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.And who she was then did not fit the unwanted thing she had been for so many years, given cast-off spaces in spare bedrooms or even attics and, once, a basement, and who she was then—nobody, really, a kind of ghost—was not who she had been on that day, coming home, believing she still had a mother.The air warm and flat, uncharged.The shorelines hazy, Sitka spruce at their odd, bent angles like a forest gone to ruin, survived some cataclysm, unearthings of bare rock.The knuckle rocks, they called one patch.Everything here enormous and also too small, closed in, living under this mountain.Gary preoccupied as always, caught up in his struggle with the cabin, oblivious to her, no idea what she’d been through last night, not sleeping, no idea what she felt now, the inside of her head spinning like a gyroscope at fantastic speed.He thought she was making up the pain, thought it wasn’t real.She was sitting right in front of him in the boat, facing him, but he managed to look ahead their entire trip across that lake without seeing her at all.Part of how he was letting her vanish.When they arrived, Irene climbed out and helped pull the bow closer to land.Cold metal even on a warm day.They hiked across blueberry and deadfall, around a small alder thicket to the platform and squares of logs they had built, the layers of the cabin.Gary set a piece of wood upright beneath where he was nailing, Irene sat on the logs to compress, and the ten-inch nail sank deep into the top log.Then the log began to split, a crevice on either side of the nail, a ripping sound.Damn it, Gary said.But he kept hammering until he was deep into the bottom log and the two layers were tight.He pounded the head until it indented into the surface of the wood.Okay, he said.Good enough.They moved to the next side, and Gary hammered again, grim and intent, his face looking old, all the lines.Losing himself in work, gone vacant.And Irene didn’t grudge him this.She understood the desire to forget.At the moment, though, she was held present.Each hammer blow a punctuation behind her right eye, a red wavy streak shooting upward, like a cartoon, and she thought she might faint but she didn’t.She could hold on, wait this out.It couldn’t last forever.They nailed all four sides, then stood back to admire their work.Not bad, Gary said.And it was true.The gaps had closed.No more than a half inch anywhere, or less than an inch, anyway, something caulking or grout could probably take care of.They dragged a third layer into place, wet wood, four logs, and Gary nailed again.Irene stood back thinking this could go quickly.It might not take that long to build a cabin.How are we doing the door? she asked Gary.And the windows.Gary paused in his hammering and sat up straight.Breathing heavily.Yeah, he said.We need a door.And at least one window to look out on the lake.Yeah, Irene said.Gary straddling the log wall, one knee on the platform inside.I guess we just cut gaps.When we get to the top of where a window or door would be, I saw down through the logs.Okay, Irene said.And we buy the actual glass window with a frame on it, and the door?Yeah, we’ll buy those first and then I’ll cut the gaps.Gary returned to hammering and Irene lay down in a patch of ferns.Sleep a heavy casing that could never quite close, pain wedged in along the edge.Rhoda would bring more painkiller this evening.She’d promised.Irene had one pill left and was holding out as long as possible.The smell of ferns and earth pungent in close, dark and rich, and she focused on this, tried to hang sleep on smell, but she couldn’t escape, couldn’t remain distracted long enough to forget.And it was unbearable to stay in one position, feeling the pressure build.What are you doing? Gary asked.Irene sat up.I need this to go away, she said.This pain.I’m getting desperate.It seems like it should be over by now.The doctor said a few days, maybe a week at most, and you’d be fine.I couldn’t sleep last night.Not even for a minute.Not even with the Tramadol.What?Yeah, I’m afraid I won’t sleep again until this goes away.I don’t understand.Yeah.But it’s real.Gary came over then, kneeled beside her and held the sides of her head in his hands.You’re crying, he said.No.Just tears.That happens all the time now.Just something my body does automatically.We have to find out what’s wrong, he said.Something’s wrong.Hallelujah.He took his hands away.Don’t be like that.Well, she said.It’s about time you believed me.Sorry.We’ll find another doctor.A specialist.Maybe drive up to Anchorage tomorrow.They stopped work for the day, Gary noticing her finally, helping her over the bow of the boat, watching her on the way back.She tried to smile.Thank you, she said over the engine, but he couldn’t hear and she couldn’t try to say it again.At home, she rested in the bedroom while he cooked.Took her last Tramadol, waited for Rhoda.And she nearly fell asleep.She sank deeper and deeper, but couldn’t quite get away from the surface.Then she heard Rhoda drive up.The front door opening, talking with Gary.The bedroom door, and Rhoda was beside her.We’re taking you to Anchorage, Rhoda said quietly.Jim is making calls now to find someone, and he gave you a prescription for codeine, so I don’t have to steal Tramadol anymore.Irene found it difficult to rise out of herself to speak.Down lower than she had thought.Thank you, she finally said.Jim’s a good guy.Yeah, Rhoda said.He is.Rhoda helped her sit up then, and grabbed her arm to help her stand.I’m not that far gone, Irene said.I can walk.Okay.It’s my head that’s the problem, not my legs.I’m not in a rest home.I’m fifty-five.Okay, Mom, Rhoda said.Geez.Sorry, Rhoda.You were always the one I could count on.You’ve always helped, even when you were little.It’s just who you are, nothing to do with me or your father.Thanks, Mom [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]