The Important

Floating. The tension of the water presses the wood of my canoe, keeps me bouncing through the dark, misty woods. Predators snap the twigs with their paws as they follow me along the banks of this winding tributary. I catch their blurred forms or the glint of their hungry eyes occasionally as I scan the edge of trees hanging over the waters.

I smell almonds. I don’t have any food—my leg throbs. I stop watching the water’s edge and lay on the orange fabric of the life jacket. This is just a dream. I need to open my eyes. I breathe in deep, long hoping to smell the coffee brewing in the kitchen. I smell almonds. Damn.

The canoe bumps, I feel the rock rubbing on the bottom, the aluminum yawns as it drags and spins. The jostling against the craggy stones of the river bed vibrates into my swollen limb. Like a wet paper towel, the yellowing flesh tears away from the jagged tibia jutting out just to the right of my left knee.

It’s reflexive, but I sit up to grab the pulsing agony. The motion shakes the boat, and the bone slides further out. My cries echo from one bank to the next and along the surface of the rushing waters. I hear a loon cry out in response to my high pitch bellow. It’s plaintive haunting cries bounding along the ripples. I hear the ripping of flesh more than I feel it as I ease back to laying down.

I don’t know if it’s shock. The pain is disappearing. The mist is thick, crawling over the edge of my craft and piling in around me. I watch it’s tendrils swirl like skeletal fingers on the edges of the boat then fall in like a waterfall.

My cell phone rings. I pull it from the pocket of my vest. Finally, I have a signal. I just don’t know where I am. Miles from nowhere. That’s where I am. I don’t recognize the number, but I answer in hopes this person can help me. I’ll have them call the rescue folks in case I can’t


“Hello, Mr. Jones?”

“Yes! Yes! I need help!”

“I know we don’t need to tell you how important this year’s election is. We need your help…”

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