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Jasper's Mountain - Part 2

Rachel Saylor

Jasper’s cabin smells of smoke, from the continuous creation of fire for warmth and cooking. The site of animal hides can be seen from the kitchen window. These hides are strung up on the back porch and are strewn around the cabin, used for rugs and blankets, and their odor has seeped and set into the wood of the cabin. The aroma of tobacco smoke from his pipe that he spends time puffing each night lingers in the air, giving his home a distinct and comforting smell that elicits a tinge of happiness in Jasper as soon as he steps over the threshold and breathes it in.

He sets about making a fire for the night, adding logs that he brought in from the pile on the front porch. After he places the pot of rabbit soup he prepared on top of the fire grate, he sits back on his rabbit skin covered chair, and slowly drags his hand through his hair as he lets out a deep sigh. Letting his arm fall onto his lap, he inspects his hand with the caked dirt that constantly lives under his nail beds; evidence of living life in the woods. He places both of his hands, palm up, in front of his face. He takes note of how strong and callused they have become. As he tilts them, the light from the fire is caste across each detailed section of his hands, allowing him to take in all of the lines, cracks that have appeared over the years.  

What has this life brought me? I am but a man who has searched, faced loss, survived, and am searching, yet again. For what though? What do I want from this earth that gives me water, food, tools to build shelter, and tools not only to survive, but to create that which is not even necessary. Like this cabin and all that it holds.

Jasper’s eyes scan around the room, littered with fur skins, and scant furniture, and sees abundance and fortune.

Yet, even with my present fortunate standing, I am not fulfilled. My humanistic desires still crave more. Is this all that there is for me on this earth? Living here in isolation and silence?

Jasper’s thoughts led him all the way to bed, and he fell asleep into an unsettling slumber.

Jasper awakes in a cold sweat and a heart full of anxiety. He slowly pulls his fur blanket off and places his feet on the cool wood floor as he grabs the back of his neck, pulling his chin down towards his belly, and exhales in a long, drawn out breath. He pushes his hands off of the top of his thighs as he stands up and walks to wash his face in the bowl of water he keeps in the room.

Shake this feeling, or do something about it, Jasper.

Before heading out for the day, Jasper looks back into his prosperous cabin, scanning over his life that he lives and then shuts the door. He swings his shotgun over his shoulder and takes in the new layer of snow that fell through the night. The snow was deep enough for him to need to strap on his snowshoes he made of treebark before setting out on his trek.

The only sound that could be heard was the crunching of the snow under each step Jasper took and the soft pitter of the snowflakes hitting the white floor, that continued to pile higher. This area of the forest was populated with a large amount of fir trees, and Jasper walks in a line that was naturally created between the firs. From the point of view of the falcon that flies by, there is one lone, fur covered man moving ever so slow through the forest, with nothing but miles of evergreens, steep inclines, the winding path of the river. Jasper hikes farther and farther away from the cabin, creating a vast space between himself and his home of happiness. He keeps his eyes transfixed on the path straight ahead that he has marked out for himself.

Jasper hikes east out of his valley, towards the unknown.