The first part of this series can be found here. I apologize in advance for the short length of this part. I didn’t anticipate this series becoming as long at it has, and I’m still searching for the best way to continue it.
After dinner, Paul approached him again. He approached with that same stubborn grace, with all the beauty of an unforgiving rock face. Henry dangled at his side. They, evidently, had decided to help him.
Or at least get rid of him.
Paul sat next to James, who recoiled slightly. “We were thinking, yes, both of us… about going down to town tomorrow. I don’t suppose you’ll join us?”
“I don’t want to change your plans—”
“Not at all,” Paul lied.
James thought for a moment. “Don’t see why not.” Yes, he said it. Civilization, with all its new dangers, was better than this place. Later, let the inner struggle burn him to embers again. He’d made his decision, from the moment he saw the smoke.
Henry nodded, moved away. Paul seemed to form another sentence but changed his mind. “We’re going to check some traps today,” he said at last.
“Henry can’t do it himself?”
“We trust you more,” Paul replied.
James looked at Henry, who cocked his head towards Paul. So that was what that was? So, one hour he looks at him down a pistol barrel and the next he wants to traipse through the woods with him. Covering his mistakes with whatever veneer he could muster.
James uttered a small note of recognition, turned to his bags. Henry must’ve convinced him, there was no other way. All their decisions were made outside. Their council was the trees and the bright air. James had not tried to listen. Let them try to glean solutions from the land they had antagonized, he knew they would not find it. He only saw them come and go, their faces giving no clue as to where they had gone. But it was always as terse as their business. Perhaps they could not go being vulnerable for long. In the cabin, there was order. The iron hand of Paul came down on the table, and there was no avoiding it.
Copyright Michael Nellis 2018