[Previously on Snowshoeing With Stephen: 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. Who cares if I was wearing rubber Crocs and a long dress? I could do this!]
I brought my Oh, Pioneer! mindset to the table and stepped out of the cab with gusto—Opal close behind me on her leash. I reached under the blue tarp on the back of the truck and grabbed my bag of clothes and my pillow: that was all I needed to make it through the night and look at this problem fresh in the morning.
We carefully crossed the icy road. Opal jumping easily up the ice ledge and onto the fresh snow turning to look at me as she landed, as if to offer encouragement.
I steeled myself to the moment, and pushed ahead and my chubby middle-aged body dropped a good four feet down into the snow as I fell forward, face first, into the thick powder.
Opal tried to help, pulling me ahead, trying to get me out of the snow, but each time she tugged I ended up deeper in the drift.
My first irrational thought? Kill The Stephen.
I flipped over on my back and realized that the only way I was going to get back to the road was to actually roll there.
I threw my body weight towards a downhill direction and rolled up over the snow, up over the ice ledge, and down onto the icy street where Opal then dragged me down the road on my back, my rubber Crocs acting as a make-shift sled until my shouts of her to stop finally halted her about twenty feet from where we first tried to climb up the hill.
My second irrational thought? Fuck Dora.
I kept picturing her. Her reed-thin tiny body, her long gray wild hair, her large blue eyes and that hard look on her face and I knew that if she would have been watching me at this moment she would have been laughing her ass off.
Pussy, I heard her say in my imaginary scenario.
“Fuck,” I said under my breath as I rolled onto my knees and worked to stand back up.
“You need help?” I heard Stephen shout from somewhere up the hill.
I refused to answer back but took the moment to look up and see that the lights were now lit in the cabin and its picturesque beauty was in direct juxtaposition to my situation here down below.
“Fuck,” I said again.
I went back to the truck with Opal to regroup. I turned the engine back on and warmed myself in the cab, my head reclining on the cushioned seat when after a moment Stephen, at the passenger door:
“Hey,” he said. “Take my snowshoes and we will head up that small road.” He pointed to somewhere a bit further up the mountain. “It’s not too steep. You can wear the snowshoes and I can follow behind in your footsteps.”
I looked at The Stephen.
Still trying to please me.
Still trying to make things right.
And I didn’t have the energy or the heart to tell him that in the last few minutes I had already been Googling hotels considering a warm bath and room service for the evening.
“I’ll take Opal,” he said and off they both went towards the new path.
I cut the engine, locked the truck, and stood on the edge of the road working to put on Stephen’s snowshoes.
Part 4 to follow