Beware the Slippery Slope

She grabbed her raincoat and took a chainsaw out of the back of the truck. This wasn’t the first time this happened and it probably wouldn’t be the last either. That didn’t mean she was looking forward to what she was about to do. She knew today probably wasn’t the day to be driving down that hill, but there was still the work from the day before to finish, and that meant driving down the steep incline. There hadn’t been anything she could do. She’d gotten the brakes checked the week before, but no matter how much she’d stomped on that pedal those tires wouldn’t stop. It had rained the day before causing the ground to be soft even in abnormal places. The whole truck had gone sliding, close to six feet before slamming into an old cedar tree.

Tiny blue eyes peered out the back glass across the truck bed. She’d started out the morning with a bowl of Cheerios and a glass of orange juice, feet swinging back and forth underneath the kitchen table. It had gotten cold over night…cold enough to wake up to the propane heaters being on, and she didn’t have her house shoes. This wasn’t at all how she’d expected the day to go. Twisting around she couldn’t see where the old woman had gone. Standing up on the white vinyl bench seat, even on her tiptoes, she still couldn’t see the gravel road, they’d slid too far down. Sitting back down she clutched the shaggy black fur of the dog next to her and silently waited.

Mist blew out of the woman’s mouth from the cold November air. She slipped the leather gloves over her gnarled fingers, her third pair in as many months. It wasn’t that she was afraid of getting her hands dirty and she certainly wasn’t worried about her nails. She hadn’t had a manicure in over a decade. What was the point when they’d get chipped even through gloves and there were some smells that would just never come out. One, two, three cranks and the chainsaw fired up. This never got easier but in truth she didn’t mind, the hard work was exhilarating.

How long should she wait before crawling out of the truck? Would she get in trouble if she did anything besides sit here patiently? It wasn’t the sound of the chainsaw, but the little girl jumping that caused the dog to flip its head around, a low growl rumbling from her stomach, the girl’s hands clenching tighter into the fur. A bright orange stocking cap bobbed back and forth with the sound of the blade. What was the woman doing? Why hadn’t she been told what was going on?

She was frustrated with the direction the tree was leaning. If she didn’t do this right, it was going to land on the truck. She knew grabbing one of her boys meant they’d make comments about how she shouldn’t have been out here by herself; how if she’d hired someone to clear these trees for her….she exhaled all the air from her lungs and walked back to the truck. Turning towards the little girl she finally spoke, “This is going to take several hours, and it’s too cold for you to be out here. I’m going to walk you back to the house where it’s warm. Besides you’re just going to get your clothes all dirty and ruined. If I grab your dad, this will be faster.”

Here it happened again, never allowed to get dirty. Always worried someone would be upset if she was sent home with a hole in the knee of her pants. Why couldn’t she have work clothes? Weren’t there leather gloves to fit small hands like hers? That woman was a girl too, how come she was allowed to do all the work? There was probably no use asking to stay, the stubborn old woman had made up her mind.


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