“Paddler Press is a new poetry and art mag based in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong, Ontario.” – From Paddler Press Home Page
It excited me when the editor of Paddler Press tweeted he was expanding the call for Issue Three to include Creative None Fiction. I had a piece I felt would be a great fit and jumped at the opportunity.
Deryck N. Robertson felt the same way and blessed me by including it in this great third issue of Paddler Press, All Together.
“Deryck is an elementary teacher, outdoorsman, composer, poet, husband and father.” – from Paddler Press Mast Head Page
“Winter’s Harvest” closes out this issue by inviting its readers to visit the world of my early childhood. It was great fun writing this piece and reliving the details when I called my parents to make sure I remembered correctly.
We tell stories in books, with pictures, with theatre, with spoken word, even with dance. Stories are powerful.
Stories change people.
Why do we tell stories? From cave paintings to comics, humanity has a wide range of how it tells stories. Every single people’s group uses them, treasures them, and has their own. There are several answers to this.
One, we use them to teach. Two, we use them to remember. Three, we use them to dream and invent.
When we use stories to teach, it brings lessons to life. It makes them relatable and real. When we use a creative story to teach, it hides lessons in adventure. We can learn without even knowing that’s what we’re doing. Do we realize the lessons we are learning? Sometimes we don’t. Be aware of what you are taking in to your heart and mind, it might change you in ways you never realized.
When we tell stories about the past. We keep lessons of experience alive. When we work hard to keep those stories accurate, we protect truth. If we don’t want truth muddied, we must tell our stories. We must search for others’ stories, and we must be open to hearing each one, no matter how difficult.
Make believe. These stories are not true, but can still teach truths. Fiction pushes the envelop. It asks, what if? It lets us learn before we have experienced. Through fiction we invent novel ways of being and understanding. What if humans could fly, breathe underwater, or visit the stars? These dreams of the once impossible have spurred many amazing inventions of today. Many of these dreams started as story.
Jesus Christ also used stories. The Christian Church called them parables and describes them as earthly stories with heavenly meaning. They teach moral truths in ways the average Jewish citizen would have understood in that time period. If Christ himself used stories, we shouldn’t shy from doing the same thing.
Whoever you are, you have a story to tell. No matter what your belief system, it’s an important story.
The last few months have forced many of us to become all too familiar with ourselves. We have had time to think and think some more. This can be a good thing for people who have neglected themselves, forgetting how to listen to their own voice. Listening to self is important, but it should never be the only voice we seek.
When our world changes, and we are forced to be outwardly silent, may God be able to break though the madness of our own minds and bring his peace.
When this storm has passed, we will all have leaned much about ourselves. Be it rain, or early morning dew that collects on the threads of self, let it show the things we have forgotten.
May it teach us things we have never known before.
Through it may we persevere together with the people we hold dear. Holding on to love, and the one who loves us the most.
The cord in this image could represent many things. For me and mine, it’s God.
She poses, one hand at her waist, one lifted as if to invite a question. One skate blade poised, toe and tip to ice. The other is ready to propel her body into motion. She stands there, frozen, every muscle straining then relaxing, waiting. Then it comes, gentle notes drifting out of her deep and buttoned coat pocket.
Arms move with grace to the music only she can hear. Sturdy legs propel her forward, around in a steady half spin, and stop. She bows to the woods. There is no human in sight to witness this dance on ice. The snow-ladened evergreens shimmer in the bright sunlight, the naked birch is unafraid to bare all its beauty.
More notes come. Arms and legs now work as one to propel her form across the sheet of ice. The air smells of cold crystals, mixed with sun. Her own breath reveals its presence in puffs of white.
“Count Mary Ann.” She speaks to herself in the quiet. “One, and two, then stop. Three, then four, and glide.”
Bare fingers stretch to the sky as one, a gentle turn while holding speed. One leg lifted ready, arms controlled but relaxed. Speed perfect, she punches the ice with power. The tip of her skate kicking up an ice shower. For a split second she is free of the earth, then down to touch the ice again. One rotation, but well done. Balance perfect, arms out and poised. The tones from her pocked lifted with her to spin and again down, slowing. Now they resemble the slow trickle of a stream, gentle and playful.
Wind sends the naked branches into a gentle clatter. Her steps become skips across the ice. Build speed, turn, then building again.
“One more time!” Her heart beating faster, her breath fogging the air behind her, her toque threatening to fall away, but ignored. “One and two and, oh!”
The blade of her skate finds ripples she had carved in to the ice some days ago. The uneven surface jolts her sideways and down she falls. Bare hands stop her face from touching the ice sheet. They are red from cold. The air chilled them as she moved through her dance and now pressed to the ice, it stings. The surface a beautiful shimmer but biting.
A deep sigh pushes itself from her chest out in to the daylight. She closes her eyes. An unexpected fall. Checking her lumps. One, two, three, four. Jared, but all in the right place. “It’s okay, Mary Ann. One more time.”
She pushes herself up, a slide and a momentary wobble are evidence her internal rhythm needs righting. Once firmly on the blades of her skates face to the sun, she checks her pocket. The phone is still in one piece. Time to start the song over again.
Ruby red fingers fumble for a moment as again a guest of wind rattles the branches. There clatter is the only sound until in the distance, a dog barks. The others will come soon, there is a need to hurry.
One more time around before the boys take to the ice, sticks in hand. James has promised to bring her hockey stick out for her. She will soon need to change her white skates for the black pair, waiting by the rough-cut log stools.
Breath in, breath out. Pose, one hand on waist, one hand in questioning greeting, toe out. As the notes once again hum from her pocket, just for her, so starts her dance, only viewed by the trees that line the west side of the rink.
Lavender crushed between finger and thumb. Only one blossom. The scent gentle but true, only for the person holding it. Squeezed tighter and then rubbed together. Another whiff of scent. Calmness, a brief shaking stilled. “Thank you.” She turned back to the house. “Carmen, down off the counter.” “But, Mom!”
A dribble is the modern term used for a story of exactly 50 words. The art of micro-fiction is something I am trying to learn. I don’t always get it right. To bubble the whole of a story into so few words takes something special.
I would love to hear from you if you write short fiction in any form. How do you make your stories a whole, and not just single seen?
To somehow tell the story without telling the story is part of it. Is there more behind it?
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