Five Points, Vol. 17, No. 1Winter 2015–2016
From Andre Dubus III: "It really felt like rediscovering the fragments. So, that’s my advice. Just write the fragment. Make that fragment as whole as you can, because, guess what? It’s going to open the door to another one, and another one, and another one."
Bobbie Ann Mason
He said Pine Mountain was three hundred miles long, and she had believed him, even after the guide corrected him: Pine Mountain was a hundred and twenty-five miles long. She believed everything he said that weekend because she fell in love with him. Just like that. A stranger on a weekend. A man who had flown in from California to traipse up the mountain with a group of assorted wildlife biologists, shape-note singers, glassy-eyed crazy-quilters, cunning wordsmiths, and frolicsome collagists.
He had trekking poles and no one else did. He knew a staggering amount about the biodiversity of Pine Mountain, details an outsider wouldn’t normally know.
“That’s wood betony,” he said, sizing up a forest bloom.
Then, holding up a scary green-and-black-striped many-footed worm, he said, “Here we have the cinnamon millipede. When you touch it, it exudes a cinnamon smell, which is really cyanide. Just a touch of cyanide.”
He helped her across the mossy rocks on the stream beds. Her boots weren’t waterproof, but he didn’t chide her.
On the hike he whistled.
“We won’t see any bears,” he assured her. “We’ve flushed out the bears with all our noise.”
“Don’t get off the trail,” warned the lead guide for the fifth time.
The weekend was a test, how to survive without the Internet. There was no Internet in the mountains. Instead, she found the man from California. He wasn’t on Facebook. He was just there, in real life. From time to time, she felt slightly faint from joy.
He did a little dance in front of a boulder the size of a three-story house. “This place is enchanted,” he cried. “We must protect it from the coal companies!”…