My First Elk is an excerpt from Benjamin's novel Fidelity.
Benjamin gives an overview of the book:
My first elk was given to me by a gray jay. It is a terrible thing to have the mountain against you; nevertheless, I continued over the course of six days to exhaust myself climbing the steep pitch of his forests. I was young, and heedless of my fatigue, I began to stumble over his stones and trip on the severed branches slowly working their way back into the forest floor. I was bleeding beneath my left eye and came close to losing half my vision when I slipped on a wet slope and tumbled headlong over a short, granite precipice to launch face first into the barbed and mossy arms of a diseased lodgepole pine. One of his branches opened the flesh on my face then was snapped by my cheek bone. We fell together, that broken branch and I, and lay over the roots of the dying tree.
I’m unbelievably fortunate to be an English teacher at Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood, Colorado, one of the last high schools in the country where students still love school.
I get up around four to work on these stories. Writing is akin to an...