[Previously on Snowshoeing With Stephen: When I went back for a third run, I backed up too far and the truck slid down the icy road. This was the moment when Stephen ran over to the cab and whispered, “You’re being stubborn. We’ll hike in.” Merik sensing my fury tried to calm the situation down by shouting to me, “Let’s have a drink on this.” Goddamn Czechs, I thought. Always a reason to party.]
I waved him off and drove up the road away from the men and went a good clip before finding a small turn around and heading back down towards them.
By the time I returned, Merik was back in his warm cabin and Stephen was waiting to jump back into the cab.
“Just park there,” he said, and pointed to the side of the road. “We’ll take Dora’s path straight up the mountain.”
We parked on the edge of the main road and looked up at our cabin that sat a good football field straight up a bouldered outcrop.
I don’t know what Stephen was thinking but I was thinking, How the hell did a woman in her 80s climb that path everyday for the years she lived there before us?
“Let me get the snowshoes,” Stephen said.
I watched as he got out of the truck, the air sharp, beyond cold, and reached under the blue tarp of the truck bed for the shoes.
“Where’s the other pair?” I asked through the open door of the cab.
“I just got shoes for me.” He said.
I swear to God our dog, Opal turned around and looked at me as if to say, “Oh shit.” A serious frown on her baby pitbull face.
“Why didn’t you get me snow shoes?” I asked.
“Well you didn’t seem to think it would be a problem to get into the cabin and you seemed to think I was over-reacting so I bought a pair and thought we could get you a pair later.”
I looked back up at the ravine we would have to traverse to get up to the cabin. A solid six feet of snow at least, giant boulders and tree branches jutting out from each side and then back at Stephen, glaring with hatred.
“I was gonna get you shoes,” he said, “but you were making fun and…”
I cut Stephen off in a fury.
“I want you to put on your little snowshoes and leave.” I snapped. “I want you to climb your little pathway and leave me alone to eat my chicken sandwich. Do you understand me?”
Stephen reached down and strapped his snowshoes on, all the while mumbling, “You didn’t even want snowshoes. You made fun of me thinking we needed snowshoes.”
“What?” I said.
Stephen stood up and looked at me. “Do you want to go home?”
“I want to eat my chicken sandwich in peace.”
He sighed, and turned to head up the hill though I’m sure I heard him say something again about Howard Beale as he slammed the cab door.
I watched him struggling to get up the four feet of solid ice from the lip of the road before he stumbled and fell into the drifts of snow. He righted himself, fell again, righted himself, then stumbled, then suddenly caught his bearings and headed steadily up the hill.
I took the moment to put on my fingerless mittens, my beanie, pump up the old Dodge’s truck heater to high and sat eating my now cold chicken sandwich with Opal. If she had been upset when Stephen exited the cab, she was now intent on staring at my sandwich, in hopes that I would understand how desirable it was to her.
I fed her small bites of chicken as I watched the hill and wondered where Stephen was.
After a while, now semi-sated, I realized I was being ridiculous and that if an eighty-year-old woman could climb up that hill in the middle of winter, well then Goddamn it, I could too.
I didn’t need any Goddamn snowshoes.
Dora never had any Goddamn snowshoes.
Who cares if I was wearing rubber Crocs and a long dress?
I could do this!
Part 3 to follow