© SYLVIA PARK
© SYLVIA PARK

WHEN I AWAKE, it is so cold that my cheeks are numb; all around me the night is thickly black under a starless sky. The sound comes again—metal on rock. One of our cook pans is being moved at the fire pit. A marmot, I think, and lie listening; squirrels and chipmunks aren’t big enough to move a pan like that.

Silence.

Then another noise. I listen with strained attention, trying to identify it. Either it is the sound of my partner Jeri unzipping her sleeping bag or—and my scalp tingles—or it is the sound of claws dragging across canvas.

Stealthily, a little at a time, I turn over on the ground inside my bag until I lie facing Jeri. Encased in her mummy bag, she lies turned away from me. Fast asleep.

There is another scratching noise, loud in the night.

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