About me and this blog

I was born on a native reserve in Ontario, grew up on the west coast of Vancouver Island (as far west as you can go without running out of Canada), came of age in Mexico City. Between times, I lived in the Fraser Valley, Texas, Seattle, Oklahoma, Bella Coola, on the BC north coast, and the Fraser River Delta, just south of Vancouver. For now, I'm "settled" in Campbell River, on Vancouver Island.

I have a boatload of stories to tell. These are some of them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Three dreams: Dream Three


It had been a grey day. The snow had melted into mud, but the trees were still bare sticks, with no promise of spring colour about them. All day it had been just about to rain, but never actually wet. 

In the inlet, the wind whipped the waves up into froth and stole the breath from our lips. The float plane tied by the wharf bucked and bobbed and yanked at its ropes. It was not flying weather, yet the pilot was waiting for us to board and "they" were hurrying us along. 

I hung back; I had worked long hours that day, and the kids were waiting for me at home. I had no reason to fly. "They" said I should. I gave up and scrambled across the skittery pontoon. Sooner done, soonest over.

The plane took off quickly, nosed up towards the first mountain, then tipped forwards and dove into the water. I had a window seat; I saw the top of the waves, the froth and the grey water. They slid up and away, and the light was shut out. Tiny bubbles streamed past my window.

Behind me, someone was calling to the pilot. A woman prayed aloud, making promises. The man across the aisle kept repeating, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." Someone laughed, a nervous-sounding laugh.

The water at my window turned green and luminous, then it fell away and sunshine blazed. The plane taxied to a stop. The door was opened and we all stepped out, across the pontoon, and into an ankle-deep stream. The water was cold -- glacier runoff, it felt like.

I stopped on the banks and looked around. We were in a green valley, bright and warm. The plane was moored in a shallow, bubbling creek, almost narrow enough to jump over. I needn't have waded, but it didn't matter; the sun was already drying my shoes. Along the banks of the creek, an old road stretched ahead, bordered by a row of poplars on the water side, and a split-rail fence on the other.

The light was everywhere, golden and alive. Even the fence posts seemed to glow with an internal light. The grass was that once-a-year springtime green, the wet rocks in the creek sparkled, the water looked like dancing glass.

Everybody was walking down the road; I joined them. We passed a 1920's car parked on the grass under a poplar. Weeds were growing through the wheel and over the running boards. We walked on. The creek veered away and there were hayfields on both sides.

The kids were laughing and running in the meadows ahead, where the fence had ended. I haven't mentioned the kids earlier; in truth, I hadn't noticed them. But they were all there, my kids and their best friends and the cat. They had found a lamb and were following it up and over the hill.

"Are you going back?" one of the men asked me.

I looked at the kids. "No", I said.

"Me, neither," he said, and his wife nodded.

We came to a barn and went in. It was so neat it looked like a stage-set; pitchforks hung on one wall, clean straw covered the floor, bins were full of feed. All the wood was silvery-grey from age, but there were no broken boards, no missing shingles. Against the outside wall, fragrant bales of hay were stacked nearly to the eaves. The cat was already half-way to the top; she found a crevice and slipped through. Somehow I knew she was claiming the barn as her home. She would never go back to our cold valley.

The kids were out of sight; we followed a narrow trail through the hayfield up to the top of the hill and found a long-abandoned farmhouse; the door was open and the kid's voices echoed from inside. I was embarrassed by their lack of respect; it wasn't their house, even if no-one lived there any more. We went in after them.

The house had the same odd neatness as the barn; most of the rooms were empty, but the floors were swept clean and the windows polished. In the kitchen, a shining white cookstove stood alone; my grandmother's chair was in the dining room on a circular rag rug. The house was ours to keep, if we wanted to; somehow I knew it.

The kids were laughing upstairs. Just off the landing, there was another open door, leading to a flat deck looking over the valley. We all just stood there for a moment, then, without words, joined hands to form a circle and started to dance. Round and round: I realized I was holding the hand of a woman I had never liked before. No matter. We danced.

The circle was too big. At one point, I looked down and realized that only some of us were on the deck. I was dancing in the air. I woke up.

Months later, walking down a forgotten road in mid-summer, I came upon the house; Josephine's house, my friends called it. It was abandoned, but not empty; the doors were locked.

Stories from Alternate Realities
© Susannah Anderson, 1999

1 comment:

Clytie said...

To dream of a perfect world ... sometimes it's hard to wake up.

I love your writing. You make me cry, you make me smile, your words make me long for ... something.