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  • When I lived alone on the island there were times I didn’t see another person for weeks. In the fall there was hunting season and people snatching a last visit out to finish a job or project but, for many years, early spring was a wild and desolate time.

    I pretty much lived in the kitchen of my parent’s old house. Two rooms in the bottom of the narrow ell off the main house. There was a small woodstove in one room and I backed a rocker into the corner beside a window next to the stove. I could lean back and put my feet up behind the stove. A kettle on the woodstove and the kerosene lamp on the table beside me. A book in my lap.


    The light inside was golden warm and the steam from the kettle frosted the windows. I didn’t bother with the old gas fridge and just kept whatever needed to be cool at the top of the steep cellar steps.

    Sometimes I had the radio on for company until the DJ and the repetition drove me to shut it off. The wind is enough of a constant on the island that when it drops out the silence is a deep presence full of the small mutterings of an old house settling slowly into the land and the long touch of the sea against the shore and the rush of the tide rising and falling in the bay’s great basin.

    When I stepped out there was only my light, only this one small glow in all the world
    All the rest of the island
    The night heavy

    Some nights the night welcomed me and I walked down through the village, past the empty houses and looked out to the lights of the harbor and the glow of civilization rising up to stain the darker line of the horizon. But other nights had a different quality and from behind and suddenly I felt the the dark upon me.

    Then I ran back to the warped kitchen door and fumbled with the knob. Desperate to be in.
    Heart pounding
    oh quick, quick

    I’d rush inside. Slam the door behind me, lean against the wall. Against the wall not the door for fear of it following behind and being there just on the other side pressing back to be in and me so close with only the thin door between us.

    I waited long minutes for the feeling to subside. Long minutes before I could cross the room and settle back into the rocker in the corner behind the woodstove. Long minutes while the soft comfort of the one kerosene lamp created a sanctuary there in the wilderness of night.

    And still I would stop my reading and raise my head. Sit straight and quiet, listening, alert, and then return to the pages pretending to read to let whatever was close know I was occupied and have it pass.
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