into the field, air like steam around her. Then she was gone, the lights around the school only reaching so far. I sat down on the steps and realized why I was there, at an elementary school at two in the morning, waiting. What Krista wanted so badly that she would bike for twenty minutes in the cold to lie down on a wet field, I couldn’t say no to because I wasn’t brave enough to go after it myself. It was more than the feeling of wanting that headbanger’s hand along the back of my neck. I’d been able to let go of that easilyenough. I wasn’t yet willing to find out what would happen if I gave myself over to someone else so completely that I didn’t care, in that moment, about the consequences. And so, I tried to allow Krista that. I sat until the cold concrete sent shoots of pain into my backside, my spine. Then I got up and jumped the steps. Drunk and numb, I should have fallen, ground my face against concrete, but I didn’t. The challenge of remaining in control of my own movement kept me focused, warm for a while. Then the wind picked up.
When the frigid air had made its way through every stitch of my clothing, into each pore, I walked out into the field toward the goal posts. I walked until I couldn’t exactly see Krista and Mike, but a different kind of darkness, lumped on the field, then stopped and called, “Krista! Let’s go. I’m freezing! We have to go.” When I heard something, movement, a muffled giggle, I yelled again. “Krista, we
to go. I’m leaving.” I followed my own wet prints back to the cement yard and waited under a light. I couldn’t see more than two feet in front of me, the effect of the illumination meeting the dark, nothing in between.
Krista’s voice came out of shadow, a low giggle. “I’m so sorry, Harp. You’re right, it is fucking cold. I think it’s going to snow soon, don’t you?” I just looked at her.
Mike appeared. “Uh,” he said to me. “You want a smoke?”
“Are you kidding?” I turned toward the bikes and heard Krista whisper as she said something to Mike, then let out a laugh like a cough.
The cold on the way to my house was enough to make me want to cry. We didn’t speak, just rode. When we got home,Krista followed me, wordless, to the bathroom. We stripped to shirts and underwear and sat on the edge of the tub, feet frigid, watched the colour spread from toes to ankles, Krista’s feet burning magenta, mine a muddied red. Yelled into each other’s shoulders when the feeling came back into them, our feet gripped with cramps. We slept in thick socks and long underwear, Krista curled into my back, and we each rubbed our feet together until we fell asleep.
I woke, heavy and hot, my body twisted in fabric – the sheets, long johns, a useless bra chafing my shoulder blades – and couldn’t pull the layers off for the sweat. I struggled with the sheets until I woke Krista up.
She was moaning and cursing. “I feel like crap. There is no way I’m getting up for church.”
“Bullshit, Kris. If I can bike to Harstad with you at two in the morning, you can haul your ass out of bed and come with me to church. It’s communion Sunday. You know I have to go.”
I held the wall as I walked across the room. “Sylvie!” Vera called from the kitchen as soon as I opened the door. “You two better have breakfast soon or we’ll be late.” When I didn’t answer, she continued, “Nick and I will go on without you and you’ll have to take the bikes.” The bikes. There was no way I would take the bikes. I winced my way down the stairs and into the bathroom, held the counter and faced my bloodshot eyes in the mirror, splashed cold water on my face. I couldn’t find a glass so I emptied a Mason jar of flowers out the window,rinsed it and filled it with water. I took it with a bottle of aspirin back upstairs.
“Okay, we’re going to have to pull ourselves together or my mom, the bag, is going to make us bike to church,” I told Krista, who