The Hike, a Kanuk, Alaska story (part 2)    
By Voni Harris    

(Click here for part 1)     

Tatiana and Chad had signed the divorce papers, but they also had agreed to help chaperone the Kanuk Community Church youth group on their annual 13-mile hike to Termination Point. Things were silent between them; conversation hadn’t been their strong point recently. No wonder they’d signed the divorce papers. Tatiana’s mind returned to the bleak, angry years of their marriage. The thought that it hadn’t always been that way just made her angrier as they hiked on.     


 Noah and Bill ran ahead when they saw their friends had stopped ahead of them and were setting up a picnic at the very point where the land met the ocean. They were looking forward to the challenge of building a cook fire in the rain.

Salmon and Jennie had their back to the group, and were sitting on a log to the side of where the boys were building the fire. Chad and Tatiana walked over to greet the older couple.

“How’re you feeling?” Salmon asked.

“I’m all right, Darling,” she said. “I love our hiking dates! But I’m guessing this will be my last Termination Point hike. I hate cancer.”

Cancer? Tatiana hadn’t known Jennie had cancer; it hadn’t been on the prayer chain. She tugged on Chad’s sleeve to draw him away, but neither could really stop from eavesdropping once they heard that word, cancer.

“I know, Sweetheart. Me, too. But short walks and movies make fun dates, too.”

Jennie smiled. “I want you to keep taking the kids on this hike every year, okay?”

“I’m not sure I can bear doing it without the most beautiful woman in the world.” Salmon put his arm around her and drew her to him.

“The doctor says there’s not much time; we both know that. Remember what the Bible says about choosing life? I want you to choose life, even if I do die.”

“I know, Sweetheart. You’re right.”

“Thanks for being here for me, Salmon, for walking through this darkness with me. For making it light.”

“Ahh, Jennie. You certainly walked through darkness with me! Besides, when I promised for better, for worse, I meant it.”

“I know you did. But thanks. Your love means so much to me. Especially now.”

“How do you want to tell folks, Jennie? We especially need to tell Noah, now that we know for sure…”

Her heart breaking for her friends and for Noah and for her own marriage, Tatiana began to walk away from the private conversation as tears flowed freely down her cheeks. Even cancer couldn’t rip Salmon and Jennie apart. Yet she and Chad had let mere selfishness tear theirs apart. But what could they do about it, now?

Suddenly, she felt Chad’s arm on her shoulder.

“Tatiana. We’ve got to talk.”

She ungracefully wiped her nose on her jacket sleeve. Talking was good. “Yes. Yes, we do. I know that I’ve been nagging and unresponsive and…”

Chad’s finger gently covered her lips. “Shhh. I know, Tatiana. And I’ve been insensitive and unavailable to you and…” He shook his head. “Let’s just start with a date.”

A date? How long had it been since they’d simply had a date? No wonder there were divorce papers sitting on her kitchen counter.

“Tatiana? Are you free Friday? Nothing more than a date.”

“Yes.” She took a deep breath and nodded. “Friday would be great.”

“Come eat!” Noah called from over on the beach. “The hot dogs are ready.”

Chad held Tatiana’s hand on the way over to the soggy picnic bench.

The End

Tune in tomorrow for this week’s Word Nerd blog. I’m thinking about foretelling the future!
Tune in next Tuesday for another Short Story Tuesday.