Garrett didn’t notice that he was dealing with the packaging tape rolls with such quickness that the edges were nicking his flesh like razors. In his mind he was tearing down the streets of Spain with a hundred mad bulls trying to light the back of his pants on fire with their breath. The faster he ran, the more people he dodged by, the faster his hands on the assembly line worked. When the horn sounded at the end of his shift his eyes would flutter open, and he would stare blankly for a minute, trying to figure out where he was. He would look down, and his hands would be red, and there would be drops of blood on the floor.
“You have to be more careful, Garrett,” his supervisor told him, squinting at him doubtfully. This was a problem he was not prepared for. How did you tell someone to stop cutting themselves on the job? When the job was boxing up packaging tape, at that? “We can’t keep sending off boxes with blood stains on them, and it’s becoming a waste. Maybe you should consider wearing some gloves…”
So Garrett purchased some mechanics gloves, and he factored them into a mountain expedition. He studied and trained with his guide books in the evening, while he was at home, and then when he was at work he would put his training to use.
His family would ask him to come over for the Superbowl, for Easter, for fireworks… “I’m training,” he told them over the phone. He didn’t know that his voice was shaky, and that his breathing was heavy. His mother was telling him, “You have me worried, mijo-“ But he was already hanging up. He was already reading the next sentence, that he already knew by heart, knee deep in snow again, clawing his way up the side of an icy glacier.
It was the packaging tape factory who called Garrett’s family and said that he hadn’t been to work for two days. They found him in his apartment, inside of an igloo made out of travel books. Each book was heavily worn, with tabs hanging out of them, some of them streaked with blood when he had forgotten to his bandages. The strangest thing was that he was found to be hypothermic, actually frozen to death, with frostbite on his face and hands and feet. It didn’t make any sense, but Garrett’s family thought they knew what had happened. It was the books that did it to him.