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SHORT STORY: Backyard Wolverine

August 2, 2013

With the new Wolverine movie coming out (I love Wolverine as a Marvel character but let’s be honest folks, this movie looks terrible!) I’m posting a story I wrote a while back that features (at least the threat of) a real wolverine.

Enjoy, criticisms welcome!

Backyard Wolverine

Two golden dragonflies parallel fresh lines of plowed soil, their wings shimmer across the dark earth. Early in the morning, when the memory of yesterday’s work lingers in the mind, is when I wake up. The air is moist with dew and the sun pokes its head out of the clouds.

After my tea and toast, I step outside and sit on a slanted rock that is perched on a mound of dirt. My body slides right into the deep groove of the stone. A cool breeze brushes across my face. I feel another presence nearby.

 o

‘It’s easiest to meditate when birds fly on fresh wings’ my father would say. He would wake up earlier than this, when the sun was nowhere to be found in the sky.

 o

Beyond me and my thoughts, a patch of grass sits isolated in the waters, past the crops by the marsh along the train tracks. The island has a slanted willow tree lodged in its centre, leaving little room for inhabitants, an island indeed. That was my father’s favourite place to be alone. As a child (and still today) I wondered how he got to his sanctuary without a boat or how the grassy patch supported his weight. A mere collection of moss that drifted into a swamp that carried a dead tree with it, that’s all it was. Perhaps it’s larger than it looks here from my slanted rock.

When I feel that I have spent enough time with nature, when I feel as though I am filled with enough patience to get me through the day, I hop off the rock and begin cutting the lawn. In my backyard, past a rotting tree-house and rusting swing-set is a wall of birch trees. I caught Jesse weaving through the trees in a pirate’s hat once but I scolded him of wolverines nearby. Soon after, he sat on my lap as we flipped though the encyclopedia for a picture of a wolverine.

        o

“Those live in the backyard?” his small voice was alert with anticipation.

“I don’t know.”

“But you know everything.” I laughed at this comment.

“There’s a chance there might be some deep within the bush, but I don’t want to take a chance.”

“They eat children?”

“They eat everything.”

 o

Jackson lives alone and yet his land is the worst kept in our region. Pussy willows and burnt grass covers the water like a coat of tangled hair. The boarders between marsh and marshland are nuanced. From what I’ve seen, he spends a lot of time smoking, drinking and training his dogs. His one mutt, Rust, was an excellent hunting dog, Jackson spoke of it like a son. Won contests and everything. But it went missing one evening and Jackson barked down the whole town desperate to find him. When he did, the dog was mangled, barely recognizable.

He distilled the phobia of wolverines in the forest from that point on. Many people put up fences and few even moved away. My father never liked fences so out of respect I never put one up. I trust my boy won’t play in the forest. Jackson, as enthusiastic as he is about his story, never saw a wolverine so I’m not quick to believe there is danger. And still, as I stop to trim the edge of the lawn with my hedge clippers, bend down low around the tree roots, the idea of my head being cleared off by some creature flashes through my mind for just a moment.

        o  

I glance up at my bedroom window to see if Laurelle is awake. At times I’d catch her watching me mow the lawn wrapped in a pink night gown rubbing sleep from her eyes. But she isn’t there, only shimmers from the sun look back at me.

 o

It’s best she sleeps. Laurelle has had a series of sleepless nights. Most often than not she spends silent hours with her forehead pressed against the cool glass window, looking for something. It’s been four weeks past her maternity leave and I find her on the couch picking apart styrofoam. Rarely she exchanges words with me and Jesse and when she does, its soft, muffled as if there’s an invisible veil over her mouth. Lately she’s been better though, she’s eating more and reading the newspaper. Still no motivation to return to work .

I sweep away images of my wife hiding behind newsprint and drudge the lawn mower along the side of the house. But that tulip shaped face haunts me: dark sun-kissed skin, a complexion of burnt honey and her charming dark mole across her cheek. Perhaps I’ll drive the three of us to town this evening and have a nice dinner. Joke about backyard wolverines. Or maybe Laurelle will refuse dinner all together and cry herself to sleep again.

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