They drove through towns on along the mountain ridges. Gordy took his eyes off the road for an instant to look at rivers that churned and bulged with springtime runoff. Mai slept and woke and slept again, then drank some water and watched the mountain town, the ski resort and everything she had once known and now didn’t recede in the distance.
They came to sweeping fields bordered by mountainous hills. The fields were golden and fences and flowers grew by their sides. Mai rolled down the windows to let the spring air in. For lunch they stopped along the side of the road and few cars passed them as they ate some cheese and crackers from the cooler and drank water. Gordy cut an apple into slices and they shared that too.
“The kids will be wondering,” said Mai from the passenger seat.
“Wondering about what?” asked Gordy.
“Where we’ve gone.”
“Let’s sit in the field,” said Gordy.
He stood and walked around the car and help Mai stand and once she was steady he gathered up the little lunch. Mai held his arm with one hand and her cane with the other and together they walked twenty paces into the field they were parked along before sitting down amid the tall golden grass with much effort. Neither of them could sit cross legged so the both just flopped and lay on their backs, which made it difficult for them to eat, but the way the grass pressed their back, they didn’t mind. It was so alive.
“Brian will be calling and calling,” said Mai.
“Because we aren’t at home like we said we would be.”
“Yep. He will be angry with me,” said Gordy.
“Elsa will understand better, I think,” he said.
“Because she has someone?” asked Mai.
“Yes,” said Gordy finding Mai’s hand and grasping it and feeling her skin that become so loose over her bones that it threatened to melt off her.
“How are we going to get up?” she asked.
“We don’t ever need to,” said Gordy.
This was the first real conversation he’d had with Mai in weeks. He didn’t want it to end. Perhaps it was something about the fresh Canadian air that was sparking her mind back to reality. Gordy raised a piece of apple to his mouth and bit down on it. He handed a piece to Mai. She ate it.
“I don’t think this is the place,” she said. “The butterflies don’t come here.”
And the moment was gone. Gordy felt it flutter away. There she went, talking about those butterflies, but which–her own back at home? Dying in their cage, or ones in her mind that she believe were real but weren’t?
Gordy wasn’t sure why the butterflies were such a stone of reality for her while so much about their time together had been washed away from her mind like water receding from the short to take with it what he pleased. But the butterflies, those would stay with Mai forever.