Hello. Things are different for you now. You are not a ten-year old boy anymore. I would like you to think about me now, not as a thirty-year old, but as a ten-year old: do you remember as vividly as I do the old sledding hill only a hundred yards from our house? The short but exhilarating ride down into the willows that grew beneath it?
Have you not forgotten the exciting dream of publishing a book? That much praised novel from the Alaskan boy. As you read this, you might say, "Yeah, yeah." But do you remember? Do you actually remember?
I carry on. I will become you when I grow older, because I am you twenty years younger. Twenty years. Remembrance is renewed knowledge. Do you remember (I think you do), when the dogs ran, joyfully, in front of the sled, surging to pull us across the trail. The dogs were beautiful, their muscles strained, yet somehow at ease. I think you remember that. And maybe you also remember our blueberry patch that in the autumn was filled with round, juicy, tart blueberries. The wonders of the Arctic and the wonders of living as a child, free among the wilderness of Alaska. I hope as a thirty-year old you are happy as you read this and try to remember the facts I have mentioned to you at this moment. But I have one last memory to give you. The memories of that haunting lynx..., so -- read and remember.
It was February in the Brooks Range, and cold. Not extremely cold, yet cold enough that it bit at my cheeks. I don't suppose that the snapping wind helped, or the fact that I was speeding along quite quickly down a well-packed trail on the back of a red dogsled.
The dogs plowed ahead, perhaps ignoring the fact that it was cold, perhaps annoyed with it... yet their emotions were hidden. The whiteness of the snow usually twinkled when the bright sun danced upon it, but today it was dull and the sky was bleak and gray. The air seemed pinched. We entered a patch of black spruce trees and before I had time to think, there was a creature, caught in the rusty clamp of a trap. At first, I was confused, and flitting across my mind was the word RABBIT. And then I saw it. A lynx... in a trap! At that second, our lead dog, Pika, turned to the right, pulling the frayed gang-line over the curved top of the sled. The lynx was like a demon, hunched, with bloody crimson lips and the dark, haunted eyes, like that of a tortured being. Snow clumped in patches on its partly black, partly silver-gray fur. The dogs were lunging now. Then, it became chaos. My mother, our mother, leapt from the sled runners behind me and grabbed Pika by the collar. I, too, tried almost vainly to haul the dogs away from the forest specter. I fumbled many times, my fingers screaming in frigid pain!
The cat glared at us with bloodshot eyes, fierce and shining. Pika lunged again for the lynx. It pulled away, but the trap halted it. Mom caught the dog, and yanked her back onto the trail. The lynx hissed. It recoiled and bared black gums and shiny teeth. And then, suddenly, we were on the sled and the trees were passing us like gaunt sentries of the forest.
If humans had weaker skin, blood streaks would show across my cheeks as the wind played a cruel banter with my face. I was half frozen when we reached the shelter of our home at Marion Creek.
Now I am done.
And now you remember.