11,041 vagabonds plus:
Burning umber smoke rose beyond the far shallow hill and the scent found its way through the hairline cracks of Elsa's drafty cottage boudoir. She imagined a solitary burning tire or some late winter moist leaves doused with kerosene sprinkles set ablaze after repeated frustrated match strikes. Whichever, she was glad to see Orion hurtling overhead from the southern sky in all its starlit purple glory. 'There's something none of us can control', Elsa thought peering skyward, 'kind of like trying to make someone love me'. She felt no warmth thinking of that word: Love. Her senses were deadened reading and re-reading the passage on page 177, unable to feel the pain of the beloved main character abandoned in a blizzard. Elsa opened the bedroom window, hoisted a pale bare foot over the ledge and onto the snow but felt nothing. No pain, no cold, imagining the distant fire swallowing her as she slept in the naked cold. The unobstructed frigid Maine country scent seeped in and immediately saturated her eyes and skin. Tears formed on her cheeks, not from the outdoor intruder, and Elsa wiped the melancholy away with the back of her hands like a little girl, then turned the pages of the book wondering, 'how if I'm unable to feel human, how can I teach my classroom the secret of life'.
The phone rang. Frozen pipes were found burst in the schoolhouse, "school canceled tomorrow, Miss Kincaid", shouted the hard of hearing principal, Mr. Tobias. "Oh, that's too bad", she had to repeat amongst the fading "what's that?". Around midnight, awakened by a barking dog somewhere close, she pulled a quilted robe on and went into the kitchen to make some hot tea. She stubbed her right big toe on a chair and began to cry, so happy to feel the throbbing pain, obstinately deciding before the first cup cooled to quit teaching and write a novel. Her heavy eyelids won out over the barking dog at the round kitchen table, and she dreamed of following an injured silver wolf in the snow to an isolated cabin with a majestic writing table, lit with a metallic lamp sparking streaks of pink clouds reaching the edge of the world.
Monhegan's Schoolteacher 2004
--by Jamie Wyeth
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