The Cabin – part one

fiction

The Cabin – part one

By Nikki Judge

The shushing from her skis was the only sound in the long alpine valley. The snow sparkled in the full moon, the peaks surrounding her enhancing the glow and helping to light her way. Lost in the rhythm of movement, her legs kept the stretch-glide-kick-stretch-glide-kick in an even, terrain-crossing tempo. She tried shrugging her shoulders to adjust the pack’s weight and felt the knot that had been growing there for hours burn.

Wanting to make the cabin before sunrise and realizing she still had at least an hour to ski, she gripped the poles and pushed and propelled her burning thighs to a faster pace.

The downside to two weeks out in the middle of nowhere in Alaska was that you had to fend for yourself. There was no friendly neighbour to reach out to for nearly 100 square miles – and that was just the way she had wanted it. When she had called Danny and asked if she could use the cabin, he was quick to remind her that it was hardly used anymore and he had not been up there since early fall.

She had not even tried to bother to explain that right now all she wanted was away from people; Danny was a people person – he would never understand and then would spoil it by showing up because he thought she needed company. She smiled wryly inside her faceguard as she remembered the melodramatic hurt in his voice when she promised to shoot anyone who showed up, even the owner. She sure hoped he got the message, good-hearted kid that he was, she was never sure if he listened or not.

Coming to the last rise before the cabin, she stopped at the top of the hill. Peace engulfed her like a blanket as she looked out over the valley. Crisscrossed with moon shadows and moose trails it was the epitome of peaceful serenity. This was where she needed to be to figure out what she was going to do next, and how to let the hurt go. But, first, there were the practical considerations. She arrived at the cabin just as the sun was hitting the west side peaks lighting them with a pink morning glow.

She easily fell into the chores to get the cabin ready for habitation, hoping that the movement would loosen the knot registering her muscles’ complaints about carrying the pack. It had been a few years, and she still knew the way, but her muscles were telling her they had forgotten what it felt to carry a full pack on an all-night ski. She knew she would pay for it in the morning, but for now, a fire, some food and the bed were what she needed.

Picking up the kindling for the stove, she took a final look at the sunlight on the mountains before heading inside. The way her foot automatically slid back to put the draft stopper in place at the bottom of the door made her feel like the cabin was welcoming her home.

That was what she loved about coming here. Nothing changed inside the cabin; it was always the same, timeless. Dividing the single room was a rope with clothespins for drying outer garments that draped higher over the pot-bellied wood stove. The old rocker and the small frame bed took up the back part of the room.

Smiling wryly, she looked at the cabin’s “kitchen” which consisted of two metal tubs, some shelves on the wall with an assortment of candles, matches and survival rations above and a small table that was kept level with a folded matchbook cover just below. She could still see the gouge marring the back of the chair from the weekend she and Rich had decided to have a knife-throwing competition. Shaking her head to dismiss the reverie she opened the flue and knelt to start a fire.

It had only taken her a couple of hours to do all the chores to settle in and make the cabin comfortable, yet the sun was casting an orange/peach evening alpine glow on the eastern peaks as she started to use some of the newspaper as chinking for the holes in the cabin walls.

She used one of the candles from the kitchen stores as a way to find where the cold was coming in and was soon efficiently plugging the worst of the holes. Completing the last wall, she tossed the remaining paper on top of the wood in the wood bin and set the candle in the holder on the table.

>>>Thank you for reading. For Part Two – please visit sparrow-publishing.ca next week.<<<

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