16Sunsets – Confluence – I


Peter’s eyes snapped open. He looked around his cabin and let out a sigh. Another day, he thought and stared across his cabin to the window to the world outside. He preferred the desolation that the Canadian wilderness provided, but sometimes… Sometimes I miss my old life, he thought, a life from so many years ago. It wasn’t just the desolation that weighed heavily on his mind, but the anonymity the vast frontier offered. More than once during Peter’s exile, he thought of returning to the life he left behind. “What life?” he asked the chill morning air.

Peter climbed out if his bed, the weariness that his life had become showing on his face and movement. He methodically straightened the layers of blankets and animal furs. One errant corner refused to heed to his demands.

“To hell with it!” he mumbled. He did however take the time to straighten the most recent addition to his collection of furs: a wolf pelt. He ran his fingers through the coarse fur and closed his eyes for a silent word or two.

The fireplace that both warmed his home and provided a lazily wafting beacon had burnt down to embers. The embers were enough to stay the cold, and the beacon wasn’t needed when he stayed in the cabin, but, as always, he used a handful of tinder to coax flame from the blurry coals.

Blurry coals? he thought, that’s different.

Peter reached up to his face and felt a dampness. He scoffed and wiped his cheeks on the back of his hand. He held out his hands and examined them. More than two decades of work provided a crisscrossing roadmap of lines. Calluses formed the cities. Wrinkles, cuts and scrapes formed the roads and other landmarks.

Peter closed his eyes again and imagined the life he had. He could see the Victorian-era building that housed his place of employment. The ornate stone latticework that surrounded the roof would have marred his delicate hands back then… Now, they’d hardly detect the imperfections in the carven stone.

I’ve sacrificed so much, he thought. He looked at the wolf pelf, and spoke in a sad, almost regretful voice, “But, we know sacrifice.”

Peter continued with his morning ritual and ate his bowl of cereal with milk at the only table he owned. His thoughts, normally on the task at hand, drifted to a life lived in Victorian-era banks and row houses. A life of eating breakfast with his wife and son. Dishes clattering into the sink; arguments and negotiations on loading and emptying the dishwasher.

After Peter finished his cereal, he cleaned up promptly and reached for a cabinet that hadn’t existed for decades. He sighed and returned his spoon and bowl to their proper place at the edge of the sink. Ghostly footfalls thundered up and down steps that existed the same as the cabinet he and his family stored their flatware.

Peter looked at a calendar on a wall. “Damn it,” he said aloud. His voice hung in the slowly warming air. The echo of his voice normally put him at ease, but today… I don’t even know what day it is! he thought as he walked to the calendar and changed it from the previous month to the current. He looked to a pile of newspapers bundled with twine. Five days of newspapers. Five days of information missed. Five days of a life not lived. Five days of…

A commotion from outside rocked Peter from his self-loathing. He rushed to the window to see who had found him.

16Sunsets – Confluence II

[600/32,874 – sunday photo fiction]

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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