Monthly Archives: November 2013

Open Your Eyes

The night fell like a black cloak surrounding the bay.

The snow glistens on the mountain tops from beneath the glow of the rising moon.

A polar bear and her two cubs creep quietly across the barren land, glancing carefully to and fro for predators and prey.

The darkness will keep you here, if you let it. It will devour you and any memories you keep on you.

The night is long. Sitting here in the haunting quiet all your demons quickly surface, taunting your eyesight, skewing your reality.

It doesn’t matter what weapons you hold when the terrorists are inside your head.

You sit perfectly still, straightening out your fingers, flattening your feet to the ground.

Inhale.

You didn’t hear a branch break. Keep inhaling.

You don’t sense movement.

Pause.

You don’t sense movement.

Exhale slowly.

Somewhere around you in this augmented reality are eyes watching. Waiting.

You start humming like you did when you were young, when you ran from your grandparents house to yours in the twilight, pretending that you weren’t alone.

The moon has moved two thumb widths to the right, by your measure. The mountain peaks shadow has changed direction in defence.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Your fire dies slowly. You’re cold now, but too scared to move. The glow of the embers casts a few feet of light. What lies beyond that light? You shudder.

If you close your eyes until morning you’ll never know. Maybe it’s better this way.

Another thumb widths movement by the moon and you exhale clouds into the sky. You’re tired now. You’re being watched from all directions.

“Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and get some sleep,” you decide.

You close your eyes for a second and suddenly your face feels warm.

You smile because your memory tells you that this feels like the warmth you felt from hugging your dog Hunter.

You open your eyes and in front of you, looking into your soul not four inches from your nose is a pair of stone cold black eyes, on a large grey frame. You dare not blink, but your senses tell you this is no dog – this is a wolf. It glances downward slowly. Your heartbeat races quickly as you know this is the end.

Part of you is thankful, you’re cold, alone, and you’ve been this way for too many days to count. You close your eyes and wait.

“Will he rip my throat? Will he go for my legs? My arm?” you wonder.

You dare not breathe. Your ears are on high alert, picking up every subtle movement. But there is none. You exhale slowly, terrified to move even the slightest bit. Your breath quickens again as you hear the crunching of snow.

“Is that you?” a familiar voice says quietly. Your eyes shoot open like a bullet. A lone person stands before you in a dark green coat – you vaguely remember this person, but are too concerned about the location of the wolf.

The man senses your distress and says, “He took off north of you.”

You begin to stand slowly, bracing yourself against the snowmobile at your back that had broken down days before. The wolf tracks led off to the distance, and ended at a pair of glowing eyes. The man in green starts his snowmobile and says, “We best get you home, there’s a crowd been lookin’ for you for days now.”

You struggle your way over to his snowmobile and climb on the back. Leaving any belongings you may have left by the orange pit, glowing by your broken down ski-doo.

“Am I dreaming?” you wonder.

The engine roars and you speed along, climbing hills, whooshing down paths, crossing frozen lakes, and finally, approaching the lights of your town. You had all but forgotten that pattern of lights by the old air strip. But you crack a smile now, remembering. What a virtue it is, to remember.

When you’re faced with death, it’s easy to close your eyes. But while you’re alive, it’s best to keep them open.

Remembering Don Murphy

Remembering Don.

It seems like just yesterday I was giving Don a hard time at Strawberry Hill. We were stood outside the resort, our hands full of equipment, and he couldn’t get the hatch to open on the CNA van. He fiddled with the back – poking and prodding at the door and scratching his head trying to figure out how to open it.

I looked at him, put my fingers beneath the hidden latch and hauled open the door. He just looked at me and grinned.

Later that night I teased him in front of the other students, and in his embarrassment he said “Yeah, but you’re a fucking mechanic!”

There’s a few people who will get the hilarity of that statement and what happened after. You know who you are.

Don was a happy fellow, though I’m sure like most of us, he had burdens that he carried with him that few people were told about. But he always had a smile for us, and a laugh not easily forgotten.

It wasn’t long after I started the program that Don learned I was from Labrador. From then on, when he’d catch me in the hall alone somewhere he’d start singing, “Labrador Rose, you’re the rarest of flowers…” to me as he walked by. It always put a smile on my face, and from the first time I heard him sing it, he’s the only voice I hear singing it since.

On my last night in Stephenville a crowd of us met at Clancy’s. Don was in the doorway as I was leaving. I didn’t know how to say goodbye to Don, as he was the type of person that you don’t like to say goodbye to. You always hope you’ll find a little bit of Don in everyone, but he’s one of a kind.

I told him I was leaving in the morning, and his happy face suddenly grew sad. I can’t be sure, because my own eyes were blurred with tears, but I think he shed a tear too. I leaned in for a hug and he wrapped his arms around me like it would be the last time he would ever see me. I didn’t know it then, but that had been the case.

I’ll always hear Labrador Rose sung in your unique tune, Don. You were an amazing person to get to know, one that won’t easily be forgotten.

Love,
M.

They say

They say
the universe is made of tiny stories
which leads me to believe
that you and I
are the entirety of this world.
Every long inhale
every slow exhale.
Every comma,
every sign.
They say
what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
which leads me to believe
that you and I
can survive this war.
Every faded scar,
every crossed line.
They say
a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor
which leads me to believe
that you and I
are unsinkable.
Every gust of wind,
every battered sail.
Nothing will bring
us
down.

M.