Once Upon A Time by
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Magic, you once took me for a spin over the smooth ocean, with a sea gull and a passerby dog. The dog was our ballet master, instructing us with aesthetic purpose.  We circled and bobbed at his urging—arms, wings and paws in unison—as a giant red sun rose out of the water.

We circled and bobbed at his urging—arms, wings and paws in unison—as a giant red sun rose out of the water.

I would call this interspecies communication of the third kind.

The dog?  Maybe be had herding instinct.  Maybe he trained at Juilliard.

The gull?  He swam without a ripple.  Proud and graceful as a swan.

Me?  I was young and open to new experience.

I speculate that our pas de trois was not so unique, in the annals of time and experience. Variant brains have been forming since protozoa were young, sharing the experience of dawn over the ocean, which one doesn’t need a recumbent thumb or upright posture to appreciate.

I have not been asked back.  Arguably I missed my chances by growing old and cautious, and spending dawns in bed, far from the ocean.  I can’t realistically expect a passerby dog to break into my house, pull me from bed, and blow cobwebs out my ear.

From time to time, I’ve looked deeply into the eyes of a dog or a bird, looking for a wink of recognition.  To date no one has spilled the beans, except for me, here.

Profile photo of jonathancanter jonathancanter
Here is what I said about myself on the back page of my 2020 humor/drama/politico novel "The Debutante (and the Bomb Factory)" (edited here, for clarity):

"Jonathan Canter Is a retIred attorney; widower; devoted father and grandfather (sounds like my obit); lifelong resident of Greater Boston; graduate of Harvard College (where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon); fan of waves and wolves; sporadic writer of dry and sometimes dark humor (see "Lucky Leonardo" (Sourcebooks, 2004), funny to the edge of tears); gamesman (see "A Crapshooter’s Companion"(2019), existential thriller and life manual); and part-time student of various ephemeral things."

The Deb and Lucky are available on Amazon. The Crapshooter is available by request to the author in exchange for a dinner invitation.






Characterizations: right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Thanx Jon for the lovely memory.
    But it’s never too late – the magic, the ocean, and new companions await!

  2. Suzy says:

    Jon, this does sound like a magical experience. Maybe it could happen again, with a different dog and a different bird, and at sunset instead of sunrise since you now spend your dawns in bed. Be open to it!

    • I thought the memory fit the guideline of the prompt, although I am reticent with usage of the word “magic”, stemming in part from my inclusion of it in the title of my thesis on the incantations in Shelley’s poetry, how at it best it cast a magical net, and feeling somewhat over-effusive in the cold light of the oral interview I was subjected to as the profs kicked around whether mine was worthy of a magna., or just a run-of-the -mill cum laude. It I agree w your suggestion that one, or myself in particular, should keep the channels open to new experience lest they silt up and require a stent.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your description was pure magic; the best kind. But like any poet, the moment was transient and age caused it to decline. You filled me with sorrow that you have not experienced it since that youthful moment. But what a moment!

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Your description was so dreamlike I wasn’t sure if it was in fact a dream, an acid trip, or just a memory of a special moment from childhood, magically told.

    • Khati,

      I am pleased by your astute reading of my story. Thank you for your openness to the possibilities.
      FWIW, I’ve written a Part II (a continuation, with an overlap), as follows, if you should have the time and inclination:

      “Fifty years have passed, and I haven’t been asked back by the troupe. Arguably I missed my chances by growing old and cautious, spending dawns in bed, far from the ocean. I can’t realistically expect a passerby dog to break into my house, pull me from bed, and blow cobwebs out my ear. From time to time, I’ve looked deeply into the eyes of a dog or a bird, looking for a wink of recognition. To date no one has spilled the beans, except for me, here.

      But that’s not all.

      Memory is not a lock box, sealing its contents intact, until the latch is opened, and they spill out as they were before. More like the ocean, with the appearance of a hard surface, but soft and malleable to the touch. I reach in and draw out a prism of water, which reflects on the past, and slips back through my fingers.

      So it is that I remember what happened next as I stood alone on the shore in the wake of my dance with the bird and the dog. I’d been uplifted by them, no doubt. If they were sent as a sign, fine, much appreciated, mind-expanding, a glimpse behind the curtain, but I desired more. Call me ungrateful, but I lacked a plan for the balance of the dawn, or for the rest of my life which stretched before me like the enormous ocean, and I was alone.

      I did not have the tools or wherewithal, or a boat, or an entry point.

      Which is when I observed a form approaching me from far up the beach, a form which became identifiable as a person, then as a female person, then was within arm’s reach, then embraced me and I her on the beach for seconds, maybe a minute, until we separated, and she proceeded in her direction.

      Seems unlikely, I know. Assuming she was real, she might have been from the halfway house which was situated up the beach, and she might have been hoping for an affirmation of herself, as I was. On a wordless level, without any attempt at explanation, or continuation. Heart to heart, a close encounter of the third, fourth, or possibly fifth kind.

      Then the wind kicked up, and the season changed.”

      Jon

      • Khati Hendry says:

        That reassuring contact with a stranger may provide some reassurance that somewhere somehow things are as they should be as we head off into that rest of our lives. I met one or two myself, and have never forgotten, though the memory may be evanescent at times. Lucky you.

  5. Yes, a girl appeared (or was sent), and she gave and received back a blessing, a reassurance, a thin but undeniable strand of human contact. She definitely took the edge off despair; I hope I gave as good as I got.
    Lucky me.

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