• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 12
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I’ll Be Back Soon

I’ll be back soon, I’d said. And maybe I meant it at the time but I'm not all that sure it meant anything to anyone else. My wife had smiled and said Okay. My friends had cheered me as I left. My brother had winked and put his arm around my wife and said, You be good now, brother. My wife had laughed.

I don't know how long I've been gone. The fire had been on its way out, I remember that. We'd been drinking wine from a box and whiskey from shiny metal coffee flasks. We must have looked and sounded like kids again. My wife was the first to get drunk. She was giddy and silly and struggling to stand on her own two feet. I’d told her to slow down and she’d told me to stop being so boring and old. Sometimes she forgets she's married to me. I'm the socks she picks up in the bedroom before bed, the dishes that need soaking and cleaning twice before the guests arrive. I'm the dustballs on the carpet she spots while we're watching TV, as if she's not really watching at all.

Our friends had suggested this camping trip. I didn't really think it was our thing at first but my wife had said maybe it's what we both need, so we came along. We'd spent the first day fly fishing and reeling in redfish and striped bass. We'd seen salmon runs that changed the colour of the water to oranges, blues and greens. My brother threw a pebble in the river and we watched it vibrate on the surface of the water. Every now and then we’d catch the silvery flick of a tail and it was so beautiful, so small, like seeing the flash of a mermaid and hardly daring to believe it.


I’ll Be Back Soon

My brother wasn't married but he loved my wife. She knew it, and she played along with it. He was easy to call. Could you fix the dishwasher? Yes, he could fix the dishwasher. He’d watch her back move underneath her blouse while she made tea for him. I knew he did it because I did it too. I knew he was down there doing it now, watching her drink and hiccup and holding her steady while she walked to the edge of the river, dipping her toes in and whispering, Let's take our clothes off.

The sky was a bright morning blue, the clouds soft and smoky like coffee steam. I probably didn't need this rug anymore but I felt majestic, like I was part of something. Like I was part of a view. Maybe I would make a good photograph. I straightened up a bit. Up here, I could see things they couldn't. I could stay until the air dropped and the darkness bit and they lit the campfire for the third and final time. Maybe I’ll hear a mountain lion if I'm really, really quiet.