While his wife, Elise, and son, Kennet, sat at their breakfast table overlooking the North Sea, eating smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with Jarlsberg cheese and juniper berries, Stefan Ruud pondered his previous night, spent alone aboard a small boat anchored off the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Ocean. He chewed on a piece of dried, salted cod—Klippfisk—and wrote in his journal.
I stare at the stars. I watch them trudge across the sky, dragging night along with them toward dawn. If you stare at the night sky long enough, it will burn an image in your brain you can never erase. It will paint a picture of your future as a vast wasteland in which meaning is buried beyond impenetrable space. Imprecise white dots against blackness—unlike any blackness on this planet. But the fractional moon in that dark sky is blinding in its brightness, shining down on me with a bleak, condemnatory severity, offering a substitute for panic that fills me with fear and palpable dread. The moon cautions me against taking that irrevocable action, that solution for which there is no cure. Yet, at the same time, she taunts me and urges me to explore a path toward a dimension from which return is impossible.
Stefan had not told Elise he planned to leave her. His departure several days earlier was, he said, for another oceanographic expedition, just part of his job. Stefan hadn’t told Elise he quit his job the day before he left. He hadn’t even told his employer. He just left.
[Eventually, I’ll weave this vignette into something.]