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Force Of Nature

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All through that endless year, whenever the melancholy thought had occurred to him, Fraser had supposed that he would die a sorry, solitary death to cap his sorry, solitary life. Alone, somewhere out on the mountains where his body might never be found. On his worst days, when he could barely overcome his inertia long enough to break camp, he embroidered the image with a lingering, painful demise and the scattering of his remains by wolves. Even then, though, he had automatically assumed that death would allow him a final, bitter opportunity to feel the weight of Ray’s rejection.

Once the occasion arose, though, when the avalanche came down upon him, knocking him off his feet, casually stealing his breath and snapping his bones, Fraser didn’t have time for coherent thought. He struggled for a moment, trying to overcome the force of gravity by sheer willpower, and barely managed to give a monosyllabic exclamation, something fricative and expressive, before the snow had closed over his head, turning the air into ice and the blue sky, black.

 

It was only when he awoke in the hospital that a regretful, “Ray!” had time to surface, and by then the thought had lost its momentum. He looked around to find that Ray sat by his bed, reading a snowmobile manual.

“Ray?” he croaked, “What..?”

“I was passing by,” Ray replied, preposterously. He looked up, and Fraser saw that his eyes were bloodshot and shadowed; his expression nervously resolute.

Fraser’s legs, shoulder and ribs all throbbed, but he beamed at Ray. “You’re here.”

“Of course I’m here,” snapped Ray, immediately defensive. He took a deep breath and visibly calmed himself, reaching out to trace around one of Fraser’s bruises with a shaky finger.

“Of course I’m here,” he repeated. “Where else would I be?”