“Listen, I know it’s there! It… speaks to me…” I plead, watching my last financing prospect slide right back into Nevermind Creek—yet reluctant to reveal anything unnecessarily to The Suit. He’s snug in his centrally-warmed office, smart-TV in the corner, on-demand coffee pot on a shiny mahogany console; his own lardy, paternalistic arse ensconced in an oversized, corporate leather chair.
“Not loudly enough, I’m afraid,” he tutts. “There’s no equity to substantiate your request. Consequently, it’s impossible for the Bank to verify. And, you must understand… You’re… a woman!”
“Absolutely irrelevant!” I protest. Understand? How could this Suit possibly understand? Are women not more resilient than men in surviving prolonged suffering? Ask any of us! Though his wife, if he has one, has probably wrapped herself in a Whitehorse version of Calvin Klein, pickled herself in spas and champagne. But it must be said—having to be married to him might qualify as suffering, in the cold light of day… The dreams of cozy wealth always demand sacrifices.
The dreams of gold demand greater sacrifices, no matter the gender of the dreamer. Though nothing near what I’ve already been through. Hardships that The Suit and his fluffy wife could scarcely imagine, let-alone endure. But what would they know of that? Of being seven, and watching your mum gradually float away from you forever, her ocean of booze reflecting nothing but ambulance lights. What dreams then? What dreams when auntie Kat suddenly becomes your new “mom” – only she’s as vicious a bitch as any that lived, with no wish to raise another woman’s wild whelp.
Back then, dreams of escape were the only things that kept you going, closing your eyes against the weekend’s furtive, night-time groping; against the reek of beer. Of running from… or to… something. Anything different from there. Good thing, then, that uncle Geeley taught you to fish, trap critters, pan for gold. Good thing your own father—when not sozzled—showed you the mechanics of a water pump, a fan-belt; a generator.
How easily The Suit dismisses you! As if you’re sub-standard. Inferior. No inkling could he possibly have of the sacrifices you make for this dream. Of Yukon blackfly feasting on your face. Of nights so long, they take up most of the day. Of a rusted trailer for death-like sleeping, your pulse semi-frozen in the meagre heat of a potbellied stove so ancient, its insides have lost shape from layers of calcification. Just like your heart. Of isolation so extreme, you begin to speak wolf. When the pack howls at the moon, so close you can smell their fur, you howl right back.
At what point do dreams become nightmares?
I gaze at the grime ingrained under my nails. At knuckles scarred-up so badly they won’t even bleed anymore. Weigh the odds.
“We-ell”, I finally murmur, tugging the rough, gold nugget from its grubby pouch.
“Maybe even you can understand this…”
Decades ago, autodidact & bloody-minded optimist kerry rawlinson gravitated from sunny Zambian skies to solid Canadian soil. Fast-forward: she follows Literature & Art’s Muses around the Okanagan, barefoot, her patient husband ensuring she’s fed. She’s won the Geist ‘Postcard Story Contest‘; and features lately in: Spelk Fiction, Painted Bride, Reflex Fiction, Connecticut River Review and Pedestal, amongst others. Follow her on tumblr and Twitter
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