The Cabin 2

World’s Away

The snow hadn’t gone away for the entirety of seven months. Or maybe seven months? Fanny swore she’d kept track, but Chester and Amos doubted it. Never so much as to say so when she was around, but with a glance and an eye roll, they both knew. Regardless, the snow had been around for a long time. The weather on this side of the Cabin wasn’t cold, not in that Kentucky way, where the cold’d stick to you like gum on the bottom of your shoe. Here, the air was crisp and cool, like a brisk autumn day. Only with two feet a snow underfoot.

“Do you see it?” Fanny demanded. Grammatically speaking, it was a question. Chester knew that, had had such rules pounded into his head and butt. But on this side of the Cabin, those old rules simply didn’t apply, least of all to Fanny.

“Have I said anything?” Chester responded sarcastically, not turning from his position even to give her a piercing stare. His focus was on the eastern horizon, a hard enough direction to survey, what with the sun setting about now and all. He wondered if his Pa was having as hard a time watching across “No Man’s Land” to see the Germans in their trenches.

Fanny glared at him. “Then keep looking.”

Chester wasn’t even certain if he’d know it when he seen one. What’d a snow fairy look like anyway? I mean, he’d heard it described, but nothing was normal since they’d walked into the Cabin. It was like that Alice in Wonderland story, ‘cept no one wanted to take someone’s head. If he had one good thing to say about this place, it was that he’d met some great people. No, that’s not the right word. Creatures. But then again, to call them that seemed wrong as well. They were more than that.

“There she is!” Amos’ voice cracked as he tried to hold his excitement down to a whisper.

“Where?” Fanny asked.

Amos pointed into the sky. It had begun to snow, lightly floating on a breeze that seemed to spin like the twister in those Oz books that are so popular now.

“That’s not it,” Fanny scolded. “It’s just the snow.”

“No,” Amos pleaded. “Didn’t you hear what the Avalerion said? The fairy is always there when it begins to snow! I saw her twinkle a split second before the snow came down.”

“So now it’s a her?” Fanny challenged, ignoring her earlier argument for yet another. And this particular discussion, they’d disputed ad nauseam. Truth be told, it or her didn’t matter as long as it (or her) got us back home.

“And she’ll be gone if we don’t hurry!” Chester shouted.

The boys rushed into the dizzying snow. Fanny followed, likely not wanting to be left alone. They knew what to look for, or at least the Avalerion had described it before – a glittering orb above and within the snow. If they found and captured the fairy, she’d take them home. Now of course, this sounded a bit like the magic, ruby slippers from the same Oz story, ‘cept this magic slid around slipperier than a blue gill on Friday night. They ran and ran till Chester could hardly heave without feeling like he’d throw up that sweet red asparagus he’d ate this morn.

“Where,” Fanny gasped, “is it?”

Snow fell all about them. Chester tried to get his bearings. The sun was to their left so that meant they were facing north. No, south. The ridge was behind them, given they’d just charged down it. He looked up, but no glittering orb. Just more snow.

“I’m sorry gang,” Amos said. “I lost her in all the excitement.”

“You never had her!” Fanny shouted. “I mean, you never had it!”

“Is she always so rude to us?” someone chirped.

Chester turned to the sound. Reclining on an evergreen needle, not more than three feet away, was a fairy. Or at least something akin to what he would call a fairy. Sparkles danced all around her making her look like the center of a lingering coal when you hit it with a stick. She had a body sorta human, ‘cept for the fact she was as big as the tip of Chester’s finger, and the pinky finger at that. And wings. Well, not really wings like a bird or even an insect, more like those sparks from the hit coal just lingered along her back a bit longer than the rest backlighting her with a halo.

The three gawked, mouth agape. The fairy stood, bowed slightly, and then sent a sliver of golden dust at Chester’s nose.

“Catch me if you can!” she said as she took back to the skies.

“You have one minute,” the automated voice interrupted. Michael could hear Abbey’s frustrated sigh on the other end. She wanted her dad to finish the story, or at least this part. He wouldn’t have time tonight.

“So you had a good Christmas?” he asked.

“Uh-huh,” Abbey responded. “But I really wish you could be here.”
“Me too, honey.” Being away from home was tough, but being away at Christmas unbearable. He knew it was his turn to pull duty on the rig, and it wouldn’t be fair to the other guys if he didn’t, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier. “I love you, and I’ll be home soon. Let me say goodbye to your mom.”

“Running out of time?” Trish asked when she got back on the line.

Michael sighed. He didn’t want to answer. He knew she wouldn’t want to hear it anyway. “Drink some peppermint tea for me, hon.”

“Out of our cup,” she said. “You be safe out there and we’ll see you next week.”

They exchanged “I love you’s” and then hung up. He held the phone in his hand for long moments, staring blankly. He wanted to go home, swim the hundred plus miles if he had to and walk the rest, as foolish as that sounded. Christmas away from family was less than just another day. He hung up the phone and went to his room, little more than a bed, dresser, and desk with a decorative rug that his wife had given him to ‘add a little color’. It lasted a week before it was stained black with oil like everything, and everyone, on this rig.

Someone knocked on the door and then Jeff entered. Privacy was not an option with Jeff. Actually, being that Jeff was the top dog on this shift, it wasn’t even a possibility on his rig.

“You have a present.” Jeff announced, and then handed a half-full coffee cup of steaming peppermint tea.

Jeff stared at it dumbfounded. “Where’d you get this?”

“It’s Christmas, boy. Got it from some fat guy in a red suit. Drink up.”

And Michael did, sharing a Christmas with his wife hundreds of miles away.


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