Step One: Get some sleep. Get lots of sleep.
One of the most annoying things about being a rabbit was that sleep was a built-in function. Rabbits don’t hibernate, but they do spend a lot of time resting and processing energy. The dumbest thing about being a vegetarian was that vegetarians spend a lot of energy generating energy. These were the kind of inefficiencies that drove Edward crazy.
Step Two: Stay out of the heat and away from the crowds. It had been bad enough the past few weeks, dealing with everyone without deliberately going out of his way to seek social interaction. Let the people do as they may. Edward was sitting this one out.
Step Three: A little research was in order. There were a few things about the last couple of weeks that didn’t quite ring true and since the next few weeks’ outcomes were going to be completely predicated on what had just finished happening, a little peek into what was going on under the surface just might make things easier to foresee.
Edward glanced up at the faded old promotional clock on the sign above the door of the corner store. It was too late to start anything today. And worse, it was the Friday of a long weekend and it was highly unlikely that he’d get through half of what he needed to do with everyone out traipsing around the woods like a herd of drunken elk.
No, it would better to hunker down and wait; take the weekend off, so to speak, and start fresh after the kerfuffle was done. But that didn’t mean he would be wasting time.
Edward had a plan.
A dark and moonless night, far from the highways and towns with their hustle and bustle, spreading their noise and light pollution regardless of time of day, month or season. The stars glittered across the sky like a smear of opal dust. They lay on the velvet background of the night sky: a cloudy brush stroke that cast no light of its own, existing only as a background to the fears and worries of a day now gone.
No shadows, no shapes, just a smothering, omnipresent darkness casting its claim of silence and engulfing the present, seemingly blocking out time and hope and all thoughts of the future.
But the past, ah, the past, it leaked through, didn’t it? Under the folded edges of the darkness, through the weave of the night’s fabric, from the very air itself, the past and its pain, regrets and unbearable finality crept into this close and empty void. And there seemed to be no escape, no way to turn aside the tide. For it came not in waves but as a mist. It was not there to grasp or confront but still moved through, over and around everything that made up the moment she now confronted.
The moment she did not want nor had ever cared to see. That moment had arrived with the darkness, and she was powerless to push it back. This was not a Pandora’s box to wail and scream over with regret and cries of denial. There was no lid to slam shut, no box to hurl and smash against a royal wall. There was no symbol of failure or self-inflicted misery to rail against. There was just Meredith, alone with Meredith. And with nothing and no one by her side. And with no excuses left.
At night there is a certain kind of silence, as if the lack of light diminishes all the other senses. As nightfall comes, the feeling of being alone grows out of proportion to all else. The evening scents, the touch of the bedclothes, the dying sounds of the day all fade to nothingness as our eyes lose the last rays, the last photons of the day’s sun.
But it is the quiet, the quiet, that drives one mad. No matter what sounds still weave through the night, that legendary cloak of night muffles and strangles their last gasps, leaving us alone in a mindless, soundless void.
Meredith elbowed her eBay through the screen door and placed the remnants of her dinner on the counter. She had been sitting on the veranda for hours but it hadn’t really had any effect on her mood.
But then she really hadn’t expected it too. Odd. She really hadn’t felt this way since that incident with Barney but of course, it was just a continuation of that sordid event wasn’t it.
The antique dining room table was just as she’d left it. The dark wood inlayed with elegant traceries and polished to mirror finish contrasted with the dilapidated cardboard box and and it’s even more disreputable contents. It had been 2 days since shed deposited it there and 12 hours since she had mustered up the courage to open it and flip through it’s contents. The unwanted feelings that were engendered by the simple fact of its existence still ebbed and flowed through her psyche like the turbulence at the base of a giant cracked dam and she feared the dam could not hold much longer.
She knew it was time to give in, open the floodgates, and hope and pray that after the pain and destruction, the waters would once again run clear and clean. And that would be worth it. Years of aching and doubt washed away in one cleansing wave, with the flood waters bring renewal and new life. She knew it was time and yet the godfather of all emotions held her back from hope or succor.
Meredith was still afraid. After all these years and all that unending struggle to stay sane, to retain her pride, and to prove to herself she had not been broken, Meredith was afraid.
And yet the box remained on her elegant dining room table, destroying any hope that she could recede once more into the depths. The box, and it’s contents demanded she face that fear because there was no longer any escape, no longer anyplace to hide.
The beaver had seen to that.
The sun set slowly over the hillside, casting its dying light against the clouds and bringing their chameleon-like shapes into relief, changing over and over the colours and tones of the evening sky.
The rains had gone and there was now a little warmth in the air, soon all that would remain of the dying summer sun. From the coulee the evening song of the frogs and crickets slowly replaced the happy chattering of sparrows and chickadees. It was unusually humid, and moisture hung in the air, making it as close to muggy as it ever got on the desert-like prairie.
High in the sky an angled line of geese slowly descended over the horizon returning to the lake after a day of feeding. It was early for them to be making their way back south, but the goslings were all grown up and perhaps it was a sign that these summer days were also slowly setting. A last forlorn chorus of honking and the geese were gone, leaving nothing and no one to share the moment.
And ever more quickly the waves of light faded, rippling out against the clouds, winking in and out, in and out and then fading to nothingness; one by one, slowly leaving nothing but darkness in their wake.
And at last the light was gone. The clouds spread across the sky to brush out the light of the stars. And the prairie was quiet, dark and a most suitable canvas for the feelings of loneliness and quiet fear that were all that remained of a long and unmourned day.
The cat looked at him with that look. You know the one. The cat look.
The beaver glared back with that look. You know, the beaver look … OK, no one knows the beaver look. But trust me, it’s a look. A look even the cat trembled before.
And so the beaver passed on, knowing he had won the contest.
And the cat, well, the cat squinked her eyes closed and settled back to dreaming of giant tasty rats.
Gareth swallowed the last of gulp of cold beer and set his glass down on the table.
“It was really, really odd. I signed a bunch of papers. I have no idea what they were, but I have them here somewhere.”
He dug out a crumpled, rolled-up tube of legal-size sheets covered with tiny type, and tried to flatten them out on the table.”I thought about trying to read them over, but after skimming the first page I figured it was a fool’s bet anyway. And the old guy was looking a bit impatient. Oddly enough my dad seemed to be OK with the whole thing by that point. I guess he’d resigned himself or something. So I skipped to the part marked with those little stickies and initialed like a mad fool. On the last page I signed by the x. But it had already been signed, a long time ago…”
Once a day, so the story goes,
The sun will rise to a brand-new pose
The masses cheer and celebrate
Sit back, relax and learn the fate
Of heroes bold and maidens fair
And of that itch in their underwear
But the pace is hard, the timing brutal
With results akin to soggy wet noodle
But never fear, do not despair
With each new day there’s more to share
And if we wait oh so patiently
We’ll see something good, eventually.
“So you know that scene at Gringotts or whatever in Harry Potter? Well, this lawyer’s office was weird and creepy like that. I felt like I was entering some sort of secret Masonic lodge or something. Everything just felt … well … off. Like they weren’t used to outsiders.”
“Freaky. So after your father, sorry, step-father …”
“Father. Father’s fine. He’s always been my old man, always will be. This other guy’s just a name and a picture to me.”
“Sure. Father. So after he showed, what then?”
“Well, they showed us into this big office, all wood and leather and old stuff, like something out of a movie. There’s this old guy behind a big desk. Black suit, grey hair, beady little eyes. Anyway, he gets us to sit down and asks my old man what he can do for him. Totally ignores me like I’m not even there. Pissed me off.”
“OK. Now it sounds really freaky.”
“Ya, so I said, ’I’m here to pick up my father’s things.’ The old guy just looked at me all squinty and distasteful-like and repeated his question to my dad. Then my old man dived into it and repeated what I’d said: ’He’s here to pick up the papers his father left with you. I’m just here to provide a introduction.’ Then the old guy sort of raised his eyebrows in surprise or something and started to stare at me like he just recognized me or something. Let me tell you, that really was the weirdest part. Well, except for the package itself ….”