He sat himself against a tree, looking out towards one of the natural clearances provided by mother nature and glanced at the trees as his fingers fumbled dents into the sides of the peach can. Pat was careful not to cut himself, cautiously increasing pressure until the top of the can collapsed in on itself in the shape of a dull crater.
The metallic borders of the wound overlapped with thick, orange, sugary liquid and Pat put the can to his lips and let the syrup fulfill the salivating pit that was his famished mouth. The peach juice hit his tongue and for a moment, Patrick thought it was holy water, only holy water probably didn’t fill one with such ecstasy. It was a sin to compare something so pleasurable to a ritual done at church. The sugar reinvigorated him, firing electric shock waves in his neurons and lighting the tired, worn out fuse that was his own brain. A wicked grin smeared itself across Pat’s features, a grin that was quickly reduced to a bashful smirk. He hoped no one was watching; something so pleasurable shouldn’t be done in public. The boy ate his peaches and when he was done, he licked the euphoria off of his fingers only to regret not saving the peaches for later in his trip. He opened one of the bundles of ham and ate half of it. Pat wasn’t accustomed to eating so much and the change of flavors left him bursting. He packaged the ham; one more bite would leave him sick.
With a full stomach, Patrick contemplated the clearing with tired gray eyes and a thin mouthed expression. Up against a tree, looking into what seemed to be an empty space in the world, the wind glided through his hair leaving it parted and dismantled where the flat cap failed to provide any cover. Lifting his hand, Patrick positioned the flat cap so it protected his eyes from the late morning sun and when his hand dropped, it landed on the pocket where the gold was resting within his jacket. It was the most at peace he had ever felt in his entire life, yet the bulging weight of the gold beneath his palm was a reminder; he was still far too close to home, and he could leave in a heartbeat if he really wanted to.
The northern air ripped through him and serenaded him into a state of numb yet wary bliss, and Patrick’s eyes closed beneath the cap and succumbed to the snow around him; the white held him, snuggling him like a cold and frigid pillow. He went to sleep with the gold resting under his palm, and a single thought to tease his dreams. There was still business to be dealt with, right here in his little mining town in Idaho.
He waited for the sun to set in the west and when it did, he gathered his satchel and navigated his way east back into the town. Pat traveled carelessly through the woods but as he neared closer to the quaint civilization, his steps coerced the snow into leaving nothing but a faint crumbling trace of cold northern silk. He moved like a rabbit, fast yet seamlessly through the terrain, only this rabbit was on a mission, and his destination shimmered brighter than the stars that had just begun popping out against the pitch black canvas. Pat crouched there in the bushes, his eyes set on his childhood home and the gas lamp on the front porch that was the only indicator of life in the otherwise bleak town. As he waited, he looked again towards the sky and felt tired as the clouds stagnated into a soft purple before becoming endlessly dark against the void and dissipating into the black. That’s how long he waited, he saw the whole world change as the sun followed its journey to bring light to everybody else. Pat’s eyes became hooded and tired and he slumped his head on a tree before something in his body jolted him wide awake; pure determination. The sun never got tired, neither should he. He sat there wide awake and felt as the sun did, forced to carry out a fate that would last more than an eternity and Pat thought about that, a philosophical contemplation that lingered within him and solidified his alertness.
‘At least I’m not the sun.’ Pat thought. ‘I won’t have to live forever.’
He thought about the moon too, and how she was just as everlasting and destined to carry out her journey like the sun was. Do the sun and moon know each other? It seemed like a stupid question considering their constant distance. Maybe once upon a time they did, and they cooperated as one until the stars ripped them apart as a punishment for forbidden love. Maybe the sun came after the moon, and the world only knew darkness until the first generation of cave people struck up fire and that flame shot out into the sky and exploded into a scorching storm of molten debris. The sun was born and the ocean lapped and spilled onto the earth, trying desperately to put the fire out but the flame was so bright and so reckoning that it set everything ablaze and turned the land into dry desert. The sky lit up and stripped itself from its mask and became a brighter blue than the ocean combating it, and the moon scurried to the other end of the universe to make space for this hot awakening. It was an interesting story, only nobody would believe the sun was man made. It was merely fictional, the thoughts of a twelve year old, redheaded boy fighting to stay awake against his best judgment. Pat’s imagination ceased when the gas lamp went out and he prowled, moving towards his prey like the sun and moon, making their laps around the earth. He paid the sky one last glance and spotted the moon and its ugly, cratered face.
“Do I know too much? Have I figured you out?” Pat asked, a smirk creeping on the lower half of his freckled, tired face.
He imagined the moon cursing him and the rest of his bloodline and Pat went into the lion’s den, the moonlight shining down on his snow ridden tracks.
An excerpt from the western novel I’m writing. Pat, the main character, has a lot on his mind. He also has a strange lust for peaches. Enjoy!