This photo got my wheels turning. I could never look at it without stopping to think and wonder. So many possible stories hovered at the edge of my brain. Finally I wrote one down. It’s not a happy story. Even in the sunshine, this photo brought out melancholy feelings. Here is one story:
“I’ll write,” he said, but he didn’t make eye contact. Warren hated anything to do with pen and paper.
“But you could phone when you get to Duck Lake,” I said.
“Joe’s cabin doesn’t have a phone.”
“Well, then how did he get in touch with you to arrange the fishing trip?”
“He called from a neighbour’s place.” Warren set down his coffee cup, spilling some of it, and got up from the table.
“You could call me from there.”
“The neighbour’s house is about five miles from Joe’s place. I’ll write you a note.”
“Do you have to go for a whole month?” I hated the whine in my voice.
“Look! I haven’t had a holiday for months.” His voice was tight. “And anyway, we probably need a break from each other. Just don’t bug me. I’ll be back when I feel like coming back.”
“And yes, I’ll do the shopping in Bozeman before I come home.” He strode across the room. “Get me the list. I gotta go pack.”
Ten minutes later, Warren rushed out the door and threw his duffle bag into the cab of the truck. I bent down to slip on a pair of runners on the veranda, then turned to wave goodbye but he was already peeling down the long driveway, tires spitting gravel into the cloud of dust he left behind. He raised a hand and waved through the cab window without turning his head.
I wiped the dust and a few stray tears from my eyes. I stood dumbstruck as I listened to the fading grumble of his truck tires on our country road.
I turned to go back into the house. Warren’s fishing rod mocked me from where he had leaned it in the corner of the room. And I knew that my mailbox would remain empty.