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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 25



64F/35F

Never, ever, will I do that again. What is my brain doing to me? I almost got myself killed.

I left around seven. It was starting to get dark halfway to the falls. When I passed under the old wooden railway bridge it was completely dark. I turned on my flashlight and held it forward while holding my handlebars. I kept driving faster on my bike while staring ahead at the bouncing light in front of me. I kept telling myself this was stupid, but a deeper voice said, the harder it gets the more power the rock will have. When I could hear the roar of the falls it felt too late to turn back. I didn’t realize how dark a cloudy night would be. There is no light at all when you are away from town. I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. I started to panic about my flashlight batteries dying, but I was almost there. I got off my bike, right close to the rock wall that leads to the main area that sits near the falls. I was going to go right down the rock face closest to the falls and try to find something right in the water swirling at the bottom of the old railway pillars, but suddenly a tiny bit of common sense kicked in. I could so easily fall in and be pulled under, and that would be it. This is how dumb shit happens, except I’m not drunk or stoned. I’m just a fucking idiot. That voice I kept hearing stopped. I grabbed a rock lying on the ground beside me. I held it up so it could fully absorb the power of the falls. I stumbled back to my bike, suddenly remembering bears live in the woods. I drove home so fast I am surprised I didn’t wipe out and kill myself. I’m happy I got my rock, but kind of freaked out that I could convince myself to do something so dangerous.

The rock is too big to put under my pillow, so I put in under my bed.

*

Before drugs, drinking was my thing. I couldn’t get my own alcohol so I would take small amounts from my parents and refill with water. Both of them didn’t really drink at all so the alcohol they kept for company was rarely touched. I realized my attraction to drinking when I was about ten years old, at my grandfathers wedding, second wedding. I was allowed a glass of champagne. I was sitting on the piano bench when it hit me. All of a sudden, my body felt fully occupied by the real me. It was a comfortable warm heavy feeling. All the ugly edges faded away. That high hum inside me became lower. I wanted that feeling forever.

Sometimes my friends would search for alcohol. Peter’s family always had alcohol stored in their house. Once we filled a container with a mix of all the alcohols and went to a hidden spot to drink it, in the bushes, beside the trail along the river. But when you drink gulps of mixed hard liquor it hits you hard and fast. After gulping down the mixed hard liquor, we moved from one party to the next adding drugs to the mix. I became loud and obnoxious. Glen dropped me off at my place leaving my bike on the lawn. I went into my house and the ringing in ears grew so loud I could barely hear anyone talking to me. The next day after a night of throwing up I felt peaceful and clear. My parents ground me but I didn’t care. I felt happy, I found something that could fuck my brain up, my brain needed to be fucked up. I needed something I could use to erase it, alcohol was perfect. I knew my mom was disappointed, my dad seemed almost happy. My failures were his victories. But the jokes on him, I found something to block him out.

*

Something happened to Rose’s brother.

*

My typing teacher is a short old, wrinkled lady who wears mini skirts and rubber boots.

*

We played our first game. It was in some shit hole a few hours away. Our equipment is old and stinky. We don’t have enough sizes to fit everyone, so I have to put rolled up towels inside my helmet so it doesn’t keep falling over my eyes. I didn’t realize we needed a mouth guard, it was something everyone else knew. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I was nervous. The other team seemed so much bigger than us. And everyone seems bigger than me.

Our coach wants everyone to play every position except quarter back. I’m not sure what all the positions are but I just want to sit on the bench till it’s time to order my jacket. The coach put me on the front line, staring at some giant about to kill me. As soon as the ball went to our quarter back the giant grabbed the bar across my helmet and pulled my head down and back. He didn’t have to do that, it’s not like I could possibly stop him from getting by me. During another part of the game, I ran after someone on the other team trying to catch the ball, I tripped on my feet and accidently fell into him. He didn’t catch the ball, everyone thought I stopped him intentionally. I didn’t correct them. I soon realized that this was a lot of work for a jacket. I also confirmed what I already knew, organized sports are fucking boring. I always enjoyed it when the older kids got together and played football in the back yard with no rules. They were mainly the older brothers of my friends so I would get to play with them. I could run fast so they always told me to run towards the ball. Being tackled was fun, not like the real game. In the real game being tackled was filled with anger and aggression. No wonder when your young you have fun with sports and when you get older everything gets ruined by rules and bullshit.

We lost, 0 to “what the fuck” ever.

* Rose’s brother was hurt in a dirt bike accident, it sounds serious.

*

I managed to get the bonus question right on my physics test…apparently the two trains never meet.

*

(click) (Jutta’s tape)

Why did I stay here?

Where else would I go? Small, isolated towns can be havens for the odd and lonely like me. I know most people here, I cut their hair and know their secrets. You are allowed a small allowance of eccentricity when you know too much. We, the weird, have our place.

Look at Mr. Jewel, your principle. A black man who just showed up here, became a teacher, is now a principle. Is known for taking kids in who are lost, providing them with a proper education, giving them a life. A single black man taking in lost children, in some places they would have chased him out of town, here they welcomed him. He is not identified as French or English, he is an anomaly, but a safe one. He has fashioned himself in a way that leaves room for his intelligence to be his dominant feature. In a man, it is a weapon to be proud of, for me, it would make me less likeable, a single intelligent old woman…” what’s wrong with her” would be my dominant feature. I would be isolated, and the benefits of living here would be limited. I think Mr. Jewel is the only man here I look up to. He understands loneliness, he understands that you can’t let anyone think you are lonely, he understands that people want to think this is exactly what you wanted. That they are the heroes for letting you exist.

(Pause, tea pour, sip)

Sorry, that went a bit off topic. But why do I stay? The truth is, my family is gone, and has been gone for a long time. I don’t know anyone from my homeland, and after a while, it’s just too late for me anyway. Starting over requires youth or lack of choice. I like it here, I feel safe in this building. There are still people here I know and enjoy seeing, that’s more than most. It’s interesting, people think it’s your upbringing and genetics that guide your destiny, but I think a large part of it is where you decide to live. There is something about the land that absorbs you, forces you to put down roots before it pulls you under… The land is watching us.

(click)

*

We lost again. If we keep losing our season will be shorter, I think that’s how it works…I hope that’s how it works.

*

One time when I was getting stoned with Mike, he kept saying his mouth was full of rubber balls. They say pot is a body stone and hash is a mind stone. He must have had a body stone. We went to a party at a house that was near the edge of town. The edge of town is just darkness, bush, and danger. We sat in the bushes staring at the house smoking up and trying to get enough nerve to go in. That’s when Mike told me his mouth felt like it was full of rubber balls. I remembered him saying his hands felt like rubber when we had gotten stoned a year ago before the concert in the arena, so I knew it would pass. He wasn’t freaking out, we both just started laughing. The girl who lived in the house went to our school. She seemed dark and sad, kind of like the edge of town she lived in.

Eventually we went in the house. People were laying around getting stoned. It was boring, we left quickly. I remember having laughs with Mike. It would be nice to still be friends. I could use a friend right now. But who would understand what I’m thinking? I’m sick of listening to everyone talk about things I can’t relate to and pretending it means something to me. If you are friends with a guy, it ends because there is a huge part of the world you can’t share. If you are friends with a girl, they think it is something it isn’t, and when that fades, they either hate you or keep their distance because your weird. So, here I am, stuck in the middle with you, which is me, which is no one.

*

Mr. Waltham

Mr. Waltham was the opposite of Mr. Albert. He was young, cool, and made everything seem interesting. He was like Mr. Albert in that he was strict and didn’t like bullshit. Later I would understand bullshit was relative.

It was in grade five when secrets between the girls and the boys started to take shape. One day the girls were taken out of class and didn’t return till the afternoon. No one told us why, we were just supposed to pretend it was normal and not talk about it. But everyone did talk about it. What information were they being given? Were we going to be let in on the secret? Did we have secrets too? Later I would find out it was about bleeding and babies, stuff like that. I didn’t want to know more. All I knew is that being a girl seemed like a lot of work.

My mother gave my sisters books about their bodies, I had to figure mine out. I’m not sure anyone’s’ father talked to them about their bodies, I am fine with that. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that would be. I dealt with the rumours and hand me down information I received.

In the end I sort of knew none of it would apply to me.

*

They flew Roses brother down south. Someone told me he was asking Rose to hold his hand. She told him she already was. I lost touch with Marcel a while ago and I don’t see Rose anymore. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be them, all of them.

Our English teachers’ son was the other person involved in the accident. I think he punctured his lung. I heard they were dirt biking at Barrows pit, trying to touch hands as they did jumps toward each other. That moment, the touch, the fall, the accident. We all do crazy shit, not getting hurt is just luck.

*

Our gym class did an overnight camping trip. I missed a football game, which was great. When I got home, I realized how nice it was to not have to look at myself for two days. Also, the game I missed was our last game, we lost. I ordered my jacket.

*

Our high school teachers keep telling us we are the dumbest grade 13 class they ever had. The smartest kids in our class are mostly grade 12 kids getting grade 13 credits. I’m not sure why most of the teachers hate us so much, I mean, I’m not the best student, I’m not the worst…I think. I guess when you are born with the right kind of brain power, the type that plugs into the system perfectly it makes their job easier.

*

Mark, Marcel and I performed at the high school talent show last week. I thought it would be nice to play some originals one last time for a bunch of students forced to listen to us. We performed a few acoustic songs, and the sound was perfect. Our captive audience seemed to like it. After the show I walked by a few teachers who saw the show and, in my head, I was getting ready for a big old compliment…but nothing, not a whisper. In fact, they just stared at us like we had just committed a crime.

I’m not sure what school is good for.

*

I hate my hair. I always wanted straight hair like Glen. I like the way his hair stays down flat, not like mine. Mine puffs out at the sides and makes me look like I’m wearing earmuffs.

*

My rock doesn’t work. I woke up in the living room this time, standing, facing the windows. I’m surprised my mom didn’t hear me, she hears everything. I could see a dark figure outside. I almost shit myself. It faded quickly so I just pretended I didn’t really see it. I hate this.

I need to start a new ritual.

*

I keep picturing myself living in Toronto. Staying at the Y, being in a Band. It seems close.

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