Oc­to­ber

Be­fore the long night of win­ter.

Fashion (Canada) - - Culture - By Claire Cameron

I pulled my thin coat tighter against the nip al­ready in the au­tumn air as I walked along a nar­row Lon­don road to meet a friend at The Old Tru­man Brew­ery. It’s not far from the streets that Jack the Ripper once haunted, but I was not wor­ried. It was still early—just af­ter 6 p.m. A month be­fore, I had walked this way at the same time in day­light. But with Oc­to­ber’s early night­fall, the en­trance to the un­der­pass was now com­pletely black. The dark­ness caught me by sur­prise. I hadn’t thought to change my route. I didn’t want to let the dread of the long win­ter nights get the bet­ter of me. Not this early in the year. So I forged ahead. Click, click, click. My L.K. Ben­nett heels—a sym­bol of both my style and pay­cheque at the time—had seemed like a good idea when I left the of­fice. Now, the strike of each heel echoed as I walked into the tun­nel. A few steps in, I thought I saw some­thing move. The shape was vague at first but then be­came clearer. A man. He stood, lean­ing with his back against the cold bricks. He stared straight ahead, but it was hard to say at what. There was noth­ing else ex­cept the nar­row road, the brick tun­nel and me. I al­most turned, but the pas­sage was short. He didn’t seem to be pay­ing at­ten­tion to me, but I didn’t want to run, lest I’d look like prey.

Though I had been liv­ing in Lon­don for three years, the early night­fall still caught me by sur­prise. In Canada, I had to cope with the cold of win­ter. In Lon­don, it was a mat­ter of en­dur­ing the lack of day­light. We of­ten talk about change in the spring, but it’s fall that comes with a dra­matic swipe. As high as the Bri­tish sum­mer sun can climb, the de­scent into win­ter is like a cliff. In Oc­to­ber, sun­light slips so eas­ily through one’s fin­gers. And the long night is drawn-out sus­pense—toes curled at the edge, dark­ness cupped in hands, eyes strug­gling to ad­just—with the end­less night of win­ter still ahead. I picked up my pace to get through the un­der­pass.

Click, click, click. My heels counted each step on the ce­ment. He was now only a few feet ahead, a plume of cold breath. I held mine as I walked. Fear slowed things down in my mind, but my body kept pace. The next heel struck and clicked. I could no longer see the man out of the cor­ner of my eye, but I heard a deep thud. At first I thought it was the sound of my heart, but soon it came again. A man’s shoe hit­ting the side­walk be­hind me. Click, click, thud. His foot landed close to my heel.

Oc­to­ber is when the sun shrinks back, the dark stretches out and the mind in­stinc­tively turns to the long months ahead. I’ve come to learn that the ac­com­pa­ny­ing dread might have a pur­pose. The one who fears the dark is more likely to change her route. Click,

click, thud. Win­ter took one step for my two.

EV­ERY MONTH HAS A MOOD, a feel­ing, some com­bi­na­tion of mem­o­ries, mo­ments and nostal­gia. You know it—you feel it—even if you’ve never re­ally thought about it. To help en­cap­su­late the moods of the months, we’re ask­ing novelists to take on the cal­en­dar...

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