Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Four

By Timothy Smith, 2020

Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 4

Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)

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Saturday, August 24, 1963: The kids go exploring in the abandoned WWII fort. And Jay-Jay runs into unexpected difficulty.

“Up we go,” said Herman. “Check out the walls.” His voice had the quality it would have if you stuck your head in a garbage can and then started a conversation (an activity that’s not recommended), thanks to the close concrete walls surrounding the ladder. At various places on the way up, people had signed their names. Judging from the dates, people started writing things around 1947, but there were many missing years. This was not a place many people could find.

After climbing hard for what felt like several minutes, Judson was getting tired of the effort. He looked up and saw that Herman had already exited the shaft, and he couldn’t go down anyway, since two more people followed him. He had fifteen feet or so to go. He looked quickly at a couple more of the signatures and dates, and about ten feet from the top, saw “Will and Herman Rezoff, 1959.” Herman had been pretty young when he climbed the ladder for the first time, and Judson wondered if his father had needed to carry him part of the way.

Suddenly Judson felt very dizzy and out of breath, and felt his hands losing their grip. “I... I don’t feel so good,” he said, and the sound of his own voice sounded distant. From below Sandy Ann said brightly, “Jake and I won’t let you fall!” Then after a pause, she said, “Dad says he has trouble climbing this ladder too. He called it closet-opia.” Judson rallied, steadied his grip, and managed to say under his breath, “That’s claustrophobia.” He finally emerged, weak and panting, from the long shaft, and just lay there on his side in the damp dust of a floor of old concrete until his head cleared and his heart stopped pounding out of his chest. Herman, standing above him, didn’t say anything for a while. Then Herman mentioned that his mom had trouble with the shaft, too. “You don’t really know you have claustrophobia until it suddenly hits you,” said Herman, not unkindly. “You made it, and that’s quite an accomplishment. Dad says it’s at least forty feet up, and mostly in the dark, too.”



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