I'm visiting relatives in the mountains. Or maybe I’m not.
I can’t tell you, because I feel a little disoriented.
I woke up like this: Here, with these people, in this place that smells like pine bark and camp fires. They call me Samuel. They call me “son.” There’s a lady with white hair who says she’s my mom, must be about a hundred years old, and a man who’s around the same age, with a combover so thin it doesn’t need to be combed over, anymore, because it’s not hiding anything, it’s not fooling anybody, but he still does it.
I feel about forty-five. No. I am forty-five. I know that. I know that one, for sure.
My whole head burns.
The lady says I hit my head pretty hard trying to get down a steep hill covered in ice, that she’s sorry my dog died, baby, but they got his body out of the creek and they kept him outside on the patio to freeze him, until I feel better. Says that we can have the funeral, later, and that this is my aunt, and this is my uncle, and this is my mother, and that we’re in the woods. And that she’s sorry. She’s very sorry. And am I okay? And I look so lost.
And Jesus Christ, my head hurts. I can taste copper. She’s cleaning blood off me.
I’m aware, but I’m not aware. I know my head is killing me. When I wash my face, I see the damage in the mirror: I look like Mike Tyson handed me my ass. They give me painkillers and Tylenol, and I stare out the window at the snow, and I wonder how long until I can be alone.
They tell me we can’t go to the hospital. They say we’re snowed in on the mountain, again. Again, like this happens all the time.
I get to know my hands. I look at them and see they have callouses. Thick ones, like I do a lot of intensive labor. I look down at my hands and I can taste hay and dust in my mouth, and the word Wyoming.
When everybody’s sleeping, I take my phone into the woods to try and get a signal. They said I won’t find one anywhere. That doesn’t keep me from trying, anyway. Nothing better to do.
That’s when I see somebody. Out here. Somebody out here in the woods. I was told there was nobody. I shout, “Are you lost?” And he doesn’t shout back. I think he can’t hear me. It’s cold. It’s snowed in.
I get closer.
So does he.
So does he.
I lift my hand.
He lifts his, too.
I realize that he’s not waving.
Very slowly, I hoist my phone up.
Very slowly, he hoists his phone up, too, and the screen shines at me like a white fire.
I fucking run.