She was coming off the mountain after a feverish ten-hour hike. She stopped at the riverbank to wait for her dog Stanley to catch up. The glacier-fed river looked enticing so she she stuck her hand in and tried to keep it under for ten seconds. When she pulled it out, her hand tingled and burned like it was on fire. She studied her blue veins and realized what she’d done.
She imagined what he was doing back home. Sitting on the couch with a half a hand sticking in his pants. Probably ranting to one of his friends about how she ran off in the middle of the night. How mad she got when he confessed that he overwatered her tomatoes while she was visiting her mom. She screamed like a car door slammed on her hand and then cried all night, scrunched into the fetal position underneath her sheepskin blanket. She remembered that he had such caring eyes as he rubbed her hair, trying to console her. He was so strong and sensitive and everything a girl could ask for, considering, but still, each time he said the words ‘Mom’ and ‘Cancer’ she wanted to punch his caring eyeball sockets in. I didn’t run away from him as much as from everybody, she rationalized. That whole goddamn city, and all the other goddamn cities connected to it by wires and highways and hospitals.
She just needed to be alone with the mountain. Still, I shouldn’t have taken Stanley, she murmured to the trees.