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"Pillow Drift" excerpt; blog post #100

Wednesday 12/5/18


I have composed 1700 words this morning of "Pillow Drift," which was summarized in yesterday's journal entry. We are at 4000 words. It will soon be finished. This is from this morning's work--the close of one section, the start of the next.



“...I am almost certain that when we stopped we were near a golf course on my side. I am positive I saw a sand trap a little up ahead. So I think if we make a diagonal line from the headlight on my side, we’ll run into it. The snow couldn’t have accumulated as much on the course—the wind just blows it around too much—and there have to be buildings once we get across.”


It was as if the snow halted itself to allow them to start. Once they clambered over the bank of it on the passenger side, the land, and the weather, flattened before them. They could not see a golf course, but the woods were not thick, with distances of ten and twelve feet between each of the trees, so they walked on. At an intrepid little rill that burbled at their feet, Waldy looked down and saw a golf ball. “Okay, look at this, it has to be this way. Total M&M celebration coming when this is over.” Soon there were signs for the golf course itself and also for residences. “Private Property. No golf carts beyond this point.” Kris was the far better athlete between the two of them. She ran track at Harvard. Neither had on thick coats. “Ah, my kingdom, my kingdom for a golf cart, and a smooth, fair path upon which to drive it,” Waldy declared, trying to make them both laugh. He turned to face his wife a few steps behind him, pretty sure she wouldn’t be laughing, but hoping she’d be making a mock-quizzical face, at least. He would have found that reassuring. He was, in fact, terrified.


“Waldy, look,” she said, when his eyes had met hers, and he turned around again to see that what might have been the golf course—for they could not see the tops of very many trees—was a veritable outwash of snow, piled to their chests. “Jesus fucking Christ,” he said. “What the fuck has happened here.”


“We need to get back to the car, Wald. Come on. Give me your hand. Come on. Now.”


***

“Well, that was a bad freaking time,” Kris offered, as the car doors shut again, nearly at the same time, a clap of metal hands, slightly on the offbeat. She was trying to be light-sounding. Chin up, and all of that, as Waldy thought. He had taken her hand and let it and her pull him at first, starting him walking out of the snow he had been sinking into. Her hand had felt warm despite being gloveless in that cold, as if she had managed to will some heat in it for him. They had not touched in a long time.


“We need to try the other side.”


“I think we need to wait.”


“Waldy, we are going to freeze if we sit here. I’m just going to look. I’ll run. You know you can’t keep up. That way I’ll get warmer, and if I find someone, I bring help, and if it’s just another dead end, I run back, no harm, no foul.”


She could haul ass, Waldy knew that. But he also knew that her side of the car looked more foreboding than his did, with the tops of the drift having turned to ice which now gleamed a slightly blue-ish hue in what passed for the day’s sunshine, a tracery of furcated, wan beams, as if they’d been emitted through a transom window in the gunmetal New England sky.


“No, dude,” he responded—the dude part meant he was serious—“we’re waiting. Conserve your energy. Close your eyes. Let’s think.” He did just that himself. He had not slept the last two days at the institute, in anticipation of his return to his life, in his fear that he would be tortured by knowing that he loved someone he could not, in fact, love, nor feel love for. Once he had watched an old Western—maybe it was The Rifleman—and the dad character lost his memory. A blow to the head or something. There were so many plots like that. He was a rancher and he had a boy, and when the boy said “you’re my pa,” you could tell that the rancher man understood this cognitively—it could have been the case, likely was the case—but that he felt nothing for this creature. His memory probably wasn’t going to come back, but if he loved him before, it was conceivable that that would happen again, or was love more a matter of timing, of circumstance, of what you were at another point in life when everything was right on the calendar, so to speak, for a sun and a moon to pass directly in front of each other?