They slept in two tents side by side, the scientist and her wife. It had started as a joke back at base camp. Like those poor married couples in old Hollywood films doomed to spend their onscreen marriages in separate beds. But the joke had taken on a life of its own.
The ground was covered in frost and snow, and a cold, biting wind was blowing from the north. The tents flapped and shuddered and more than once they seemed to be lifted bodily from the ground.
The scientist lay in her sleeping bag, listening to the groans and creaks of the storm. This will pass. She told herself. One day all this will be just a memory.
One day your wife will forgive you.
It was a prayer as much as a hope, although the scientist believed in no god but the snow.
She hadn’t wanted her wife to come to the Arctic. There had been a litany of reasons and arguments, but her wife hadn’t listened. She never did.
“This is our chance to be together!” she had said. “You’re always running all over the place, and even when you’re home you’re still dreaming of snow.”
The scientist had sighed unable to think of an answer. She was right. Over their two years of marriage, the scientist had spent all but four months in the Arctic.
“It’s too dangerous,” she tried half-heartedly.
“I’ve climbed Everest,” her wife replied.
“Yes,” the scientist agreed. “I suppose you did.”
But she still wasn’t happy.
The Arctic was hers. The solitude. The snow. The dreams.
“I just want to be alone!” she said finally.
Her wife came anyway, but she slept in another tent.