TUESDAY: Stealing a Day from Tomorrow


Copyright is held by the author.

BEFORE THE sun rose, frost covered everything. From my window I could see the tracks of a fox. While I watched, the footprints disappeared in the order they were made and now they’ve betrayed the coward under the shed.

I’ll take it as a sign and take that sign to mean that I should take today. The teachers tell me that every day I take from school I’m stealing from my future. That’s me, I’m stealing a day from tomorrow, no reason but just to slip away. There’s plenty of tomorrows but only ever one today.

As the sun cracked up through the rim of land I could hear a sad cow call for the calf she had dropped the day before. It was her first calf and she’d left the caul over the muzzle. There are five magpies on the wire waiting for her to let them pick the carcass apart. They think she will soon have cried enough.

The herd is answering the cow’s calls but for now she doesn’t go. There is a bus waiting for me at the end of the lane but count one, two, three and it’s gone.

In the woods the jays screech around an owl, which sat in an oak and shat great white gobs to splat the dogwood twigs and burdock stalks. The sun was overhead when he blinked his eyes and beat his way to the hollow cottonwood. Sometimes there are balls of fur and bone that owls cough up. There are none today, but there is a weasel’s head left over from someone’s dinner.

The wild cucumber vines hang dried and dead like ragged lace, the pods have spit their seeds. The forget-me-not burs snag the laces of my boots. They will sprout where I strip them off and throw them away. There’s a place in that broken tree I know a woodchuck sleeps and on the tree’s last standing trunk a woodpecker drums because it should be spring and for far too long it’s horny urges have been unanswered.

The chickadees perch on the last ribs of the deer that the deep snow claimed. They feast on the tiny scraps left for them and they practice their mating songs. The cow has decided to join the herd and the magpies are allowed to squabble over the calf. It is getting cold and the cold brings quiet. The birds fly back to their roosts. The night scavengers will soon have the calf dragged away.

When the sun falls back into the trees above the coulee the bus comes by again but does not stop. It’s passing means that school is done. The stolen day is done and I’m back to my own honest time. I go home with my lie intact. I’m asked about my day and I give bland answers. Then I get to ask what’s for supper.

From my window I can see the last of the sunset catch in the eyes of the fox coming out from under the shed. He’ll be at the calf for a belly full before the coyotes chase him away.

  1. I read this twice, marvelling at the author’s keen eye for detail and at the late winter atmosphere of a (Manitoba?) farm. On the downside, however, I thought the author learned to far towards the use of the passive voice. And, like Vladimir and Estragon, I reached the end still waiting, not for the arrival of Godot, but a story. Or else I am enjoying a particularly obtuse day. Entirely possible.

  2. The writer calls to us without ever asking, “do you remember?” The hooky-player is capable of both skipping lunch and keeping occupied, two critical skills in that non-occupation, if I recall correctly.

    We are given hope by the teacher who did not rat the kid out and also informed by the deer-eating chickadees! (winky face) One says, “There is hope!” the other, “Watch your ass.”

    Great read.

  3. Escaping the the cinderblock walls of education, and still there is sorrow. Crisply painted, the landscape of adolescence. Well done.

  4. Excellent descriptions.

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