The second installment (of three) below. (If you’re just coming to this post, you should first read part one here.)
From the island summit the view was a magnificent three hundred and sixty degrees, bordered on the south by a 1500-foot granite cliff. Franz built Anne a bench at this spot and she often spent her afternoon here, sitting aimlessly. She tried to read but lacked concentration. Clients gave her books, perhaps sensing a need, and she would politely accept, but she was no longer a reader and the books accumulated on her shelf. This was a personal loss, for reading had once been a passion. The library reflected the corners of the earth from which a traveler will come to catch fish. She could read French and Italian, as well as converse in German and Spanish. As a child, she exhibited what her parents called a gift for language. But that was a long time ago.
Stone-like she sat on the bench and stared at the horizon. Frequently, an Andean condor would draft from below and linger suspended eye to eye. She wished at times that she was a photographer and could capture such things, but she’d grown used to being less than she wished, such that the notion never so much as settled on her, as hovered, like the bird, quiet and unflapping and with piercing vision. She started a journal two seasons ago, but it depressed her to read past entries, so she stopped.
* * *
When she greeted Franz at the dock he handed her a brown trout, a fish maybe seven or eight pounds, a large fish by any standard but not unusual for these parts. “Swallowed the fly,” he said. “Got it out and released him but he floated to the top.” Ironically, Franz hated to kill a fish. He said that fish where his friends. Anne thought this humorous and the only honest fight they ever had was upon hearing this the first time when she laughed at him. Anne said she would prepare a fish stew. He nodded.
The stew arrived at the client table in a large earthen pot, painted round with a mountain scene. Franz stood among the hungry clients with a ladle. He dipped but came short against the fish curled on the bottom, whole and intact. He lifted it from the stew, examined it, and removed the pot from the table to the kitchen. Maria caught his eye and nodded quietly toward Anne who was standing at the back door looking to the horizon. The night was overcast and the silhouette of the mountains was lost against the sky.
“Can you tell where the mountains stop and the sky begins?” she asked.
* * *
The next morning Anne realized that the phone no longer connectted to the satellite. She told Franz as he was loading the boat, holding the phone at arm’s length. “Dead,” she declared. He pursed his mouth and nodded. His clients sat fast and they soon were off across the water to the Land Rover waiting to transport them to the McKenzie boats. Anne watched them leave, petting Bear, the dog. The island was profoundly quiet and she imagined a mute satellite spinning far above.
– end, part two –