The Lesson for the Day

Never ask a question which you don't want to hear the answer to...

...doubly so when comes to the purity test.

I've trained my friends to trust me when I tell them, "You don't want to know." How ironic then, that I didn't listen to him when he said, a little bashful but relaxed, "Aw, come on man you don't want to talk about that."

During an avalanche huge sheets of snow can break free and turn into a flowing mass speeding down the mountain side. If you don't disturb the snow, it'll stay where it is. But, no, I had to push it.

"Come on, " I said, "What's the point in doing this if you're just gonna take the fifth?"

If I'd listened, I bet I would have heard the rumble, the starting decent. Tons of snow all falling at once, picking up everything in its path: air, more snow, dirt, trees, rocks cars, people.

He still smiled, a little nervous now, "Well, you know about it already anyway. Last halloween..."

I surfed my memory, but nothing stood out about the party. It was a little wild, but that wasn't unsual. I could feel the tremor of the subwoofer - the coming avalanche - beneath my feet. "What about it?"

"Well, you know. That thing with Nancy and me."

My hair stood on end and the snow took me. It filled my mouth, my nose, my mind.

He must have seen it. He sat up, glacing at both doors out of the den in sequence, and then back at me. "She said she'd told you. I mean, she told me she'd told you. ... She didn't tell you, did she?"

I did my best to keep breathing.

"Shit... Look, man, we were both so wasted, I didn't even recognize her until after. I - I wanted to tell you right then, but she said not to. She said you'd take it better if she told you. ... And later she told me you were alright with it but you just didn't want to talk about it with me. I didn't know. I guess I should of known."

I'd had no clue. The boiling snow finally roared to a halt and all the air went out of it, like it does when the snow stops moving. Suddenly, the avalanche turned back into a snow field. Only now I was under that snow field, stuck inside it, immobile, suffocating on my own breath, on the answer to my own question.