Mark. Mark. Mark! His head snapped up out of the book he was reading. Which was it, Jack London or Farley Mowat? Either way, it didn’t matter. Books like this had been as better than any drugs to the young Marcus. Truth be told, they still were, even now.
He turned to face his mother. What had she been asking? He had no idea. He hadn’t even heard her until the third time she’d called him.
“yeah mom, what?” he asked, trying to sound positive rather than grumpy about being pulled out of the world of wolves.
I said, ‘Did you get your chores done?’
“Mostly,” he said.
“What? I did get them mostly done. I did more work than I should have to.”
“Really?” she sounded intrigued. Crap. That was way more dangerous than if she would just yell at him. “What percentage exactly do you think you should have to do of your chores?”
“no, I’m really interested. I mean, what if I only cooked you half your dinner? raw meat and cooked vegetables. or no meat and raw potatoes and vegetables. What if I half-did the pancakes?”
“how would that work do you think?”
“it wouldn’t.” She didn’t understand. God he hated the lecturing. The telling him things he didn’t want to know and acting like it was for his own good. it made his back muscles clench up and the hairs on his neck tingle just remembering it.
Yes. Dishes needed washing and laundry needed folding. But how could that compare to the magic of Jack London, Farley Mowat or Mark Twain. The guys in these stories went on adventures and explored and found Gold! No laundry could compare with that. In the eternal summer of his memory, there was no greater joy than escaping into the woods with a snack, a canteen and something to read by his holy trinity of boyhood authors.
Well, that or books that taught you real skills. Things like tying knots or wilderness first aid, or starting fires, or which plants were good for medicine.
Marcus loved the First Aid books best of all. There was something so compelling about the idea that if someone were to get hurt (not that you’d wish for them to get hurt, but if they did get hurt and you couldn’t prevent it), that you could do something! I mean, how cool would it be to stabilize a broken arm until you could get the person to a hospital. Or that you could staunch bleeding enough to buy the person time enough to get to a doctor or someone who could sew them up right.
How could any stupid chores compare with that?
I mean, as soon as he was able to, Marcus planned to head away into the woods or the mountains so he could be a mountain man like Jeremiah Johnson.
Then he would live in his own cabin and not have to do any stupid chores. He’d just live off the land and be free. A free man (boy), not constrained by other people’s schedules or rules.
It’s strange how some lessons only become obvious after you learn them. It’s also strange how much and how little we know about the future when we’re that age. How hold had Marcus been? Five years old, six maybe?
The longer he lived, the more the crayons of his memory melted together in the slow heat of time. Eventually unusable and amorphous, but still pretty in an odd way.