Eaton woke to the motel room aglow with the blue light of early morning. The light reflected in the silver residue on his silver-lined beige skin; anywhere his skin had touched was brushed with the silver powder. Miki slept soundly on the other side of the bed. Eaton was glad to see Miki's short and scraggly grey fur was clear of any silver. Across the room, the twins slept on undisturbed. Eaton hid the silvered patches of bedding as best he could and quietly went to shower.
The twins were still sleeping when Eaton was done, so he decided to go for a walk. Miki “ro-rowled” but refused to join him, spoiled by the soft warm nest of blankets. Eaton smiled and went outside alone.
He stepped into a crisp dawn. The sun peeked at him over the distant foothills. Nestled in the valley, the leafy village slept quietly. While he appreciated such peace, he looked forward to familiar streets farther west.
The quartet took to the road as the sunrise painted the sky in pinks, purples, and reds. It outlined the horizon behind them, highlighting the progress they had made the day before.
A few hours later, Eaton pulled over for a stretch break. He chose one of his favourite overlooks, with a view of a glittering blue lake surrounded by forested slopes. He saw the twins’ light beige faces light up at the vista. Kolina even closed her eyes for a moment to better soak in the mountain ambiance. Miki sniffed the air appreciatively, and looked up at Eaton - a knowing expression in his black eyes.
When a sign for the lake came up, Eaton took the turn off. At the lake, Miki was the first one out of the truck, bounding with his short legs toward the water. A chilly breeze rustled Eaton’s short wavy dark brown hair and his jacket. Zev put his shoulder-length curly brown hair into a ponytail to stop the wind from flipping it in any direction it wished. As the quartet walked along the lakeshore, they found the cool temperature a welcome addition.
When the group stopped to rest, Zev’s gaze settled on something across the water. Curiosity lit in his vivid blue eyes. “Those cabins look neat,” he said.
“Rental cabins,” said Eaton, familiar with the row of wooden structures that lined the opposite shore. “There may even be some available. This time of year there aren’t as many travellers.”
Kolina looked up from petting Miki. “Is there one on that island?” she asked, tucking her long curly brown hair to one side as she stood.
“Yeah,” said Eaton. “My older cousins used to-” tears sprang up his dark blue eyes, reflecting the flecks of purple within them. He blinked the tears away and cleared his throat. “If you two would like, we can see what they have available for the night?”
The twins looked at one another, then at Eaton. “Okay,” said Zev.
The quartet lucked out; the island cabin was available. Miki claimed the beach while the humans brought their belongings inside. When Miki caught a glimpse of Eaton, he pattered over to the dock. Eaton smiled and sighed. “Okay, boy.”
“Ro-rowl,” said Miki, curling up on the dock, satisfied.
Eaton gathered his fishing gear from the cabin. “Would you two like to fish?” he asked the twins.
They all went to the dock. Kolina and Zev each took a pole, but Kolina’s radiant blue eyes kept looking elsewhere. She was more interested in the potential adventures she could have exploring nature.
“I can take over if you’d like,” said Eaton, extending his hand for the fishing pole.
“Okay,” said Kolina, handing him the pole.
She went into the cabin, emerged with a life jacket and paddle, then headed toward a row boat. She maneuvered the boat with the confidence of one who had done it many times before. Miki, torn between his love of fishing and his love of boating, perked up his head.
“You can join her, boy,” said Eaton.
Miki considered it for a few more moments and then he was gone.
Eaton cast his line, and asked Zev: “Do you enjoy fishing?”
“It’s useful,” replied Zev. His gaze remained on the place where his line met the water and he said nothing more.
Eaton thought this was a valid, if somewhat odd, answer, but didn’t comment further. He enjoyed having the presence of another human while fishing.
Kolina had rowed farther into the lake. She was clearly enjoying the mountain scenery, as she kept her gaze on the rugged horizon. From time to time, Miki's head would appear over the edge of the boat. His black eyes were filled with joy, which made Eaton smile.
During their afternoon spent fishing, Eaton and Zev caught one fish each.
When Eaton returned to the cabin after stowing his fishing equipment in the truck, he found Miki and Kolina, who had come into the cabin a couple of hours earlier, relaxing on the living room couch. Both were asleep. Kolina’s left arm was draped over the dog’s body; the certain arrangement of silver-brown freckles on her skin took on a gentle glow in the late afternoon light.
Upon entering the kitchen, Eaton found Zev partway through preparing the fish. As Eaton mixed the herb coating, the scents brought back memories. If he looked out the window, he could imagine his older cousins skipping rocks by the tall pine and hear the laughter of his mother and aunt floating in from the porch.
“Eaton?” came Zev’s voice, from far away.
Eaton looked around. He had stopped mixing and his hands were on the counter, but the counter was covered in silver. Fear floated in Zev’s gaze, though he blinked it away.
Eaton wiped the counter with a towel, clearing away the residue.
“I can finish these, if you want,” said Zev, not entirely hiding the note of worry in his voice.
“Thanks, that’d be good.”
Eaton went into the washroom and looked in the mirror. His face was covered in silver powder. As he washed his face and arms, the sink filled with silvery water for what seemed like hours as the substance kept pouring from his skin. The process terrified him and he wondered what would remain of him when the silver tide had subsided. When the water at last ran clear, he dried off with shaking hands. He feared looking at his arms and put it off for as long as he could. The lines remained silver. The lines remained vivid. But he noticed something new: a yellowy tinge within the lines. He rolled his sleeves down and left the washroom.
“Supper was very good,” said Eaton, as he helped clean the table afterward. “Thank you, Zev.”
“You made part of it,” said Zev, before finishing his last bite of fish. Kolina had finished first. Zev had eaten slowly and hesitantly.
Eaton wanted to help with dishes, but his hands were still leaving silver every place he touched. “I’m going to go order the bread for tomorrow,” he said, and left the cabin.
As he approached the cabin containing the rental office and store, he realized he had no idea if they still offered fresh bread. He had not thought to ask when they booked the cabin, as it had been so long since he had camped there.
Eaton was glad to learn they still made bread; even the way they marked his order down made him nostalgic.
On his walk back to the cabin, the first stars blossomed against the darkening sky. The sun and moon out at the same time – he always thought he was viewing something special at moments like that.
The quartet finished their evening with a campfire. Night descended around them and peace took residence within. Embers rose high above them and melded with the blanket of stars.
The twins took one of the cabin’s bedrooms, Eaton and Miki took the other.
Eaton laid in bed, holding his phone, considering writing a message. Miki curled up close, and warm, like Eaton remembered him doing on cold nights in Canby. Even though the night was nowhere near as chilly, he appreciated the gesture. He decided not to send anything and set the phone down, silvered, on the side table. He realized he had not considered what he would say when he arrived, just knew it was time to return. He closed his eyes. Miki was already sleeping soundly. He figured the twins were too. But Eaton tried to push away the memories that kept threatening to surface: his family, the factory, Canby, the Grey House, her.