“Look at this!” I shout back to her. I see her head turn towards me a bit, tellingly, but not completely, not like she is looking at me.
“Remember this!” I say. I am laughing. She started wearing a baseball cap when we left. That and shades. Her cap was a faded red, really faded but it had not gone pink, it was more a bleached maroon. The bill bone wore through in a spot. How do you wear out a bill?
She nods to me to get down and come over. I do.
“Up there.” She says with her face. She has never been around the Navajo’s but she does it perfectly, intuitively. She does it so she doesn’t move her hands or give some clue or sign. At least I think that’s what it is and I’m pretty sure it is. “That’s where we’ll stay tonight.” She tells me. I nod ok. I will always be younger than her.
Things went better immediately for me, when we left, with her there, it’s like she found herself. She hid our fire with cinder blocks. There were no traps we could set so she laid cans and bottles all over the steps in the stair well. “This is where well jump down if we have to, the matress is right there, see it. Its covered with dirt, right there. Drop this rock on it so I know you know where it is. Ok.”
Try to carry a weeks’ worth of food with you. Now try and do that for two people. Mostly I carried our shit but she carried a lot too. It’s not like what you may think. There was no division of labor. There was me fucking around mostly, fairly, and there was her helping me, keeping me safe. I remember telling her we should get back to where I lived, when they were gone. Before that it was different. We all were different. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. Not a day goes by that we talk about it. She didn’t ask a question or argue, it’s like we just skipped the conversation about agreeing what to do and moved onto the doing it as the first order of business.
“Tie this, tie that end. Ok.”
I brought her a package once, a wrapper of a wet-knap. It was old, opened. I could see her face crack a smile. Behind the shades, those mirrors she put on, they only worked on me, who else was there? I could see her smile behind them. I dropped it. I just never thought there would be so few people left.
She never made it with me. I think of her a lot when I hold my child. That morning, that one morning when I got up before her. “I named her for you Kasha. I miss you so much.”