“This isn’t the same as the pool, is it?” Jeneva grinned at me. She didn’t harbor any ill will at least none I could determine.
“No. But moving the snow around, farming it, reminds me of the water except you have to keep dry. Keep the snow dry. Till and grind the snow into rows. Compact and preserve. Move it back to the middle of the slopes. Stabalize.”
“Retain consistency, right Kris.”
I nodded thinking of shallow water blackout and if that sort of thing could happen in the snow. “This is different than anything I’ve ever done. You been at it long?”
“I’ve moved from state to state. So far New Mexico has had the most challenge. Lots of slush and shadow areas. Keeps it interesting.”
“Kind of different getting used to staying up all night, sleeping during the day. What do you do in the off season when there’s no snow?”
Jeneva pushed a knob on the snowcat, flipped the screens on the Ipod until a new jazz sounding tune came on. “There’s work up in Canada sometimes. Or I go to the water resorts. I still swim you know. The blackout kept me out of the pool for awhile, but I still like the water.”
“Yeah, me too. But I haven’t been in the water much. Just haven’t really tried.”
“There’s a public pool in town. We could go if you want.”
I nodded again. Pointed to some slush up by the north side of the slope. “Let me think about it.”
Jeneva kept steering the snowcat tumbling us and it through the snow with great skill. I tuned out the isolation, the darkness and the surrounding forest concentrating instead on the lights and sounds of the vehicle we were using to shape snow. The stars twinkled like I couldn’t remember and could never see in the city. There was a slight chill that made my skin tingle, but I didn’t feel cold bundled up in my heavy insulated jacket and thermal lined pants with the small heater pouring warm air into the cab.
The warm air dripped tiny drops of condensation onto the floor. Jeneva said it was due to be repaired. The drops reminded me of the roller skating rink and its dripping humidifier. When we were in school, we used to go there every Saturday night skating to bouncing tunes underneath a gleaming disco ball. My boyfriend would meet us there and try to skate. He couldn’t stand up on the skates and had to use the rails. He’d always have us drop him off down the road from the skating rink saying that’s where his grandparents lived. I ran into him years later and found out that his grandparents never lived there and didn’t even live in the same town. He was dating someone else at the time and ended up marrying her only to get divorced six weeks later something about him not consummating the marriage.
I had led a sheltered existence as a teen and even now with my ex in name only still legally married husband. Jeneva hadn’t asked me about my personal situation and I hadn’t asked her about hers.
L.B. Sedlacek has had poetry and fiction appear in different journals and zines. Her first short story collection came out on Leap Day 2020 entitled Four Thieves of Vinegar published by Alien Buddha Press. Her latest poetry books are The Poet Next Door (Cyberwit), The Adventures of Stick People on Cars (Alien Buddha Press), The Architect of French Fries (Presa Press) and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press). She is a former Poetry Editor for ESC! Magazine and co-hosted the podcast “Coffee House to Go.” LB also enjoys swimming, reading, and playing ukulele. She recommends the Caldwell Humane Society.