Echo North
By Brian Barbeito

The way that led to there was sparse on the sides, and after the structures, as small and scattered about as they were, passed by, there was not much for a long time save for fields, and the sky met these fields far and far off, where there sometimes seemed to be a tree-line there in the horizon’s narrative. Eventually signs and earmarks of something crept up again, just when you got used to the endless spaces and were almost kind of resolved to it. A gas station, a billboard wooden but with steel legs, tall and loud, though faded now,- talking about marinas and eateries and listing kilometres. Then small statues of gargoyles and elves, of little women that looked like witches and little men that were stranger than any artist’s rendering of a forest sprite or guardian deva of the woods. These were spread out on a property, and down by there was a church, small, fifty pews, and the bell on top. The priest that had lived in back was spry enough, but then died like everybody dies in time- but hopefully he had eternity covered because he was fond of saying that when you meet God the words you want to hear are, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Beyond the church up that way, nobody went, because there wasn’t a reason. It was the other way that the asphalt turned and a street turned again into a little city with boats bobbing on the back shore walls, and luscious green lily pads were in still waters, and allowed little frogs to go and rest, or the fish to get some shade as they traveled past. The sun hit the little rural city and seemed to shine on it always, and in the far end of the area water vessels came in and out through an inlet that could be got to from the meandering waterways and passageways. The inlet led out, a series of large rocks on both sides where people gazed at birds, fished, or just watched it all, - to the larger lake, which was indeed vast. It was difficult to imagine how large the lake was, and infinitely more difficult to truly know in your mind and bones how big the world was. There, at that inlet, it felt as if one was at either the end or the beginning of a world- and though one couldn’t always be sure which, there was the certainty that it was somewhere significant. But to think that there were hundreds if not thousands of such inlets in places all over the world was another matter, and each town with a story, and each person with a tale and biography to relate, and each of these persons with a dream life, a work life, a romantic life, a health life, a culinary life, a psychic life, a karmic path, a dream world.

The streets out front eventually led to a large house. It had underground electrical wires that lit up fancy and smart black lamps that stood beside curt and confident retaining walls. There were vans and cars and trucks and even a boat in the driveway. The porch was a wraparound porch, and it held chairs and terra cotta pots that housed yellow and red flowers. Inside were a grandfather clock, and a room with portraits and pictures. The fireplace beyond that sat in the middle of models and statues. Sailing ships that the engineer had built, bought, or else had been gifted with. The kitchen was open and vast, and had a place where people talked in front of it on tall chairs. Beside all that, around the wall, a long dining room table and a sitting room. Chandeliers, china, paintings, mirrors, plants, carpets on hardwood, and crown moulding was there also that watched the whole environment.

Out back the boathouse could be seen from that window, and it was the largest in the area, housing a forty foot power boat that was moved in and out of the water by electrical cranes. The walls and levels had sub-sections and maps, calendars and tools, jars and fishing rods, towels and lifejackets, hooks and pencils, switches and pulleys, magnets and gloves, and these items faithfully surrounded the boathouse like a painted mural or mosaic representing order, surety, intricacy, but above all the importance of preparedness and ingenuity. Outside of there, on the side, were pepper plants and tomato plants, while across from those were two majestic Weeping Willow trees, their branches swaying in all seasons and winds, their root systems absorbing water and thus helping to protect the structure of the boathouse and the larger abode behind.

Inside the house, upstairs, the various rooms had balconies and decks, and the middle room was a library and common room. From those windows a person could look out and see the waterway and how it turned and crept, meandered, seemingly whistling its way along, scurrying a bit here, and then relaxing there, but all the while still going past the shore walls, the rope bridges and larger bridges, the manufactured and manicured lawns and the other wilder, vacant lots alike, trying to find its way out, a reservoir in itself, yes, but still connected to the vaster space beyond, and trying to make its way, by turn and sometimes by tussle, by trial and also by chance, by time and patience, out to the larger world and currents beyond.

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Brian Michael Barbeito writes impressionistic vignettes, flash fiction, short stories, prose poetry, experimental novels, book and film reviews. His work has appeared at Glossolalia, Subtle Fiction, Mudjob, Six Sentences, Thinking Ten, American Chronicle, Our Echo, Ezine Authors, Author Nation, A Million Stores, Crimson Highway, Paragraph Planet, Useless-Knowledge Magazine, Exclusive Conclave of Delights Magazine, Linguistic Erosion, Synchronized Chaos, and Lunatics Folly. His work is forthcoming in the Contemporary Literary Horizons Journal, Kurungabaa Magazine, Bare Root, Otis Nebula, and Crack the Spine. He is the author of ‘postprandial,’ an experimental prose poem novel, Vignettes, a compilation of short writings, and Windows Without Glass, fifteen flashes of fiction. Brian resides in Ontario, Canada

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