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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why not?

Hi guys, this is an excerpt from a novel I once wrote. If you want to read more, go here. If you have free time and/or experience and would like to help me format it to for e-books, that would be fun maybe.

Anyway, regular blog coming next Monday.

His leg hurt so badly. He somehow registered this before awakening. His eyes shot open and he doubled over and held onto his thigh, squeezing hard and trying to flex the leg. His whole body was rigid and tight, but the leg was immovable. Gasping from the pain of it, he slowly worked the muscles. Bending and forcing it to bend, he made almost no progress.

Arch collapsed against the pack and looked around, still flexing the muscles in his leg, making almost imperceptible movements that seemed to cost him everything each time. He found the wall of the cart and hauled himself up, pulling his lame leg up under him and igniting more deep soreness and pain as his body sagged against it, and looked around.

Carter looked at him and looked down at the ground.

“What’s up, buddy?” Arch said quietly.

Carter looked at him again. Then at a spot in the ground Arch couldn't see.

Arch sighed. He sat up in the cart and with his arms, pushed his way to the edge. His stiff leg protested as it reached the edge of the cart and Arch forced it down with his hands.

In the snow there was a pile of blankets, coats, and sleeping bags. Arch looked at it quizzically for a moment before picking out a spray of dark hair among the colorful fabrics.

He fumbled for the rifle and found it, he pressed the barrel into the ground and rested his armpit on the stock before easing himself down. Favoring his wounded leg he hobbled to Tawny’s side and sank to his knees with a groan. With trepidation he watched the pile for movement, signs of breathing. Then he leaned forward and gingerly pushed a blanket aside.

“Is she dead?” Carter was at his side.

Arch placed his hand on her cheek gently. Then up to her forehead. The skin was very cold.

“No,” Arch said finally. “We need to set up a tent and get the stove going.”

Carter kept pulling at his coat. “Is she sick?”

“Yeah,” Arch said. “I think so.” He brushed hair from Tawny’s face. “Get the tent.”

Carter moved then and soon dropped the bundle next to Arch. Arch looked at it forlornly. “Buddy,” he said finally, “I think you’re going to have to do this. You helped us before, and I can talk you through it.”

The boy looked like he might protest, but his hands fell to his sides and he nodded. Arch pulled himself to his feet and made his way to the cart. He pulled a pack to the edge and watched Carter as he unfolded the tent carefully. The boy’s movements were deliberate and slow, with long pauses between actions. The actions were true, though. And Arch focused on his task.

He unpacked the big stove and the pots and filled the pot half-full with water from a flexible container. He filled it the rest of the way with snow and turned on the burner. The water heating, he rummaged through the first aid kit for more ibuprofen and put two of the big tablets in his mouth, chewed them absently as he filled a second pot with snow and put that on the other burner.

He looked back at Carter and saw the tent taking shape. Carter looked up then and Arch returned the look. Their eyes locked, Arch nodded his approval and Carter smiled slightly before returning to the task. He moved quickly, organizing containers, then finding the fabric strips he’d ripped from old clothing. There were some Nalgene bottles of various sizes and when the water neared boiling, he filled them and wrapped them in the strips of fabric.

“How’s the tent coming, Carter?” He let a bit of urgency enter his voice, hoping to motivate the boy without scaring him.

“I think I’ve got it,” he yelled back.

Arch looked the tent over and thought it looked alright. “We’ve got to get your mom in there. I’ll need a lot of help.”

He returned to Tawny’s side and knelt as well as he could. The two moved the unconscious figure to the tent and worked her through the tent door.

“Run and get the water bottles,” Arch told Carter. “Hurry. And then bring me the blankets and stuff we left out there.”

Carter hurried.

Arch pulled aside the blanket that had dragged along with Tawny as they pulled her to the tent and began stripping layers from her. He moved as quickly as he could and Carter dropped the bottles near her. He looked concerned at his unmoving mom before turning and running again. When he returned Arch had stripped Tawny to her underwear, wincing a little at her cold skin.

“We have to get all of this wet stuff off,” he explained. “As soon as her clothes are off I want you to dry her as much as you can with this blanket.”

Carter nodded.

“Get a tarp and some sleeping bags. Lay the tarp down, then some of those bags and we’ll roll her onto them.”

Carter did as he was told and when Arch had undressed Tawny, he rolled her onto the bed they’d made. He quickly covered her body with blankets and began placing the warm water bottles near her. Under each armpit, between her legs, at her feet, under each hand. Then he wrapped the tarp around her, enveloping her in a plastic cocoon, an opening about six inches wide for her face. Carter lay next to her and pressed his face against his mother’s, watching her closely.

Arch unzipped another sleeping bag and enveloped the two in the insulating bag, tucking it around them. He ran his hand through Carter’s hair and, wincing at the pain of it, moved to Tawny’s other side. He gently took her chin and turned it towards him and pressed his lips against hers, blowing warm air into her lungs. He heard Carter softly crying.

As the sun moved overhead, the tent warmed more. Arch continued supplementing Tawny’s oxygen and Carter fell asleep pressed against her. Her body was warmer and Arch noticed her eyelids fluttering. He pressed his hand against her cheek and ran his hand through her hair.

He began to speak, in a low voice, just saying soothing things. “There you are,” he said, and “Carter’s right here. He’s right here with you.”

Her mouth parted a little, and she whispered. Arch leaned close to her and listened but couldn’t make it out.

“What’s that?”

She breathed out again and this time he heard it.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

He didn’t answer. Then finally, “you want some tea?”