow Line

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A writer moves to the Austrian mountains after losing his wife.
God speaks to him in a dream and commands him to build a boat.
He complies - but there is no flood.

Submitted: June 09, 2019

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Submitted: June 09, 2019

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Snow Line.

 

The voice came in his dream, filling his head – huge - perfect - with just enough bass and tinkling treble to turn James Earl Jones into a burbling mass of tears. He lay there, just appreciating the beauty of its sound and forgot most of what it was saying.

Blah blah blah something about a flood and building a boat blah blah blah 35 cubits by blah blah.

He sat up, breathless and sweating in the semi darkness and scrawled what he remembered on the notebook he kept next to his bed. He got up and without turning the lights on, quietly went into the bathroom, and poured himself a glass of water. He was alone in the house and there was no reason for him to sneak around, but old habits died hard. He was always a restles sleeper and did not want to disturb the ghost of his sleeping wife. He downed half a glass of water and walking back to bed, smacked his toe into the door frame. Old habits didn‘t just die hard, in his case they died slow, agonising deaths, the memories buried deep within refusing to flatline.

around his head, in time with his throbbing toe.

Well hethought I really have nothing better to do.

#

In the morninng, sitting on the balcony, sipping tea, he assesed his life as he always did after breakfast. There was something different in the way his thoughts came this morning, none of the cloying self pity that lately dominated his musings. He was feeling almost upbeat.

He bought the house after selling the flathad written a few screenplays, which had becoBut he could no longer face living in that empty apartment, could no longer face living in the city. So two months after her death, he sold up Austrian mountains, five kilometres below the permanent snow line.

the winters cold - but beautiful, He would start writing again, bouncinstead of Julia‘s sharp decisive mind.

Christ! He thought What a team we were. Chis and Julia Thompson.

dea after idea. Show after show. The funny thing was that they didn‘t even watch T.V

Tv was something to make, not watch.“ Julia would say.

back to him, unchanged, without spin, lifeless.

He picked up the piece of yellow notepad paper and examined what he had written . Indecipherable scrawl…. fBuild a boat….“ It was not his usual handwriting, his normal print was a neat, school teacherly script, every letter the same height and size. What was on the page before him now, looked like it was written by But the memory of the voice in his head was extremely vivid:

Had God spoken to him? Did he even believe in God?

All he knew for sure was that something happened last night, something touched him to his core, filling him with purpose. Whether he was going mad or God had spoken to him, didn‘t matter, he was going to build a boat.

 

He started that morning. He had no experience working with wood, but he had an exact mind, a precise mind. The way he kept house was proof of that, everything in its right place – it used to drive Julia crazy – he could surely measure and cut wood to the right size -technique he could pick up from the internet, goddammit. Enthused - he had watched dozens of woodwork videos on youtube - and taking pencil to paper had started to sketch it out.

Thirty five cubits by whatever really didn‘t interest him, he was living in Europe now and they used the metric system. Besides, he rationalised with himself : „It probably wasn‘t God, just his subconcious telling him to get busy or go mad“

He spend the rest of the day designing his divine vessel. He drew an extremely detailed plan, his mind working like a precise machine, examining his design from every angle, looking for a hole in the plot.

That is exactly the problem,” he thought: “Julia was the one with broad stroke ideas, the situations. He always had the solutions.”

By the end of the day he had it all: A pencil sketch of the boat, a detailed plan(drawn to scale), a list of materials and a list of tools he would need.

Satisfied, he went to bed that night; tired, empty, fulfilled, the feeling you only get after purging your soul, filling a purpose on earth.

He slept through the night- undisturbed - God left him in peace, even ifhe was using the metric system.

 

The next morning he drove down the hill into the little village. Stopping outside the guest house, he went inside the typical Austrian Wirtshaus .

Franz Müller, the proprietor and closest thing he had to a friend in the village, owned a beat up old delivery van he would need to borrow.

He went into the wood clad dining area, Franz was, as expected standing behind the counter. Chris had been in there a few times; a couple of Schnapps fueled late nights and a couple of hungover breakfasts.

Ahh! Good morning herr Thompson. Coffee ?” Franz said, an easy smile underpinning his balding head.

Good morning. Yes that would be good. Thank you.” Chris replied in the passable German he had picked up the last five years in Austria, although he still had problems deciphering the mountain accent.

Na? How is the writing coming on?” said Franz sliding a cup of black coffee over the counter.

Bad Franz. Really bad. Not a single word.”

Well... it will come in time. Ja.”

Yes I suppose so, listen Franz I need a favour, Do you borrow your Van? For how much? One day maybe for two?”

Franz frowned, looked at Chris and then smiled. Chris’s hackneyed German had confused the issue, but Franz caught the meaning.

Why do want to borrow my old clunker? Are you moving out? Running away from us so soon?”

No no … I need to get some, uh supplies from the builders market.”

Hhum.” Franz grunted shrugging his shoulders.

You should be writing my friend.“ He was disappointed that his little village had not cured Chris’s writers block.

I had a dream Franz, God spoke to me, He said I must build a boat.” Chris said reverting to English. Franz had worked for years in the tourist ski areas, so his English was good and continually swapping languages help ease the conversation along, especially after a few drinks.

Aha...” said Franz all the while thinking : writers, mad as rock rabbits.

Chris laughed and said: ” Ja.. ja sounds crazy I know. But there was a voice in my dream. It told me to build a boat and that’s what I am going to do. Build a boat.”

And zhiss voice vants you to bring all the zhe animals two by two oder?” said Franz making a walking motion with his fingers.

I don’t know, I stopped paying attention. But I am going to build a boat. For Julia. You see. A monument to Julia. I have to do something

Aso, ok. Take it. Ja. Just put in some fuel .” Franz said sliding a single key across the counter. Crazy...but a good guy….

But what do you know about building boats then?”

Absolutely sweet nothing Franz. But God spoke to me in a dream, I have no choice said Chris theatrically raising his hands to heaven.

Franz smiled, shook his head : Crazy Englishman.

#

Spring was nearly over and it was getting warm. Chris had spent the last couple of weeks deeply engaged in his…. or God’s…. project. He didn’t know anymore, hadn’t heard a word from Him since the first night - kinda like a bad date. But it was good, it felt right; cutting, chopping, nailing – a fair amount of swearing – getting sweaty. And there was progress; a large skeletal shape now lurked in his driveway, it looked – to Chris at least – like the rib cage of a dinosaur, escaped from the natural history museum, stretched out on its back, dehydrated and dead in his driveway.

Chris’s house was the last property on a road that ended at his driveway and dissolved into the mountains. If you looked up from the village square; you could see the spidery skeleton of Chris’s creation and it briefly became the favourite topic of conversation among the townsfolk, who just as quickly forgot about it.

How is it coming on?…... You're looking fit… the outside work suits you…. Just vhat you needed, some vork with your hands……

The folks were friendly, curious about his work, he didn’t seem to be doing anyone else or himself any harm, doing real work, even if it mentionedkept his taciturn distance – everybody and it was good so.

To Chris, every hammer blow, every bead of sweat was a goodbye, even as he built something to remember her. He would never see her again; not in this life any way, in the next?….. perhaps he was going to die in a flood….. who knew?

 

 

#

Chris, sunburned and tired, had gone to bed that evening. He had not noticed that the birds were not singing or flitting from tree to tree in the warm spring afternoon. Nobody noticed the silence.

That night Chris awoke from his sleep. Eyes wide, pulse racing. Something was wrong. There was a deep rumble, something he felt, more than heard.

Well if it’s God again he’s got too much bass on his voice tonight the flippant thought jumping through his head. The rumbling stopped and lasses rattled ofneath tight fit. his nose rubbing against the wooden slats. Then there was a loud crash and the sound of breaking, splintering wood. Then...silence. The shaking stopped. rm and sirens blaring after an earthquake, but here in the mountains - quiet. Sliding out from under the bed, he clicked on the light. The electricity was still working. He was shaking on the inside now that the earth was still. Tsound of creaking ..

thinking that the house was collapsing. Flinging the front door open, he froze, heart choking in his throat. A frozen tsunami. waiting to smother his house and encase him in an early tomb. Creak……… snap!….. the sound of rocks rippling down to the ground at his feet.

Chris was unable to move, stiff with shock and amazement. There had been an earthquake, nothing major, a little tremor, but the ensuing rock slide now threatened to crush hislittle wooden house. hundred by his hard work, his AGod; under the His life saved by d togetherfor God, his folly; had saved his life. Creak…….creak…..

He stood in his front door unable to move, spellbound, watching as the weight of the earth with glacial bend the hull of his boat towards him. over the wall, landing at his feet. Still unable to move, he stared at the wall of rocks.

bedought him out of his stupor.

It must be Franz checking on me.

alking down the narrow corridor between house and wall of rock. Carefully at first, broke his nerve and he started to run. Catching his sprawling, cursing onto the rough street, as oud SNAP! the wooden supports ginto his house, flattening it with a loud crash.

#

Lying on his back looking up into the night sky, the extreme quiet was broken by the sound of Franz’s old clunker coming up the road. He could also see the headlights zig-zagging somewhere below his feet.

Well, i’m done building boats for God, he thoughtas he sat up, and looked at the huge pile of rocks that was once his house. He started laughing.

Well that was some flood Lord!” he shouted.

. A thought hit him.

It was there now, a monument, a cairn – for Julia – and it would remain there. There was no way he was going to rebuild his house; the insurance would not pay for an act of God. A smile crept across his face as he stood and waited for the approaching headlights. He had an idea for a story.

 

 

The End.

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Christopher Stand. All rights reserved.

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