Beginnings #12: The Road to the Lab

Three decades, two months, and one week later, careening off the washboarded dirt road near White Rock, New Mexico, Nico Fullerton Avett suddenly remembered the day his father brought him to discover ice. No, not ice, he thought, dry ice. Despite the terror clawing at him, he almost smiled at such a foolish idea. In those moments when the inevitable is at hand, time slows in such a way that it is easy to think and rethink, and to remember the days that came before. He knew ice of course—he’d been heaping it into tumblers since he could walk from the den to the wet bar. But dry ice, that came later, when he was seven and his father had brought him to his work at the lab. He pulled a chunk from a sealed container and the steam poured off it in billowing clouds, obscuring their sneakers and giving an eerie feeling to the morning. It was already strange enough—there was no reason that today was different from any other day. Nico was a bit edgy; why had his father decided a break from school would be nice, and bringing Nico to work was a good idea? Nico had never skipped school before, and he’d surely never been to the lab before. His father barely spoke about work at home. Instead of talking, he read the paper and swirled the tumblers and shook the cubes against the glass when he wanted more. Nico learned early to scurry when a refill was called for; his father was not a violent man by any means, but to keep him waiting was not wise. He knew other ways to punish.

Written in a somewhat obvious, plagiaristic homage to a recent literary birthday and the book I happen to be reading.

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