The Wander Notebook

A personal journey of lifelong learning, sharing resources, creating things, and trying to be better.

Tag: Fiction

Dawn of Ursa Minor

Morning in Pine Forest | Source

The detritus of the forest had already begun to cool down in Nelson. Autumn had bled throughout the coast, leaving a film of frost on the leaves of fallen trees. Branches the shade of crude oil littered the trails; more clutter was left flailing aimlessly in the wind. The sky stung with darkness, still not having fully cleared.

This past summer had brought an excess of forest fires that not only slaughtered the trees, prey as well. It left many animals desperate in search of nutrition.

A family of black bears was nestled behind a group of still-standing trees in a cave surrounded by an ocean of large boulders. They were neatly hidden, protected, and warm, far from any humans that may come, seeking game. The cave dripped with frost and debris, but leaves and moss covered the ground bringing much-needed warmth and comfort. This family of black bears consisting of a mother and father bear, and two female cubs; grumbled quietly amongst themselves.

“Papa, I’m so hungry, could we please venture a little farther? Even a little, and be extra careful? Food is so scarce now since the Sun took everything away…”

Kadee was rolling about on the ground, pawing at her feet as she looked up at her father with a hopeful smile, fading quickly.

“We have already had this discussion, Kadee. We will find food soon. We can’t venture much farther out, the humans that camp and hunt are sure to see us. Whether they plan on hurting us or not, we frighten them, remember? When humans are frightened and hold guns by their sides, they don’t always think…”

Matari reached out gently scratching at fur behind Kadee’s ears, her smile returned as she leaned into the gesture. Suddenly, Kala piped in cocking her head to the side slightly looking up at her mother who sat hip to hip with her father.

“What do you think Mama? If we’re extra careful, just like Kadee said? We could look for berries!I wouldn’t mind a nice pawful of cool berries.”

Her mother looked down pulling Kala into her arms.

“I promise we’ll find you berries, my love. We have some extra meat behind the moss, do you want that?” Storme smiled hopefully trying to remind herself when the last time was that she had eaten a wild berry.

Kala shook her head in rejection, yawning.

“It’s late cubs, you need rest if you want to grow into big bears…” Matari’s serious expression quickly changed into a goofy smile, lightening the mood.

The cubs — who were tied together at the heartstrings — wiggled, giggling until they found their favourite spot, paws around each other and yawned in unison. Storme hummed deeply sending soothing sound bouncing against the walls of the cave putting the cubs to sleep nearly instantly.

Matari and Storme sat in silence, not making eye contact with one another, moonlight streamed into the cave illuminating the sleeping cubs. Matari glanced at them fondly, before looking up at his partner. He brought his deep voice down into a whisper motioning Storme towards him.

“We have to go find something. They’ve lost weight on their haunches. That meat is enough for one and it’ll be gone tomorrow. I know that it’s dangerous…but even if it means I don’t eat, they have to. To grow.”


Matari glanced down at his large paws examining the scratches on his pads from searching earlier that day all around the forest close to their home. Storme was trying to think of something clever to protest with before she was interrupted by the low grumble of Kadee’s stomach. Storme swallowed harshly and nodded. Storme and Matari quietly made their way out of the cave trying their hardest to avoid making the slightest sound. Their noses were cold. They made their way past the rocks and through the rubble towards the campgrounds. Those areas had been repaired, or had been saved, and were sure to hold some kind of gem to bring home to their daughters.

Kala, the more active and alert of the cubs awoke as her parents turned a corner behind some trees.

She shook her sister awake. “Kadee! I heard Mama and Papa! They’re going to find food! Aren’t you hungry? Let’s go! We have to be quiet though…or they’ll send us home…” Kala had a mischievous grin on her face, not only because an adventure awaited her, but her olfactory senses tingled with the thought of berries.

Kadee shook her head quickly wiggling her ears trying to wake herself up. She developed the same smile, making it up on all fours as they left the cave to silently follow their parents. Once they had wandered quietly as a secret group of four instead of two, Matari and Storme came close to the campgrounds, peering cautiously at the bushes in search of plants and small animals. They rustled as quietly as they could through the leaves and branches. Kadee and Kala stood still behind trees that stood side by side, watching their parents.

A sound came from the distance. Kala’s stomach dropped and her heart began to race. She glanced over at her sister who had the same fear on her face. Matari looked out, he too hearing the noise. Kala’s adrenaline began to rush through her; she wound up her feet trying to release the energy building in her. She spotted a light, young human man stumbling about loading ammunition into his rifle. He was shouting, his words were slurred and gruff. Easy to see due to his accoutrements were bright in order for other hunters to see him. Suddenly it clicked inside of Kala, he’s a hunter, he’s here to kill. In a moment of panic, as he continued to shout and make his way closer, Kala bounded towards him.

“Kala!” Storme yelled firmly, realizing what was happening, wanting to run after her cub. “No! Why are you here!?”

Kadee who had still been behind the trees made her appearance afraid for her sister now. Kala lunged at the hunter. In just seconds Kadee veered in front of Kala…smoke rose from the gun. Storme fell to the ground, growling, everything overwhelming her. Matari roared at the top of his lungs, running towards the hunter who ran in the opposite direction hopping into his pickup truck to get away. Matari felt the anger settling heavy behind his eyes. He scooped up Kala who cried shaking in shock. He then leaned down, stroking Kadee’s back feeling the blood on his paw. She peacefully lay, her spirit already having flown, no more fear on her face, pain-free. He scooped her up in his other arm, the last time he would hold both cubs.

Before returning, Storme walked further up to the Hunter’s site. As they mourned through their voices and made their way back to their cave, they returned with a multitude of human food, easily enough throughout the rest of the year.


The debris of the forest had already begun to be covered by the juvenile greens of the forest. The trails cracked with rainbows of flowers, spurting.

Two springs have passed since her sister was shot and killed, but Kala continued to persevere independently. She still lived near where her parents raised her, sometimes burrowing in the same cave where she played with her sister.

The cool air of the prepubescent summer brought the black bear back into reality from her nostalgia, a murmur of a voice causing her ears to twitch.

“H-help… please. Somebody…”

She heard a human’s crooning plea a few yards west. Unbenounced to her, the humans had been expanding their territory onto what was previously only for the animals. Cautious, she began walking towards the sound. Something brought her toward the human. Was it the scent? She felt reckless but couldn’t stop herself.

Kala stopped in her tracks when she saw the human, it was the hunter. The hunter that killed her sister. He laid there, with a bloody ankle and a drunken mind, and a soiled look of childhood fear. Beginning to scream as he saw the bear walk closer.

A violent roar escaped and echoed throughout the coast. Breathing heavily, Kala looked at the man with a rampage in her eyes. She turned around. As the young man flailed, trying his best to escape, blurred and dizzy.

Kala walked back to her cave, not particularly hungry today; knowing how she could not kill the man.

Knowing that she would never allow herself to lower to their level.

Eden

The Rainbow | Source

“Every artist dips her brush in her own soul, and paints her own nature into her pictures.”
 — Henry Ward Beecher

The sunrise had just stretched out to the tip of the horizon, the pink of the sky complementing the red of the apples that were across Lilith’s cottage. She was looking out and pondering. Meanwhile, inside, a fainting ringing was heard, disrupting her visions of insomnia. She picked up the phone, only to be informed her granddaughter’s body had just been found.

Before the following catastrophic swerves of emotions and feelings were to occur on Lilith’s fragile spirit, she was viewing the great harmony of nature’s silence with the stars and heavens above.

The beauty that had been lashed from the solace of darkness night after night. It was the third day since they had filed a missing report for Christina. Unable to sleep, her porch seemed to embrace her more than ever, where she inclined to worry her poor heart for countless hours on end. Feeble and purple’d skin hung beneath her wet eyes, bloodshot and streaked.

She looked up, feeling betrayed.

“Mama..”

She glanced at the phone, losing herself in another meaningless train of thought.

“Mama, they found the body..”

She heard the other line of the phone whisper out to her. It made her angry, making her blood boil deep inside her. Hearing her daughter’s voice only made her more frustrated and upset. She was barely able to contain herself by now.

“The funeral is on Sunday, Mama..”

She looked out now, to the burning field across her cottage. The fierce red. now had the backdrop of a magnificent dark sky. The morning was mocking her sadness. She scratched her cheek at the irritation of a tear running down her cheek. Not noticing the phone was now trembling violently in her splotched hand.

“Are you inviting her?”

The elderly woman heard faintly in the background, said by a masculine voice. She fostered a moment with the phone.

“Ma —


With a cry that echoed with an inhuman quality throughout her small kitchen, Lilith felt the phone slip from her grasp. The device smashed on the tile flooring. Lilith howled. She swore with abandon, causing a wild flourish of fury and chaos throughout her small cottage.

Her rampage may have lasted long into the afternoon, but for a glimpse of the garden through the veil of lacy curtains draped over one kitchen window. All at once overcome with a different sort of hysteria, Lilith’s tiny, splotched legs raced the rest of her skinny frame up two flights of stairs, where she collapsed on the splintered wooden floor of the attic, gasping musty, stale air through her lungs. Her throat pulsed as a result of her tantrum. She wheezed on dust and cigarette smoke.

Around her body, the fruits of forty years of labor sprawled across the grimy attic in a haphazard array of colors and hues such that were to never be displayed in any art museum. The canvasses, the evidence of her life’s work, had been arranged with care on whichever surfaces might hold them; the floor, the window seat, an ornate desk that stood on three legs in the corner.

She refused to hang them on the walls, believing that they would only collect dust and that she would be afraid to touch them if they were suspended on silver pegs in neat little, finished packages. More often than not, she would dabble with a painting long after she had deemed it complete, flicking a dash of color where it was necessary or re-doing a nose or an eye that hadn’t emerged from her brush strokes in quite the style she had envisioned.

A lover from many years ago, whom Lilith now recalled with a detached sorrow, was the only other person to ever have entered this domain. It proved her first and only experience with such complex companionship, and she grew comfortable enough with their honeymoon routine that one day she dared to lead him up the stairs by the hand and display for him the recesses of her murky attic studio.

She remembered that he did not speak for a long while, but stared, dumbfounded, at the slashes of red over gray, open-mouthed faces that had endless voids. Swirls of silvers on blues that mirrored a midnight sky, as if from a dream, Lilith herself did not know the origin of such images, only that her hand had been the tool by which they were brought to life.

“Very…haunting.” her lover had managed to stutter ambiguously.

When he left that afternoon, it was for good.


Her granddaughter, Christina, the eight-year-old angel. Whose uncut locks trickled in gold curls down impish shoulders, had been forbidden entry to the attic gloom. A determined Lilith had undermined every attempt executed by her child to penetrate the world beyond the attic stairs, toward the stars. She was horrified by the thought that the infection festering there would taint the ingenuous eyes of the little girl, like mud might a clear river on a blue day. Even before that, her daughter had faced the same restrictions, until the allure of the attic to those nearest Lilith’s heart manifested into a desire to understand what lay on the other side of the door at the top of the stairs.

“The funeral is on Sunday, Mama..”

“The funeral is on Sunday.”

Sobbing inexorably, by some miracle Lilith located her supplies through a blur of tears. She took up the familiar staff, stroking the tip of coarse hair as if to test it for its breaking point. The abrasive surface rolled over itself beneath the crook of her thumb and index finger. She licked it experimentally. The worn bristles tasted of old paint. Many years ago, Lilith had made a great occasion of replacing her used brushes. Recently, she’d abandoned those newer tools in favor of old brushes her hand recognized without seeing.

Some dated as far back as when she still believed in immortality.

Agony was the inadequate word that described the ache in Lilith’s chest as she held the paintbrush tightly. The pain had nothing to do with the asthma that plagued her on damp nights or the throbbing of her joints in the morning. There was no scientific reason behind it, no pill a doctor could prescribe akin to the acclaimed cures that temporarily relieved the symptoms of old age. There was only this moment, with this stick to orchestrate the revelation of a pact as old as humankind. Arms, marked by cherry blemishes that served as a reminder of the years in her life, guided the brush with certainty and strength, even though it hurt and the color of her tears manifested themselves on the canvas in streaks of gray.

But this display of quiet sorrow, concealed behind pallid tears, would not suffice the rage heaving in her chest and so imaginary flames crackled and spit smoldering embers upon the unadorned earth, plowing through a field of apples with such vivacity that they could not be quenched by the river of tears. A figure emerged beneath her eyelids, a pale form that danced in a swirl of gold and summer rain, its face turned up to the sky and dispelling the onslaught of ash that cascaded down from the murky heavens. Breathing strongly through her nose, the scent of paint and apples mingling to create a sharp musk that spurred her onward, Lilith forgot to pause, forgot to look at what she was doing. Her hand knew, her body understood, and so her filmy eyes had no use for failing vision.

The pace of her motions increased. Her entire body pushed into the brush, conducting it in sweeps of unstoppable force. She could feel the pulse of her heartbeat rising through her veins and pounding in her blood until she was deaf, as well as blind. The power of her body was never repressed by these frailties, never paused once. She didn’t need sight to see the colors flashing through her mind in the sweet bursts of fire and waterfalls. She didn’t need to hear for her dead granddaughter’s voice to wash the attic in a sprinkle of bells and light.

All the while, the culmination of sixty-nine years of color upon canvas became understanding, and with it the pain in her heart intensified (that petty organ), the chain that rattled with the bindings of the Earth. It was beating faster and faster until she could not keep up with it any longer. She could not see her hand. However, in her mind’s eye, she saw what had happened, and she knew it was her own fault, by her own hand. She saw a girl and a garden of burning apples. Bits of white light sparked came as she bit into them. Before her eyes, the film over her irises parted. Everything became so clear to her just before she fell.

Just before she flew.

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