A Bloody Quagmire
Bloody Quagmire On this sixth day of November 1917, John Morton was cold. His body was chilled, and, more importantly, his soul was freezing to the core. Artillery guns were firing everywhere and the roar was deafening. His unit, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was about to be sent into yet another attack against the German positions to the north, and he feared he would soon be naught but a shattered corpse. For twelve days, the battle of Passchendaele had been raging. For twelve days, he had had to endure the sight of his comrades in arms being blasted to a pulp by artillery or drown in the fetid mud which all but inundated the battlefield. Even though he had seen battle before, earning a decoration for valour at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April, he had never witnessed fighting of such intensity and such ferocity. Every day could have been his last, but he had endured. Now, his courage and luck were again put to the test.
How not to go mad
Any Year brings with it a unique set of challenges to every individual. For the past couple years, this has been doubly true as the entire world struggles to deal with the pandemic. And yet, despite the fact that a good portion of us are currently stuck at home, or otherwise unable to go out and about as much as we'd like, many of us find ourselves more burned out than ever before, emotionally and mentally. Me being no exception, as adapting to this new Covid school-work-life balance has been difficult. With that in mind, i thought it would be appropriate to share a little list of resolutions designed to give your mind and body a rest.
A friend in sorrow
The dog wasn’t mine in the sense that it was my name on the papers, or that I paid for the adoption fees. But I don’t recall a moment of my early childhood when this dog was not in my memories, and beloved by our entire family. He was a big, fluffy, friendly, and indescribably loyal Golden Retriever- which is maybe considered a ‘cliché dog’ because, of course, everyone loves them and thinks they’re the perfect good boys, but this one was special even by all those standards. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog as loving, as attentive, but also as playful, fun, and curious as any other of his furry compatriots.
Hoots in the Night
Northern Ontario, Canada. January 1996. “Aw god damnit, the radio’s busted again!” shouted Big Rob, profusely swearing and trying to apply a technique often described as ‘Percussive maintenance’ on the instrument in question. The rest of his fellows, gathered in the Lumber camp’s main hall as was their usual morning routine, merely looked at him with glances that indicated they were more than habituated to the big, dark-haired man’s outbursts.
How could they have known?
They didn't know what was going to happen to them, but how could anyone know? They were taken from their homes, told that they weren't people, that they had to leave, to relocate into the unknown. No one was supposed to know and yet everyone ended up knowing.
Gate to a Golden Sky
Tom couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a dream. It seemed like it had been years since he’d had pleasant- or even pointless- images visit his mind in his sleep. Years since dreaming about kissing his girl, or about going on vacation, or even about something as ridiculous as going to speak in front of a crowd whilst only wearing underwear.
Finding worlds within oneself
“I never really knew what I wanted to do, or what my goals in life were”- a Common enough saying, I’m sure. People don’t really ‘find’ themselves or have epiphanies as often as the media would have you believe. In fact, I am confident that most of us have fundamentally only a small idea of what we’re doing, of where we’re going, and of how to get there. It’s the human condition. But, on the other side of the scales, it is also undeniably true that we have some kind of innate sense of what we’re good for, what is, in common vernacular, ‘our thing’, and what isn’t. We know what feels wrong and feels right or, at least, we eventually get to that point. From then on, though, it can often be a clash between our real self and what the world wants us to be, or between what we truly are and love and what we only think we are and love. Everyone has moments where this clash comes to the forefront, although of course its seldom as dramatic as the ‘battles in the centre of the mind’ that Hollywood and writers love so much to depict. But everyone gets those moments, and hopefully who they really are wins out.
A savior on Wings
Javier trod through the muddy jungle path, one hand on his holster and the other one firmly grasping his captive by the shoulder as they walked through mud, over rotting trees older than some of the countries on the continent, and through clouds of mosquitos thicker than the fog that would occasionally settle over Rio, making it impossible to see 2 feet in front of one’s self and hiding the Cristo Redentor statue in the mist. I’d much rather actual clouds than these biting bastards, Javier thought to himself as he temporarily let go of the man’s shoulder to swat at yet another buzzing formation. He tried to keep his mind off of his task, for, while it wasn’t anywhere near the first time Javier had had to take someone down the jungle path, it still left a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach anyhow. I shouldn’t be so soft. This shit has to be done. He stole from us, and now he’s gonna learn what the price for that is. It’s not my fault he was stupid enough to get himself caught. Still, despite trying to harden himself with these thoughts, when Javier felt the intermittent shudders of the blindfolded and bound man in front of him, it was hard not to want to be sick.
The Keening Pond
Northern Ireland, 2021 Connor didn’t like going to the Pond. The Pond felt wrong. The Pond felt like it was something…other than a regular, water-filled hole. Its water was never clear, and never blue. If anything, it was grey. And not a pleasant, silvery or chrome grey. It wasn’t even a calm grey. It was a dead grey. As if it was permanently still in the middle of a storm, when the waters would get clouded. Everything about the pond just felt plain wrong. Connor knew he wasn’t the only one in his village to feel that way. Whenever something bad happened, or when someone met with the slightest bit of misfortune, the elders would turn their heads from their pints of Guinness, turn their heads, cough, and mutter something about the Foggy Pond, just loud enough for everyone to hear.
From Little bean to Hot Dog
Being the cute little critter that he is, it's no surprise that Otis needed an ever cuter costume. Having come into his new home not quite two months ago, he was nothing but a frail little thing in dire need of love and affection, and that's something that his new Mommy was willing to give him, and keep giving until he couldn't take it anymore. At first, he revealed a pretty mischievous streak at least a mile wide, taking 'no' as a hearty suggestion and happily jumping, scratching, clawing, and otherwise destroying anything dangly, anything that looked like a cable, or simply anything he fancied. But i suppose that is what all children do, whether they be 4-pawed ones or not. It only took a couple weeks to get him back into the fold of a (mostly!) obedient kitty that stayed out of trouble (Even when his big brother Milo sought to show him who was boss, as we have all done with our younger siblings from time to time). He was always happy, and very inquisitive-he didn't seem scared of his own shadow like many other kittens his age would have been. He confidently explored every corner of his new home-as previously mentioned, whether he was allowed to or not. Having been one of the smallest of a relatively large littler, it was expected he'd be a timid little guy, but he instead displayed a fierceness that soon made people joke that he was still in the 'tiger' stage of feline development.