h1

The Cabin 1

The shack’s ceiling slumped toward the ground, the snow atop it glistening in the moonlight like a smiling salesman with more metal teeth than real.  Trees surrounded the cottage, their moonlit shadows heavy, but not against the snow’s desire to glimmer, the brilliance demanding to be seen. Fanny, Chester, and Amos, however, were striving to avoid the same attention.

“You a-goin’?”  Fanny asked Amos.

Amos stared at the cabin, his eyes as ample as the full moon above, his pupils wide with anxiety.  He had always been the nervous one.  It was inbred. Sorta like being tall or short, only more obvious.

“It’s your idea.” Chester accused Fanny.  He always defended Amos, even if it wasn’t always factual.  Truth be told, Amos had wanted to prove his bravery, but bravery always seemed much easier when you say it than when you had to do it.  Or at least that’s what Pa’d said in his letter, and Pa’d know.

“Well?”  Fanny prodded.  Momma always said that Fanny was persistent.  Most everyone else thought her annoying.

Amos looked to Chester, imploring him with his pleading eyes, the same kind a pup would use to get a pork chop.  Chester took the hint.  Amos picked his boot out of the snow and inched it forward.  Chester did the same, taking a step to put him right next to Amos. It was always easier to be brave when someone was beside you, not that it’d keep you anymore alive. Fresh snow crunched beneath the soldiering march of their feet. All the snow on this part of the ridge was unmarked cause no one came round these parts unless they were lost.  Or dead.

We’re not either, thought Chester, at least not yet.

Steadily, they crept forward like a cat trailing a mouse, each step slower than the one before it.  Unlike the cat, though, Chester wasn’t all excited about what he was trailing.  His mouse could likely give him a whippin’.  Without the switch, even. But, as it did the others, bravery or stupidity pushed him on.

“Do ya think it’s true?”  Asked Chester.

“What?”  Fanny asked.

Chester turned to her, imploring her with his eyes to not be so stupid.  She made the same face back at him. The truth was no one could answer his question.  No one even recalled the last person to enter the cabin.  They’d heard the stories.  Everyone in the holler had.  But no one really talked about it. Some said to do so would bring on a demon. Samuel said he’d even heard the preacher say the cabin was a gateway to hell.  Or maybe that was drinking?

“Just go,” Fanny implored.

Chester looked to Amos to build his courage and with a nod of affirmation focused back to the cabin. He took a timid step, and then another, and wondered if it was much the same over on the Western Front. He’d heard it was winter over there too, and figured that it’d be twice as scary to move around in that snow.  Actually, over there not that much moving was happening.  Pa’s letters had been from the same place since before spring.  The schoolmaster said they’d be from the same place through the winter.

Standing in front of the cabin, really in front of it, less than one step away, Chester didn’t have to push down anymore fear.  His heart’d told him he was still afraid, pounding clear up in his throat like it was. But it hadn’t overwhelmed him like when he tried to swim in the creek after a storm, pulling him down and just getting worse and worse.  No, this was more like wading, the muddy water slowing him, causing him to be sure of his footing before taking the next step. But once the foot was secure, he knew everything’d be alright.

And maybe it would be alright.  With a glance to Fanny and Amos, they each stood on the precipice of the porch. With a deep breath and then holding it, and not really knowing why that’d help, each took that final step into the unknown.

The unknown sounded pretty much like their own front porch.  The wood was a little softer, but otherwise pretty much the same.  The three looked at one another and then back at their steps in the snow before sharing another glance that quickly darted toward the door, the belly of the cabin.

“What ya suppose is in there?” Fanny asked.

Each friend looked at one another and then back at the door.  They’d made it that far.  What was one more step?


“That’s the chapter for tonight, Abbey,” Dad said as he closed the book.

Abbey whimpered a protest, just as she did most every night, but her objection was short-lived.  She knew that the story would be there tomorrow.

Dad tucked her in and prayed with her, a simple child’s prayer thanking God for the stars and moon, and snow, and trees to hold the snow.  Dad remembered his own prayers, sometimes trying so hard to be deep and philosophical, as if that would bring God any closer than this purest, simplest honesty. With a kiss on the forehead, he said goodnight and began to leave the room.

“Daddy, could I sleep with the book?”

He smiled, and placed it next to her in the bed before leaving the room. The book had been a present beneath the tree that still shone with more blue lights than stars in the sky.  It had always made him think of “Blue Christmas”, even though this’d been anything but.  He sat on the couch next to his wife.  She nuzzled next to him with a cup of peppermint tea and offered him a drink.  They always drank from the same cup.  They said it was so they had fewer dishes to wash, but no one really believed it, least of all them.

“Did she like it?” She asked.

“Yeah.”

“You’ve always been a great storyteller.”

  The only response he gave was a simple grin. His thoughts had left this time, floating back to a world of his imagination, already weaving what the next part of the story should be.

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