The first awful thing she ever said to him! He might not remember but she really does. Well he might remember but he’s gone now. That’s the way to put it, isn’t it. A thick coat of something clear and binding. He’s gone now, he’s dead. Or he’s gone now, he’s moved. Or he’s gone now, he lives down the street and we haven’t spoken since his first child was born. Any single one would be enough, a combination would be unfathomable. It’s been some time now.
So it was on a trip they took together. They didn’t take many but they did take this one, a utilitarian grab for romance at a lakeside cabin in Maine. It was fall so the rates were low and the storms were always, with breaks for dawn and dusk. The rain clawed at their car the night they arrived and the wind made it hard to get to the front door without toppling. She clung to his arm similar to the way he’d always wanted someone to need him. It was a good beginning.
Inside there were walls creaking and things falling off of hooks. The electricity was completely knocked out and he and she lay together on a davenport covered with a dropcloth, thinking it was a blanket and not knowing until the morning their mistake. Wind flew through the poorly-insulated cracks around the doorframes and sung low anthems to their wakeful night.
“I hope you like the cabin,” he said. “When you can see it, I mean.”
What a brave and kind boy he was, it’s a true shame he’s gone. What a good boy and a proud one too, full of announcements, declarations, sayings and so-ons. She mouths the vowels in his name, pulls them here and there in caverns of her tongue, a ridiculous prayer. She’d say more like a curse but he’s a myth more than that. Curses you can have whenever you want.
They slept in the morning, once the storm had passed. Andrew (fuck shit goddamn) got up first and saw the way Patricia (…) was splayed, her mouth open and her body turned upward like a dog showing its belly. He laughed and she batted at him, sleepily, lovingly, sent him away to the porch. He liked the idea.
There were rocks down below and a ladder, he guessed, to get to the ground. It was a long way down but it seemed that the ladder would reach, so he lifted it over the edge of the railing and made like a fulcrum. Here he took care, moving the ladder by inches and pauses.
“What are you doing?” said Patricia. She was standing in the doorway with one hand a balled-up fist in her eye.
“I’m getting down to the ground,” said Andrew. He had the ladder still secure in his hands, a chemical alloy tilting on a physical angle.
“With that? she said.
“That’s what it’s here for,” he said.
Obviously this was not true. The ladder belonged to the caretaker. The caretaker was re-shingling the roof. The ladder was for the roof, and for the caretaker. But today the ladder agreed with Andrew, and so met the ground with a crunch (gravel). Andrew gave the nearest rung a good slap, to demonstrate the security of his method.
“I wish you’d just think before you jump right into things,” said Patricia.
Then she just went back into the cabin.
Andrew climbed down the ladder anyway. He sat on a flat rock with his legs hanging over, long square toes skimming the frothy surface. Dead things stirred up by the storm floated by like a grotesque buffet. When he re-entered the cabin he used the front door, and she poured him a coffee and kissed his neck. Then he forgot because he loved her, or he remembered for the same reasons, and it’s not as though you can control these things from a distance. It was just a trip to the lake and it happened a long time ago.