Reads: 197

It’s almost dark by the time they stop and pull over in Deer Lake. The rain is relentless and the western winds are howling through the trees. Along the way they’ve passed three accidents and two of those in the last half hour. They ought to have been there hours ago but the storm is a death trap and they decide to wait it out overnight.

In the shower Al stands and watches droplets form in the sweaty mirror. His shoulder’s burning but he won’t dare let the water touch it. There’s fire in his skin, in the cracks between his bones.

Millie knocks on the door.

“I’m running down the hall, you want anything?”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“Don’t melt in there.”

“Yah.”

He gets out and wrestles, writhes his way into some clothes and goes to lie on the bed. Picks the one closest to the door. Millie likes it cool, by the window. He remembers that.

He flicks through the channels on the colossal television and stops to check out the CBC. Wipes the sweat out of his eyes. It’s too early for the news and most of him breathes a long, shaky sigh for all it’s worth. As though the name Kevin Porter won’t be screaming out from every corner. Everywhere forever.

It’s pointless lying there and Millie’s still not back so he goes walking around the hotel. It’s big, but not huge. He’s stayed here before, on class trips during high school. His legs are trembling from all the sitting and waiting and worrying and fuck knows what else. Al takes his time along the halls, taking in the dim orange glow of the night lamps and the metallic light glaring in from the storm. The hotel makes a narrow rectangle around an enclosed courtyard bedded with berry bushes and small trees. Here they grow slender and straight safely away from the wind. There’s a gravel path that winds around and a little wraught iron bench near one end, but he can’t find a way to get out into that place.

The hotel interior is just as mysterious to him. He walks around the courtyard hall three times, he thinks, but only after the third time does he come to a small museum of sorts. Great framed sketches and maps narrate the lands and paths of the native Beothuks since dead and killed to the last long ago. Arrowheads and stone tools lie arranged in velvet showcases with labels writ in scaling ink that read reproduction under each piece. Dusty heads of caribou protrude from the walls and all but one with balls of lichen in their muzzles. That largest one stares with shiny brown eyes from under its bony crown that reaches like grasping arms toward the middle of the room and Al backs away slowly, his temples booming with his pulse or thunder or something else. He makes his way back to the room and finds Millie sitting on the bed.

“Got you some water.”

He smiles. “Thanks, Mil.”

“Gotta say, I didn’t picture this a day ago.”

“What?”

“This.” She waves an arm around.

“Yah. I can’t say I did either.”

He tries not to look but he knows Millies staring. She knows somethings wrong.

“You okay?”

He breathes. “Yah. You?”

She breathes. “Yah.”

It’s a long while and a huge silence and Al starts to fall asleep again. He’s tired, so tired, and he won’t stop sweating. The thunder in his head is still booming and his bones are filled with frost. Lying there on the bed he dreams again of floating out to sea and nothing hurts. From time to time he comes to and discovers the room in varying degrees of light. The TV changes and the storm is getting worse and at one point he thinks Millie is standing over him but he’s too tired to move. She’s holding a bag of ice and drops of moisture fall down onto him and she rests it on his shoulder and he whispers nothing in particular. In the gaps between short and sudden dreams he sees her watching him and outside the storm and the day fade away into the navy song of summer dark.

 

 

 

 


Submitted: December 14, 2017

© Copyright 2021 keithdaniels. All rights reserved.

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