It was dark, cold, and whatever force that was pressing on her body was heavy. Every breath that she took was painful. Breathing was nearly impossible because the force on her chest was much too strong, and so each gasp for air made her right side inflate and shifted her entire body in that direction. The force was indeed slanted to the left. But what was it? Her aunt would not have placed a board on top of her. It was even too heavy to be a board. Had the ceiling collapsed? Was that why it was so cold? But the ceiling could not just collapse. The neighbours above them would have fallen on top of them and there would be chaos, not this rather profound silence. She could not hear any noise at all.
Katie tried to move, but the force was not letting her do more than breathe and wiggle slightly. Wiggling only sent barbs of pain along her nerves, but she was at least reassured that her toes and fingers, as well as every bit in between, were working somewhat. Slowly, she shifted to the right of her bed, letting the pressure of the force ease slightly off her lungs. Worms wiggled everywhere they went, Katie mused to herself, and they eventually got to where they were going. But the pain of it! How bruised was she? Had her organs been crushed, or burst? And why was it that she could barely hear herself as she rubbed against the sheets and ceiling – if it was the ceiling? She longed to be able to flip her body over, because she hated wiggling backwards. It seemed to be taking forever for her to reach the edge of the bed.
And when she finally did so, she realised that going any further would be a problem. What if there was something sharp on the floor? The force had dissipated and was no longer pressing against her, but she could feel its presence only millimeters away from her head. Her arms and legs were still trapped in their sleeping position and if she continued her wiggling, she would tumble off the bed onto her rear at best.
Suddenly, she could hear noises. Sirens were wailing outside and helicopters were flying past her window. There was a dull roar of screams and shouting, and above it all, her teeth began to chatter. Her head began to ache from all the noise hitting it at once, but especially from the clacking in her mouth. It was loud, uncontrollable, and only aggravated her pain. Was that her aunt’s voice calling her? Her aunt’s bed was along the outside wall, and perhaps the ceiling had not fallen down there? But if the ceiling had fallen, why was there no one from the building to do anything about it? Her friend Mary lived in the apartment above and one over from hers. Surely, even if the floor in her apartment had not collapsed, she would have awakened, or her mother would have, and investigated the slanted floor? And what about their neighbours just above them? Surely a collapsing floor would have roused them from their sleep. She had seen them on the stairs coming back from the cinema, and then they had said that they were heading to bed. It was not as though they were still out. Most of the apartment building’s residents should have been home at this hour. But Katie heard little coming from inside.
No longer content to remain wedged in her bed, she delicately manoeuvered her feet out into the void behind her. They scratched along the ceiling’s surface until she lowered them toward the floor. Everything was slanted, she soon realised, as her feet reached the floor sooner than she had expected. Her rug had slipped, leaving her feet to land upon a cold, hard surface littered with pebbles. At least, they felt like pebbles, whatever they truly were. Katie managed to get a solid footing and then push herself off the bed. Almost instantly, her body was overcome with cold. The window was shattered, she noted as she turned around to face the only light source in the room, and wind was blowing into the apartment. She needed a blanket, but there were no blankets to be found. Her sheets were stuck on the bed. Finding her slippers was also proving to be too difficult for her aching head. Miserably, she curled herself up into a shivering, aching, bloody lump on the floor.
Blood was indeed pouring out of her head, she decided. She could taste the salt, and when she instinctively wiped her face, more blood only surged to cover it again. Her eyes were dripping red tears onto her white pyjamas.
Not that her pyjamas were white anymore, she realised. There were dark patches where blood was pooling and her entire body felt wet and sticky – wet, sticky and a dark shade of red. The pain of it only grew in intensity; now she could feel the gashes and bruises. They seemed to be everywhere. What had happened? This had to be a nightmare. But if it was a nightmare, what was causing her to hurt so much? She never felt pain in her dreams that was not somehow real. What would cause her to feel as though the ceiling had collapsed if the ceiling had not indeed collapsed?
“Holy God have mercy,” she sputtered, but even her mouth was bleeding. She coughed and tasted more blood, thick and noticeably brighter when she instinctively spat it out.
She heard a whirring noise and then gradually a flurry of lights appeared in her window. White light momentarily blinded her and she tried to move away from it, but then the light stopped and hovered outside her window, still keeping its focus on her.
Please, she prayed, no longer able to form words except in her head. Please let this be a helicopter.
copyright 2007, 2011
Deep Blue Eyes
You look at me with your deep blue eyes,
So determined, so sure that you know
Exactly what my heart is telling me,
And what my mind is saying
Though I don’t want to tell you
And I want to believe myself
That I am fine and there is nothing wrong,
Or that I am all worn out and
Everything is the matter
And whatever you do or say or think
Will do nothing to change how awful I feel,
How much I want to please you, to love you,
To do for you exactly what you need – what I need,
And to give you what you need first,
But I know that I am not and that I am confused,
I am confused and do not know where to turn,
And when I do turn, I don’t see what I want to see,
I hear things, I know things, I learn things
That only make me feel worse,
Knowing that I am so terrible a person,
And you only seem to look at me,
You don’t offer anything but your deep blue eyes.
Another Dark Alley
There I go again — another dark alley,
Where I don’t know what is down there,
But I know it isn’t good.
There is no hope of finding anything,
Other than despair and worry,
So I don’t think that I should.
But I find so much joy and so much exhilaration
When I run down in the darkness and the night.
Every time, no matter how I stumble and who I stumble into,
I always find another road back in the light.
There I go again — my heart is dancing,
My blood is racing through me,
But I know it’s just too hot.
There is nothing but warm blood
To make me red and jumpy,
If I had my way, I’d rather not
Be running down the alley
Where nothing comes out right,
I want to be safe at rest.
But the darkness calls out to me,
And I just venture onward,
Though I know this is all in jest.
I know that in the end this is but a game,
I am only playing in the dark, wanting to get home,
But I am so joyful and my heart is so alive,
I can forget that I am running all alone.
The Eagle’s Scream
copyright 2011 by Katherine Gilks
The woman shuffled slowly down the street to her waiting car. She had passed the worst of it, the doctor had told her, but she still felt terrible. A dull pain wracked her body and she wanted nothing more than to go back to her apartment and curl up on the couch. The nurses did not recommend that she drive herself home, so she had lied and told them that a friend was meeting her at the café on the corner to give her a ride. She had pleaded with the nurses to let her leave alone, since their usual policy was to have their patients picked up from the clinic itself. Her friend did not know the nature of what she was having done and that she was at the clinic rather than the hospital, she had further lied to them. For their part, the nurses were sympathetic and only one of them seemed genuinely upset at her stumbling out the door on her own. Their attention and procedures annoyed her: she was a grown woman who had long been able to make her own decisions. As far as she was concerned, she had every right to leave on her own terms. Her car was parked out of their sight – she was certain that someone would have come after her had they realised that her friend was not going to pick her up – and she set her mind to getting to it without collapsing.
Wobbling around the corner past the café, she caught sight of a woman walking her dog across the street in the park. The dog was running and playing about, blissfully unaware of anything but freedom and a sunny day. She had assumed that she would be feeling as free as that dog now, but as she clutched the door-handle to her car, she instead felt trapped by her weakness and pain. The dog’s owner grabbed a ball out of the animal’s mouth and gave the fluffy bundle of fur a big hug, to which it reciprocated her affection by wagging its tail and licking the woman’s face. Shivering and hardly able to look away from the scene in the park, she opened her car door.
She slowly eased herself into the driver’s seat as the woman with the dog threw the ball again. As she shut the door to block out the noise of the street, she saw another woman round the corner opposite her. This woman was pushing a stroller and the dark circles around her eyes made her look exhausted, even though her jogging outfit and her hair were otherwise immaculate. From her car, she stared at this obvious display of maternal bliss as she gathered up the strength to start the engine. On one hand, she envied how well this new mother carried herself: she wore lovely clothes, was well-groomed, and owned the sidewalk with her stroller. Confidently walking toward the park, the woman managed to keep eye-contact with her baby and her surroundings almost simultaneously. To complete the picture, a lovely gold band and sparkling engagement ring adorned her finger as though to flaunt her status in front of this miserable lady sitting in her car across the street.
On the contrary, this lady in her car was quite relieved that she was not an exhausted bubble of fat and milk who spent most of her day talking with an infant. After a few days, she could be her normal self again. This ordeal would be finished and she would continue as before, albeit more carefully. She started the car and tentatively drove away from her nightmare, tears streaming unconsciously from her eyes. She had not wanted to cry – she had resolved not to feel sad. This was a liberating day for her.
She did not see that the woman with the stroller had stopped just inside the park and was pulling her baby out to be bounced. The little one – otherwise an adorable six-month-old who had caught the attention of the woman with her dog – was squalling uncontrollably, as though she had just discovered that the most terrible thing in her life had taken place.
Family of Canadian Provinces
If all of the various provinces were people instead…
So first of all, there are two sisters: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Newfoundland eventually marries Labrador, but they try to steer clear of their annoying neighbour, Quebec. Quebec is charming enough to marry Nova Scotia, and then have two children: New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Then Quebec decides that Ontario is younger, sexier, and wealthier (hey — she does have huge tracts of land) and divorces Nova Scotia to marry her instead. Needless to say, the rest of the family is not amused by this. The couple have one daughter, Manitoba.
Manitoba grows up and marries Alberta (who’s a boy, despite the name). Alberta has a twin sister, Saskatchewan, who is good friends with Manitoba. She’s married to the Roughriders, and most of the family think she’s a little weird, in a cute and lovable sort of way. Alberta and Saskatchewan’s older brother, British Columbia, is married to Vancouver Island, a niece of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Ontario and Quebec gave everybody jobs working at the family business, but meddle in the family like most middle-aged power couples.
Rounding out the family (they all have jobs at the family business, no matter how related they actually are) are the Yukon (another brother of British Columbia and the twins), his wife the Northwest Territories, and her sister Nunavut, who married to Labrador’s brother.
Upon A Stone (copyright 2003/2011)
I have knelt here for centuries,/My face as worn as the writing upon which I rest,/No longer readable at a glance,/But my eyes…
I have watched others laid about me/And fences raised to keep us apart/From the world of life that surrounds our realm;
I have seen houses appear and disappear,/The people who dwell in them change/As though the wind had carried them off,/Away from this sacred, silent place.
My misty gaze falls upon one such house,/White wooden boards form its walls,/Adorned with burgundy-red trim;
Outside its door, with its paint peeling and all,/A woman stands alone.
I remember the first time my eyes saw her,/All those years past,/She was on the arm of a handsome young gentleman,/And she met my eyes nervously,/Awaiting a future mother-in-law’s approval…
Then she was bedecked in a long white veil,/Laughing in the young man’s arms,/Never taking her eyes off his face that glowed with pride…
Then that sunny morning some months later,/Still all the same to me,/When she stood at the bright burgundy-red window/In a cotton gown, her hair hanging loosely past the sill,/Her eyes radiant, smiling weakly,/Arms clutching a newborn child,/A child not unlike the one I guard, but alive…
As more years passed, I saw her now a matriarch proud,/A flock of children always anxious to greet her/Every afternoon, coming home from school;/She would embrace each one tenderly, keeping them close to her heart,/As though she could protect them always…
But then came the day one of her fledglings fell from her nest,/Too soon to fly on its own,/Her husband went home,/Her children went home, and yet,/She stood in black, ignoring her tear-stained eyes,/Clutching a worn, well-used white handkerchief,/Alone.
Years went by still, and the woman’s long hair grew greyer,/Her face worn and tired, but still she smiled;/She stood at the door, beaming/As her chidlren would return,/They carried tiny bundles that cried,/And little toddlers that giggled, eager to see their granny,/And she embraced every one of them as she had their mothers and fathers,/Her eyes joyously meeting mine…
Then the morning her once proud, strong husband/Never rose from the bed they had shared,/His eyes still closed peacefully in his sleep,/They carried him outside to be mourned,/Uncovered, dressed in his best clothes;/The woman followed blindly,/A sea of black washed past my still face,/Waves of grief lapped at my unmoving eyes,/As they brought him into my domain of silence/To rest in the soon frozen earth…
So that old woman now stands alone in her doorway,/Her eyes misted and unseeing,/She breathes in the fresh air and the quiet that surrounds her,/Knowing my presence across the road will never disappear.
The wind whispers past my wings that will not fly,/Giving me a soft, ethereal voice,/Sunlight peeks through the clouds above me,/Enshrining me in a faint, heavenly glow,/Painting life into my cold, dead eyes,/Bringing a soul to the sentinel in the cemetery,/The angel upon a stone.
I wrote this right before heading off to my first year of undergrad. It is based off of a real tombstone and a real house, but all of the details are otherwise fictional. — Katia