‘Walking Out’ by David Quammen

Chosen by Jason Jackson
Walking Out is not a Christmas story — it’s set in November — but it is resolutely a winter story. The first snow doesn’t arrive until a third of the way in, but by then the situation is already bad. The snow only makes it worse. 

The air of the meadow teemed with white.
‘If it stops soon, we’re fine,’ said his father
It continued. 

There is a subgenre of American shorts stories about boys and their fathers going hunting, and ‘Walking Out’ is one of the best. As is often the case in these stories, we’re seeing things through the boy’s eyes, and as the hunting trip descends into chaos, what we feel most keenly is the difficult relationship the two share, the hard distance between them.
I know nothing about hunting, but I know fathers, and I know sons: I have both, and am also both myself. I’ve never met a grizzly bear, I’ve never fired a gun, and I’ve never waded eight miles through snowdrifts carrying the impossible weight of an unimaginable future on my shoulders. But I know what it’s like to love, what it’s like to be loved.
In the end, this a simple story about a father, his son, and an accident in the snow.  
And love, of course. 
Always that.
First published in Blood Line: Stories of Fathers and Sons, Johnson Books, 1987. Collected in American Short Story Masterpieces, Random House, 1987). * Jason Jackson writes short fiction and takes photographs. Originally from the north east of England, he lives in the sourth west. His twitter is @jj_fiction.