Page 63 - WTP Vol. IX #7
P. 63

 thing was not right pushed him from his warm bed and he hurried to dress from the clothes in a pile on the floor. The air warmed as he walked to the sunny side of the catwalk near the rope pulley. He didn’t notice it at first but the normally slack rope was taut. He went over to it and his eyes followed the line down to the ground.
At the end of it was Star’s suspended body.
Holt grabbed the handrail and leaned so far over it straining to see better, he almost fell out of the tower. With a burst of energy he flew around the catwalk, flipped open the trap door and clambered down the steps two at a time.
The folding chair and a whole round of firewood were askew below her. Holt determined she had rigged a scaffold and kicked them over. Star hung limp like a jacket on a coat hook. Holt climbed onto the chair to try and release her body from the strain on the knot by lifting her. A skein of drool clung to her chin and a red furrow cut into her throat.
He knew lifting wasn’t going to work with the rope around her neck. He yelled “Shit!” so loud it rever- berated around the mountaintop.
Every passing second was crucial and Holt charged up the stairs, grabbed his pocket knife and ran back down. He slashed at the rope, watching each strand sever until she was suddenly released. The rapid loss of tension catapulted Holt and Star off the chair, and he landed on top of her. He ripped the remnants of the noose off her neck.
“Star! Star! Speak to me, goddamn it!” Holt smacked her cheeks and held his head to her nose and chest to search for any sign of breathing. Nothing. He franti- cally tried to remember his CPR training and began giving chest compressions and rescue breathing. There was no way he could bear to look at Star so
he shut his eyes and blocked out all thought except arms pumping and counting. Pressing harder, ribs cracked. A dullness set into his muscles, his knees ached, and the effort turned into a mental fog where thoughts collided and stars appeared before his eyes. It was a warm wetness on his hand before Holt real- ized he was crying.
The sun continued its ascent and Holt was vaguely aware of how long he was pumping by the increasing warmth of the morning. No sign of life. His body gave out and he slumped prone on his knees. He noise- lessly tipped over and lay on his back in the morning
“As much as Holt loved his home, his mom’s death
had darkened a place that used to have so much light... The lookout was the perfect solution; expansive views in all directions with sun pouring in from each side.”
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