To collect our lost things, Forest drove us along the railway—the rain slowed, the lake calmed—and while Forest drove, he flirted, and teased us for not being stupid girls, and still that’s what I remember most, not the portages that hadn’t been cleared of free-fall or the interior-quiet, but how things always seemed more serious in the rain, and how Forest admired the stupid girls he’d rather we were.
But all this cottage country was locked up tight. Before our unplanned hike, before the rain, we laid in our tent and I told stories about the bear who killed boys years back on this very lake, about how when I sleep in Algonquin Park, I always think of windigo, white-washed and safe on TV.
“They’re gone for the season,” my friend said.
I nodded towards a window. “Should we… ?”
“If we get inside, we’ll leave a note.”
Crushing loose gravel, we dreamed out loud of penne all’arrabbiata, unlimited breadsticks. Carbs would warm us. When we found the cabins, old enough that they predated the parklands, we knocked on doors, our teeth chattering.
Once, we met a grizzled man who lived inside the boundaries, who named his son Forest, as if this wasn’t too pointed. Once, after a series of late August thunderstorms drove the moose into hiding, my fingers cramped around my paddle until I couldn’t unclench them. We left the canoe in the brush along old train tracks, like we were writing a bad nature poem.
Jenny Ferguson (she/her/hers) is Métis, an activist, a feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice with a PhD. She believes writing and teaching are political acts. BORDER MARKERS, her collection of linked flash fiction narratives, is available from NeWest Press. She teaches at Loyola Marymount University and in the Opt-Res MFA Program at the University of British Columbia.