Lucas Weismann

Another Winter Gone – 33

Marcus woke in the dark, Eva’s arms wrapped around him.  He felt the warmth of the fire in the small bed they planned to share, before she took ill.

“Do you remember when we lay like this?” she asked him.

“Mmm, yes.  We were expecting Jack.  You were too hot, so you pushed me away, but you ended up holding on like a limpet.”  Marcus smiled to himself.

“You remembered.”  

“Of course I remembered.  That’s when I wrote Ave Amata.”

“You never read that one to me you know.” She said.

“I did, but I called it ‘The Island’.”

“Oh, I liked that one.  Tell it again.”

Marcus grumbled something about it being silly because no one could hear.

“Sillier than writing a poem for your wife that parallels the Hail Mary?”

“Well, no.  But-“

“Then say it, you might feel better and be able to start writing again.”

“You know about that huh?”

“Of course I do.  I’m not really here.  I’m just a ghost of a thought of a memory.  Haven’t you noticed I’m talking more like you do?  Giving explainations and being sentimental?  I was always more sharp-tongued than this, even though you never could see it.  You’re the one who has to be so rational about everything.  Besides, I’m funnier than you write me.”

“I don’t know.  There’s work to be done tomorrow,” he said.

“There’s always work do be done Marcus.  You’ve done it.  Your food and fire will last the winter and possibly into June if you’re careful.  There’s paper in the outhouse and extra newspapers just in case.  Ten seconds won’t make or break your sleep.”

“Fine.  But just because I know you and you won’t rest until you’ve had your story.” He said.

Then marcus spoke aloud for the first time of the exchange as he said,


“Beautiful Soul, Full of grace

Who lies beside me silent.

In your arms I am at peace

And  know I am no Island.”


He never felt the moment her presence left, but he did feel the ache of loss that had been with him every night since Eva’s passing.  No longer able to feel her arms, he wrapped the blankets tighter and went to sleep, alone.

Another Winter Gone – 29

“Marcus-”  The voice was a whisper.  Barely a shade of what it had been.

“I’m here hon.”

“I’m so sorry.”  She paused to catch her breath.  “I wanted to go home for Christmas and I know you’ll be alone.”

Marcus didn’t say anything.  He just closed his eyes and put his chin to his chest, just holding her hand in his.

“I’m so sorry to put all this on you.”  She coughed.

“Shh, it’s okay, just rest.”

“Time enough for that soon enough Sergeant.”

Marcus nodded and stroked the back of her hand gently.  The skin was slack and paper thin.  That wasn’t right.  Every time he closed his eyes, she was the same young girl he’d met when he came home for that furlough during the war.  That had been stolen from him and for the first time in a long time, he was torn between sadness at impending loss and anger at the unfairness of the world.

“Marcus, I meant to outlive you after Jack died.  I never wanted to put you through this pain and expense.”

“Honey, I don’t care about the money.  Never have.  We’ll just get through it the same way we always have, by doing what needs to be done.”

“Well, you’re going to have to do that without me.  I can’t help you here, not anymore.  And don’t try to tell me comforting lies.  I’m going to my rest.”  She caught her breath.  “I have two things I need you to do for me.”

“Course, you do.  What can I do, hon?”

“The first one is hard.”

“Tell me what it is.”

“Please don’t give up.  I know that you made me and Jack your whole life.  After he was stolen from us, you stopped seeing other people than me except when necessary.  You didn’t write for years afterward.  But in all that time, you never stopped doing the work that needed doing, or lending a hand where and when it was needed.  Please don’t stop that on my account.”

“Eva…” he began

“Don’t interrupt me Sergeant, I’m dying so I get to make my last speech.”

“Yes doctor.” He said.

A weak smile appeared on Rose’s face.  “I need to go to my rest, knowing you’re going to go on being you and that you won’t take it too hard.  I know that’s a hard task, so I’m willing to be reasonable.”

“How so?”

“When I die, you can mourn for one year.  But after that, you have to go on being you and writing and telling stories.  And you have to be the Marcus who does what needs doing.”

“What’re you gonna do if I can’t do that?”

“Nothing.  I’ll be dead.  But I just don’t like the idea of losing me being the thing that pulls the legs out from under you.”

“Rose, I-“

“Now, if you choose never to remarry and live as a withered old bachelor that’s alright with me.  It’s a touching tribute.”

The smile on Marcus’s face was a sad one.  “So that’s it?  Keep telling stories and keep helping people?  How long do I have to do it for?”

“As long as it takes.” She said.  “I really am sorry to do this to you.  It was my intention to outlive you so that you wouldn’t be put to the bother of the funeral and going on.”

“No bother.”  He mumbled, though he wished he could be with her at any other time than now.  Eva never talked like this, she must’ve gotten her 2-minute curtain call.

They sat in silence for a long while until, the nurse came in to tell him that visiting hours were over.  Marcus looked up and nodded, patted the back of his wife’s hand and stood up.  He leant over to kiss her forehead, whispered something in her ear and walked out.

If the nurse wondered at what Marcus had said, she didn’t ask.  Marcus respected that.  What he said to her was no one’s business but their own.

Another Winter Gone – 28

Jack was born a respectable 8 lbs 3 oz in the hospital at Saint Cloud. Marcus never knew whether the pregnancy itself was difficult, because Eva didn’t seem to complain about it. Reports from the midwife about her conduct in the during the birth were similar. Eva pushed and grunted like any other, but there was no screaming or crying from her, as if her determination to do the work ahead of her surpassed any little thing like the blinding pain of childbirth.
Marcus wouldn’t have thought less of his wife if she had reacted any way. From the little he’d seen growing up on the farm he was unsure he’d have volunteered for the job of birthing a baby.
When he was finally allowed to enter the room, he saw his wife, looked exhausted and happy and more beautiful than he remembered as she held their child. Eva beckoned Marcus over to her side. Read more

Another Winter Gone – 27

Owning a home came with its own challenges, which the new Mr. and Dr. Austmann took to with gusto. Plumbing problems, squeaky floors- that often needed waxing and polishing as well and peeling plaster all seemed to be no problem for Marcus or Eva. They loved turning their house into a home. Marcus said it gave him something to do during the layoffs in the winter. Mr. Jacobson had no need for crews to paint during the winter, so the men were let go. Some found other employment, but Marcus spent his time working on the house and writing his stories, mostly for Eva. Read more

Another Winter Gone – 26

Marcus and Eva returned to the lodge the next day, where they were greeted by Dorothy. She gave them some of her homemade root beer and asked them how they had fared on their adventures. They related the story of the water and the burn and she insisted that she be allowed to examine Eva.

It turned out that Dorothy was a licensed nurse and often treated people who ran across her path, whether guests or not. “I’m not just some ’root beer lady’ she said,” when she told she was a nurse. “Even go back to the city every year to keep my license up to date and make sure my skills are sharp.” She said and she smiled at Eva.<!--more-->

After examining the leg, she recommended seeing a doctor right away. She even offered to radio ahead so that someone would be ready for them in town. They thanked her and made their way to the cabins to gather their things and said their goodbyes.

Once underway and heading back home, it started to snow. Lightly at first, but then more strongly, so it was a serious storm by the time they reached their car that evening.

“It occurs to me,” said Eva as they waited for the car’s heater to start warming the car as they drove, “That anyone whose favorite things include snowflakes that stay on their eyelashes is probably expecting they’ll be near a warm fire soon, or they’re clinically insane.”

Marcus smiled and listened to Eva talk for awhile, before putting his arm up on the back of the seat so Eva could slide over next to him. Carefully, they made their way back into Ely, MN (the nearest town with a hospital) and got in to see the doctors.

After waiting what seemed to be an interminable amount of time, they were seen by the doctor. He unwrapped the bandages, washed the blister and asked for details about what happened. He told them the burns looked to be second-degree, that they should keep them wrapped with clean bandages and keep the skin clean with soap and water, and to see their regular doctor at the first sign of infection. Then he had the nurse re-dress the wounds and charged them and sent them on their way.

The snow lessened as they made their way back south toward Saint Cloud. They had bought a home and fixed it up, and would be entering for the first time as newlyweds when they returned. About halfway back, Eva looked up at Marcus and said, “You know, that Dorothy had a great place. I’d love to get one for the two of us.

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where we could just be and live off the land.” Inside some small corner of Marcus’s mind, the little boy who told his mother he’d go live in the woods punched the air. He squeezed her a little tighter then and knew for the second time in two days, that he would never let her go as long as he lived.

Another Winter Gone – 25

Weeks passed blissfully, as Marcus and Eva took day trips to see local pictographs, or swam in the lakes nearby. The end of the season was approaching and Marcus could feel the chill in the air. The only bit of trouble, being a small burn Eva received on one of their day trips while moving some boiling water she was using to make cocoa. Some spilled over on to her right leg. Immediately, she yelped tore off her wool slacks and ran to the lake.
Marcus was away looking for firewood, but the sound of her yelp and a splash brought him back to camp. At first he couldn’t find her. She was no where to be seen! He ran to the lake and out onto a small promontory, then climbed a rock down. He looked left and right, unable to find her. Then he shouted, “Eva! Eva!” before looking again. Read more

Another Winter Gone – 24

Marcus studied during the school year and worked for Mr. Jacobson during the summers and by the time he graduated, he was offered a position managing the crews for the company. He agreed, thankful for the opportunity to work somewhere that would offer him a measure of stability and for six months he began to save.
One day in late August, he invited Eva to join him on a walk near the river near the campus to a place they had spent many starlit evenings before going to dinner. They walked down by the river until they found ‘their’ spot. A small overlook that hid them from view, but from which they could see the swimmers in the summer and the ice skaters in the winter.
Turning the last bend in the path revealed a warm woolen blanket, on which there was a bottle of wine, a small picnic basket and two burning candles. Read more

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