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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee- last chapter.



(Long Pause) weather… cold as fuck.

I’m back. Sorry for the long pause. I just couldn’t write anything down. Everything is one big nothing. I might as well be staring at a clock. I’ve never had the darkness last this long. I wish I could hibernate, make time go by faster, wake up to longer days and more sun. I just thought that, what if I leave, and all the excitement and answers I’m looking for aren’t there. What if what I’m looking for doesn’t exist, that the only one I’m stuck with is me, what if I’m the only one who really exists? I don’t smoke pot anymore, or drink. It’s too much, why alter a brain that’s already altered. I talk to Jutta and save her tapes. Her conversations help, but just enough to make it to the next week. Mom knows something is wrong but in a weird way her concern irritates me, makes me feel weak. I need strength, someone to tell me everything is going to be alright. Just lie, lie to me… say I’m ok. I wish you could talk back, I wish I could look at this writing and find someone writing back to me. Someone wise, someone who knows everything about me and still likes me. I can feel the light coming back in. Bit by bit, each day offers me a small amount of hope. One more summer and I’m gone. I won’t last another winter.

*

I just found out I was accepted as a councillor at Camp Kadanac for the summer. I’m finally free from my dad. I won’t be home during the week, and I don’t have to work for him except the weekends. At the end of the summer, I should have enough money saved up to leave. My dad said that the only reason they hired me was because I was the token anglophone. I don’t care, I can see the exit. Maybe that increase in light is the end of the tunnel.

*

Graduation was uneventful and boring, I’m not sure why I even went. I can’t get out of this shit hole fast enough. Our valedictorian was this grade 12 kid whose father is a judge. I think he made a speech, I wasn’t listening. The teachers can’t lick his ass hard enough. People did stuff after. I went home.

*

My new ritual.

I have to do something that will travel well. Something I can do anywhere. It also has to be something no one will notice. Since I will be sleeping in a cabin with other councillors. I have to keep my weird level down.

I decided to do something that involves my hands and counting. A ritual I could do, and no one would know I’m doing it. I will touch my fingers together thumb to thumb, finger to finger…till my hand is shaped like a small tent. Then I will put my palms together and build energy up inside the palm of my hands, expanding them till I have a ball shape in my hands. When I think the energy is strong enough, I will close my hands into a prayer shape and send the energy through my body. This will protect me…from what…

The voice in my brain is getting louder.

76F/62F

I’m nervous. I know one of the councillors. She was in high school with me. She is popular but nice. Her and Rose are friends. All the councillors did an orientation night. The camp director showed us how to put kids in a hold if they are violent. It looks easy but only if the kid does everything you tell him to do…so, impossible really. I’m beginning to wonder what type of kids are coming here.

They arrive tomorrow.

They stay for one week and then a new batch come the next week.

*

Councillors all sleep in the same cabin. I’m afraid I’ll have to pee all the time and people will think I’m weak. I don’t want to be that person who can’t hold it. The token anglophone with the small bladder.

We take turns sleeping in the cabin with the kids to make sure the kids sleep.

I never understood camp. It seems pointless, I just don’t see how anyone can think this is fun. Uncomfortable beds, bugs, games that seem stupid and boring. Yet I hear people talk like it’s the best time of their lives. I’m missing something…or maybe I’m not missing something and that’s why it doesn’t make sense to me.

*

The kids are here.

They arrive in a large bus. A bus that looks like the same bus I’ve seen bring prisoners to prison in the movies. They get out, some jumping out of the front door of the bus looking excited, other sad, some terrified. We talk to them loudly like we are stuck in a permanent pep rally, like they aren’t allowed to be sad.

I am drawn to the quiet kids. The ones who seem scared. I talk to them in my soft voice. The voice I have been cursed with. The voice that will mock me for the rest of my life. People will worship a female with a low voice, but they will kill a man with a high voice.

*

I really like one of the councillors. His name is Guy. He is super energetic and hyper. He gets along with everyone, even me. I don’t feel that usual smallminded man shit. That feeling I get from most guys that says, you’re not like me, keep your distance. When we talk it is an actual conversation, not me constantly trying to pull the subject matter away from who everyone wants to fuck. Everyone here is nice and helps each other, I like that, I wish real life was like that.

*

Guy goes to university and talks about it a lot. His stories are interesting and sound like adventures from another planet. A planet I wouldn’t mind living on. I imagine being his friend, my first real adult friend, someone who speaks my language.

*

I wake up each morning, go to the dock, jump in the water, swim out for bit then swim back. Lake water has a softness to it. Like it has been waiting to hug you with its wetness. I imagine it washing me clean and getting me ready for a new day, my past sinking to the bottom of the lake, forgotten.

I go to the cabin and have my first cup of coffee. Changing into dry clothes and sitting on the bench outside with a cup of coffee, in the quiet, before everything starts. If there is a perfect moment, this is it.

When I was having coffee, I looked down and saw the perfect rock. I thought of picking it up but then thought that maybe it will start shit happening. I haven’t slept walk in a while, maybe thinking about it triggers it. Maybe I need to ignore it as much as possible. I’m not home, so I will just pretend all that shit was washed down to the bottom of the lake…gone.

Eventually all the councillors wake up and we go over the schedule for the day, then start getting the kids up.

*

My favorite kid so far is this kid who sits at the picnic table and watches his two fingers walk by his face. He moves his two fingers like they are walking and lifts his hand up near his eyes. He stares at his fingers moving for hours. I watch him and talk to him. I don’t know if he hears me or understands me. He doesn’t have a personal assistant, which is weird. I take him to his events, and he just sits and watches his fingers. He will stop to eat and sleep, that’s it. I didn’t know people like this existed. I have a feeling it’s the tip of the iceberg.

At night we sit around a large fire. The kids sing and roast marshmallows. There ain’t no flies on us. It’s a line of a song kids yell back and forth, louder and louder…I hate it. I hate yelling for fun, it’s not fun. If I stare at the fire long enough all the talking becomes chatter and I can imagine what it is like not to understand any language. It’s kind of a relief, not understanding anyone. It lets me float above the words and not get sucked into the emotions of the conversation. Then I panic and get nervous about never understanding language again. Everyone just going blah blah blah and staring at me. I can’t trust my brain to reset.

*

I am home after my first week of camp. I still clean the apartment building for extra cash and pick up a cassette from Jutta.

*

Not sure how I’m getting to Toronto yet. I don’t want to spend money on a train ticket. Getting out of here is expensive. It’s like a final slap in the face.

*

The weeks feel calmer with the kids. There are more kids that need helpers but don’t have them. One kid who is like the finger walking kid, got out one night and went to the out house. He got into the container under the out house where the shit lands. He smeared the poop all over himself. We were able to guide him to the lake and throw soap at him and talk him through washing himself…you know the lake, the same water we swim in. I could see his eyes looking through his shit filled face. He looked like a terrified animal. All of us yelling at him and pointing flashlights at him. It’s like he couldn’t understand what was wrong, his desire for shit was perfectly normal for him.

*

Guy talks about Ayn Rand all the time. He gets a special monthly newsletter from the Ayn Rand Club. I don’t know much about her; except he loves what she has to say. There’s a kind of hardness about his explanation of her philosophy. What he gets from her writing seems opposite to what he is and what he does.


78F/68F

We had to test the walkie talkies yesterday, to see how far apart they can go without losing their connection. They let me drive one of the staff cars off road until we lost the connection. I love being alone in the car. I imagine being on my own, having my own life, driving and driving. It was a super clear day, I could smell that weird smell of the oil they put on the dirt road. It pools up in the bumps and changes colour. I could hear a constant hum, like wires vibrating at a high frequency.

After I was out of reach on the walkie talkie, I stopped the car and listened to the woods. I must have been more tired than I realized because I fell asleep.

I woke up in the woods. I didn’t panic right away, until I thought about the dark figure and how isolated I was. My mind started to race, forcing my feet to feel solid and heavy. Luckily, I could see the car when I turned around. I ran into it without looking anywhere.

I think this sleep walking will haunt me forever.

*

I always have a feeling someone is going to attack me.

*

I hung out with Guy over the weekend. I’m waiting for John to find out I’m a spy, an imposter, a fraud…but he hasn’t figured it out yet, or doesn’t care. He seems happy with his life, not overly concerned with the true identity of anyone else. In a way I wish he did figure out my true identity, then he could tell me what I am.

*

We went to visit his friend Phiss. He lives in a basement apartment not far from where I live. His apartment reminds me of the apartment in Laverne and Shirley. Except there are no bars on the windows and no one is walking by. He is living the life I want, but in the wrong place.

Phiss used to be a councillor at the camp, that is how they know each other. I wish I had been able to get work outside of my home earlier. I might have met some interesting people. People who don’t care who I am, just what I do. Phiss is also into doing super 8 films. We talked about it and decided to work together on something. Another project I can hide in.

*

Mrs. Parent

Mrs. Parent was a teacher in DJPS. She was strict and reminded me of someone who might have taught as a nun, devoted and scary. During recess the teachers would walk around the play area making sure the kids weren’t killing each other. They also had parts of the playground divided between the boys and the girls. The division allowed the building to block most of the wind on the girls’ side. When the temperature dropped the boys side was extra freezing. One time I had just come back from singing at the music festival, I still had my dress clothes on. I kept going around the corner of the school building, onto the girls’ side, to get out of the wind. Mrs. Parent kept telling me to go back to the boys’ side. Finally, I yelled at her that I didn’t have long johns on. She grabbed me by my jacket around my neck and pushed me against the building telling me not to cross the line again. I hated her.

When I had her as a grade seven teacher, she turned out to be my best and favorite teacher. She could get results from me that no one else could. I thought it was weird how much I didn’t like her and how much I liked her after. I hope that happens with my dad, I hope some day something changes, and we become friends. Right now that seems impossible, but when Mrs. Parent had me pinned against the building, her becoming my favorite teacher seemed impossible too.

*

Guy is dating another councillor named Celine. I like Celine, they seem happy. I don’t know how that works, that kind of happiness. What would it be like to be with someone and have it feel natural, like you didn’t have to wonder when you were going to feel something? You didn’t have to worry that someone might get to know you and find out you aren’t who they think you are, and what they find is the worst thing possible. Being alone is safe, but I have a feeling it will cost me.

*

I woke up standing on the dock. Maybe the stress of leaving is causing me to sleepwalk more often. It’s scary but I don’t care anymore. I don’t have any control over it. There was light flooding from behind me shining on the dock. My shadow stretched out, like it was trying to get out of me, like it knew what was coming.

*

I’m leaving in four weeks. Crystals’ brother is getting married, and I am singing at the wedding. I can get a ride south, then go to Toronto from there. I will save money on a train ticket.

*

During breakfast at camp, some of the kids were pointing at me speaking in French and laughing. Guy yelled at them to shut up. He knew what they were saying, I knew what they were saying. The only difference between them and everyone else is that they said it in front of me instead of behind my back. I can see people say things when they think I’m not looking, or they think I can’t hear. It’s like they feel superior thinking they know something about me that I don’t even know myself. Like they have a special window to the horrors of my future…they can go fuck themselves.

*

Celine thinks she’s pregnant.

*

There is a councillor named Carol. We get along well; she has a personality that let’s you know she doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks. When she laughs her entire body moves, like she is filled with a liquid that understands her. Her fingernails are long and painted bright colours. She constantly slides her fingers through her thin long hair pushing her hair away from her face. I know she likes me for more than what I am, but I don’t care.

*

Got together over the weekend with Phiss. Guy was with Celine, so I was alone with Phiss. I was a bit nervous about being by myself with him. I don’t really know him and having the intensity of a one on one means he might get to know me and not like me. But we have a super 8 film project to work on so that should help us avoid knowing each other too well. We drank and worked on animation ideas for the film. There were a few moments of uncomfortable silence, I try not to fill those gaps. It’s my instinct to talk through moments of silence. I hate that, why can’t I just be comfortable. It seems like a bit of a guy thing, those silent moments. Girls are always talking, I’m more familiar with that. Silence means something is wrong…silence is bad.

At the end of the night, we made plans to shoot a scene at a pond on the road to Sturgeon falls. I’m excited. A project with someone who wants to work with me. I went home with that feeling of moving forward.

*

I feel like someone is always watching me.

*

Celine talked to me about Guys family. There is a lot of violence and death in his family. I can’t seem to match his family with him. Some people separate and survive, maybe he is one of those people. I want to be one of those people. Something tells me you can go as far away as possible, but what’s in you stays with you. I hope not.

*

Phiss and I filmed our film around the pond near Sturgeon falls. It was about someone chasing him in the woods. It didn’t really make any sense, but we had fun filming it. Part of me wants to stay and hang out with Phiss, do creative shit. But there’s only so much that you can do here, everything has an expiry date. Including all my friendships.

*

I have one week left.

*

(click) (Jutta tape)

Do I believe in God…(laugh, cough), as much as I believe in anything man made. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe there is something that connects us on a non-material level. I think prayer moves us towards this connection, but not in the way most people think. Religion offers a tool that can create security and connection, it is too bad it has been so poorly used, as a weapon, not a guide. But I guess if it was not religion, it would be something else. (Pause) They housed the enemy in the hereafter and prayed on everyone’s fear of death. If you believe, you will do anything if someone offers you safety in an existence no one can escape. Our fear of death guides everything. (Throat clear, chair movement on floor.) It forces us to ignore the beauty of possibilities that exist in timelessness and makes us run around trying to be immortal. I see people do this in their children, their careers, they are so afraid of being forgotten they will do anything to be remembered. They think they can manufacture a memory, freeze it and die. (Pause, feet movement, German words, chair moving.) But memories are up to interpretation, and history is constantly rewritten. (pause) so, God…I don’t know, no one does.

(Click)

*

The kids from the last week just left. Their future feels as uncertain as mine. I know what I want but have no idea how to get it and no one to ask.

Guy is excited to go back to university. I envy his direction, he is going south and has somewhere to go. He is a piece that fits into his own puzzle.

Phiss is staying here, I’m not sure why.

*

Celine never mentioned anything about the pregnancy again.

*

I managed to fit everything into the same army surplus bag I used for Grand Manan.

I said goodbye to my mom.

70F/62F

Later she told me she went upstairs, went to bed, pulled the sheet over her head, and started crying.

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