Charlotte held her fork with the kind of grip you’d use to plunge a dagger into a vampire, the way she drew down on her cake. It was almost a year since the two of us had gone out to dinner, a restaurant I’d first been to on 9/11 with Dawn. We all needed to get out and be with other people that night, to get away from our TV’s. My boss drove me home and we’d stopped at a gas station because he collected newspapers with headlines of major events like that. We’d all drawn straws to determine who would stay late, and I drew the shortest one.
It was just me and Dawn then, driving out to eastern Washington to a cabin north of Spokane, the one-year anniversary of 9-11. It seemed a peaceful, solemn place to observe it: removed from people, surrounded by overgrown grass fields, crickets, and quiet.
Brad drew a map to his cabin showing the screen porch, the trail to a lake, a fence, a white shed, some trailers to help with way-finding. I found a rock on the beach with his initials scratched in it, and knew it was his property.
I hadn’t drunk in nearly a year. Something about the anniversary of 9-11 seemed fitting, to break the spell. We went to the Safeway in town and I eyed the wine selection. What do you start with, when you haven’t had a drink in a year? I opened the bottle and poured a glass for Dawn and myself, and sat there drinking it, in Brad’s cabin.
We backpacked into the Pasayten wilderness, near the Canadian border, truly lonesome and barren, but Dawn was fearful of bears and the wilderness felt dark and ominous. Something about the land, too quiet. We came home a day early, 11 years ago, and now we’re going back.
He doesn’t have good cell phone reception there, and no Wi-Fi. As we get more and more connected to things, the things draw life from us. It’s good to put the drink down, the smartphone, to feel you can let it go and prove you don’t need it, like you have some control over it. It’s a learned response, where our hands react to signals from the brain, from chimes and notifications.
In the end, I will lay in the grass with the crickets and hear no more.