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 The Song of the Muted Dove

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Jay
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Age : 19

PostSubject: The Song of the Muted Dove   Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:40 pm

It was at 12 years of age that her hunt began. The land around Arviat was always intimidating, always looming, ‘a white devil’ as her grandmother would call it in the peak of winter. Only good for killing. She’d adjust her thick-rimmed glasses and spit a vitriol. That’s why I’ve never left the village perimeter, not once.
The devil’s fury rages in its winds, its strong fisted gusts. They had no mountains to be their warriors, their shields. It was lonely in the circle. Kaya felt the brunt of this on her twelfth birthday, with her papa as a dot on the land. All there were were the gray weeds that tumbled along the permafrost, and her, and papa. He was a long-faced man. He always seemed to be pondering.
She’d made her first kill there, on the wings of her father’s advice. It never stayed solidly in her head, always amongst roaring winds in an icy chill. He’d shout, time will wait for you. Not a single minute will go by if you focus, and there has never been a man to return from hunting at nightfall. Nightfall is yours. Chin up, little one.
Blood was a sweet thing. Honeysuckle warmth, it’d run down her lip at the crack of her skin, run down her hands at the cleave of a kill, it burned warmth and hunters lived off it. They were never to mess prey, but it would come in drops, and she would command time long enough to find one. A drop. Scarlet in blue, tick tick tick, she awoke.
The clock read 10:37, going along, faster than she could comprehend each tick’s tangibility. She wanted to absorb morning, but it reminded her she couldn’t, and the girl arose. She saw the sun’s warmth paint white blossoms along the pink wall. The sun was honest there. The girl fastened the red tie to her uniform, hearing the bustling outside her window, the prospect of a bright Saturday morning. Birds she had never seen before, strange scarlet passerines passed by her window. They rustled the leaves, sending shades across the tie. She liked it in all of them. “Thanks,” she told the fleeting birds. Tick tick tick. She was a regular Quentin.
Loic taught her to read English ten days after her twelfth birthday. Beeeh, beee, cuzzz, he sounded out with his own uncertainty, because.
You’re bad at this too, she said. He laughed heartily and told her he was the best she had. The postman was the best she had. The white devil brought no one else to her, but it had been a few years and she was accustomed to wanting no one else. Nagligivaget, she whispered soft enough to endure the dancing flame before her lips. He was twenty one at the time.
Say because for me.
This dormitory was new to her. She had never had such an interesting, fantastically large space all to herself. She examined every inch of it, as she had the day before, taking her time, the ticking blending with the silence of the nothing and the shutting of the door behind her. Keep going, papa would say, even if it’s to a place you’ve been a thousand times. Time is infinite. Ice doesn’t frost over those who move. Her brother had once been dared to say still in the nightfall for as long as he could. He lasted an hour before he couldn’t move his legs.
Larissa wasn’t there. She’d hope to see Larissa there.
On her thirteenth birthday Kaya went to the cafe with her friend, Aklaq, and stayed there for what seemed to be an eternity, refilling her ambrosic cup with the dollars papa and mama worked up for her. Use this wisely, mama had said. She couldn’t think of something wiser than that.
The whirling snow outside sung like a muted dove. Borealis whispered. She watched her friend grin and laugh. Who do you like, she said.
The mailman, Kaya answered
He is too old.
All good men around here are.
At the arousal of another giggle, the birthday girl, flustered, spat that they would get married one day.
Nagligivaget.
Say because for me.
“Hello,” she smiled smally at the passing mailman, the word rounding on a sharp Canadian accent. The mailman took notice, and raised his eyebrow, stroking his smoky beard and stuffing white rectangular notes into the tin boxes.
“Where are you from?”
“Nunavut,” she answered in whisper.
“Where is that?”
“Canada.”
“Must be up north.”
“Yes it is, sir.”
The first time she’d met an American, they asked her about a boat, and she wanted to know why they were so obsessed with a boat. She was five at the time.
“What is your name?”
“It is Kaya, sir.”
“Nice to meet you.” His age showed in his eyes, the curves around them, and he turned from her and chuckled. “My name is Doug, it’s nice to meet you Kaya.”
He was old, but she saw Loic in him. Her heart beat fast.
When she first arrived at Beata Academy a week ago, Kaya felt drawn to the forest, and it called for her. It beckoned her with branches, scratching at rooftops. Where was that deer? She heard the crunch of the shallow snow as she diverted for a short detour, to return a book on hunting, hunting, she heard the crunch of the shallow snow as she walked with papa and his friends. She was 13 years of age. She heard the muffled chorus of shushes through clenched teeth. Watch this. Watch what she can do.
Go on, little one, papa said. He had a look of pride that upturned her glum for a short while. It faded, of course, when I looked my adversary in the eyes. It’s white pelt heaved up and down as it made its way towards her. She threw down red light midrun, and it collapsed in a heap.
Pinga, came the chorus.
It’s Pinga, it’s Pinga, it’s Pinga. They converged on the attacked like virus, its pelt blotching scarlet in blue.
They think you're a goddess, Aklaq had told her.
Do you think I’m a goddess?
I think you’re Kaya
“Thank you, sweetheart.” The lady punched the keys under her computer with one hand, the book levitating in the other. “You can go now.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re kind.”
“Thank you.”
She was off to the forest, the emerald escape, the winds of the white devil taking her. They were lesser here. When someone grows up in Arviat, her mama would say, they become the strongest people on Earth. Kaya certainly felt strong that day, the conquerer of a sea lion.
Nagligivaget.
Nagligivaget.
“Where are you going?”
“I am going to the forest.”
A grin. “Isn’t it too cold for that? Where is your coat?”
“I do not need one, it’s nice weather.”
“Don’t catch hypothermia.” A walk.
Time seemed in her control when she was out there. It had begun to look familiar, this forest, a surprise for someone who’d never been in one before. She’d been preparing all her life for that. She hugged her arms against the brisk cold, the echoes of spirits following her in the wave of the trees. Pinga. Pinga.
Qujannamiik, mama. Aklaq gave a high-mouthed smile. Speak up, Kaya.
Qujannamiik, mama.
Ilaali, dear, mama said. Aklaq closed her eyes and breathed, and they began eating, and she felt human.
Demon!
Devil!
You killed her!
She fell into a silence as the forest collapsed into a rippleless pool, and she saw it. The bear cub stepped over the bark, hobbling through the woods, and she watched. She pulled her collar up and rubbed her arms.
You’re all I have now.
I want to see what all the fuss is about.
She led her friend along the white devil, time passing night in a motorized hum. Her boots crunched in the flakes that remained on the dead grass. There was always something frozen on that grass, whether it be snow or just dew.
It's cold out here
Then why did you beg me to come?
Her laugh was dry, and they trekked for a few more minutes in an ocean of silence. She'd never seen an ocean before. What was that like?
There are none out here, she said.
You’re wrong, her friend replied. Look, it’s over there.
They both spoke on scratchy breath. Nanook.
Trap it, said her friend, get some fur, impress that mailman.
The brown bear’s mother showed herself, a large beast hobbling after its young. Lost in her memory, her body acted on its own, on the will of its demons and in spite of the ghosts that pursued it in haste, all the way down to North Dakota.
Stop moving, she screamed, but the howling overtook her voice, and Kaya froze as its force overtook her. Clack, clack, clack, a stone struck her head, and further the beast on top of her, and Nanook roared a deafening roar, warm spit taking her over, and there was the emanation of a scream. She ran through the brush. She jumped up and left her there.
The brown bear roared. Kaya withdrew her knife.
“Give her back to me!”
It was a stream, a slight trickling, the coarsing through eroded dirt trickling through her skirt, around her knees as she thrusted the blade, further and further, harder and harder, scarlet on blue that flowed down the trickle to its astonished cub.
“Give her back to me!”
“She was all I had!”
Her arms were wrapped in sleeves of blood. Where her right hand middle finger would be, the shiny glint of a warmed blade.
Silence. Kaya watched the cub nudge its mother with a murmuring cry. She shook, raised her hands to her face, and washed her face of tears and blood. It made her shake more. She washed her arms with clattering teeth.
Aklaq?
Yeah?
Nagligivaget.
I love you too.
Nighttime sunk onto the forest. Like a blanket, low wind fell, its song quiet like that of a muted dove.

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