Page 57 - WTP Vol. IX #7
P. 57

 “What do you want to do?”
Star gazed off towards the horizon. “I try not to make plans or have hopes or dreams. I want to live for the day I’m in.”
On stormy days when rain dotted the windows they read silently, the pages rustling like dried leaves, or drinking tea. Holt discovered chamomile tea wasn’t bad. There were days though, when Star inexplicably came into the lookout without saying anything and burrowed into her sleeping bag and lay there mo- tionless. On other days, she never got up except to pee. Holt couldn’t tell if she was sleeping or ill, and was unsure what to make of this behavior. He tiptoed around the lookout or gave her space on sunny days by taking a book and reclining against the tower’s legs as a backrest.
A second week passed and Star began a ritual of leaving words or phrases for Holt on the little table serving as their kitchen area. One day it was his name spelled out in tiny garnets she dug out of the mountain’s slopes. Another time she depicted a sun- rise made out of porcupine quills found on her daily expeditions. The best was when she laid a chocolate bar on the table since chocolate was scarce and sur- rounded it with blueberries. A collection of small rocks said “A feast.”
One night lying awake in his sleeping bag, he grabbed the memory cone. Simple, yet it worked. With cone in hand, he remembered baking cookies with his mom, hearing her cheer from the bleachers at his little league games, and listening to his favorite bedtime
Dr. Seuss stories. It was more than a physical gift Star gave him; she was blessed with an ability to see into a person’s heart and soothe it.
They had fallen into a rhythm like a married couple: He took temperature, relative humidity and moisture content measurements from the little white, louvered weather station at the base of the tower. Tromping up four flights of zigzag stairs, he called the data in to the office in Three Forks, and scanned for fires. Star rose early and often disappeared for hours. One afternoon, Holt chopped firewood, carried it from below tree line, loaded the wood in a box attached to the pulley system, and walked up the stairs to unload it, only to find Star drinking her tea. It was unsettling the way she quietly slipped by him like clouds wafting over the summit, along with her knack of blending in and disappearing into the woods, as if she melted into
the landscape. Holt always stumbled and crashed through things, snapping brush, scuffing rocks, an- nouncing himself to the forest.
Holt entered a newfound state of contentment. The world slowed and their mountaintop seemed more alive with birdsong and the scent of sap flowing in the pines. There was no way to explain the lack of sexual edge which normally crept into a man and
a woman living together, particularly in such tight confines. Maybe it was Star’s waif-like appearance, though underneath, he knew she was tough as horse hide. They saw each other more as two minds in a 196-square foot building rather than two bodies. Everything was in balance.
One day, a wall of slate-colored clouds rushed to- wards them and trees bent to the wind as bits of arboreal debris flew past. Lightning streaked, and the detonation of thunder shook the mountains, vibrat- ing from ridge to ridge. The lookout shuddered, and its guy wires hummed like over-strained strings in a hellish symphony. The surge of energy from the ap- proaching storm fascinated Holt, but he also sensed his body tensing as if ready to receive a blow.
Star turned to him and said, “This is incredible! It’s like watching some totally cool movie.”
Holt didn’t answer but noticed the wind slowed con- siderably. There was a tapping on the roof like pebbles tossed on it. The patter grew louder, and sheets of hail pounded the tin roof with a din, making it hard to hear. Hail bounced off the roof, catwalk, and handrails.
(continued on page 55)

   55   56   57   58   59