“I don’t know if I can do this,” I said. “How I can do this.”
“You need some stamina,” Miles replied.
“Stamina? Are you serious?” I laughed. “Look at me. I can barely move.” I felt like a vegetable, like the takeout noodle dish I eat nearly every night in Silver Lake.
He chuckled, slid further down into the plush sofa we shared. Stared into the car-sized fireplace. The swirling colors transfixed us.
The waitress at Embers approached us, cleavage first. “Another round?” she asked, as if she’d said, “Blow and go?”
Miles looked at me, shrugged. “I will if you will.”
The cosmos were twenty bucks a pop. Welcome to Aspen. I felt my wallet become ethereal, so light I could barely feel it. “What the hell,” I said, handing Cherise my empty martini glass. Imagined she’d touched my hand, held it for a second longer than she did. “Guess we’re done skiing for the day?” I glanced out at skiers whizzing by the lodge, various colors blending against the white backdrop. The snow screamed, it was so bright.
We sat in silence, the fire crackling, a constant steam noise, more like a river. It reminded me of Patricia, of a kayak trip we took the first year we’d met. Near Vancouver on the Squamish River. The water was unusually high, the paddle disorganized. My kayak capsized within five minutes on our float, no guide in sight. Patricia baled from hers, rescuing me from potential disaster. Now I felt like I was in that same jam, drowning. Just in some other way. Don’t think about her, I told myself.
“Hey, where’d ya go?” Miles asked, slapping my knee. He must have seen the look on my face. “Aw, don’t go there, man. Not now.”
I leaned my head back against the couch. “What am I supposed to do? Pretend she’s still here?”
Miles bit his lip, smiled. “You are supposed to get hammered. And we’ll find some nice ski babes at the bar later. In fact, I’ll bet they find us.”
“Yeah,” I said, feeling like I might get sick.