For a snowmobile boy
Amanda Mayne
Amanda Mayne
Feb 28, 2012

The day had been set,
And we were all ready--
The crunchy snow was waiting too—
The frigid sky watched us overhead.

Anticipation was building
like steam in the pit of my stomach
We leapt out of the truck
And sunk right into the snow.

After a few kids slid down
The rollercoastering hill,
I went down screaming,
Blurred colors rushed into my eyes.

My tube detached from my butt,
Snow went everywhere:
In my face, down my back
My cheeks were frozen in place.

I arrived at the bottom,
Quicker than I expected,
And waited in the powder
For a snowmobile boy

The contraption roared and sped
I dropped the tube,
And held on for my life,
Then dropped myself too.

We tried again,
With the tube around my middle,
The tube a giant donut
I was the creamy center.

I made up to the top,
Triumphantly soaked from my outside in,
Cheers resounded and bounced
In the valley and off the frozen lake.

up it for a little while. It crosses a snowmobile trail. To be honest, I think snowmobile
ellen menzies
ellen menzies
Jul 18, 2013

A Somewhat-Sassily-Written Assignment for a Mentor in my Senior Year of High School

I am most certainly over-thinking this. How do I tell a story about myself? There's so much to tell, yet at the same time, so little. I could tell you about a specific event. But is something that happened to me, me?

What is with this assignment?

If you wanted a biography of my life, factual, absolute, concrete, you could have just asked. Instead of making me struggle to figure out what you want.

I'm not in the cheery-type, improvise-easily kind of mood.

And I have absolutely no idea where to begin. Once upon a time seems too corny. As if my life could be compared to a fairy tale... I'm not much of a damsel in distress, if you hadn't noticed. If I was expected to wait in a tower for some Prince, so-called Charming, to come and rescue me, I'd state a resounding "fuck that" and climb down to be off gallivanting in the forest before one day was up. Who needs a knight in shining armour?

Rescue your god-damn self, ladies.

And what's with the shining armour? Isn't it better for a knight (and his armour) to have seen the ravages of battle? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm all for peaceful resolution of conflict and that, but isn't the point of wearing armour to use it?

But I digress.

You want a story about me.

No one particular day jumps to mind as being remarkable. Would you believe me if I said I have lived an unremarkable, ordinary life?

You probably wouldn't. I wouldn't either. I'm not exactly an ordinary person, am I.

Ok. Fine. I'll write about something ordinary in context to my non-ordinary life. That's what you want, right? For me to make the ordinary extraordinary?

Here goes.

I love to take the bus home. Which is weird, considering you'd think it would be awkward speaking with several people with whom you don't have much in common and one ex-boyfriend, but for some reason our unexpected combination just makes for some very interesting conversations. And hey, if the conversation isn't stimulating, I can always take a nap. It gets me home early too--all in all, the bus is just great. I step off at my stop and shuffle up my driveway. (It's icy; the shuffling is a necessary though perhaps slightly degrading mode of personal bipedal transportation). On Thursdays I bring the garbage in, resulting in an acrobatic balancing of garbage cans and recycle bins as I complete said shuffling. I unlock the door, my key dressed in a key-cover shaped like a hotdog--I don't know why it is, but it is. My dog comes to meet me, grinning like a fool. She is a fool. I grab some mittens and my hat, and depending on the weather I put on a warmer coat and snow pants. My dog, at this point, is wailing; anyone outside the house would think I was abusing her. She just gets excited, is all. When I put on my boots, she knocks over everything in the vicinity with her tail. When I clip on her leash, she immediately grabs it from my hands and runs out the door with it in her mouth. (This would be clever of her if she didn't trip herself up with the trailing ends and faceplant). We shuffle back down the driveway, and turn onto the road. This is where I catch her and get her leash before she wipes out again. She stops at a place in the snowbank where I know there is a dead bird beneath the snow; but I, having been very sad to have seen a creature that is born to be in the sky quite ungracefully dead on the ground, do not want to see it further along in its decomposition and therefore pull her away before she digs it up.

At my neighbour's house, I shuffle up their driveway and let myself in the garage. Their dog is waiting for me, but he won't come to see me until he's sure it's me. He's terrified of people. And loud noises. And bags. And his shadow, buses, trucks, cars, snowmobiles, the hiccups, running water, babies, and basically everything. I let him out the door, he sprints down to the road. My dog picks up her leash in her mouth and tries to follow him but only ends up faceplanting again. I pick up her leash and then catch up with Psycho Dog as he's taking his daily ten-minute pee. The three of us start our walk, rarely making it out of the neighbourhood without a mental breakdown from Psycho Dog. Once we're on Copeland Road amongst the fields, I let my dog off her leash, and occasionally I relent and let Psycho Dog off. But he doesn't listen, ever, so I tend to not trust him, ever. We walk, him in front, her behind me. She likes to follow me and headbutt the back of my knees. This is fine unless in combination with Psycho Dog circling me with his leash; a fall is inevitable in such situations.

The best part about these walks is, everything. The sky--wide and open--the fields stretching away, the straight dirt road, the peaceful feeling of being alone with the world. One of my favourite things is the colour of outside. I've never really been a huge fan of winter, but this year more than any other I've fallen in love with it. You think it's grey and white, snow-covered and barren, but you look closer and it's not. There is nothing grey or white about winter; every single naked branch, every single bulrush sticking up above the snow, every single pine tree, is a colour. Every glimmer of light refracts off the snow, creating endless prisms. The dogs, always such thoughtful creatures, contribute to the palette by turning the snow yellow.

But the incredible range of colours of branches fascinates me. It's not something you notice in the summer, the leaves distract you. But get to the heart of the tree and you see how unique each skeletal arrangement of branches is. My favourite little bush is bright red. I mean bright red. And the one right beside it is bright orange. This makes a beautiful contrast with the pale blue of the sky and the dark blue of the tree line in the distance. Another favourite bush is one with little tiny blue berries on it; the bush itself is dark purple, which contrasts the yellow tall grass sticking up out of the snow. Maybe it's just the artist in me that sees every natural colour as part of an artwork. Maybe it's just the artist in me that sees the world as an artwork.

The dogs and I reach a farm road that goes between two fields. I clamber over the snowbank and take them up it for a little while. It crosses a snowmobile trail. To be honest, I think snowmobiles have to be the most pointless things ever; Psycho Dog thinks they are the most terrifying things ever. My dog probably doesn't even notice them–she's clueless like that. We reach a stand of trees; I don't always walk this far, just when it's nice out or when there are vague writing assignments I have to get done at home that I'm avoiding. The dogs love it here because turkeys cross at this stand of trees all the time, leaving tantalizing scents, I'm sure. Turkey tracks in the snow look like little velociraptor tracks, by the way.

I take them home. I drop Psycho Dog off and give him some food, but he just jumps up on the couch and chews the frozen snow out from between his toes (something I consider a design flaw in golden retrievers; my labrador never has this problem). On the homestretch, the few hundred feet between our driveways, my dog lags; she gave too much in the warm up with her wailing and wagging--she is quite old now. When we finally get home, though, she perks up enough to accept a treat from me. Of course.

I do this every weekday, my little moment of sanity amidst the rush of the rest of the day. I can feel the stress leaving me as soon as I step outside, and I spend the whole time on Copeland singing to myself; I sincerely hope that no one hears me, for the sake of their eardrums. The dogs don't seem to mind. But I wouldn't take their opinion into account; they do eat their own feces, after all.

Remembering these walks puts me in a good mood. Does that count as a story about myself? Or were you looking for a memorable childhood incident?

I can't help feeling you could have been more descriptive for this project. Then again, I'm not such a huge fan of restrictions when I'm writing, because it happens so often that things that I start don't end up how I expected them to end and therefore no longer meet the requirements of the assignment. Which causes many grievances time-wise for myself. I think the crux of what I'm complaining about is that you didn't simultaneously do a better and worse job planning this assignment, to avoid obviously undue blame to myself, of course.

[This mentor helped me through many tough personal and academic challenges and for that I owe him much, though at the time he was my absolute favourite teacher to sass. The events portrayed in this short story are true to my perception. My dog of whom I speak, Belle, of has since passed away and I have another yellow lab who has the complete opposite of personalities. I still walk Psycho Dog occasionally, and his life is still fraught with unnecessary anxiety. (Perhaps read my poem, Molly and Old Jack, to see what my current dog and Psycho Dog are like together). Anyway, it was fun to dig up old writing, not sure if I still like my then-style at all but it was an experience to read and edit.]
 
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