Page 56 - WTP Vol. IX #7
P. 56

The Lookout (continued from preceding page)
“I’ll take the water for my tea. Do you like chamomile?”
“I’m afraid I’m pretty much a coffee drinker at this hour. Speaking of time, I have to do my morning check in on the radio in a few minutes.”
Star quickly shifted. “Don’t say anything about me— you promised.”
“My word is good. But don’t be making noise in the background when I call in.”
For a week Star disappeared into the woods for hours, or sunned herself like a marmot on the big flat rock where the trail dropped out of sight. She came back from her explorations bearing little gifts of pine cones, flowers, feathers, animal bones, or rocks for Holt. “Everything has a story to tell and nothing is too small to appreciate.” Star looked at Holt with a smile and handed them to him with reverence and a sense of amazement Holt only saw before in the eyes of children who discover an object for the first time.
“Holt, sometimes you look lost in thought. Is some- thing bothering you?” Star was cooking a cheese and onion quesadilla on the stove, the smell filling their small space.
“I’ve been thinking about my mom,” Holt said. “She passed away a year ago from a brain tumor and I’m working my way through it. Probably will be for a long time, too.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Star.
Holt wanted to talk about his mom to somebody, but
never found the right moment, and it felt like a stone dropping into a deep well. With Star, though, he saw in her eyes, a kindness and yearning to understand his hurt.
Star flipped the quesadilla on to a plate. “It must be terrible to see someone wither away like that. Is that why you’re up here—to get away?”
“Pretty much.”
As much as Holt loved his home, his mom’s death had darkened a place that used to have so much light. It became too confining as if all the walls were en- croaching on his life. The lookout was the perfect solution; expansive views in all directions with sun pouring in from each side.
He found out about the job when it was his dad who saw an ad in the newspaper. Holt had been reading in their living room when his father walked in and handed him a cut-out piece of paper.
Holt had studied the page, sensing his father watch- ing him. “So why do you think I want to be a look- out?”
“You seem a bit lost. Sometimes alone time is a good thing.” His father placed his hand on Holt’s shoulder, with a calm, benevolent look normally associated with a preacher.
“What makes you think that?”
Holt knew his father had seen right through that response. If Holt wasn’t exactly lost, he certainly was adrift. He had lost himself in exertion: cutting and splitting firewood, lung-bursting runs, and endless bench presses in the basement. The rest of life was shunted aside. He had taken the application from his father.
Star moved away from the stove and dug into a back- pack pocket. She pulled out a whitebark pine cone painted gold. She reached out, took his hand and pressed the pine cone into it, curling each finger around it until his hand closed. “This is a memory cone. This is where all the good memories of your mom are stored. When you are sad, when the grief hits, this cone will bring you back to cherish her.”
Holt turned the cone over in his hand, running his fingers over the cone’s hard carapace.
“Holt, you’re going to have a very good life. When you’re done here, I want you to get on with it.”
Thank you. What about you?” Holt looked at Star.

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