Paddle

I’m tired and a bit grumpy today. When I sat down at the computer I had no plans to write, I just wanted to check the Campfire to make sure all was well. That was when I remembered this story. I wrote it way back in January for my other blog. It was one of my very first attempts to be creative.

The story is based on a canoe trip I took last summer, and it was just the thing I needed to brighten up a bit. So I copied it over and edited it (a lot!) to fix the little mistakes that I found. For a few brief moments of time I was back on that lake…

Paddle

The mist hides the world from view. While the sun has been up for a few hours now, the fog still stubbornly clings to the water. A darkened shape looms up from the distance. Appearing at first as a light grey tone, it ever so slowly darkens with each paddle stroke. Soon a small island slides by off to left.

Hidden in the gloom there is a distant call from a loon. Is it just a blind as me right now I wonder? Has it lost its way and become separated from its mate? It calls out again, the haunting sound all the more chilling this morning. Finally from further away another loon answers. What was lost, is now found.

There has been no talking in the boats this morning. Just the sound of paddles slipping in and out of the water and the breathing of my companions as they work. A lean forward and a paddle dips in the water, followed by a quiet grunt as it’s pulled back along side the canoe. Rushing water breaks across the bow as the boat moves steadily forward. We are three shadowy shapes drifting in and out of sight as we work our way across the lake. The water is as smooth as a mirror, only being disturbed by the wakes of the canoes or from a random fish breaking the surface to feed. It is like we are the last six people left in the world.

The sun has climbed higher in the sky now, and I now can start to make it out through the mist. A bright spot climbing higher into the sky, that with each passing minute becomes stronger as it burns off the mist. The lake is taking on a different look. Much like the curtains at a show, the veil of mist parts to show the distant shore.

I look back from where we have come from. Last nights campsite is gone, lost from view behind several other islands. But the smell of smoke from the campfire still is fresh in my mind. Pausing, I remember the laughter and stories shared at it last night. Good times! But for now those memories must wait, because there is work still to be done. Turning back, I see my partner looking off into distance too. What does he remember? Then with a splash the moment is lost and we fall back into paddling.

Even now there still is very little talking from my comrades. It seems that we are lost in thought today which is fine with me. I revel in the silence, the utter lack of the sounds of humanity. Yesterday the modern world reminded us it was still there when a jetliner rumbled far overhead. A small distant reminder of the place we are now returning to. With each stroke, we are closer to home. 

Looking ahead I can now make out the yellow sign marking the portage point. The other two boats have also noticed it and they sprint forward with a burst of paddling, each trying to reach the shore first. Very soon the boasting starts as one finally out paces the other and reaches land. Once again our boat arrives to shore last, but I don’t mind the teasing, and cat calls. For me those extra few minutes on the lake is reward enough. Soon sand rubs against the canoe bottom and there is a splash as my partner jumps out to pull us ashore. We have finished the first paddle of the day.

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Mister Doubt

The voice whispers softly in my ear “It’s just not going to work you know.”

Pretending not to hear, I continue on with my train of thought. But the damage has been done. I slow my pace, start to second guess my idea, and fifteen minutes later I’m completely derailed. I highlight the paragraph and slash the backspace key banishing the unwanted words into oblivion.

“See” purrs the voice again” I told you so! You could have saved yourself all that time if you had listened to me.”

“Who asked you!” I snap ” I don’t remember even asking for your advice.”

“You never need to ask for my advice silly” my critic continues” it’s a free service that I offer you. Besides I like watching you try to write too. Where else would I get my laughs?”

“I don’t know, how about you go have a look and leave me the hell alone! I’m really want to get this done.” I fire back.

“Hmmm? Nope, I don’t think so. You’re just too much fun” the voice informs me “And of course you need me as well. I’m the reality that you just don’t want to face. The proof that this is all just a big mistake. A waste of time, of internet space, and effort. Why not do us both a favor, and go up there to the settings tab and delete this blog right now?”

Ignoring the insult, I tell my companion “look, if your going to hang around here, at least be quiet please.

I try to refocus. To retrieve the image that was in my mind not so long ago. My hands rest on the keyboard unable to start. Minutes pass with no action. I notice the cat has now joined us, most likely curious to see who I was talking to a this hour. Fingers lightly tap on the keys but it’s no use, the idea has fled.

“Damn it!” I trash the post, and stalk from the room.

Ten minutes later I return with a glass of juice to try again. My visitor is waiting for me.

“You didn’t ask me if I wanted one” it begins” you’re not a very good host you know.”

I choose to not to acknowledge that jab. I drop into the chair, drink down the remaining OJ, and say “you’ve already killed one idea tonight, why don’t you go away now. You had your laugh, so go bug someone else.”

Surprisingly there is no reply. I wonder for a few seconds if it has really left. That it’s actually done what I’ve asked it to do? “Hello, you here?” Nothing. Still I wait, looking for a reaction or snide remark. Slowly I start to organize my thoughts again as I click the “New Post” button. Glancing over my shoulder, I check again to see if I’m still alone. But other than the cat who has now become bored and fallen asleep, I seem to be by myself again. Feeling its safe to start writing again, my fingers start to build words on the screen.

“BOO!” the voice shouts, startling me” You though I was gone didn’t you. But I’m not. Hehehehe”

“Please just leave me be” I beg the intruder”All I want to do is write something. Understand?”

“Nope, can’t let you do that” it says in a mocking tone” Don’t you have some carrots on ‘Farmville’ that need harvesting? You should do that instead, it’s a better use of your time.”

“ENOUGH” I shout. Slumping in my chair, I give up. This is totally useless. Why do I go through this effort? Maybe I should just pack it in. Defeated I stare at the computer monitor. My hand moves the mouse cursor to the start menu. That is when I notice something. A sweet sound, like leaves in the wind. I tilt my head and stain to hear better.

“Hey” interrupts the voice “what are you doing?”

I dismiss the question, and concentrate harder. Slowly the new sound grows stronger, and I start to understand that I have a new visitor now.

“Excuse me!’ protests the voice “over here. Remember me? You where just about to quit. Hello?”

The new arrival leans in close and coos into my ear. It feels much like the brush of a child’s eyelashes on my cheek. I smile and begin to nod. Soon my fingers are flying across the keyboard, the nagging voice now all but forgotten.

“Ok fine!” cries the critic “so you have a new idea. Big whoop. I’ll be back, I always come back.You know I will!”

I don’t even say goodnight as Mister Doubt stomps from the room. He is right though, he’ll show up again I’m sure. But tonight that doesn’t matter. I have a story to tell.