Note: this is NEXT WEEK’S forecast. To read the present week’s column, please scroll down to “RECENT POSTS” on the right margin, and click on “July 26 – August 1, 2015.”
ALL TIMES/DATES ARE PDT (Pacific Daylight Time Zone). PDT is 8 hours “before” Greenwich (England). (As long as Britain is also on Daylight time.) For example, when it is noon PST, it is 8 pm in England. The “World Clock” in the right margin gives you some clues. (You can also Google “time zone converter.”)
START NOTHING: 1:35 pm to 4:24 pm Mon., 4:29 pm to 6:29 pm Wed., and 9:46 pm to 10:40 pm Fri.
THE 2015 LOVE FORECAST IS IN THE “PLATFORMS” SECTION (UNDER THE BLUE PICTURE ABOVE) — BUT SHOWS AS “LOVE 2014.” IF YOU CLICK ON LOVE 2014, THE 2015 LOVE FORECAST WILL APPEAR.
The current stock market “malaise” should last to about August 11, then subside. But it will return mid-September onward. If you’ve lost $ in the markets these last few months, wait until mid-Aug. to mid-Sept. – sell in this period. Again, my advice is not to start a new business before August 11. (And September 17 onward, for many months.)
Last week I encouraged many signs to charge ahead with some area of life before Aug. 5, or in some cases, Aug. 11, as one good luck influence was ending. However, as I look at this week’s aspects, I see a lot of difficult aspects lying in the path of the very thing I might have encouraged you to pursue last week. So let the caution flags fly. If I encouraged a course of action last week and advise against it this week, then believe me this week!
I think the next big wave in technology – providing we survive global warming, of course — will be synthesis. We are already stepping into this wave, in small ways. For example, the Apple Watch has combined the watch with the internet. You can control your house’s temperature, or its door locks, using your mobile phone from miles away. In future, we might see not only Google-type self-driving cars, but something bigger: you will step into your car, and give it a destination. A central computer, or “cloud” will then give your car directions – actually, guide it in real time, sequentially or in a flowing manner – to take it to your destination, adjusting not only the speed, acceleration,, stopping, etc., but also the path, as it adjusts to traffic congestion (even congestion kilometers from you). There will even be a “roam” feature, for those who just want to get in their car for a pleasure or curiosity drive. There will be “theme” roaming, too. For example, you can punch in “ROAM – RESTAURANTS” on your dashboard, and the central computer will steer your car down streets that have a preponderance of eateries. Or “ROAM – SEASHORE” or “ROAM – FACTORIES” or ‘ROAM – AFFLUENT NEIGHBOURHOODS.” You might get in your car in San Francisco, and punch in (with specific address or not) “Toronto.” I’m sure we already have the technology to accomplish this.
Such convenience will be inseparable from another feature: an “eye in the sky” which will be aware of every car and where it is (and is going) – the “Big Brother” –NSA-police state aspect will be tremendous, ever present, and in control. We might as well not lament this, as the police state – or you might call it the regimentation of society – will grow anyway, so we might as well enjoy the benefits of it. Thirty years ago I predicted society would control the behaviour of its citizens by “architectural design” – but I didn’t realize the architecture would be a moving, adaptable, internet one.
ARIES March 21-April 19
Romance, beauty, creative surges and risk-taking urges, these fill this week and the next two. The whole month ahead might bring back an ex-spouse or a serious old flame. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. Look at two things to decide: the past, and why you broke up; and your own present motives, desires, and future prospects – and again, your motives. (However, if he/she returns before this Thursday, reject any reconciliation – and any new attraction, also.) A long period of friction in the home ends Saturday (Aug. 8) – until then, tread lightly. If bad luck has dogged you for the last year, its cause is your independence: by November, it will flee, for 17 years. Be quiet, restful Sunday/Monday. You’ll succeed with civil servants, institutions and work. Your energy and magnetism rise strongly Monday eve to Wed. supper time. Your luck is jumbled but, on balance, splendid. Express yourself, start significant projects, ask favours, present proposals, impress people – and bosses. DON’T fall in love. Chase money, new clients, buy/sell, protect possessions, and improve your memory or memorize something Thursday eve to Friday night. Don’t indulge a sensual attraction. Saturday brings errands, interesting news, casual friend, travel and communications. Avoid confusion – repeat instructions, read things twice. A great evening.
TAURUS April 20-May 20
The accent continues on home, family, real estate, security, Mother Nature, gardening, nutrition, retirement, etc. DO NOT initiate a purchase or sale of real estate now to August 11. (Despite what I might have said last week.) You will get a “second chance” for luck in this zone, Aug. 11 to October 7. You’re still rather busy, running around, communications, paperwork, etc. – but perhaps too busy. Stop, and judge what you’re accomplishing. Sunday to Monday eve brings happiness, optimism about the future, good friends, a wee rise in popularity, flirtation and entertainment. Early Sunday morning (to 7:50 am PDT, 11 am EDT, late afternoon/eve in Europe, etc.) is a good time to buy electronics or software. Retreat, rest and contemplate Monday eve to Wed. eve – not a good time to start any sort of project, just enjoy sweet solitude, summer’s murmurs (except southern hemisphere) nature’s goodness. By Wed. afternoon, you will feel “healed” in your heart, mind. Good! Your energy and magnetism rise Wed. night to Fri. night. Start important projects after 2 pm (PDT) Thurs., not before. You might hear news, or see something, that solves an old family/childhood puzzle. Sensual attractions arise Saturday, but perceptions are confused. Be cautious in spending, approaching clients.
GEMINI May 21-June 20
Errands, casual friends, communications, travel, paperwork, details, news, curiosity fill this week and the next two. You love this sort of thing, and are a natural at it, but don’t let life run you ragged. Realize that some of the things you’re chasing might not be attainable. All week, your health (or work duties) might prevent smooth sailing. DON’T fall in love before Friday, and don’t expect a successful partnership, nor chase “opportunities” before August 12. The 11 days ahead present many puzzles and tests for you. Your difficult money luck continues this week, then will dissipate by next Sunday. Be ambitious Sunday/Monday – show higher-ups what you can do. But DO NOT start a business or new job. Monday night brings freshness and a lifting mood – your popularity rises, flirtations are possible, social delights and entertainment draw you. Get out, mingle! Happiest times: before mid-afternoon Tues., and later afternoon Wed. Retreat, rest and contemplate Wed. night to Fri. night. Don’t try anything too ambitious. Meditate, pray, be charitable, study and plan – but keep those plans flexible, as a “sea change” in your luck will occur soon – a good change! Your energy and charisma bounce back strongly Saturday – be ambitious, accomplish something! (But remember, NOT in business, work or health zones – wait until late next week to start anything “practical.”) Someone might propose an adventure, a liaison or a friendship. Accept, but be cautious inside.
CANCER June 21-July 22
The accent remains, this week and the next two, on money, earnings, buy/sell, possessions, memory, ordinary (rote) learning, and sensual attractions. These are all blessed with a mild, affectionate luck this week. Your sexual magnetism and determination, but also your testy temper, remain high this week, then subside. Next week to September 24 will bring a rush of cash your way, and a potential flood of cash a-way. (Plan to be skimpy, even cheap. You’ll be tempted to splurge on luxuries, vacations and home items, furniture, etc.) A sexual attraction might almost rise to the level of passionate love, but deep inside, you’ll know it isn’t. Sunday/Monday bring wisdom, intellectual expansion, higher learning, far travel, gentle love. All goes well, but strictly avoid big new expenses, and “buying love” (and a co-worker affair). Your ambitions take over Monday night to Wed. eve. Both good and bad luck mingle, so grab the first and laugh about the latter. Best times (PDT): Tues. morning, and afternoon Wed. Happiness, social delights, optimism, popularity and wish fulfilment arrive Wed. night to Fri. night. Again, luck is mixed, good and bad, so be nimble, see the good side. (Your mood will remain buoyant.) This entire week is difficult for love and partnership, as money and love conflict. Best approach: DON’T fall in love, NOR start a business/project before Aug. 12 (next week). Saturday, retreat into sweet solitude, rest and contemplation.
LEO July 23-Aug. 22
You’re at the top of your game, Leo. Your magnetism, energy, clout and effectiveness soar to an annual peak over the three weeks ahead. This week, you express yourself well. Your “good hair days” (your physical attractiveness) is high, and lasts that way until early October. However, your assertiveness (pride?) can be one of your Achilles heels, has been since late June. Next week, through September 25, you’ll grow even more assertive, sexy, and determined than usual. Unfortunately, this can have unintended consequences, especially in legal, educational, far travel and cultural zones. You do have a choice: one side of you will be affectionate, charming, and lead to good results; the other will be in “warrior mode” and lead to “damage.” Be smart, be loving. This, for the 7 weeks ahead. Now, that said, DO NOT fall in love – nor start a practical/business project – before Aug. 12. (If I encouraged you to grab a last minute opportunity in this area last week, well, forget it – it’s being blocked. Wait until a new luck cycle starts Aug. 11 – tho’ it won’t be “viable” until Aug. 12 onward.) Sunday/Monday bring secrets, mysteries, the depths of life – including sexual yearning, financial astuteness, research luck, health diagnoses, lifestyle choices. Still, don’t commit to anything important. Take care in legal, far travel, higher learning, publishing, love and cultural zones Mon. eve to Wed. eve. Your luck here is very mixed, good and bad. Be ambitious, show higher-ups what you can do Wed. night to Fri. night. Again, luck is mixed, especially in areas of home, domesticity, security, property. DON’T buy real estate. A sudden lift of mood, happiness, socializing, popularity, wish fulfilment and flirtation turns Saturday into joy.
VIRGO Aug. 23-Sept. 22
You can almost celebrate, Virgo – a long year of poor luck will end next week (bringing one of your luckiest years in over a decade) and a month of tiredness will end in 3 weeks. But be your usual cautious, observant self this week (and to Aug. 12) as luck is very mixed for everyone. For you, the glitches and barriers exist mainly in government-related, institutional, management, communications, travel, car, internet, romantic, creative and pleasure zones. DO NOT make a big commitment or undertake a new project in any of these. Your social life remains “sexy” – but that’s not necessarily a good thing! Sunday/Monday bring relationships, new horizons, opportunities, challenges and opposition. Be diplomatic, enjoy fascinating people/prospects, but avoid commitment. Life’s mysteries rise to the surface (as does your intuition) Monday eve to Wed. supper time. There is some financial profit and intimate gratification to be gained here, but also pitfalls, so be alert, and moral. Best times: Tues. morning and Wed. late afternoon. (All PDT – add 8 to 10 hours for Europe, etc.) Wednesday night to Friday night brings a wise, mellow mood , and accents far travel, legal matters, higher learning, cultural venues, love, and international affairs/outlook. Again, luck is mixed, so step carefully. Loved ones might send mixed messages. Be ambitious Saturday – favour details over dreams, and you should succeed.
LIBRA Sept. 23-Oct. 22
This week and the next two emphasize your hopes, optimism, and the joys of living. Flirtations, popularity, cultural involvements, light, friendly romance, entertainment and wish fulfilment are slated. You’ll be happy! Still, be cautious now through August 11 – DO NOT start a new love affair, don’t demand “obedience” from a present love, and be very careful with money – buy nothing important. Also, don’t make “future commitments” and do not join a new group or club now. Next week, 7 weeks of temperament from higher-ups – and refusals to co-operate from allies and enemies – ends. But that doesn’t mean their co-operation will be any better! Remain cautious about all relationships for now. (More about this later.) What can I say? It’s a tough week for everyone – or more accurately, luck is very mixed. Tackle chores Sunday/Monday – you’ll get a lot accomplished if you ignore social lures. Relationships confront you Monday eve to Wed. supper time (PDT). Be diplomatic, as, again, luck is mixed, so opportunities will mingle with opposition, amity with enmity, etc. Best times: Tues. morning and Wed. afternoon (late). Life’s depths, financial and sexual lures and consequences, research and health matters fill Wed. night to Fri. night. Again, luck is mixed, so it’s safest to commit to nothing/no one. A sweet, mellow, wise mood enters Saturday – dream of faraway places, see a foreign film.
SCORPIO Oct. 23-Nov. 21
The weeks ahead emphasize ambition, prestige relations, reputation, dealings with bosses, parents, VIPs and authorities. You’re the only sign that can profit from the 10 days ahead, so keep pushing your ambitious agenda. The only thing that holds you back is your own scepticism or caution. If this rings true, loosen up a bit and grab the gold! (Oops, one thing can still bite you – legal matters, foreign shores, higher learning, publishing, intellectual pursuits, etc. – think of your sign mate, Hillary Clinton. Everything that’s happening for/to her, good and bad, is at the very least, potentially yours. Also, DO NOT fall in love or start a love affair before Wed. afternoon – it would be tragic, in the end.) And to some degree, the week ahead holds mixed luck, so proceed confidently but alertly – avoid the cow pies. Sunday/Monday bring romantic urges, creative and risk-taking surges, pleasure and charming kids. All’s smooth. Tackle chores and protect your health Monday eve to Wed. suppertime. Best times: Tues. morning and late afternoon Wed. Relationships face you Wed. night to Fri. night. You’ll encounter both co-operation and opposition: but you know how to deal with both; let your diplomatic, persuasive side emerge. A late career/ambition opportunity might appear. Saturday’s for secrets, investigation, intimate yearnings and financial manoeuvres – all the things you love to dive into. Don’t let lust douse romance’s flame.
SAGITTARIUS Nov. 22-Dec. 21
The three weeks ahead emphasize higher learning, legal affairs, far travel, foreign cultures and, at home, social rituals (e.g., weddings, mitzvahs, confirmations) – as well as any associated themes, publishing, advertising, intellectual pursuits, and gentle, understanding love (the kind that lasts). That said, you would be wise to AVOID all these areas before August 12 – or, at least, to avoid starting projects here or committing to future actions in these zones. (To some degree, this “avoidance” would be wise right into September 24. Until then, you can get “fired up” about any of these, but there is an atmosphere of unintended consequences hanging around it. Soon, you’ll be so busy with very lucky ambitions, career or parenting roles that those learning, travel, etc. zones will fade a bit in importance.) This week holds very mixed luck for everyone, so proceed cautiously, especially where those legal, far travel, learning (et al) themes “connect” with bureaucratic or institutional zones. DO NOT start a love affair before Thursday. Be domestic, restful Sunday/Monday. Embrace family, garden, etc. Romantic feelings, creative and speculative urges, pleasure and beauty, charming kids fill Monday night to Wed. supper time (PDT). Best times: Tues. morning and late afternoon Wed. Tackle chores and take care of your “daily” health Wed. eve to Friday night. Some good news on love, travel or intellectual fronts right around midnight Thurs. Saturday brings relationships, fresh horizons, co-operation and opposition. Be diplomatic, laugh and cheer others up!
CAPRICORN Dec. 22-Jan. 19
The three weeks ahead emphasize life’s mysteries and depths, sexual yearnings, astute financial manoeuvres, research or detective work, health diagnoses, lifestyle choices, commitment and consequence. Your intuition will be high. However, the present week holds very mixed luck, and often in the same area. (E.g., sex/finances can be terrible Sunday, blessed Tues. morning, very unlucky Wed. morning and Thursday, lucky again Thurs. midnight – your best stance, in the face of this, if to do little or nothing, to be wary of commitment, etc.) DO NOT start a love affair or lust affair before August 12, and DO NOT invest nor change your lifestyle. (I probably told you “not before Aug. 5” last week, but I’m extending it.) For weeks, you’ve faced assertive, irritating people; this is that last week of that, but continue to be diplomatic, discreet. Don’t form a bond in business or otherwise. You’re tempted to end a relationship, and might, soon. My advice is to wait until late September, early October, then make up your mind. Errands, calls, friends, curiosity, news, short trips and paperwork fill Sunday/Monday. Home, family, property, security and retirement themes fill Monday eve to Wed. supper time (PDT). Embrace Mother Nature – and family. Romantic feelings, creative and risk-taking urges, beauty, pleasure and charming kids bless Wed. eve to Friday night. Remember, luck is mixed. Tackle chores Saturday – examine plumbing, water levels.
AQUARIUS Jan. 20-Feb. 18
This week and the next two, the accent lies on relationships – and on new horizons, fresh opportunities, new faces and places, relocation themes, negotiation and litigation, co-operation and opposition. Be diplomatic, and, at least to August 12, non-committal. DO NOT start a new relationship in love or business before August 12. It would crumple under the onslaught of social mores, financial authorities, government rules, whatever. The present week holds very mixed luck virtually every day, so your best approach is to be cautious about everything. Your work duties have been intense, perhaps even “hot” over the last six weeks – this continues this week (so guard your health against sudden temperature changes, rashes, hot sun) but it’s the last week. Chase money and shop Sunday/Monday: you can pick up a bargain or two. Errands, paperwork, short trips, casual friends, details, communications and news fill Monday eve to Wed. supper time. Best times: Tues. morning and late Wed. afternoon (PDT). Don’t be frustrated if an errand comes up empty. Do not commit yourself in any paperwork. Your domestic situation grows more important Wed. eve to Fri. night – embrace your family, garden, repair the house, improve nutrition and security. Take naps in Mother Nature’s arms – find that sunny window seat. Do not buy real estate. Romance might be a dud. But that very thing, romance – and beauty, creative and risk-taking urges and pleasure – fill Saturday. (But remember, don’t start a romance.)
The three weeks ahead emphasize work and health matters. But luck this week is very mixed in almost every area, so proceed cautiously, adhere to safety regulations, don’t overdose on vitamins and herbs, etc. Before August 12, DO NOT buy machinery, quit a job, start new health regimens (especially preventive ones) nor bother the boss, and DON’T start a law suit, buy international travel tickets, nor plan a wedding. (If you’re going to get that promotion or pay raise, you’ll get it: if you want to campaign for it, start that campaign August 12 or later, not earlier.) Your energy and charisma rise nicely Sunday/Monday – you’ll get a lot done. Money matters, buying/selling, client relations, income/outgo arise Monday eve to Wed. supper time (PDT). Act Tues. morning or late afternoon Wed. for best results. Errands, friendly talks, communications, short trips, paperwork and details, siblings and curiosity fill Wed. eve to Friday night. Again, luck is mixed, so accomplish what you can, and don’t worry about the goals that evaded you – nothing here is ultra-important anyway. Head for home Saturday – embrace family, garden, revise nutrition methods, repair the domicile, shore up security, and, above all, take a nice long rest.
One part of me was fading, almost sleeping, but in another part there was an anger – no, not anger but a sort of weeping rage. I began to cry, tears ran down my face. But my body wanted to just lie there, and I couldn’t find the thought to make it move, or the muscles. Somehow, it had gone beyond my control. I dreamed I saw Paul, my brother. Paul stood over me, and he started to smash and bully his way into some – thing.
It was that that made me move. Paul, smashing, grinning with fierce vitality. Somehow I moved. I lifted myself up on my elbows, then heaved to my knees, grabbed a branch and pulled myself to stand. I shook like a leaf, but I was on my feet. She looked beautiful, dead and pale like that. I fell to my knees and put a weak hand on her face. I pulled the skin of her forehead up so her eyes half opened. Maybe she wasn’t dead. Those eyes seemed to look directly into me. It shocked me. But my hands were too cold to tell if she was breathing. I couldn’t tell if she was dead from cold or drowning or quite alive and sleeping, or what. And if you’re sleeping, I said in my head, why don’t you wake up?
Then I lost it; I started crying, and I yelled, almost like I was singing, my voice rolled around my ears, “You fucking cockfuck bitch! Get awake! Fuck you! Wake up! Fuck you! Fuck! Fucking fucking fucking – fuck you! Fuck you!” I wouldn’t usually speak like that, of course, but it’s funny how you’ll say things when you’re alone in the freezing damn woods and it looks like someone’s dying.
I had a brainwave. I thought I’d expel the water from her lungs. So I threw myself on her chest, so hard we both bounced. I pulled her away from the pool’s edge, and threw myself on her again, so my chest whomped against her, and her head jerked from the impact. I dragged myself up, and did it again. I did it a few times. The last time I hit my forehead on the rock, and the pain outraged me but also made me alive, woke me up with those bright little gnats of light swirling around.
At least that’s what I thought it did. But actually, maybe I knocked myself out. I was laughing in my sleep, or my dream – at the same time I had not closed my eyes and I saw the pond and the beautiful sky, blue, gold and pink and clear light over the pond and on the rocks, turning the granite pink. I laughed and muttered weakly, and…..it wasn’t that I wanted to die, or for her to die, just that I wanted not to move…
The next thing I knew, someone was handling me, tossing me around with their arms, I was sore all over. I opened my eyes. The day had bent over. Her eyes shone in the blue darkening of twilight. She was shaking me.
I thought she said, “Who are you?” or “Where is Disneyland,” but I couldn’t be sure she’d even spoken.
I felt very comfortable, and I smiled like a happy fool. I started weeping again
She stared at me with an oddly, subtly foolish smile, or with a puzzled look, or a worried look, I couldn’t tell. I smiled again, tears flowing down my face.
I felt her slap me and it hurt. I opened my eyes and she slapped me again. “Okay,” I whispered. “Okay.” It really hurt. I felt all the cold now, the freezing cold, and my throbbing hands and a terrible ache in my testicles. Then I began to feel warm and I smiled. At this, she
grabbed my jacket and pulled me up against her and it was her eyes, staring at mine, and the cold shock of having my wet clothes pressed against me again, against my chest – something woke me up and somehow I eased over that edge, came into a wakefulness that wasn’t going to go away. My head throbbed. But I was awake.
I rose up, to a sitting position, then to all fours.
She turned away and began to climb, up onto the jumbled logs. I followed her, because somehow she had taken charge. Our progress was slow, sometimes on all fours, sometimes walking, groping with our feet at every step, and searching for handholds before we took another step. At some point I noticed we weren’t going in the direction of the road, but toward a narrow V at the far end of the cut.
“The road’s that way,” I said, so quietly I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t hear it. I tried again. This time I think she heard me, but if she answered at all it was with a nod, which I wasn’t sure was a nod. So I just followed her. To tell you the absolute truth, I would have followed her no matter where she was going. I had no strength to go anywhere on my own. The only strength I got was from her, following her. Our sodden clothes snagged a few times. I fell at times, and I’m sure she did too. Finally, maybe a half hour or ten days later, we came clear of the logs and swished loudly through some salal (it sounds like walking through aluminum foil leaves) and stood on a large slab of granite. Not one felled log stood before us, just some puny trees here and there growing up from small pockets of dirt or out of cracks in the rock. I noticed now how tall she stood, with good posture. Yes, she was from another world, probably a world where they have carpets on the floor and all that. I was a weak and shivering rat beside her. But something, something that was still just dull in me, made me stand tall too. She looked at me blankly. It wasn’t a dismissing look, but a judging one. That made me stand subtly a bit straighter. She looked worried, then turned without a word and walked on
In a few minutes of easier stumbling we turned slightly around the camber of a rock hill and came to one of those semi-permanent tent-cabin structures, with wooden lower walls and canvas upper walls and roof. The day had faded, so the cabin stood almost white in the blue twilight. The moon was starting to throw more light than the sun’s afterglow.
I followed her inside. She turned to look at me as if to say, “You’re coming in too?” Maybe it was rude of me, to just come in, and I felt a little guilty in a numb, fuzzy way, because everything in my mind was in cotton batting. But I stayed; I was too cold and numb to voluntarily move out into the cold night again.
She quit looking at me, turned, and slowly began peeling her clothes off and dropping them onto the wood floor. They splatted. Her motions were mechanical. When she was naked, she looked at me.
I just stood there. Of course. Yes, take off my own wet clothes. I tried. But my hands were useless. I couldn’t undo anything. I tried to grab my jacket sleeve, but couldn’t grasp it. Her clothes were easy, all vecro’d, even her boots. She hesitated a moment, then came to me, and with a lot of tugging and pulling from various angles, she managed to peel off my jacket. She started to undo the buttons on my shirt, but her hands were numbed, too, I guess. Finally, she grabbed my shirt in the front, ripped it open halfway, then peeled it up over my head. I watched her body, her arms blue and pale in the darkening air, her shining knees and thighs, her stomach and breasts. And of course I saw her hairy patch down there too, it was blonde and the hairs curled and dripping, but I only glimpsed it quickly, I was too shy, and hoped she didn’t see me looking. Mostly I stared at her breasts. I felt this urge to touch them. It wasn’t a sex urge, I think, just this odd neutral urge. In fact I felt neutral all over, about every part of her body. This strange neutrality, as if I had no emotions or desire, just this constant urge to touch – especially her breasts. They weren’t big, in fact they were small, no bigger than hardballs, or fists. But they stood there, like two weasels that both saw you at once, and elevated their heads and stared at you with that unmoving stare. They didn’t really swing when she moved, they were more solid and “attached” than that. I always thought breasts swung, but I guess not on young women. I have to admit my experience was limited. Her nipples were stiff from the cold, and goose bumps covered her blue skin. I had never seen a woman totally naked, at least not up close, and I was amazed by her beauty. And yet I felt neutral. It’s a strange thing, it’s like you fall into this pool of beauty, and it surrounds you, and just like water it’s neutral yet strong. I don’t know how to describe it. But it sure was not like that clanging, blushing fire engine that swoops in when you approach a pretty girl at school. I hardly looked at her eyes because something there made me feel – unattracted, even a bit afraid. Her eyes were tired yet determined. That I understood, that was normal. But it was something else, something screaming, or because they weren’t – they were alert, but they belonged to some other world, where for some reason she seemed to be in trouble, or lamenting, or scared or “bald” – yes, they were bald, stripped of something. I stopped looking, partly I felt guilty, so I tried to help her undo my pants and boots, but I couldn’t undo my boots and I couldn’t get my pants down. They were jeans, so they clung. She motioned, so I lay down as she indicated. I just wanted to sleep. I curled up, but she slapped me and pulled me straight out. That was really cold, having to straighten out. I started shivering crazily again. She got a fork and undid the knots, then pulled my boots and socks off and pulled my jeans off. I kept my underpants on as best I could by hooking my stiff fingers into them while she pulled my jeans. Plus I had an erection, and I was trying to hide it. Even in that damn cold.
She turned on a kerosene lamp and a propane stove. I looked on them hungrily but I couldn’t move. She moved the lamp closer to me, then she dried my hair and shoulders and face with a towel. She stopped and watched my face. I had a huge erection. She made me stand and lifted my wet underpants up and off my erection, and pulled them down. I kicked them off. Suddenly, I wondered: is she going to – want to – do it with me? But she yanked a blanket off the bed and put it over my shoulders. I smiled, happy and ridiculous, my whanger standing up against my stomach. She looked at me again, in a way that was both scolding and amused. The baldness, the scared urgency in another world, was gone. I will never forget that amusement. Even now. It is one of the few great pleasures of my life, remembering that half Cheshire Cat, half Mona Lisa smile.
“Put that away,” she said. “Sit down.”
“Oh yes,” I said, eager to please. Of course it wouldn’t go away, so I grabbed the blanket off my shoulders and bunched it up over my crotch.
“Here.” She put another blanket over my shoulders, and gestured at me, to sit closer to the stove on a folding wooden chair. I rose and sat on the chair, sat on my feet, feet against my bum, hunched up so the towels would cover my back and my privates and my legs. My balls stayed wet and cold, because I couldn’t figure out how to dry them without being shamefully ridiculous. In this rubbery, shivering state, I continued to watch her.
I watched her every little movement. She was still naked. In some odd way she was almost like a boy, tall and slender and with the small tight breasts. Except her hips were wide. I could feel the heat of the lamp and the propane stove. They both burned me, but I began to like the heat. She pulled another towel from an overstuffed locker under the camp bed, then another. She gave me one, then crossed the tent, turned her back to me, and began to dry herself. I watched and watched. Before she had been blue in the darkness; now her flesh was warm and yellow in the lamplight. Slowly and carefully, she dabbed herself dry. I was surprised and oddly both repulsed and fascinated by that – that she dabbed herself dry. Why not just rub? It seemed false and over-delicate, yet real too. For some reason it seemed selfish and precious and yet it fascinated me too. I stared at her blonde hairs showing beneath and between her legs, from the back. I stared at her round bum – it was small and round too, like her tits. And her long back and shoulders and her soft neck and wet blonde masses of hair and everything else. Slowly, I grew warmer.
I watched each of her hundred little ordinary movements, each was different to me, and each time was like seeing the world a different way. Like the ocean changes under the shifting clouds and sunlight.
And now as I gazed silently on her nakedness in the warm light, I also kept watching her in the dark blue twilight as she had been some minutes before, before she turned on the light, because that blue goose bumped nakedness had not faded either. It’s hard to explain. Nothing she was, “disappeared.” Everything about her lingered and stayed in my mind, and overlaid what she was now. I had never seen a more beautiful person. She had a thousand ways to appear; I knew that already.
I was absorbed in her; she was like someone had thrown a book at me, and every word in that book, as the pages fluttered, every separate word pressed itself onto my eyes, softly but with a pressure you couldn’t measure, like the pressure of the atmosphere around us. I noticed now that her wrists were small. Nor did I feel embarrassed, which was the strangest part. No, that wasn’t the strangest part. The strangest was, she was not doing any of this naked dabbing for my benefit. I knew that, absolutely. I don’t know if I even questioned it. There was something about the dabbing with the towel, how carefully she looked at herself as she did it, how self-concerned it was, that I knew it wasn’t done for me at all. I mean, it wasn’t what you’d think, it wasn’t a “strip tease.” And yet now that I’m eighteen and look back, I’m starting to think she did do it for my benefit, I mean to attract me – no, not really to attract me, but to make a statement, to impress a kind of stamp on me, my mind, my eyes, like she was posing as a sort of art work for me to remember, but not that blatant. I don’t know. It was strange. She handled every single one of her movements carefully, and I’ll bet she had been like that since she first cried in a crib.
There was a listlessness, too, in her movements – this somehow signaled to me that I should keep to myself. But this was only a tenth as clear and strong as that careful dabbing. Yet I didn’t resent it, though as I said I found it strangely repulsive and fascinating. I didn’t want more, didn’t want less. I was just contentedly overpowered. She put a dry sweater, jacket and pants on, but left her feet bare. She seemed to notice me then and gave me a sleeping bag, held it out to me. I gave her my damp towel and wrapped the bag around my shoulders and sat down again, hunching. It was like a neat puzzle, seeing how her clothes fit around her in various ways. I watched her bare feet.
“Shouldn’t you put some shoes on?” I said. She looked up at me, at this, and her eyes were now so sunk and wretched, or tired, I don’t know, so blue and purple and dark underneath, that I stared and a small, quiet fear and sorrow came into me.
I stared at her hands. I watched her face and her eyes. She moved in and out of the tent-cabin affair, collecting the sodden clothes and taking them outside. I guess she was hanging them up. When she came back in she gave me a power bar. I sucked on it. I was too exhausted, to tell you the truth, to grind my jaws. She made tea. I noticed she didn’t eat. While she made tea I noticed a man’s boots in one corner, beside a tin cooler. And standing beside it, leaning into the canvas corner, a rifle. I don’t know much about rifles, but it was bigger than a .22. I remembered something I’d seen on teevee, so I thought I would go over and smell the end of the barrel sometime, to see if it smelled of whatever a fired gun smelled of. I had no reason whatsoever to do this. Yet I didn’t want her to see me, so I pretended to take a little tour of the tent-cabin while she carried wet clothes outside, and tried to smell as I passed it, but I couldn’t smell anything, and I was afraid of being caught leaning over it when she came back in. That rifle bothered me, but I didn’t know why. It looked malevolent and hard.
There were lots of other things inside, too – even an eating table, and a rigged up sink affair. It was a pretty big tent, built on a semi-permanent wood bottom, about three feet high, then with some wood skeleton frame, going up and forming a roof, with the canvas stretched over this. There were a few chairs, a rack of books, a guitar, various camping stuff and clothes.
“Is there someone here?” I asked. She looked at me, as if studying me.
“What about those big boots?”
She ignored me, or hadn’t heard. Now that it was all over and I was warming, I began shaking again, shivering. The burning sensation came back, milder this time. It was very pleasant. I still had my erection, and it just stayed there, under the sleeping bag. It was starting to ache.
“Please don’t watch me,” she said.
“Yes, I’ll bet you are,” she said with that teasing smile. Then, with a suddenly aloof, almost contemptuous tone she said, “You can sleep here.”
“Where?” There was only one bed – a large air mattress on a raised bench. She nodded toward that. “But it’s – ” It seemed selfish to take her bed.
She looked at me and her eyes were tired. A moment ago they had twinkled. They didn’t seem endless now, like they had when she dropped into the pool. They seemed like jelly over fear. I wanted to stop that puzzled look. It made me talkative, as if I could talk us to normality, away from that jellied fear that made me uneasy.
“Are you doing the logging?” I asked.
She looked puzzled and afraid. “No.”
“Was someone else?” Now I wanted to mention the shot dead man but something stopped me – the jelly in her eyes.
“I mean who cut down all the trees? I was just wondering,” I said, as she watched me, “Because whoever cut them will be back soon, probably; to skid them out.”
She looked at me. “Please don’t stare at me,” she said. Now the tiredness was coming back, quite fast. So I lay on her bed and pulled the sleeping bag around me, quiet and sad. But the erection wouldn’t go away. I lay curled, hiding it. I had stopped shivering. It’s partly a matter of will power.
“Is this okay?” I said.
“Well, I’m looking at the wall, and not staring.”
What she did then surprised me, considering how exhausted, afraid and puzzled she’d looked – she laughed, it was a tinkling laugh. I smiled, contented. Then I had a severe, terrible thought: I imagined when I slept she would get the rifle, and would approach my back, and blow a big hole in me. Just as I rolled over to face the room to make sure she wasn’t, I fell asleep. I was in the ocean. I was drowned. I was looking up, and everyone normal, my brother and mother and the RCMP and teachers and the kids at school, they were up there in a boat, and I would never be able to speak to them again, I had become a fish. And then I was sinking, slowly, unable to stop, sinking.
When I woke, she was bent over the small camp table, still in the same pants and sweater, her feet still bare. The kerosene lamp burned, though it was daylight. The sun shone bright on the white tent wall. I must have slept a long time, because I was fully awake. You know, when you just haven’t got an ounce of sleep left in you, and even being in bed is immediately boring. I was eager to get up. I was happy as a new groom the morning after the wedding, and the whole world was filled with flowers and sun and green grass and birds and the huge new fresh future.
So I bounced up, the sleeping bag wrapped around me. My erection had come back. My testicles ached powerfully. When I saw her eyes, I knew she’d sat at that table all night. I sat down in the other chair at the table, a lump in my throat, not knowing what to say. I felt sad again. Then I saw the pair of boots again, in the corner, large men’s boots, and now in the clear light of morning. They weren’t mine, and they sure weren’t hers.
I remembered the strange compulsion that had sent me down the road to this cut of massacred logs, and the shot man who was somehow the trigger of all this. I studied her.
“Do you have a 4×4?” I asked, conversationally.
“I don’t know!” she said with sudden exasperation. I was a little sleepy and clumsy, so I didn’t pick up on how she was acting.
“I mean, I just wondered how you got here, and whatnot – are you here for long?”
“I don’t know!” she said, as if the question had bothered her, too, and she felt hopeless about it.
“Is there a road that comes into this cut from behind? I – were you here with a guy who died? I mean that man” (I pointed, offhand, at the boots) “did he die?”
Her head snapped up swift as a bird’s. She stared at me, her eyes were wide and round and sharp as a bird’s.
“I’ll do anything for you,” I said. I said it so easily. And, damn it, I started crying again, tears flowed down. Damn it! I couldn’t understand. I’d never said anything like that to anyone, much less meant it. But now I said it so easily and I meant it. I would cook her breakfast, or hold her. I’d rescue her. Anything.
We sat in silence. I wiped my eyes dry and felt hungry. Her eyes slowly filled with tears. That made me feel uncomfortable, but I thought it would be mean or rude to ask why she was crying. I felt reluctant to speak. That’s more like me than when I said “I’ll do anything for you.” That was a new me that said I’d do anything for her. I didn’t understand it, this new me, but I didn’t mind it at all, I liked it. It was an entirely new world, to say that. It made freedom and freshness and a wide, wide feeling come into me, not rushing but almost unnoticeably. But now, to ignore her tears, I said, sort of innocently, “Can I make some tea?” She nodded. I got up and searched for teabags. “Can I make eggs or toast or something too?” I was now in a bright, hungry, optimistic mood. She nodded, distracted.
“I… Do you mind if I just say what I want to say?” I asked cheerfully as I searched through the cooler.
Finally she said, “No.”
“I never do that, just say everything right out,” I said. “I can’t find the tea bags.”
She stared at the lamp, though the flame was barely visible in the canvas-bright sunlight.
I wasn’t looking for the tea bags, I was walking around in a circle in the small space of the tent-cabin. “But I feel like it now. You are extremely …well, you’re just, beautiful. But you’re healthy and… well, strong, I can tell that. You’re strong, and somehow you’ve… got into an `awkward state.’ I mean, is it mental, or is it – I mean, I’ll do anything for you.” I began to weep again, tears rolled down my face. I paused and breathed in a huge breath and sighed it out again.
“Now I don’t know what I’m saying.” I sat down at the table again. “I can’t find the tea or anything.” I looked at her. “You are so beautiful,” I said, in a quieter or maybe huskier voice. I sat and gaped at her. I was looking at her cheeks, and it was absolutely true, and I was somewhere where reality is different, because she was so beautiful.
I imagined she smiled, slightly. At least that superficial, foolish glint in her eyes, that was there yesterday, that I now knew was a kind of sorrow, was gone. But her eyes were still wet with tears, and that bit of fear was still in them, at the back. And they were eyes that I guessed had stayed up all night.
“Did you sleep?” I asked softly. “Can I help you sleep? Can I do – “ a huge pity or lump in my throat came.
She looked at me, and her wide stare absorbed and forgave me.
I stood up again, and started searching for the tea bags. Suddenly I was elated. I had told this beautiful woman that she was beautiful. She had accepted that, sort of. I was elated, strong, cheerful and hungry. “We need to eat!” I said, grinning and bouncing around and peeking down into the cardboard boxes on the floor, the sleeping bag still around my shoulders. “Where’s the food?”
“Oh!” she said quietly.
I sat down. “I can’t find anything,” I said. I burst into tears again. I didn’t know why. Like I said, I hadn’t cried since I was six or something and scraped my knee. I left the tent, slowly but shaking. I ran a few steps but had nowhere to go. So I flung myself down on the ground, on the wood chips and cool grass and roots around the campsite. For some reason I knew my life, from that minute onward, would never be what it would have been otherwise. I lay on the ground, knowing this, lying here, meant I wasn’t leaving. It meant I’d decided not to walk away from this – her – it. It probably meant I was going to go somewhere strange.
A long time passed, until my chest throbbed with the cold of the ground. I didn’t know what to do. She hadn’t sent me away, but she hadn’t indicated I could or should stay, either. In fact, she didn’t come out of the tent. I grew tired of lying on the ground, but I also felt weak, as if I could lie here forever. But I was bored, too. The sleeping bag was twisted so twigs and chips dug into my chest and legs, and my erection had scraped my penis very painfully, and finally I’d gone soft. I was bored. So I rose and wandered around the campsite a little, unsure what to do. I still didn’t have any clothes on, but the sun was shining so I felt warm, especially with the sleeping bag over my shoulders. It was as if I was in a bit of a fog, and as I slowly came out, as the sun burned brighter, I wondered what she had done with our wet clothes, and I looked around. I explored around the back of the tent/cabin, and there they were, on a log but otherwise not cared for. It was as if she’d hidden them so any visitor wouldn’t see. There were her pants and jacket, shirt and underpants, my jeans and torn shirt and jacket, our socks, in lumpy wet piles on a log, steaming in the sun. As soon as I saw them I remembered: The locket in my jacket pocket. The dead man’s locket.
I grabbed my jacket and felt the pocket. Empty! I’d lost the locket! I shuffled through the other clothes, every pocket, flicked them out, looked on the ground – nowhere. I got to my knees and shuffled through the dirt. Nowhere! I’d completely forgotten I had it, but now was like I’d lost a key to a new world, or maybe an escape from her, because now I wanted to escape her – but just in a moment, as if God had finger-flicked me, I had lost it. I started looking everywhere over the ground between the drying clothes and the tent. Maybe it had dropped out. Maybe she had searched in my pockets and found it. Of course. But how could I accuse her?
I walked slowly back around the tent, examining the ground. I decided to return to the pool – if I’d lost it, it was most likely in the water, when I was trying to rescue her. At least I would eliminate that possibility before I accused her. I sensed that if I accused her, it would be the end of – our – there was no word for it. Our love.
I can’t tell you how weird yet pleasing it was to travel across the cut, jumping from log to log in your bare feet, naked, the day cold but the sun warm on your back, your penis erect and bouncing up and down, your balls cold so they don’t bounce, the breeze hitting your ass, smelling the cut wood and the green and the salal and the occasional gnat or wood bug waking up, and dancing, bouncing, jumping through this – it’s good. I actually didn’t go that fast. I looked as I went, stopping here and there to peer down between the logs and debris. I didn’t really even remember our path from the pool to the tent, but I tried to duplicate it backwards. My feet and hands were so sticky with sap now I couldn’t have fallen unless I jumped.
I reached the pool, the same pool. I peered into its depths, but saw no silver glint. I looked around, at the rock, anywhere where I’d been, under the log I’d first climbed, everywhere. No locket. It was silver, so it should be easy to see in the greenery, but it just wasn’t there. For a moment I gave up, accepted the fact I’d lost it, and relaxed. I gave the pool another, cursory look.
Now it seemed some sort of spell had lifted. Everything was sunny and benevolent and clear, easy and logical, solid and right. Just a sunny day in the woods. The only thing that puzzled and fascinated me now was the woman, and that made everything else lift into health and good feeling. But I took another peek into the pool. I gazed into its depths. The water was crystal clear, yet brown, like really weak tea, so finally it disappeared into darkness. I thought I could just see the bottom, a cleft in the rocks deep below, two smooth curved rocks coming together in a cleft. Now I thought I saw a silver gleam, and perhaps even a curve to it, like a heart-shaped locket would have. But then I couldn’t see it. Waves never let you see, and there’s never water so still it has no wave. There seemed to be a lot of muck deep below, I thought I could see a pile of dead, rotted stuff. Then I realized I couldn’t see anything, and what I saw could be anything. I waited, then looked longingly into the pool’s depths again, calmly and almost lovingly, for several minutes: perhaps God would make the locket appear for me.
I straightened up and looked again at the massacred woods, lying all sawn and broken everywhere. I gazed over to where the road was, where I’d come at first yesterday and could have easily passed on, and never entered this jumble of pools and broken trees. I imagined myself going on, and for a moment I envied that person who could have gone on, who could have been safe and warm and relaxed and normal and not here. And for a moment, I almost was that person who would have gone out to the road, and on, and back to school, and grown up to be a doctor or lawyer and all that. In fact, I could walk back right now, get my clothes, and walk on home.
But even as I went back to the tent, I knew I was only going back to the tent.
I picked up our clothes, which were in morning shade, and laid them out carefully in front of the tent, on bushes and spaces of rock, to dry. Her clothes I lay on the rock, smoothing every wrinkle, the jacket above the pants, as if she were wearing them, and I gazed at them. They carried the same pleasant mystery as she did. They were her.
Wrapped again in the sleeping bad, I went into the tent. She was still sitting at the small camp table.
And there on the table in front of her, was the locket.