~ by the mysti'cool Laurita Miller
~ by the mysti'cool Laurita Miller
My birthday. The one day of the year when I don’t have to worry too much about getting into some sort of trouble. Even if I have been unruly, Mom doesn’t usually scold me on my birthday. She didn’t have to worry this year. This year I would turn eleven and it was time I showed how mature I could be. Besides, I hoped to get a new compass and a set of mini binoculars and I didn’t want to ruin my chances. With those gifts I was sure to find some treasure, or at the very least, a new place to build a fort with my friends.
Nan came over just before supper to watch me open my gifts. Pop was running a little late, she said, and we should just go on without him.
“Just a little delayed. He’ll be here shortly with your present. You know what he’s like. He probably found someone to gab with.”
I did alright with the presents. I got my binoculars and compass, along with some books and clothes and a new ball and glove. I guess Mom didn’t hear about the plum tree incident, thank goodness. We were just clearing the table for supper when Pop barged through the door, looking frazzled and carrying a bundle in his arms.
“Sorry I’m late,” he boomed. “I ran into a bit of trouble on the road. Here Ro, hold this parcel while I get washed up, will you?” He passed me what looked like a rolled up coat.
The moment the bundle was in my arms it started to squirm. I let out a yelp and almost dropped it. Out wiggled a little black nose, all wet, sniffing in my direction. I quickly hauled off the wrapping.
“A dog! You got me a dog!” He was smallish and fuzzy with every colour that could possibly fit on a small body. His eyes were big and brown and sparkling with mischief.
“We did indeed, and with no degree of ease, I’ll tell you that.” Pop stood at the sink, scrubbing the dirt from his hands. “On the way home I got a flat. When I stopped to change the
tire, a car passed through a puddle and splashed me. Then, when I opened the car door, this little fellow decided to hop out. I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to chase him down. He’s a proper jinker, that one.”
“Jinker. That’s a good name,” Dad suggested. I agreed.
After supper, and a big hunk of chocolate birthday cake, I took Jinker out for a tour of the harbour. He sniffed every shrub and post along the lane. We stopped at the bridge and I threw a few rocks into the brook. I tossed a dandy that skipped eight times, but of course no one was around to see it. No one ever is when it’s a good one. I had to grab Jinker to keep him from following the rocks into the water. We carried on, crossing over to O’Toole’s meadow and making our way to the woods behind Eddie Pittman’s.
This was a spot that every kid in the harbour knew and we all spent a lot of our time here. A rotting fence stretched along the front of the woods directly behind the Pittman house, but the rest of the woods went on and on. Beyond that fence were paths winding for miles between the large spruce trees and a scattered clearing where the grass was as tall as a grown man.
It was getting duckish now and Jinker was restless. We wandered down to the back road, which really isn’t much more than a gravel path. The road would take us right back home. The evening was pretty quiet. In the fading light I could see someone walking toward us. We were facing into the sun so I couldn’t make out who it was. I thought for a moment it might be my buddy Jack and I would have a chance to show off my new dog.
But as the figure drew closer a sick feeling started to grow in my gut. I suddenly didn’t want to meet this unknown person on the lonely back road. The hair on the back of my neck bristled and I fought the urge to turn and run. The person walking toward us was no bigger than I was, but I couldn’t shake the sick feeling. Then Jinker stopped cold in the road, growling and
snarling. It wasn’t very menacing, but it scared me. It told me that I wasn’t alone in thinking there was something wrong.
We stood in the road, too afraid to continue on but, for some reason, unable to turn back. The figure stopped too, and even though it was much closer now, I still couldn’t make out who it was. My mouth was dry. I felt cold. I tried to tell myself that I was being stupid. The snarling puppy at my side told me that I wasn’t.
The sun was sinking behind the hills and even though I was scared I figured it was better to pass this person in the light than after dark. My foot was as heavy as a bag of beach rocks but I forced myself to take that first step. Jinker looked up at me and whimpered. He was probably thought I was nuts.
Once we started moving the figure moved too. I couldn’t swallow the lump of fear in my throat and I think, for just a second, my heart stopped beating. I looked straight ahead. No way was I going to look this thing in the eye.
As the figure neared , Jinker started to whine. I tried not to look. With every ounce of my being I tried. It was beyond my control. As I passed the figure my head slowly turned toward it and I could tell that its head was slowly turning toward me.
Nothing could prepare me for what I saw. Everything stood still as I looked into that face. My own face. The red hair was mine, the splatter of freckles, the nose, the mouth. The ratty sneakers and dirty jeans – all the same. Only the eyes were different. They were my eyes, alright, but they were dull and lifeless. Instead of blue they were dark grey, like a stormy sea.
I didn’t take my eyes from that thing for one second. I couldn’t. I opened my mouth to scream, so did the thing, but there was no sound from either of us. It seemed there was no sound
at all. The whole harbour was silent. I turned to watch it as it passed, it turned to watch me. Then it was gone.
I stood there in the middle of the back road in the dark with a shivering puppy at my feet. I could hear the gulls down by the wharf, the cars on the main road and some dog barking. It was like nothing had happened.
It took a few minutes before I could move again. My body felt heavy as I scuffed up the lane to our house. Jinker, who had been full of mischief at the beginning of our walk, moped along beside me. I grunted a greeting to Mom and Dad and went to my room. I wasn’t in the mood to talk; I don’t even think I could. I certainly didn’t know what to tell them.
I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling. I’m not a guy who cries a lot, but I couldn’t stop the tears. They just came. I knew what I had seen. I’d heard the stories over and over. It was my Fetch, a ghostly image of myself, and it meant one of two things. Neither of them was good. Seeing your Fetch means terrible misfortune, the absolute worst of bad luck. But it gets worse. It could mean the Grim Reaper is ready to call your number.
I never hoped for bad luck so hard in all my life.
(c) Laurita Miller of Harbinger*33, where . . . if you're very fortunate, you'll read MORE!
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Laurita Miller is an entity unto herself. Some, as myself DO believe she's mastered an out-of-body transport to actually date Poe on certain Friday nights. We don't know where they go, or what they talk about, but we've all experienced the out-of-mind way our lovely Laurita lets words, thoughts, impressions, scene-settings and oh! such memorable characterizations linger ... and stir ... and linger some more. She's done that here, with Ro and now JInker, also to appear amidst the HARBINGER*33 tales, on your bookshelves in the brave new year.
Aboard the mighty ship Harbinger*33, Laurita huddled her talents in her cabin all one night with pens and pastels and the coolest music and cooing and "OH YEAH" sounds . . . and her art and her fabric wove and tapestried and lo an behold (and behold and lo) ~ up she came with the true blue badge of courage banner of the Harbinger*33. You can see it over on the side'panel there as well as where some renowned writers write, turning and churning out their very best stuff. We're that proud . . . of Laurita, of each other.
What's that? More? More Laurita of the enigmatically sweet and scary prismatic sides of a writer woman on the muse: View the plop of her BRAIN DROPPINGS < right here.
Topsail thanks to you my dear friend Laurita . . . Life has been more insightfully shared since first we came upon each other at the wading shores of the 6. The day we actually *clink* our coffee mugs and muse and laugh and laugh and muse ~ why, that day, I'll know more of my life more complete. Honoured we all are that your luscious lasting talents are aboard Harbinger*33, sailing to its publishing journey of manifesting destinies.
~ Laughter ever after, with FairWinds, Favourable Seas
~ Absolutely*Kate and readers to remember your voice all the more