Oc­to­ber

The stir­rings of au­tumn.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market | Moments - By Lisa Moore

I DON’T KNOW HOW I FELL ASLEEP, but I re­mem­ber how I woke up. A black shape rose up in the ra­di­ance be­hind my eye­lids. One of the horses had found me and was ris­ing up on its hind legs. It would step on me.

Only, I was on the other side of the fence around where the horses grazed. It was Oc­to­ber, and the af­ter­noon had turned hot. I’d lain down in the long, prickly hay to look at the sky over Bell Is­land, red streaked and am­ber and vi­o­let, get­ting dark al­ready. I had felt the hard prickle of the dead grass stick­ing up through my heavy sweater—then I didn’t. Some­times it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the last sen­sa­tion be­fore it all goes away. I could smell a min­eral tang that meant there might be frost that night. Things could turn like that. I had loved horses, but I was al­ready for­get­ting that love.

There was a boy stand­ing over me. A sil­hou­ette. I had to blink him out of the sunspots, squint to see him. His shadow was what woke me. He was a black shape with a pink fire all over his shoul­ders and down the sides of his arms and be­tween his legs, be­cause he stood at the top of the steep hill and the sun was out over the ocean but still high enough to hit him di­rectly on the back—pow—eat­ing at the edges of his hair, all the way down to his sneak­ers.

This was An­toine. I knew him—sort of. I’d seen him around. It’s hard to say what I knew.

He was a fos­ter kid from Labrador, stay­ing at the bun­ga­low on the hill with all the rows of red earth where they grew cab­bages. He didn’t be­long there, but he didn’t seem to mind. It was clear he be­longed some­where. But every­thing he be­longed to was a thou­sand miles away. I had never been more than 10 miles away from every­thing that mat­tered to me. He got my phone num­ber. He got it be­cause I gave it to him. An­toine phoned for the first time a week later and asked me if I knew who it was I was talk­ing to. I said I didn’t know. He asked me to guess. But I couldn’t guess, so he told me.

Then he called ev­ery day. He fig­ured out when we had sup­per, and he called af­ter that. He’d call and say hello and noth­ing else. There was noth­ing to say, but it was also im­pos­si­ble to get off the phone.

Some­times I asked if he was still there. He would say that he was.

I was 12, and he was the same age—but I rec­og­nized that he was in love with me. The si­lence stirred me. It was hot and an­gry and tidal. And the stir­ring was new... or newish. But the si­lence could just as eas­ily go flat— be­come boring. It was a mat­ter of stay­ing on the phone un­til the flat­ness twisted back into a for­eign, phys­i­cal long­ing that thumped through the re­ceiver of the phone: mine for him, his for me.

All I knew was that I’d awak­ened and he was stretch­ing to the sky and all around him the sun burned hard. I would pic­ture that when I lay in the five o’clock dark­ness of Oc­to­ber, up­stairs on my mother’s side of my par­ents’ bed be­cause I needed pri­vacy.

They had dark blue wall­pa­per with a raised vel­veteen pat­tern. I touched it with my fin­ger­tips while we were on the phone, and some­times it sent shiv­ers. The bed­spread was syn­thetic and shone in the gloam­ing of want­ing to touch.

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