“They’re not coming, are they?” Shannon said. “I’m fucking… damn it!” Shannon shook her fists and breathed through her nose loud enough for me to hear. “I can’t believe this shit. I can’t believe you!”
“My head feels like crushed rocks,” I said. “Can’t you wait until later to blame me?”
“Oh, you would tell me what to do!” Shannon clapped her hands together, warming them.
“Sure, it was my idea to go skiing, but I didn’t get us stuck on the damn lift.” But she’s treating me like an incompetent child who can’t understand a question. I held my hands in front of my body in an I’ve got this tone. “Just keep—”
“You tell me to keep calm one more time”—she shoved her finger in my face—”and I’m gonna bust your face! God, I can’t believe I let you talk me into this shit.”
“Well, what do you want me to do?” I’d run out of options. No phone service. No one to holler at below. The wind whipped beneath the lift, making it impossible for someone to hear us scream from this distance.
“We just had to go skiing on Christmas eve, didn’t we? This is all your fault. Maybe my dad was right about you. I mean, you couldn’t even take his little girl skiing without fucking it up.”
“You were cool with it when I asked! I thought this would be a good idea: Going skiing on Christmas eve.” As a kid, Granddad took me skiing on Christmas weekends. Those were some of the best memories, just us hanging out at the ski lodge, drinking hot chocolate mixed with rum.
“You’re something else you know that?” Shannon let out a gasp. “I agreed on having fun not—”
“Did I get us stuck?” Shannon blamed me for everything. No matter how big or small our setback, I was to blame. I guess I picked someone like my mother. She’d call me a bastard and talk about how I’m the reason she dropped out of college and settled for some drunk son-of-a-bitch to take care of her. So, I was used to everything being my fault, but this truly wasn’t my fault. And when I’m wrong, I have no problem taking the blame.
“May as well have gotten us stuck yourself.” Shannon’s narrow eyes turn to crinkled slits, and she slid to the bottom of the lift. This ski lift was the elevator shaped kind, not the two-seat Ferris wheel kind. It was 30 degrees out, but what little warmth the lift yielded felt better than none.
“It’s not like you had plans,” I said louder than I wanted to. Shannon was the kind of girl to leave everything up to me, and now I think I know why. She could blame me and have a reason to fight. She said her previous relationships were tumultuous, and maybe that’s what she wants: to fight. I’d tried to steer clear of arguments or fights over nothing, which didn’t stop Shannon from screaming at me or pulling my arm to look at her when she talked to me. I’d grown up in foster care, and my foster mother pulled that shit on me once. I’d broke free and gave her a death stare; she winced and never touched me like that again. Even though I matured and didn’t death stare people anymore, I still didn’t want anyone’s hands on me. “Besides, it’s not like I could come up with anything else on such short notice.”
“Oh…so now, this is my fault? Just come out and say it, coward! Stop hiding behind coded language, you passive-aggressive person you.”
I laughed hard. Even Shannon choked back a giggle. I could tell because she does this cute hard swallow when she’s trying not to laugh. The idea of me being passive-aggressive didn’t fit with my personality. Although I’d wish it had. I placed my hands over my eyes. “It’s no one’s—”
“The hell it isn’t. It’s all your fault,” Shannon said. “Not responsible enough to be a damn father.”
“What? Where’s all this coming from?” My jaw locked, and my eyes traced hers. “What the hell are you talking about?” This time, I grabbed her sleeve.
“It’s all your fucking fault,” Shannon said.
“What was that?” I asked as my body and the lift jerked with terror like a kid shaking a cat out of a tree. I should know the feeling. When I was a kid, a group of friends shook a cat out of a tree to see if it could land on its feet, and I’ll be damned, the son-of-a-bitch landed square on its feet. My friend’s mother took off her belt (yes, his mom) and spanked him right there. After that, we called him spanky. To this day, we call dude spanky. Right now, I wished I’d had a belt to beat the bastard who got us stuck on this ski lift.
“I’m scared as fuck!” Shannon said, swimming air for something to grip. “I didn’t think I was gonna die like this! On Christmas eve.”
“The workers went home for the night, but they’ll be here in the morning and we’ll be on our way.” I tried to hug her, but she pushed me away.
“No. I haven’t figured that out yet, you idiot,” Shannon said in a sarcastic tone, throwing her hands in the air. “How high are we anyway?”
I took a deep breath and put my totally accurate estimation hat on. “About twenty…no more than thirty feet.”
“Oh…great…we can jump to our death. My father’s so going to kill you.”
“Haven’t been this annoying since—”
“Don’t even go there!” Shannon said, pointing her finger inches from my nose. “You think I’m pissed now, wait until morning!”
“Here,” I said, handing her a blanket. “This should do for the night.”
“We may as well drink,” Shannon said, twisting the cork on the wine bottle she’d saved for Christmas night. She tipped her head back, drinking more than appropriate for the situation, and then she lets out an echo belly belch, wiping her mouth with her sleeve. She held the bottle in the air. “Want some?” Shannon belched harder.
I shrugged. “Sure. What’s the worse that could happen. I’ll take one sip.” I usually didn’t drink, but this was different. I couldn’t get the thought of being a loser and her father kicking my ass out of my head. I’m going to need a bodybag. I thought back through my life insurance policy. I’d paid it last Thursday. If I die, Shannon’s going to be rich. Maybe I’m worth more dead to Shannon than alive. My stomach tightened, and my fingers turned cold to the touch.
“Look, I know you blame this on me—”
“Enough.” Shannon turned away and pulled the covers over her ears.
I batted my eyes open as the morning had arrived.
“Look!” Shannon said, thrusting upright to her feet. “There’s a snowplow!”
“Gonna give me credit now?” I asked, raising a sly brow. Maybe there’s still hope for me yet. I thought about what I was going to do now that her father wouldn’t kill me and how I wouldn’t take life for granted anymore.
Shannon screwed up her face and crinkled her eyes. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Mr.”
A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. I’m gettin’ some tonight, I thought.
“Hey, over here!” Shannon’s amped-up hand waving jerked the suspended lift. “Doesn’t he see us?”
The wind swirled the snow into a sheet of a blur.
“Must think the lift is empty,” I said, sliding to the floor. Oh, shit. Everything came back to me. Shannon’s father’s still going to kill me.