Celeste made the arrangements in a quiet manner for them to take a dog sled to get to Jack’s place. She pulled out the address where Jack’s love lived, an asked the counter helper how long it would take them to get there. “It’s downriver in the tree people location, but not far from here. Just to let you know Miss, you might have to wait. The snow is really coming down, tomorrow for sure we will arrange everything for you; however, you never know if that could happen with the constant change of weather.” Celeste only nodded silently that would be fine then added. “Is there a hotel here we can get for this evening.”
The young Inuit gal quickly told her there was no hotel’s in Noatak. Celeste turned around and looked at Jack and Wolf who was sitting down waiting for her. She couldn’t think straight, her head was jumbled with memories of her stallion. All she wanted to do is be alone to deal with her emotions. “Do you know where we can find a place to stay and may I leave my stuff here till morning?” “I don’t know of any hotels Miss, but it is fine to leave your stuff here till morning.”
Jack approached the counter and asked Celeste if he could talk to her privately. They moved away from the counter, then he whispered lightly to her. “Nujalik, I know where we might be able to find shelter for the night if you are willing to go. It is deep inside the trees?” She looked outside through the windows and took note the heavy snow fall. “Is it walking distance? Or should I rent a ATV?” Jack became puzzled and didn’t know what a ATV was. “Jack a ATV is an off road vehicle, we could sit together on it, but Wolf would have to run beside us.” He nodded yes, she turned back to the counter, and asked the kind gal if she could rent a ATV.
The off road vehicle was waiting for them when they walked out of the airport building. It was freezing outside, but Celeste didn’t feel it. Her body was numb from head to toe when she started the engine on the vehicle. Jack climbed on behind her and told her where to go. The three cruised through the flat land heading into the little uptown village of Noatak. The snow started to fall faster while striking Celeste’s bare face with great force of sharp ice sickles. Jack realized they would never make the track safely to where he thought to go into the trees. “Jack I can’t see! We have to stop, there is no way we will make it, my visibility is becoming limited. The icy snow is piercing my eyes and face. Dude, it f*&*&^ hurts!”
Celeste slowed the motor vehicle down, while Wolf trotted next to his companions and staying out of the way of the vehicle. She could barely see the little homes as they slowly passed them by. “Nujalik there is a little shed there, let’s go in there and wait the storm out.” Jack bellowed out behind her. She followed his pointing mitten and went into the direction the best she could. Wolf barked and ran towards the boarded up building.
Celeste shut off the vehicle and quickly went up to the small shed. There was no way to get inside the building unless she pulled the boards away from an opening. With that being said, the spitfire pulled with all her might. Luckily, the flimsy board pulled away with her strong force, allowing enough room for each of them to crawl through the tight fitting hole.
Wolf quickly went inside first while Jack followed. She returned to the ATV and grabbed her belongings, then crawled inside the small shack herself. She looked around the empty dark shed and couldn’t see a thing. Getting into her back pack, she got out an emergency small candle and her lighter. The little candle gave a little glow in the shed enough for Celeste to find anything to cover the hole.
She saw a dirty plastic tarp lying on the dusty floor. Giving Jack her candle to hold, she grabbed the cover and quickly covered the hole the best she could. “Nujalik, this is a bad storm we have to find heat or we will freeze to death.” Celeste hadn’t thought about crashing out in a shack nor did she realize the drastic change in temps. “Let me look around here for a source of heat darlin’, then we will see what we need to do. One thing I do know, if we leave now we would get lost. So lets see what we can make do with.”
Jack followed her around the small hut. She picked up a big metal coffee can. “This will work if we control it Jack, how about finding small pieces of wood we can use. I have to find something to make a flume so the smoke can escape outside.” “No need girl here is a small wood burner here in the corner covered up with trash.”
Celeste went over to the corner where the stove stood. She quickly started to clear away the garbage. “I think it might be smokey for a little bit, but its warmth we need. So lets see what we can burn.” Jack immediately started to pick up paper and wood pieces, while Celeste went over to a dark pile she spotted against the wall and pulled down the tarp. She smiled and spoke out to Jack. “Well my darlin’ we have been bless to have a pile of wood here. So I think we need to get some warmth in here and fast before my teeth start chattering together.”
In no time at all Celeste, had a small fire brewing. It quickly took the bitter cold out of the shed while the blistery wind howled it’s anger outside. Jack cleaned up the area with the little light they had, and made a small spot for them to sit on the floor close to the fire. “Boy, I would love to have a cup of hot tea now Jack; but have nothing to warm it in, and for food I brought lots of jerky and one bottle water. I didn’t see any pots laying around to warm water up, did you?” Jack got up off the floor and looked around the small place. His eye immediately saw a small sauce pan handle. He pulled the dirty pan out and began to wipe it clean with snow the best he could and handed it to her.
“Not bad Jack, I guess someone upstairs is watching out for us.” Jack didn’t say anything, he watched her pour the water bottle into the pan, and sat it on top of the wood burning stove to heat. She started to break pieces of her jerky up an added it to the water to soften the meat and to create a hot broth to drink. Jack smiled at her. What an amazing woman she was he thought to himself. Not only smart in the head, but the girl knew how to survive in hard times.
“Yeah, I do get bright ideas once in a while Jack.” Jack smiled at her for invading his thoughts. Any other time he would give her a tongue lashing but not tonight. They needed each other more than ever right now to with stand the bitter cold. Celeste added another log in the stove and sat down on the dirty floor next to Jack. She stared into the warm blaze searching silently for a answer to Quad’s passing.
Jack stayed quiet and felt wolf wiggle himself between the pair of humans. Celeste didn’t touch her friend until he whined. “Yes my man, we have lost a member of our family. But know this beast, he waits for us!” She ruffled his wet fur with love. “I’m sorry Jack for my outburst. I just…I just…” She stammered unable to finish her sentence. She covered her cold hands to her face and shed her tears of sorrow.
Jack let her get the frustration out of her soul, while sitting quietly next to her and wolf on the cold floor. He suddenly could feel her emotions assault him. He let the tear fall freely from his one eye, as her heart began to shatter with overwhelming force into his soul. “Please beautiful Nujalik, I can not bare your deep pain, it is hurting my heart.” Celeste slowly looked upon her friend for a few moments, unable to say a word. Jack saw the emptiness her in eyes, she quickly turned her head back to the fire in a daze.
Jack got up off the floor and grabbed the handle on the pot. He returned to his sitting spot, and placed the hot pan on the floor to cool off a little as he sat down cross legged. They shared the broth by drinking out of the pan, and when they reached the bottom, the jerky laid soft ready to suck on and eat.
“Rest Jack, I think we are experiencing a blizzard, I will watch the fire. Let’s hope we can leave in the morning.” Jack nodded with a warm belly and laid his body down on the floor next to wolf’s heated body. For many hours and into the morning her life memories flooded her silently as she sat in front of the warm fire saying goodbye to her horse spirit. At last she smiled with joy, as she remembered the wonderful magical day she helped breathe life into the newly born colt’s lungs.
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