After black and before colour, where do we sleep? When I wake I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember where I am or who. What I am and what I’m not. How I sing and how I rot. Don’t know why the sun is shining through green leaves and off dark water. Don’t know the colour of this couch or why I’m so goddamn cold. And then it comes back like a depressurized snap. Everything but the end of last night. The bird ceremony… How did I get here? What happened?
I stand and immediately feel dizzy, light-headed, and weak. As if a rock was placed in the back of my skull, squeezing everything else aside. Solid on the inside, popping on the out. I felt off. I didn’t like it at all. Hungover and sick all at once. What the hell happened? Last thing I remember was walking through the woods, with Margaret… and the book and the bird. I remember, falling, like falling asleep. Suddenly I’m overcome with a false sense of experience. A gap in my life existing without me ever being there. Only when I really think on it, I see flashes of colour, like paintings changing vapidly, buckets of paint being dumped and sprayed on a black canvas. Though they are accompanied with a feeling of sickness, starting in my stomach and wanting to travel back up and purge. The colours streamed away as I clutched it. I then hobbled to the kitchen and poured a glass of water, it tasted like metal. Thin, aluminum, bitter, iron, copper, metal. Miners were digging for something once I swallowed. Drinking mercury. Digging up a storm, trying to escape with metal claws. I didn’t know what to do to ease the pain but lie back down on the ground. As soon as I did the colours rushed back in and up and out. All about All about. All over. Everywhere. All over. Everywhere. Here’s the darkness so don’t despair. Prayer and death in the air. Here’s the secrets we’ll never care. Around. Around. Around us everywhere.
The candles were lit. The place set nice. Turkey pie in the oven and rice and beans and carrots and corn and potatoes on top. Margaret was a cook. That woman knew what she was fucking doing. And something about the cottage brought a whole new world to it. The table set with candles, wine glasses, and the napkins triangularly folded in a holder with a cow eating hay on it. Pepper and salt, of course. And she even put out the fresh strawberry jam she made a couple days ago.
Adam entered with herbs he picked from the garden.
“What time should I go get him?”
“Soon, it’ll be out of the oven in like fifteen minutes.”
Adam then walked on over and saw me sitting on the dock.
“Hey, neighbour!” he said.
I didn’t even notice he walked up… I felt crappier than shit. I slowly turned and saw his smiling jeer. His teeth so white, hair so perfect, bastard.
“Well, hey,” I said.
“How you feeling?”
“I’m fine?” Bastard.
“Oh, no, it’s just you don’t look so well? Not sleep great?”
“Um, well, I don’t know.”
We let that one sit for awhile.
“So you’re ready for dinner, yea?”
Dinner? “I’m sorry?”
“Margaret is about to take the roast out. We can have a drink on the dock before the sun goes down while it rests.”
I said I was going to dinner? I don’t remember saying I was going to dinner. But I don’t remember much of anything recently.
“Um… okay. That sounds great?”
“Great! Well, let’s go!”
I followed him through the paths that separated the homes in this glorious richness, and I suddenly felt like vomiting.
“Have you been sleeping well Jacob? You don’t look so hot.”
“I’ve been told.”
I sat in the strong Muskoka chair beside the lake and breathed in its nourishment, I felt sick, felt ill, felt like dying. What is happening? My dark circled eyes circling the entrance to my soul. All layers have been taken off and there is nowhere to go.
I grabbed a cracker while shrugging off her hug and saying I’m okay.
“You sure?” Her eyes consoled hidden tears, shown upon the disheartened and the disheartening. I said I was sure and ate the cracker, and then joked as the cracker stole all my moisture.
She handed me some wine to help. “There’s cheese too dear. And sorry but we only brought down wine and beer, you sure you don’t want a water or something? Adam, would you mind getting him a water?”
After moments of debating whether or not I needed the water like an insolent infinite triangle, Adam sucked his teeth and walked up to get it. My stomach then clenched and I bent over in pain. I expected to hear a cry or feel a hand but there was just the water rolling up and down the dock and shoreline. She was just sitting there. Looking straight ahead, at nothing. I said her name, no response. My stomach clenched again, rather cut apart from the inside. I couldn’t help but moan. “Margaret?” The pain then sparked in my fingers and ran up my arms, through my bones, in my neck and in then my brain. I collapsed and curled into my body, searching for some relief, or at least some explanation. I could see Margaret just sitting there. “Margret. What’reya doing?” She had no response, no emotion, looking outward.
I retreated into my body, forgetting about her, about it all. Not wishing I ever came here. If only this suffering would go away. Forget about anything else. Just save me from this hell! Save me from this fucking shit! Dear god, what the hell is happening to me? Pain has become constant beyond recognition. The doorway has opened and everyone is coming to say hello. No more hiding. Wake up to what we are. The doorway has opened. I tried to ignore it, tried to ignore it, tried to ignore it. But it doesn’t go away.
“Jacob… Welcome. You are among us and we are among you. Welcome, forever.”
I knew I must have been sweating but then I thought I peed myself. Moist to wet and moving up my body. Looking through the slits of my eyes I saw the lake rising through the dock. Soon it plugged my ear, then half my face, then my entire body. I couldn’t move, didn’t want to. And so I lay suspended in liquid air. Close my eyes and let me drift away. As I don’t know anything anymore, there’s nothing left to worry. I accepted it, until pairs of hands drew me down.
“This is not where you’ll be as you’ll be always where you are. Where you are is forever. So never will never come.”
“Hey kid, here you go,” said Adam, bopping me on the shoulder with a glass of water.
As if I fell into another world, I awoke with water in hand and no discomfort to speak of. A little sweaty, but dry as well. Margaret was looking off onto the water with her legs crossed and drink in hand, then turning and smiling at me. Adam sat beside her and now they both were smiling at me. I smiled back and took a drink of the wine and then the water. Something about them, other than the mystery evening with Margaret, made me extremely nervous and excited. Again. I hated it.
They began talking about when they rented before, when Janice threw up in the water, when Adam fell in the water the morning after. Moments that made Margaret’s laugh soothe my disorientation. And when Jerry spilt the wine, and when Margaret slept on the dock, and when and when and when. And how they loved being up here with a passion, more grateful than they’ve ever been, having met the Lowdens; Jerry, Janice, Michael, Darin, and being completely accepted and saved. To have come from a place so vulnerable and exposed – having gone through there’s no choice and to feel as if every nerve’s been peeled open – and be hungry and hopeless. They couldn’t have been more appreciative for having met the Lowdens snowmobiling in Whistler. Margaret said how she would give him both kidneys if needed, and Adam added he’d do the same. I was never that close with the Lowdens so I don’t really know, but how many times have ya’ll rented from them? It confused the hell out of me so that her laugh no longer held. The words kept on, while I still woke from this dream.
“And what would you do, Jacob? Jacob??” asked Margaret.
“What would you do?”
“What would I do what?”
“What would you do if you had all the time to be up here, or anywhere else, but like this…”
I have no idea. “Maybe write a book…… if I smoked less…”
Margaret gasped, “A book? Oh my, please do tell…”
“Well, I don’t know what really about? I don’t know. Definitely fiction, maybe horror, but probably just something I make up. Call it what you want.”
“Ouu, I am just enthralled. Why haven’t you started?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what about.”
“You know, we’ve seen you journal.” This was clearly an unfortunate topic for Adam and an absolutely intriguing one for Margaret. “How do you find that goes?”
“Well… I like it. Helps with getting things out and lightening the load. Depends how consistent you are with it, though. Just have to do a bit every day… that’s what helps me… at least.”
“That is fascinating,” added Adam. “In other news, have you heard of the new place they’re putting up cross the bay, over there?”
“Oh we’re not done yet,” pitched Margaret, shewing Adam away. “How else do you like it?”
I was about to continue when Adam said, “You probably have some enjoyment from it? You don’t dredge doing it, ya?”
“I’ve been trying to get him to start but he just won’t,” said Margaret. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.”
“I hate it. I’m not doing it. You can’t make me.”
“He’s had so many things on his chest lately that he just is dying to get out.”
“No I don’t. It’s been fine.”
“He’s just so stubborn even he won’t admit it or see it…”
They glared into battle, the first to blink, the first to sink.
“Do you think it will help?”
I stammered, “If… you… do it consistently. It helps me.”
“But he wants to write a god damn book Marge…”
“Okay, okay… we’ll talk about it later.” She looked back and forth at Adam and I. “But one last question – before we go up, cuz the roast is done – what do you most enjoy feeling when writing in your journal? What do you feel? You know?”
What do I feel? What do I feel? What do I feel?
As if I’m talking to god, who is me. An honesty that transcends truth, more like love.
And there’s everything else I need. There… but not.
“I love it. It’s great… it, echem, really takes… a load off.”
“Jaecawwb, that’s not true. That’s all?”
“Why – ” A sharp pain, as if stabbed, erupted in my stomach. I grabbed and clenched. And still felt I must finish my question. “Why, you, asking… what I feel?”
“Oh, whoops… haha, oh well…. you okay, dear? And I’m curious is all – wonder what it feel like… You sure you’re okay? It’ll start to become warm.”
“I’m fine… It’s… whatha…”
“You sure?” Her face paused, then switched, bad. “You don’t look okay.”
“Uh. Uh. Uh.” stammered Adam. “Oh Dammit Margaret, why so early, it’s not even six!”
“You look like you could use a nap?”
“I’m… I’m fine.”
“You sure? You look tired, dear.”
“I told you, did I not tell you?!”
“I love you journal boy… Shut up Adam, I know.”
“Why do you do this?”
“The roast is done, he’s too adorable, and I want a fucking taste.”