Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell Read Online (FREE)
Read Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell full novel online free here.
Will it always be this way? The warm sky
orangelit, another swarm mounting within the swarm.
—“Yellow Jackets and the Sting Repeats,” Carey McHugh
We need to know where we live in order to imagine living elsewhere. We need to imagine living elsewhere before we can live there.
—Ghostly Matters, Avery Gordon
The entire ride would take eleven minutes. That was what the boy had promised us, the boy who never showed.
To be honest, I hadn’t expected to find the chairlift. Not through the maze of old-growth firs and not in the dwindling light. Not without our escort. A minute earlier, I’d been on the brink of suggesting that we give up and hike back to the logging road. But at the peak of our despondency we saw it: the lift, rising like a mirage out of the timber woods, its four dark cables striping the red sunset. Chairs were floating up the mountainside, forty feet above our heads. Empty chairs, upholstered in ice, swaying lightly in the wind. Sailing beside them, just as swiftly and serenely, a hundred chairs came down the mountain. As if a mirror were malfunctioning, each chair separating from a buckle-bright double. Nobody was manning the loading station; if we wanted to take the lift we’d have to do it alone. I squeezed Clara’s hand.
A party awaited us at the peak. Or so we’d been told by Mr. No-Show, Mr. Nowhere, a French boy named Eugene de La Rochefoucauld.
“I bet his real name is Burt,” Clara said angrily. We had never been stood up before. “I bet he’s actually from Tennessee.”
Well, he had certainly seemed European, when we met him coming down the mountain road on horseback, one week ago this night. He’d had that hat! Such a convincingly stupid goatee! He’d pronounced his name as if he were coughing up a jewel. Eugene de La Rochefoucauld had proffered a nasally invitation: Would we be his guests next Saturday night, at the gala opening of the Evergreen Lodge? We’d ride the new chairlift with him to the top of the mountain and be among the first visitors to the marvelous new ski resort. The president himself might be in attendance.
Clara, unintimidated, had flirted back. “Two dates—is that not being a little greedy, Eugene?”
“No less would be acceptable,” he’d said, smiling, “for a man of my stature.” (Eugene was five foot four; we’d assumed he meant education, wealth.) The party was to be held seven thousand feet above Lucerne, Oregon, the mountain town where we had marooned ourselves, at nineteen and twenty-two; still pretty (Clara was beautiful), still young enough to attract notice, but penniless, living week to week in a “historic” boardinghouse. “Historic” had turned out to be the landlady’s synonym for “haunted.” “Turn-of-the-century sash windows,” we’d discovered, meant “pneumonia holes.”