An Abundance of Katherines

Page 40

Colin pushed the spiderweb aside—sorry, Charlotte. He turned sideways, crouched down, and inched away from the fading light outside. Soon he was completely blind, his knees and back and head all against the rock, and for a moment he panicked, thinking Lindsey had tricked him, and would leave him, wedged in here. But he kept shuffling his feet forward. Something glided against his back. He screamed.
“Relax. It’s me,” she said. Her hands found his shoulders, and she said, “Take one more step,” and then he could no longer feel the rock pressing in on him. She turned him so that he was facing forward. “Keep walking,” she said. “You can stand up straight now. ” And then her hands disappeared, and he heard her sweeping at the ground, and she said, “I keep a flashlight here, but I can’t f—got it. ” She pressed the flashlight into his hands and he fumbled with it and then the world lit up.
“Wow,” said Colin. Approximately square, the cave’s only room was big enough to lie down comfortably in any direction, although the gray-brown ceiling sloped down toward the back, making it hard to stand in a lot of places. It contained a blanket, a sleeping bag, several old throw pillows, and one unmarked Mason jar filled with some sort of liquid. He nudged it with his foot. “Booze,” Lindsey explained.
“Where’d you get it?”
“There’s a guy out in Danville who makes corn whiskey moonshine. No shit. And he’ll sell it to you if you’ve got ten dollars and are old enough to walk. Colin gave it to me. I told him I drank it, but really I brought it out here, ’cause it adds ambience. ” Colin moved the flashlight slowly around the cave’s walls. “Sit down,” Lindsey said. “And turn off the light. ”
And then it was the kind of dark your eyes never adjust to.
“How’d you find this place?”
“I was just hiking around. I used to love walking through Mom’s land with all the oldsters when I was little. I started coming by myself during middle school, and I just stumbled across it one day in eighth grade. I must’ve walked past this rock a hundred times without ever noticing anything. It’s weird talking to you; I can’t see you at all. ”
“I can’t see you either. ”
/> “We’re invisible. I’ve never been here with someone else. It’s different being invisible with someone. ”
“So what do you do here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s too dark to read. I guess you could get a head lamp or something, but other than that—”
“No, I just sit here. When I was a nerd, I came here to be somewhere where no one would find me. And now—I dunno, I guess the same reason. ”
“. . . ”
“. . . ”
“Do you want to drink it? The moonshine?”
“I never really drank before. ”
“Color me surprised. ”
“Also, moonshine can make you blind, and what I’ve seen of blindness so far hasn’t really impressed me. ”
“Yeah that would suck for you if you couldn’t read anymore. But how often are you going to find yourself in a cave with moonshine? Live a little. ”
“Says the girl who never wants to leave her hometown. ”
“Oh, burn. Okay I got the bottle. Talk to me and I’ll come over to your voice. ”
“Um, hello my name is Colin Singleton and it’s very dark and so you should come over here to my voice except the acoustics in this place are really w—oh that’s me. That’s my knee. ”
“Hi. ”
“Hi. ”
“Ladies first. ”
“All right. . . . Sweet holy shitstickers, it tastes like you’re washing down a bite of corn with a pint of lighter fluid. ”
“Did it make you go blind?”
“I have absolutely no idea. Okay. Your turn. ”