Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Sliver of Fiction for those passing through

When I was young we would go camping for one week of the summer vacation somewhere in Ontario, anywhere in Ontario so long as we were near a body of water we could swim in. Katie, my mother, and my aunts, they were all still young then, barely thirty and no one had much money so we had to travel by car which meant the bodies of water we would swim in had to be lakes since the nearest ocean was a plane ride – which meant five plane tickets – away.

When I was young I daydreamed of oceans and airplanes. This back at a time when I could still fly in the dreams I dreamed at night.

One summer, I might have been seven or eight, we camped near a lake with a rock beach. There wasn’t really anywhere to walk, except over these rocks, these huge stones piled all over each other right up until the edge of the water. We were in our bathing suits ready to swim but at the last minute I told Katie and my aunts I wasn’t going in. I wanted to explore this beach. They told me to be careful but I was never careful; I didn’t need to be. I wasn’t scared. I started hopping from one rock to the next. I leaped. I swear to God, I leaped so far so wide I was sure I could fly. The further I jumped, the faster I went, the better I felt and I could go on forever. It was like discovering new planets, only not in my mind or with a machine, but with my feet.

I was never one of those kids who would stop to study bugs.

We spent that whole first morning by the water but I didn’t go in. After lunch someone, I don’t remember, suggested we go for a hike through a forest trail nearby. Right away I was running ahead of everyone, just running as fast as I could, so I could feel what that felt like and see what the trees or the river ravine down below looked like when you moved by that fast. The river, whooshing and frothing like a madman crashing up against rocks and jellyroll-soaring over and past. Tree barks and leaves, blurry colours to me. I would go so fast and jump up to rip a leaf from its branch for no reason at all. These dirt trails I ran on were never flat or smooth. They went up and down and curved sharp at any moment. Large stones, small rocks, here and there sticking out everywhere of the hard mud paths to try and trip you up. There were the mangled tree roots jutting out of the ground like wooden webs to snatch your legs. There might be a fallen log to duck under or hurdle over. Oftentimes there’d be branches that could take your eyes out if you ran so fast and didn’t know how to avoid them. Every obstacle in my path like this great challenge, something to dart my feet around, move them fast and furious push myself as hard as I could and feel myself growing taller in the process.

The aunts and my mom could never keep up. Aunt Lou was always stopping them to look at birds and rocks and things and all three of them talked too much. And off I’d go, and it was glorious and I was so satisfied in my own world, and though there was no fog and too much sunlight, and though there were no galloping horses or Enya soundtrack, running through a forest like that I felt like I was in some fantasy movie. It was lovely.

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