by Jessica Cherry
The static cold continued to build suspense in the city: when will it break? We broke, got on a southbound plane to a volcano complex with miles and miles of color and life. We forget, though, about the transition. A 737 can move through so many months in just five hours. Revived, we bought our groceries and settled in. I decided to go for a walk down to the beach; 1500 feet, straight down. It’s a paved road, but no real switchbacks. Right away, I wonder if this is a good idea. It’s hard enough to get down, but the sun gives me energy, at first. I get to the stony beach and begin to panic. I drink a little water and start up, one step at a time. Surely these old legs can carry me back up. I rest every few minutes. I have no phone signal. I wonder if I’m going to die by my own hands and feet. Several old pickups drive by, but I can’t believe they can even make it up the hill. I’m huddled under a cactus in the noonday sun. A woman driving down to the beach in a gleaming white Jeep Wrangler stops. She asks if I need a ride. I’m so embarrassed. She doesn’t take no for an answer, thankfully. My legs shake as I make my way to the passenger side and pull myself in. Wow, thanks a lot. No problem, Hun. She is tall and a decade or so older than me with a white blonde mullet and wrap around sunglasses. She’s wearing daisy dukes and a string bikini top, with tattooed skin that is deeply tanned but only recently so; she has the skin of a younger woman, not damaged by the sun. She tells me about picking up a lost elderly woman last year, who couldn’t remember which house she was renting. That was a hoot, she says. I’m still in awe that I’m being saved by this person. We get to the top of the hill and I tell her I can walk the rest of the way, across the highway. Thank you, I’m Jessie, from Anchorage. Ha, I’m Laurie, from Wasilla. Us Alaskans are everywhere. Yes, thank you Wasilla, for sending Laurie.
Jessica Cherry, PhD is a scientist, writer, and commercial pilot living in Anchorage and Fairbanks.