FORTY - The Musings of a Lovestruck Woodsman

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Saturday, January 26th, 2019

Dad's face has started to resemble a bowl of bruised fruit. It's gone all purple and green and yellow. There are parts of it that are swollen, and other parts that are kind of sagging and deflated. It's hard to imagine that his face will ever look the way it used to look. But I'm trying to be all light and cheery about it, and have begun referring to him as, The Yellow Bastard, from Sin City. All in good fun, of course. And Dad says he's never been compared to a super villain before, so I think he was kind of pleased.

This morning, Misty and Norm dropped me at the hospital and went on to do some overdue chores, but really, I think Misty thought I should have some one-on-one time with Dad. She's very perceptive that way. It was nice, though, just me n' Dad, hanging out, despite the harshly lit clinical environment. Why are the lights so bright? And why does everything smell like bleach and chicken noodle soup? Anyway, I told him about how Ivy is officially my girlfriend now, and he patted my knee (with his good arm) and asked me if it was time to have, "the talk." I laughed, because...um...NO. And then, I told him I was not about to go ahead and have actual sex, because we're only fourteen, and besides, Ivy's and my relationship is not based solely on our mutual physical attraction to each other; we are also quite cerebral people. And, anyway, we learned all that stuff back in grade six. Dad said, okay, then, if you're sure, but he looked pretty relieved.

I assured him I would split firewood while he convalesces, and he seemed thoroughly impressed by that and said, Atta boy, kid. It's strange; I was dreading having to live this rustic lifestyle a couple of months ago, particularly all the rural chores I knew we'd have to do, but the wood chopping thing is actually kind of meditative. I know that sounds weird, but there's something really satisfying about splitting and stacking firewood. It makes me feel all pioneer-y and capable, like, if there was a sudden leak in the roof or a busted water pipe, I'd roll up my sleeves and know exactly what to do, which, of course, I wouldn't. Also, Ivy was over the other day and got all moony-eyed when I busied myself splitting some kindling. She just sat on a stump, with her copy of John Green's, The Fault in our Stars, on her lap, and watched me work with a dopey expression on her face. I think it's primal. You know—she sees me as a great and powerful provider, keeping blood-thirsty sabre-toothed tigers at bay while she tends the home hearth and gathers berries near the homestead. Only, it's January, so there aren't any berries, and the scariest animal on this island are probably the bad-tempered feral sheep that populate the north end. Still, I get why Dad was so obsessed with the woodpile when he first noticed Misty. I mean, it's not rocket science. Peacock dudes strut around with their fancy tails, male penguins gift their lady crushes with piles of little rocks, and we human males chop wood with our sleeves rolled up.

***

8 p.m...

Mom and Jocelyn arrived just after lunch. And with them, came their big "surprise." It wasn't clothes or music or anything from the bakery on the mainland. It was Jett, Jocelyn's fifteen-year-old son. I knew she had a kid, but for some reason I thought it was a toddler, because Jocelyn is quite young, and Mom hasn't talked about the kid much before.

But at lunchtime, there he was, standing in our doorway, towering over Mom and Jocelyn because he is, like, six feet tall. And probably about 175 pounds. And he freaking looks a lot like the dude who plays Jughead on that Riverdale show, all electric blue eyes and black hair. Oh, and did I mention that Jocelyn's last name is Black? So, yeah, her son is therefore, Jett Black. I don't think it would be possible to have a cooler name than that. 

I am doomed.

We ate submarine sandwiches that Mom brought over, and afterwards Jett put his stuff in my room, because Mom and Jocelyn are taking the hide-a-bed. I offered to sleep at Misty's, but Mom wouldn't hear of it and said it was important that Jett and I "get to know one another." 

Jocelyn suggested I show Jett around the place, so like the dutiful person I am, I put on my boots and we went outside. He noticed the llamas right away but seemed unimpressed. Then he asked me what I did for fun around here, and I told him I was a huge mycology fan, and that mushroom hunting and identification was totally my thing, which, of course, was a lie, but I felt like pushing things. I'm not sure why. I think it's the "alpha-dog" vibe I get off him. Why else would he stride over to the woodpile, pick up the axe, and start randomly splitting log rounds the size of oil drums?

The axe went through the wood like butter, and Jett didn't even crack a sweat.

This is going to be a long thirty-six hours.

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