In the Woods
by Curtis Smith
伤口绵延五十码，在半山腰上留下一道疤痕. 这个伤口被冰川冲刷过，至少男孩是这样被告知的. He climbed atop a boulder larger than a car, 他想象着那座山和他所知道的一切都被冰封了. 男孩小心翼翼地往沟里走，树根和岩石都在困扰着他. The boy tacked an envelope to a fallen oak. The wood riddled with bugs, 男孩用手指在弹孔上划过，想起了父亲带他来这里射击的日子. 男孩撤退了，在三十码远的地方，他卸下了父亲的猎枪. He loaded a single cartridge and secured the bolt. The rifle was heavier than the .但男孩现在长大了，也更强壮了. 他稳住步枪，把瞄准镜的十字准星放在纸上. He didn’t love shooting, but he liked this—the sense of a world stilled, the woods breathing with him, the rocks aware of his beating heart. 他把身子立了起来，牢牢地钉在靴子里，脊背挺直，扣动了扳机. 那一脚踢到了他的肩膀，他踉踉跄跄地往后一仰，但他没有倒下. 他的耳朵嗡嗡作响，回声在树林间搏动，然后寂静又回来了.
Their house stood in a clearing at the hill’s base. 房子是他祖父建的，白色的隔板，屋顶上长满了青苔. 几代人的定居破坏了原有的直线结构. Pictures hung crooked, or appeared to. A dropped ball would roll until it reached a baseboard. A gravel drive slanted down to the two-lane road, and beyond that, a longer slope that ran to the river’s edge. The boy had seen the river cover the road, and although the water had yet to reach their home, the boy knew this was inevitable. The back door slammed, 那只曾是他父亲猎犬的老拉布拉多跟着他来到院子里的烧桶前. 那男孩在桶灰上盖了一层硬纸板和纸板箱. Junk mail. 他们会忽略这些账单，直到贴着红色警告的信封到来. 男孩和狗周围的草上结着银白色的霜，狗一撒尿，蒸汽就升起来了.
男孩打量着山坡，目光消失在光秃秃的树林中. 小山挡住了早晨的阳光，使他们免受东北风的侵袭, but when the storms pushed from the west, the drifts grew deep. On the nights the wind whistled across the frozen river, their crooked house shook, 男孩听着屋顶的呻吟，睡得很少, fearing collapse, a burial beneath wood and snow. He squirted fluid into the barrel then struck a match. 他停了下来，等着感受一下手指上的热度，才把火柴扔下去. 火焰开始燃烧，一股氧气涌上来，男孩感到肺里有一股拉力. He watched the flames, his hands buried in his pockets. 那条跟着火焰蹒跚而来的狗，现在闻着气味来到男孩身边.
On the road, a black pickup slowed. 卡车从视线中消失了，但男孩听到它停在河边的肩膀上. The engine killed, the doors and gate slammed. 光秃秃的森林几乎没有给在山坡上岩石小径上行走的人提供什么掩护. The men stocky, black skullcaps and thick beards. They didn’t carry rifles, but they soon would. 男孩不知道他们是否注意到他，或者注意到桶里冒出的烟，或者注意到那只给他做简报的狗, feeble bark. 男孩从校车的窗户看到了他们的卡车, its oversized tires, its decals and gun rack. 出于礼貌，这些人应该去敲他们的门. An asking of permission. A thanks for sharing the land. 也许他们相信，尽管有风吹雨打，但空地后面的土地是开阔的 No Trespassing signs the boy’s father had posted. Perhaps the men knew the boy’s father was gone, 他们认为没有必要征求一个女人和她儿子的同意. The men walked on then vanished into the woods. The boy turned to the dog. “Come on, girl.”
The boy and his mother ate long after dark. 感恩节的剩菜，明天她会教他用尸体做汤. 她在仓库上晚班，下雪天要坐一个多小时的车. She often returned from work dazed. The pace. The warehouse’s acoustics. The hours on her feet. 男孩一直爱着她，但他已经开始欣赏她了. Her devotion. Her strength and sacrifices. 他给柴炉添柴，狗蜷着身子挨近温暖的地方. The boy hoped to shoot a deer in the coming week. They’d stock the freezer. He’d help provide. He was down to ten bullets, but he reasoned if he was patient, 如果他听到他父亲的声音——他的迫切要求是肯定的, 深吸一口气，融入森林的寂静——他会没事的. 妈妈洗完澡后，他洗了碗，水凉了. 他回到客厅，发现她在沙发上睡着了. He turned off the TV and covered her with a blanket. 外面是车灯，在黑暗中行驶的汽车和卡车，还有蜿蜒曲折的河路.
The next morning, the boy woke before dawn. 他们过去常在星期天去教堂，但那是另一种生活. 他的母亲走了，接下来的一个月里，她每个周末都会这样. The chance for overtime, 也许他们甚至有足够的钱买圣诞礼物, although the boy assured her he didn’t need anything. The boy made coffee, savoring its warmth more than its flavor, 不过可以等他回来再生火. He bundled up. In the mudroom, he grabbed his father’s crowbar. 狗跟在后面，在寒冷中动作缓慢，黑眼睛盯着他. 男孩站在敞开的门口，让狗自由选择. Outside, the dark of starlight, the river’s churn.
The boy crossed the clearing and entered the woods. 他把手电筒对准小路，岩石和树叶像溪流一样流过. 他肺里的寒气，和它的平衡，肌肉的燃烧. 他想起了他跟随父亲沿着这条路走下去的所有时光. When he dreamed of him, they were often in the woods, his father’s back to him, the boy struggling to keep pace.
那男孩等狗追上后才离开小路. He petted her, a habit he engaged in more and more, 理解她的年龄以及他会想念她的未来. He looked up. 一千根树枝划破了刚刚开始变亮的天空. He’d have the dark for a while, the hill’s western shadows, 这种感觉总是使他想起河里的鱼, a submersion, yet in a world so often turned upside down, 谁能说这条河是黑暗还是上面的光明呢?
手电筒的光线穿过纠结的树枝，落在了树桩上. “Stay,” he told the dog. He heard his father, his talks of doing the right thing, 男孩一边道歉，一边抓住钉在宽阔树干上的第一个横档. In the boy, a balance of footing and grip. 然后是一种更深层次的平衡，什么是正确的，什么是公正的.
He grasped the next-to-last rung. 天空变亮了，他成了上钩的鱼儿. He looked down. His dog lost in the darkness. He thought of falling, the breaking of bones. Of dying alone. He wedged the crowbar under the rung below the stand. He jerked, and from the wood, a groan. The rung pulled away in fits. He caught his breath. The sky lighter, the gray of ash. He swung the crowbar, striking the plank’s back. The thuds echoed until the plank dislodged. The dog barked. The boy stepped down a rung and went back to work.
He rose early again the next morning. He sat perched in the tree stand, and in his father’s orange vest, he felt like an exotic bird waiting on the sun. The vest smelled like his father, gun oil and grease. The perch a half-mile from the other tree stand, and the boy imagined the trespassers, their anger, their thwarted schemes. The boy lifted his chin, and his exhaled breath rose. 他接受了这个事实，即世界不欠他什么. 下面传来一阵沙沙声，男孩等待着，他知道黑暗会渐渐消失.
Curtis Smith has published over 100 stories and essays, 他的作品曾在《hg888皇冠》中出现或被引用, The Best American Mystery Stories, The Best American Spiritual Writing, The Best Short Fictions, and the WW Norton anthology, New Micros. 他与独立hg888皇冠商合作hg888皇冠了五部故事集, two essay collections, four novels, and a book of creative nonfiction. 他的最新小说《hg888皇冠》于2018年由布洛克大道hg888皇冠社发行.