Eileen (Part Two)
Birds woke me in the early morning hours. Looking around me I found the fire had turned to ash but I felt warmer than the previous nights. Wrapped around me was Abigail’s blanket, her perfume was embedded in its fabric. My back hurt from the rock we had decided to sleep on. I looked up at the sky to see only fragments of the sun through the swirling snow. At my head sat Abigail looking up at that same sky. She wore my wide brimmed hat, the bird’s feather pointed straight up. She rested her arms on her knees. “It’s brighter today.” She said.
“Have the clouds lifted?” I set up to cover her with the blanket which caused her to turn to me with a frown.
“Is it not warm enough?” Her face showed anger but her eyes showed me that she was using anger as a shield.
“It’s perfect Abigail, but you are shivering, I’m dressed for this you are not. A white dress will get you killed out here.” After saying those words I realized that she wanted that, much like I had but I had more fear of committing to that act then her. She gave me no answer instead she just looked away to the sky. I pulled the blanket up around her shivering body without an accompanying word. I sat next to her while I fiddled with an old button from my coat. Her eyes stared at the sky. “Are you expecting something Abigail?”
“I thought he’d have come for me by now?” I knew who she was speaking of; it was the same man we all expect to see someday. But he is not coming.
“Are you warmer Abigail? You’ve stopped shivering.” Those comforting words took her from the sky. They grounded her in the reality she had placed herself in. I was happy to be there with her in that reality, whether I knew it or not at the time. The same went for her. Somewhere buried in both of us was the fragment of happiness. It was broken into a million pieces and scattered about, but with time it could be put back together.
Abigail looked down at her feet showing me that they were bare. They were bright red with her nails cracked. I pulled off my coat to wrap it around them in an attempt to warm her. I pressed my hands around them to feel how cold they truly were. “Where are your shoes Abigail?” Anxiety consumed me.
“I threw them over a mountain several miles back.” Immediately I grabbed her. She had her arms wrapped around my neck to hold her body up. My knees were weak and my arms frail but Abigail was standing in the threshold of death. My only mission was to get her as far away from it as possible. From her came no objection.
For hours I carried her up steep hills and down valleys. Snow wetted my hair down; the cold began to freeze it. Abigail’s heavy breathing told me that she had fallen into a deep sleep. I kept my hat pressed down on her head to warm her ears while she dreamed. The feather stuck in the ribbon of the hat pointed behind us. During her sleep she managed to keep her grasp firm around my neck. I whispered to her that she would be ok. But during that brief time of knowing her I found her to be much like me, being ok did not matter to her or me.
Mother Nature and the Sun fought against me. The sun was setting while the snow increased. Wind whispered threats into my ears. Snow piled up all around me until I was knee deep in it. Each step took strength I did not have. After I pushed through for several moments Mother Nature had beaten me, she tore me down and pushed me to my knees. I fell onto my back with Abigail still holding tightly onto my neck. The fall woke her with an attack of snow to her face. Unlike most people who would immediately stand when faced with such shock she stayed by my side. I could see my breath floating up above me as Abigail’s green eyes looked down. I felt like the drowning boy in her story, only I was a man who turned into a boy.
Abigail held my face while forcing my eyes from closing. The darkness of the night began to creep up around us without warning as if it was late. But no matter how hard Abigail worked to keep me there and all the tears she cried I was fading fast. I had been there before in that place but it felt worse lying there buried in the snow. My head fell to the side as Abigail cried out in a language I did not recognize. Every tear she shed could not pull me from the abyss I was falling into.
To my surprise it wasn’t over. Standing ten feet from us was an old cabin covered in snow masked within the trees. I looked to Abigail with a strange smile. Her face was red from crying. My smile broke that pain in her giving her the ability to grin. I stood holding her once again knowing her feet were useless. Fighting against my legs became a chore as the storm attacked us from all angles. With each step I took Abigail and I closer to safety. In my mind I could have fallen at the doorway just as long as Abigail could have crawled into the shelter of that cabin. Both of us were young with little life behind us and too much before us. For some reason I felt I had to fight to get us to that road leading to the next day, a road both of us had never wanted to walk. The longer I had been there, watching each day pass; I continued to prolong the experience. Why did I desire to stand back up while at the feet of death? I did not fear death, I wanted it.
I awoke to the cracking of a fire along with the whispers from the wind. I felt warm on the ancient cabins dusty floor even though my feet were numb. Everything around me slid slowly into focus. I could see a wire hanging from the ceiling frozen in the wind. An old photograph of a child stood on the fireplace mantle. Abigail was asleep next to me with her back up against the wall holding my frail pale hand in-between hers. “I hope you’re happy.” I couldn’t tell if I had said that or Eileen. Either way both of us had the ability to blame the other for our situations. In the end one of us would cut the others throat.