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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 6

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

E -8F/-30F




I think I’m sleep walking again.

*

I am an alien.

*

Miss Jenson quit. She was an English teacher. Last year she got really pissed off at a student and stabbed him in the hand with a pencil. It was Tom Evenson and he probably deserved it, but it’s still weird that she didn’t get fired. She picked her nose a lot when she was sitting at her desk. She didn’t fit, just like me.

*

Evelyn Stevens came to school with a see-through jump suit and no underwear. The principle told her to go home and change. I saw her in the morning in the smoking area toking up. I didn’t notice the underwear thing. She is part of the super cool gang. It’s like they have an invisible power I can’t see. They don’t give a shit, they don’t have to.


Just got my first cassette back from Jutta…I will write (click) so you know where it starts and try to give you an idea of the sounds in the background, kind of like a script. But is it just her talking, answering questions I gave her, I’m happy she’s doing this for me… I’ll also write (click) when it’s finished.


(click)

I came from Zuckmantel in Romanian. A beautiful house, a beautiful life. If I knew the future, I would have tried harder to keep those memories.

We farmed on our plot of land, grew grapes to make and sell wine. Harvested food for winter and had pigs. Our life had color and happiness, until it didn’t. (Cough, throat clear) My father was a soldier for the army so my grandparents and my mother, my sister and I ran the house, killed the pigs, made the wine. Then one day my father returned with the army and told us we had one hour to get out, the Russians were behind them. Anything small and valuable was quickly sewn into my grandparents’ clothes. Handfuls of food tucked into our pockets, and then we were gone. That was it, never to return, or look back. We were told we might return when things calm down, but we knew deep down, our past was severed, like an umbilical cord. We were being reborn into a world that didn’t want us, we were the permanent enemy marked with the decisions made by people we never knew, from places we would never go. (pause)

We had to take a train. (Pause, sipping, sound of cup hitting saucer) We could only travel at night. The Russians used the German planes they found to shoot at us and try and kill us. Darkness was our friend, it became clear that from now on, invisibility was the only outfit we could wear…always. If we heard a plane when traveling, we would stop in a forested area and get off the train as quickly as possible. I felt guilty, leaving the horses that traveled with us in the train, but what was the choice? All living things are victims of all living things. We run around killing everything till we destroy all of what we wanted in the first place. (Clears throat, says something in German)

We would eat by stopping the train, going to farms and searching for food. Sometimes farmers would give us food, the ones who stayed, the ones who thought the Russians would just pass them by. But they never did. They took over everything and destroyed the rest. (pause)

My grandmother missed the train while searching for food at a farm. She walked and walked till she caught up with the train at the next stop. The feeling of finding each other again was a feeling I will never forget. I miss that feeling, seeing someone you love, from a distance, then getting closer and closer. (moves away from the microphone and says “I want that feeling back” under her breath, as she is sipping on something.)

The train delivered us to Payerbach in Austria. We lived in Payerbach for a while, and I went to school there. My oldest sister met her future husband there. She left for Canada soon after and worked as a domestic in Toronto. We left soon after by boat. It was a ten-day boat ride. The older ones were sick all the time. They had permanent land stomachs and had a hard time adjusting to a liquid surface. I can still smell the mix of freshly painted cement and puke. (Pause, I can hear Jutta get up and answer the door, talking, the door closes. She walks back to the microphone. I don’t think she understands the pause button.)

We arrived in Quebec, took the train to Alberta, and started our years of forced labor on a beet farm outside of Lethbridge as payment for allowing us into the country. We were treated poorly, with little food and a dirt floor shack. Eventually my mother made friends with a Hungarian woman who farmed close by. She was lonely for foreign companionship and hungered for homeland words. My mothers’ broken Hungarian was enough to fill her. She invited us to live and work at their farm. We were treated fairly and finished our debt to the country. Soon my sister told us to join her in Toronto. She now worked in a factory and managed to get me work as a domestic. (pause) I saved money and eventually got my beautician certificate so I could cut hair. People now had time and money to try and look good. If you cut hair, you can go anywhere, all women want haircuts…and men. I cut hair at a beauty salon with a woman who came from a place called Kapuskasing. I went to visit with her and never came back. (Cough, clear throat.) The isolation was just what I wanted. I was welcome into the tiny German community that was formed by Germans who decided to stay once they were released from the internment camp. The stories they told me horrified me and made me feel lucky…just a bit.

So here I am, my little cozy corner in the north. I think I made the right decision, but who knows. Safety is an illusion, but one I intend to keep till I die.

Sorry, this was probably too long.

(Click)

*

Mark called, we got a gig in Moonbeam.

*

I’m still out of Hash oil.



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