Larraine considered what she might have done to prevent this situation, and first she thought she could have not gone skiing with Leonard and his friends. They were expert skiers and she had never yet stayed standing all the way down a beginner slope. And after the initial invite, Leonard seemed to be more into spending the weekend with these friends, not particularly interested in getting her to know them.
Leonard was quiet on the drive to the mountains; he would have said, had she remarked, that he was focused on the road, on driving, on making sure they made it to Tahoe safely, but that wasn't it. The roads were clean, the weather clear. They didn't need the chains they'd borrowed, which Leonard didn't know how to put on anyway and was too cheap and proud to pay someone else to do for him; so Larraine was glad that hadn't become an issue.
Larraine would have liked to talk about something, if not Leonard's friends then what they'd do that weekend, what he liked about skiing in Tahoe, jeez, what they were going to make for lunch when they took their turn cooking for the group of 10—themselves the only couple—in the rented house. But Leonard was hunched over the wheel, squinting into the blue afternoon light, looking like the man he might become, 40 or 50 years hence. Larraine was glad they were driving up during the day but soon began to wonder if she'd made a mistake taking Friday off from work. Not a good sign, she thought, when cleaning up a database is preferable to spending a weekend with your boyfriend.
From this vantage point—looking past her right leg, enveloped in space-age hot pink plaster and propped up on a chair in front of the couch, to watch a Friends rerun while eating home-delivered Indian food she ordered herself—things probably went the best they could. Yes, he'd not shown her interest or kindness for the three weeks before, up to and including her tumble down the mountain; yes, from the moment they set their bags in the room with three bunk beds instead of one queen he'd been showing off to another girl; yes, he refused to make even one run with her down the beginner slope, just to help her acclimate; and yes, he clearly never had any intention of telling her he just wasn't that into her anymore, after pursuing her as avidly as he was avoiding her now, after being the first to admit falling hard and fast. Yeah well.
This is what had made Larraine go in the first place, despite a nagging doubt; and this is what had sent her straight to the chairlift, without a lesson; because this is what propelled her into Leonard's arms in the first place, though she hadn't thought about it until she heard two snowboarders on the lift behind her:
"Dude, it's like, you're gonna fall."
"And there are three kinds of falls."
"One, you're all, 'No way am I falling, Dude! Fuck that shit!' And you're like crawling down the slope, not fucking falling, OK, but not fucking boarding either, so I'm calling that a fall."
"Two, you're like going along, just gettin into it and whatever and you're like, picking up speed and you start to psych yourself out, you're all like, 'Fuck, man, I'm gonna fall!' so you just make yourself wipe out."
"Totally. Done that."
"But those falls suck. Those are beat. Wrong. Way. To. Go. You know why? Because the only way to fall, the only true wipe out, is the one you don't see coming, can't see coming because you are too busy rockin that mountain, getting your powder on, workin workin a little slalom action, you're cool, you're doin it, man, you catch some air, then wham! You're eating snow.
"Now that's of course the most physically painful fall, the one that's going to get you hoping that bullshit HMO you got is going to cover your ass in a hospital four hours from home, but you gotta love that fall, you're proud of that fall because you know what? You were fucking doing that mountain, man, you were fucking tearing it up and if it spanked you back, that just means you sucker-punched the motherfucker first."
Part of the Covers series