Staring blankly at the screen, he suddenly squinted at the glare that had intensified over the last half-hour without his notice. He swiveled away from the desk and looked out the front window. The sun, after three earlier and feebler attempts had mounted the fog bank that lay low over the mountains to the east and now glared down into the valley, dissipating the icy fog and glistening on the melting frost now dripping from the spruce boughs.
His ambiance thus dissolved, he saved the last three and a half pages, and drained the last of his cider, idly lamenting the loss of the mood-setting weather and the loss of the taste of holiday cheer that resulted when hot apple cider grew lukewarm. At room temperature, apple cider, the official spirit of cold, gloomy mountain mornings, tasted disappointingly like apple juice, a common summer refreshment, and Joshua Hammond felt about summer the way an ice sculptor regarded the advent of an unseasonably warm day in January. In fact, the disregard Joshua felt for the whole world outside the cavernous, rock-slashed, spruce shrouded valley he called home was in quality the same disregard he held for the offending sun now spreading the cataract on the 17" flat panel monitor. Invasive.
Whether the contempt he held for such distant reality was owing to the time he'd spent away from it or the time he'd spent in it was of no difference to him. He didn't care to consider it. He didn't have to. Modern technology afforded him the self indulgence of seclusion he so desired. Joshua earned his keep by the broodings of his melancholic temperament. He bled those pleasantly dark musings onto a computer screen, saved it to a backup floppy, and when the daydreams assumed the rough and appropriately vague form of a story, copied it on a CD-ROM, and sent it off to his editor. Frequent correspondence with said editor arrived via e-mail, via satellite internet. The accommodating satellite was in its heaven and all was right with the world.
Four years not a soul had stepped foot in this cabin save David Copperfield, the whimsical black and some less white feline who scarcely lived up to his name, and Ebenezer, the hulking, morose Siberian Husky who bore the handle of his namesake with astonishing accuracy.
Town was a village, really, of 312, 22 miles down a gravel road. Conventional mail arrived in post office box in the village, and the numerous disciples of numerous gospels peddling their numerous creeds in the larger towns to the west had not yet considered the wild and untamed mission field that lay up the mountains to the east. The only human Joshua had seen broach the 12 miles between he and his nearest neighbor was a boy, of 12 or 14, or so it seemed at a distance of 500 yards, which was the distance between the large picture window in the front room and the gravel lane that wound on past the cabin up the ridge to the south.
He remembered it well simply because of the novelty of it and because it slightly annoyed him that anyone, less a boy, so discerned mostly because of his unpredictable gait and the suddenness at which he swung around sideways and walked backwards, eager to discover some new sight or phenomenon of the mountain wilderness no doubt with which to share with his friends back home in the Midwest. Children had no appreciation for nature simply for nature's sake. It always had to be something worth telling. He also remembered because both his animal companions had been alerted by some inscrutable sound and crowded to the front window just as the boy stopped and gazed up through the smallest opening in the trees that allowed sight between the cabin and the road. For some reason embarrassed, he called both to heel and himself eased back into the eat-in kitchen.
Book Review: Peace for Today
10 months ago