Kate Barton is no longer new to Toronto. Such indicators of this include but are not limited to newly solidified loathe for the TTC, and losing enthusiasm for (veggie) street meat. She’s very happy here.
For Issue 3, Kate imagined her life as a memory of youthful tomfoolery, along the lines of the film Stand By Me. The whole story couldn’t be squeezed in for the print version, so here it is in full!
Life as a Stand By Me Adaptation (UNABRIDGED!)
It was another lunch time adventure. We were sixteen and high school had brought us together in the Old South area of London Ontario. Four of us–myself, Kayla Harding, Liz Turner and Ben Jeffery, only a part of our rag-tag team of dorky pals, decided to listen to Ben’s wide-eyed journey ideas that day. We followed him to the heavily treed portion of the nearby park system pathway. Ben called this endeavour “going to Narnia.”
Keep in mind, he also called his dad “The Captain.” They were both hyperboles.
The harmonica was pulled out of its pocket as we left school grounds. I always thought it accented our footsteps with a dash of the sea life. Upon our entry into the forest off the beaten path, there was a large open pipe to the side, algae quite apparent, emerging from the ground. It looked like it should have stunk.
“THIS IS THE GATEWAY! The GATEWAY TO NARNIA.” He emphasized the wonderment for us. This time, we believed it.
There were many single-file moments, climbing steep and crumbling dirt hills with the shade as a god sent protector from the sun. Liz and I scrambled to strike a balance between keeping up with the wayfaring harmonica player, and convincing Kayla to not give a shit about her ankles.
“Aw, piss up a rope!” We slipped.
We got to the top. There was a high fence made of metal that had clearly stood for decades, the barbs atop browning where water had gone to sleep many times.
Liz asked, “Ben, what’s this building?”
“It’s either an industrial bakeryfort, or a drug front. Regardless, they may have a guard dog.”
We all knew about how guard dogs can be. We all thought about that whole “Chopper, sick balls” thing.
“–But it’s probably abandoned.”
Liz said, “Ooh! we should go check it out! URBAN EXPLORATION?!”
[A few days later, Liz and Ben did go and shuffle through the old building. They joked about how soft and uneven the wood floor was--soft and uneven, like dead bodies might be. This passing thought cut short their nighttime edition of urban exploration.]
Onward, there were songs and silences. The trees became a clearing and we were surprised by a set of train tracks crunched into the long trail of a gravel mound.
“Uhh…should we really wander on this?”
“Yeah guys, I don’t know about this…wouldn’t it be better to travel back around to the street?”
“But I doubt trains even come on these tracks. So inefficient.”
“Well how would you know? It’s London. And you’ve got shit for brains! I’m not dyin’ today, no sir!”
“Oh shut up, I’m sure it’s fine. Who’s got coins? See if it works.”
“Waste of a quarter if there’s no train…”
“We could come back later and check–” There was a pause, for a rumble was occurring.
“Holy shit holy shit holy shiiiIiIT!” The end of ‘shit’ widened with shrill pitch. Fumbling and giggling we saw the train, threw coins down, and scooted.
As the train rushed by us not 20 feet away, we huddled for no reason, in the trees. There was that distinctive moment that we were all here, and that we were all meaningful youth lurching toward a time where we’d all be apart, but never in this moment. No, for this moment, it was always going to be silliness and the kind of talk before you discover love.
We burst into our classroom an uncharacteristic thirty minutes late. Filthy. We had only been gone for two hours but when we came back everything felt smaller.
It was hot and too much had happened.