Short Prose

Stepping Out of the Cabin

Today I watched motes of dust play through the air in the cabin in my head. The dust passes through a shaft of light coming through the broken door and gives the air a cluttered, dancing quality. The dust settles over anything that sits too long, making things look diffuse, unknowable. I brought a mirror into the cabin to watch the dust settle over me. I was blinded little by little as the dust put down roots in my eyes. I wiped my eyes clean to reveal that the rest of me remained spotless.

Yesterday, I sat in front of my typewriter, looked at the window, and contemplated what lay beyond. My window spider had encased the glass in a solid wall of silk. I asked her forgiveness for intruding as I gingerly pulled her web aside. As I worked, I thought of the windows in my wood shop, how my Grandfather’s shop had no windows, and how the windows in my shop are more oppressive than the lack of windows in his. I thought of how I am self-conscious as I spin my lathe, clumsily carve wood bowls, and hope that no one is watching and judging me foolish. I remember Grandpa’s thumbs were nearly as thick as my wrist the first time he showed me how to set the tool into the bowl, let the ribbons fall free. I realize that my thumbs are becoming thick like his now, though they do not bear the marks of a man that works with his hands, like his; mine are soft, nails bitten, the hands of an anxious artist.

When the web is removed, I see the view outside the cabin has changed over the years. The river has been replaced by my creek, Still Creek, where I go to sit below Mount Hood and escape the city. This creek has swallowed the bodies of two loved ones, carried them off until they reached the Pacific. Grandpa Carlsen and Aunt Dorothy, brother and sister, entered the river at the same spot on the same day. To the right of the cabin is my old blue pickup truck. My family rode in that truck to Still Creek to send the siblings on their way. I thoroughly enjoyed bringing my city slicker family with me to the wild. They gasped as I flung the grainy ashes into the water. My grandfather floated down stream, dancing, and bobbing like the moats of dust in front of the cabin’s broken door. My Aunt Dorothy sank to the bottom, clung to the rocks and refused to be washed away. It took her until the end of Summer to move on.

Outside the cabin, the sun is twinkling down on the stream. The water glints and surges along. My toes begin to feel thirsty. I gently pry the broken door open and walk to the shore. When I step out, the sound of the creek rushes into me. I am filled with giddiness at the idea of soaking my feet in the water. I kick off my shoes and run to the shore. I am smiling. I have not smiled like this in my cabin in a great while. It feels fantastic.

From the water, I see Mount Hood. Wy’east is his real name. He was a great Indian warrior that fell in love with Loowit, who we call Mount Saint Helens. His brother, Klickitat, is a mountain too; he is called Mount Adams these days. The brothers, Wy’east and Klickitat, loved Loowit and she loved both of them. Their love was spread among too many and was jealous. They all died because of their love. I have never let love try and kill me. I do not have the constitution for such things. One time a dear friend kissed a girlfriend of mine. I was angry at first, but he pointed out that her love was easy to get and gotten by many. I made the mistake of believing his excuse, excusing him. I left the girl. For good measure, I kissed his next girlfriend. Fare is fare. Soon, I realized my error, women are not tradable currency, not weapons in jealous wars, not what I came to think of them at all, I left him. I wish I could leave the memory of my actions as well; leave that wretched, momentary me outside of my cabin. Let him gather dust somewhere else.

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