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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 7

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

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-10F/-26F


Mom is feeling better, she moves slow, but she seems ok. When your parents are sick you want them to get better so the world makes sense. My sister had a boyfriend whose father was dying of cancer. She said when she went over to his house he would be sitting at the table with a huge bandage around his face, covering a hole. She said it smelt funny. It’s strange to think there are things that can’t be undone. Some people never come back. When I think of these things, I feel like I’m falling off a cliff.

*

I’m not doing much with anyone. I smoke pot by myself, and I have no friends. Everyone thinks I’m ok, maybe I am. Maybe this is what ok looks like. Maybe ok is all there is. Ok sounds like something you say when you’re not ok. I have these moments with so much color and happiness I could scream and laugh forever. I know when I’m like that I am weird. I can see people look at me funny. Then there are times when all the color is taken away, everything has shadows that grow and grow, till it’s all dark. When that happens, I just wait. I am not sad, I am just in a dangerous place.

*

Elle

Elle would sit quietly at her desk. She held up her chin with her hand and stretched her fingers over her mouth and nose. Her face had a scrunched up look, like she had managed to force her features into an accordion shape. She smelt like rotting butter. I imagined her house, filled with garbage and chaos. I wanted to save her, I wanted to know her.

She became a mystery I wanted to solve.

I was in grade 8, just before high school came and crushed me. I was still delusional about how much people needed me, which was not at all. Each day I would try and think of a reason to talk to her. I had started projects and invited her to be a part of them, but all she did was stare at me and remain silent. After a while I wondered if she could speak. I imagined her inner monologue, thanking me for my kindness and thinking about how I was saving her. From what? From everything. I imagined that one day, when all seemed lost, she would come up to me, lean in and whisper…thank you. I would know what she meant and why.

But three weeks into my “Save Elle project”, a bunch of kids were making fun of me, laughing at me. Elle was there, and when I looked at her, she was laughing… with them. So, not really a lost soul after all, just another asshole.

*

I can’t stand being around a bunch of guys talking about girls. Tits this, ass that, it’s like they are speaking another language. It seems to bring them together, bonds them in a way that makes me feel more and more alone. Sometimes I can fake a laugh, but I hear myself and it sounds stupid. I know they are judging me on how much I react to what they say, like it’s a test.

*

I’m working on songs with Sara. She’s weird like me. We are both into music and have made that our connection, our comfort zone. I can tell that she is different, we can smell our own kind. Her brother dated my sister for a while. When they broke up my father said something to my sister at the dinner table and she ran downstairs crying. It’s like my dad doesn’t understand the basics of human emotion. Like he gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago. He blows up your emotional state and walks away. I’m never sure if it is intentional or unintentional…I’m not sure which is worse.

*

The dinner table is where my parents pick their weapons, the kids are locked and loaded.

*

What happened to Clackers? You know, those two glass balls attached by a rope. You grab the middle of the rope and move it up and down. The balls hit the shit out of each other, and clack. The faster you go the harder they hit.

I heard some kid broke the balls and the glass went into his eyes. That’s probably why you don’t see them anymore.

*

Our cat is missing.

*

Worked last night at the indoor pool. I sit at a table in the men’s change room and make sure no one horses around too much. I usually do my homework, nothing much happens. There is a smell to the wetness of the change room that I can’t stand, kind of a warm chlorine smell. I don’t know how people can walk into a wet pool bathroom in bare feet and go to the washroom. Who knows what they’re stepping in. Just like the outdoor pool that is open for our one-month summer. The only thing scarier than the huge horse flies, is the shit-stained cement floor in the washroom. You can get to the washrooms through this weird outdoor alley that is connected to the change rooms. It leads to an attached large outhouse. It is always hot and has at least one toilet that is plugged with shit. The outdoor pool is busy as soon as it opens to when it closes. It is my favorite place in the summer, minus the washrooms…and the horse flies. We would start swim team and dive team there, practice and go to competitions. As far as a sport, it is the closest I have felt to belonging to something. We would compete in Timmins and in Cochrane, where they did the distance swim competition in the lake, and the diving. Some are more competitive than others. People who love competition are usually good at competing. I’m not sure if that means they’re the best, or just good at competing. I’m not sure if performing under pressure brings out the best in everyone. If the prize is the motivation I’m fucked, a ribbon means nothing to me. Diving just feels good, being in the air feels good, going into the water without a splash feels good.

*

I envy Mikes sister. Living in Toronto, downtown, above a 7-11. She can go anywhere anytime, and everything is open. She can be whatever she wants to be.

Mike is the brother of a guy that my sister used to date. That’s how I know him. We became friends and now his is the drummer in our band. Music seems to be my connection for friendship. That… and who my sister dates.

Last year we went to his sisters during March break. It felt so warm to us, t-shirt weather. We were like explorers in a new world, running around. Street cars, subways, the Eaton’s Centre. I loved the electric buzz of the city, the pace. It’s perfect, no one can judge you if no one knows you. Bought some records at a place called Sam the record man. I could spend hours there, so much music.

On our last night we met some girls on a streetcar. Mike was excited. That kind of excited I just don’t understand…or feel. They invited us to meet them later down the street in front of the Boots drug store, I knew what that meant, the end of fun for me. I wanted Mike to go without me and have fun, I didn’t have the energy, the energy to pretend to be interested. For them sexual excitement is an adventure. For me, it’s a threat.

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