SSM: “Sustenance” by Samantha Cohen

20 May

Out for pizza tonight, my wife, our friend Andi, and I somehow settled on the topic of the survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes Mountains and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. I don’t know. Conversation is weird, man. I’m terrified of it sometimes.

We leave today for a camping trip. Along the Kentucky/Indiana border runs a line of whiskey distilleries known as the Bourbon Trail. We are going there. We will not have to resort to cannibalism, which is probably a good thing.

“If we get really lost in here,” Aphra says, “I might kill and eat you.”

“If we get really lost in here,” says Seth, “I’ll cut off your arm and we can roast it over a spit.”

Aphra and Seth are driving through the Angeles National Forest and the GPS lady has no idea where they are. Aphra’s car’s a mess, picnic remains crowding the backseat: a Ziploc containing three apple cores, two avocado stones, and half a tomato; another Ziploc containing two spoons and a cutting knife; a nearly empty multigrain crackers box and a half-drunk bottle of wine; tomato-streaked plates. As they watch the sky darken, they are thinking words like “bluff” and “crag,” but they aren’t sure these are the right words. They only know words like these from stories, but this is close to what they pictured.

“What about your arm?” Aphra says. She says this, but she doesn’t mean it. Aphra’s never eaten meat before, not that she can remember, and she prefers the idea of eating her own meat to eating Seth. She figures this means she might not love Seth, but she also figures she probably already knows that.

Read the full story at PANK.

Deeper into eastern Kentucky is the Red River Gorge area. What they speak of, “bluffs” and “crags” exist there, beautiful sandstone. I don’t get to climb much anymore. I miss it. I miss the tiredness in my hands, the sting of busted skin left on the rock, the burning of muscles and tendons. I miss the language of it–‘biners and gri gri’s, crimps and pockets and jugs, throws and dynos.

We’re not going deep enough into Kentucky for that. We’re not going deep enough to find ourselves without sustenance, in that animal spiral where all you know is thirst and the burning of your belly. We’re not going deep enough for any of that.

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One Response to “SSM: “Sustenance” by Samantha Cohen”

  1. KW May 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Hmm. Yes. I’m thinking about this one.

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