09
Dec
10

alison


Alison Longfellow of the bog.  She stated half heartedly that her hair had grown unmanageably long for this time of year .  I sighed with calculated ambiguity and placed the salt shaker nearer her plate.  Without a glance her hand swept the small glass dispenser up and over each aggregate of her breakfast.  She salted the salty hashbrowns, the salty bacon, and even made a small pile of the nonsense at the edge of it all for later reinforcement.  She would salt the fried legs of frogs.  Spurned that she were not born a doe in the Northwoods.

The food was good, though, and the bog stench was light today thanks to an ascending fog that was nearly clear now.  Days were generally dreary like this.  There were frogs and rotting logs.  Too moist, however, for pogs.  The children instead chased dogs and and sat by the fire with lincoln logs.  Hogs.  Blogs, cogs, smogs, clogs, flogs, progs.  Though her hair was unmanageable it still framed her sullen face quite beautifully.
“How’s the hen from your bog life?”  I asked without speaking.  She took the bait and caved in around four or five geese.  They died.  Our heads slumped in death.  Why these geese?    Her bog was three miles south.  We headed there straight away.  The hills were slippery wet from a lack of sun to dry them.  The edge of town was conveniently at the edge of the hill we were on, and making our way down into the wetlands was easy going if not messy.  The cold was annoying, but not so bad to hurt.
“I forgot the point of this all.”  She finally said.  Her wet-down hair looking more artistically wrought now than ever.  “I feel like yesterday we were eating breakfast, and today we’re running down this hill,” she paused and looked far into my head; beads of rain getting bombed from her face by falling drops caught my attention until I saw her lips moving in the background, “… as though there was no connection between now and then, you know?”  She took in a deep breath and scowled. “Hey, are you even here?  Have you heard a word of this?”
I stood motionless on the steep hillside fearing I might slip.  The terrain below me was nothing to shrug off, with bits of jagged rock protruding from the muddy earth, promising to ruin whatever part of you struck them.
“Let’s just go back.”  I offered.
“For what sake, Paul?
“For fuck’s sake!”  I wailed.  She handed me my ass with a scowl.  I paused, assessing whether or not I had gotten unreasonably excited.  “I don’t know who you are.”  True.  It felt strange to realize it.  “All I know is that we were in a cafe and now we’re headed to a bog.  I think it makes sense to go back to the cafe in case someone knows what we do.”
“Paul, we go to the cafe and then the bog, and afterwards maybe back to the cafe; but not before the bog.”   She had run out of breath.  I couldn’t really argue her point, lacking a premise or any other reasonable axiom to work with makes it difficult to defend your notions.  Aha!  That’s why they’re called notions.  “Well…” the world was silent, “are you comin’?”
We headed down the rest of the hill with only the sounds of our slipping boots splatting and scraping in the mud and rock.  If I had to be in mud, I was glad it was this very mud.  The consistency was ideally gritty while remaining mostly fluid and splashed wonderful designs onto surrounding rocks and low trunks of trees.  The shade of brown was a dark mocha.  Indeed, it was like walking through sopping espresso grounds.   If it hit a broad leaf, the color contrast struck with a subdued poignancy.  Not a severe or provocative contrast, no: green and brown are aged mates that evoke nature’s unrelent.
“What do you think this mud tastes like?”  Alison asked.  Her tone was now lighthearted, and suggested we were no longer in debate but simply wandering together.  I laughed aloud at the coincidence.
“You noticed too, huh?”
“Yeah, it looks like really good chocolate fondue.”  She smiled at this memory.  Fondues were the last thing I’d forgotten.  As I remembered mastering home fondues, I gradually lost the hold on my thoughts to wonder on why it was Alison was Alison-from-the-bog.   Why was it we were heading to a bog?  It’s one thing to cradle known investment fraud, but an altogether different thing to be from a bog or go to a bog for an implied reason.  A cat, and a lemonade knife.  Will the cat lap up the lemonade?  Will the blade be firm enough to defend itself?  No, the cat will lap as the blade cuts, like that fucking eskimo story about killing wolves by freezing blood onto the blade of a knife and sticking it blade-up in the snow.   I couldn’t remember past my own questioning.  Maybe hers was coming back, I was loath to think we were stuck.  To the bog, body! I commanded under threat of mutiny.
One failed birth at a time, our non-existent opposites fluxed in and out of consciousness.  Random flashes of intuition kept steering us both right.  If we hadn’t turned east at the bottom of the first hill we would have hit an impassible ravine and wasted half a day getting around it.  Additionally, there was a very dense wood around the east of that second hill that struck us both as familiar.  So far so good it was at least linear.  Alison had gotten a ways ahead of me as I stopped to evaluate our route.  The sun was low over the hills to our right, so it was evening… approximately sixthirty.  And there were no hill tops peeking over the most immediate ones, so the terrain appeared to be dropping in elevation in the direction we were headed, which to me suggested bog.
“I hope there is a lot of leatherleaf.”  She shouted back at me.  I could see her frosted breath from fifty feet away.  I agreed with a casual nod.  We boiled the leaves and… damned to hell if I didn’t forget again.   I hurried to catch up with Alison, and as I approached her, the expanding view in front of me confirmed it, we had found the bog.  The smell.  Her smell.  The aroma was a tricky one to place.  On the one hand the air was somewhat heavy, like over cooked broccoli, or rotting wheat.   Yet, there was an acidity too, that seemed to lighten the scent like a zesty vinaigrette.
“What did we boil the leatherleaf for?”  I asked as soon as we were side by side again.
“I was wondering the same thing..”  She glanced over at me, but dropped her gaze after the half smile faded from her flushed face.
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