Truth and Bright Water

Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King

Book: Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King Read Free Book Online
Authors: Thomas King
Tags: General Fiction
when the lights in the trailer went out and I was stuck in the dark. It took me a while towork my way back to the house, and even after I was in bed and almost asleep, I could hear auntie Cassie and the Swedish woman in the trailer whispering to each other and laughing.
    Early the next morning, auntie Cassie and the Swedish woman drove down to Prairie View to get some food. I wanted to go with them but they said no, that they had some looking around to do and weren’t sure when they would be back. Which was just as well, I suppose, because they never came back.
    I asked my grandmother what had happened, but she didn’t say much. She sat at the table, wrapped up in her sweater, and practised growling into her coffee, sending shock waves all the way to the bottom of the cup.
    I go into the house. My mother and my grandmother are sitting in the same chairs. “The chickens are fine,” I say, before my mother can tell me to go back outside.
    “It’s okay,” she says. “We should be heading home.”
    Most of the cookies are still on the plate. I take a couple while I stand there. “Where’s auntie Cassie?” I ask, even though I already know.
    “I’ll be out for Indian Days,” my mother tells my grandmother, and she puts her sweater on and goes to the door.
    My grandmother’s eyes are closed. “The box on the counter is yours,” she says to me without moving. “And next time, don’t tease the chickens.”
    When my mother and auntie Cassie were kids, the principal of the elementary school on the reserve, a young white man named Arthur Circle who had come from Ontario the year before, showed up at my grandmother’s door to talk to her about her daughters. There were some problems, Mr. Circle told my grandmother, problems that he was sure she would want to know about. Then he took out a folder and began reading teachers’ reports that complained about everything from inattentiveness to disruptive behaviour.
    My grandmother listened to Mr. Circle for a while, and then she snuggled down in her sweater and began coughing. At first, theywere just low chuffing coughs aimed at the floor, but as Mr. Circle turned each page in the folder, the coughs gathered force and took on weight and shape and began to fill the room.
    My mother said you could see that Mr. Circle was getting nervous. His face was covered with sweat. He pulled his feet in under the chair and began looking around the room and losing his place. Then suddenly, in mid-sentence, he stood up, excused himself, and was out the door without even saying goodbye.
    My mother and auntie Cassie watched him from the window as he walked and then ran to the band office, turning back every few steps, looking over his shoulder to see what was coming up behind him.
    The box on the counter is full of vegetables and chickens. It’s heavy and I have to carry it by myself. My mother walks all the way to the ridge before she stops and waits for me.
    “What happened to auntie Cassie?”
    “Nothing,” says my mother. “Nothing ever happens to Cassie.”
    The fog has filled the river valley. I take a few steps forward until it is right at my feet. In the moonlight, the fog glows like steel, and it looks as if you could step out and walk across it all the way back to Truth.
    “Look at that,” I say. “You can see the Frontier from here.”
    My mother puts her arm around me. “It’s pretty, isn’t it?”
    “Looks great from here.”
    “It always did,” says my mother, and she turns and begins walking down the trail to the ferry, leaving me standing on the ridge alone.

Chapter Eight
    M y mother’s quilt is not the easy kind of quilt you can get at the Mennonite colony near Blossom or one of the fancy machine-stitched quilts you could get in Prairie View at the Woodward’s store before it went out of business, and that is probably why it’s taken my mother so long to finish and why she is still working on it. Along with the squares and triangles and circles of cloth

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