Excerpts of ``Not Alone`` by Chantal Bellehumeur
Excerpt from Part one
Hi. My name is Harmony Goodhumor. Before you ask like most people I meet, yes I like to live in harmony with others and am generally in a good mood. However, as I am human and therefore not perfect, I don’t always live up to my name definition. From time to time I am in an unpleasant mood and sometimes get made fun of because of it.
I will admit that I had problems living harmoniously with one particular person in my youth. Wow! The last part of my statement just made me feel really old! I actually just celebrated my thirty second birthday and hope to live until I am about triple my current age.
Anyways, my younger sister Katherine and I did not always get along when we were kids. In fact, we argued a lot. Most of our arguments were about movie rental selections, and the uncleanliness of our playroom or the small bedroom we shared. Sometimes we would cause scenes over stupid things, like the fact that one of us looked in the other’s window during a long car ride or even went over the invisible line of the middle car seat that separated our sides. I always sat on the left and Katherine sat on the right. We shared the middle seat and were pretty anal about our spaces. Not even our toys or books could go over the other’s side without us arguing. We would also annoy each other by placing the tips of our fingers close to the other’s face. When we would yell out “Stop touching me!” the other would say matter of factly “I am not touching you.” We drove our parents nuts. Of course, they always told me to show the example because I was the oldest and it irritated me. My sister seemed to find it amusing and always stuck out her tongue at me.
As we grew older though, Katherine and I started appreciating each other’s company and became closer to one another.
I think the fact that our mother died when we were children made us realise how important it was not to take your family for granted. I was fourteen and my sister eleven years of age when we found out that our mom had cancer. It was a complete shock to us both, and to our father as well. My mom just went to a doctor’s appointment and came home with the bad news. We all thought that she would fight it, but the disease had already spread too much by the time it was discovered so the chemotherapy treatments didn’t do anything to improve her well-being. It seemed to just make her sicker and lose all her beautiful long black hair.
My mother died six months after her diagnosis, at the age of forty-five. I was holding her hand in the hospital when she took her last breath. I don’t remember ever crying so much in my life. I don’t think I ever saw my sister cry so much either, and she used to be a real cry-baby. My father tried to be more discreet about it, but he wasn’t fast enough in wiping his first tears. Katherine and I told him it was okay for him to cry in front of us, something we had never seen him do. He ended up crying a river just like us.
Excerpts from Part 2
I had trouble getting up Sunday morning after my alarm went off, but was highly motivated by the fact that I would be reunited with my sister soon. The fact that the weather report announced a sunny and cloudless day made me confident that we would get on a plane this time.
Everyone was a bit slow at getting ready because we were not fully awake. When I saw that it was time to go, I urged Andrew and Christian to get their things and put their shoes on.
Our taxi arrived before we made it to the lobby so when we saw it in front of our building we ran towards the white vehicle with our luggage. Once at the airport, we repeated everything we had done on Friday evening with three exceptions; we picked up caffeinated beverages, didn’t need to dry ourselves because we were not wet, and we actually boarded a plane this time.
I stopped at one of the airport’s coffee shops to get a hot chocolate for Andrew as well as a vanilla flavoured coffee for myself. Christian didn’t want anything. He isn’t a coffee drinker and wasn’t in the mood to drink anything except cold water. He filled his water bottle at a drinking fountain.
We could see the sun shining brightly outside by the time we got to our boarding gate and were all smiles. There were no visible reasons not to fly.
Suddenly, an ear piercing alarm went off. Everyone looked at each other, unsure what to do. No announcements were made and none of the airport employees gave us instructions. They all just went about their business as though they could not hear anything unusual. It took a while for the noisy alarm to get shut off and we never found out exactly what the problem was. Many people were curious and I heard some of them ask a stewardess at our gate what had gone on. She calmly said something about an emergency door. I assumed that nothing was wrong with our flight and all that mattered to me was getting on a plane to Moncton.
When the boarding announcement was made, I jumped up excitedly. We were finally leaving! I mean, REALLY leaving!
Landing went as well as the entire flight. We got out of the plane in a hurry, but I took the time to take a quick picture of the aircraft as a souvenir before walking into the airport.
After getting our suitcases, we walked as fast as we could to go meet my sister. Unfortunately, she was nowhere in sight. Not many people were at the airport so we just headed to a café located right in front of the only entrance.
A few seconds later, I saw my sister walking alongside a casually dressed man who had short black hair. I presumed it was Daniel. I excitedly ran towards Katherine and was greeted with open arms. We both gave each other a tight hug.
Remembering where I was and that there were other people around, I let go of my sister. Andrew gave his aunt a big hug too, and then formal introductions were made. I introduced Katherine to Christian and Katherine introduced us all to Daniel.
“I forgot to park the car,” Katherine admitted once everyone had said hello to each other. Daniel started laughing. I didn’t understand what my sister meant so I asked her to explain. “I was so excited about picking you up that I started getting out of my car before shifting my gear and setting the parking brake in place.” Andrew and I laughed at that, ignoring Christian’s concerned look, and we started heading towards the exit.
At Cape Pele, we carefully hiked down a small rocky hill, walked near the ocean tide, and climbed many huge rocks. The view was breathtaking, especially when the sun started setting because the rays glittered on the water.
I stopped for a moment to close my eyes and take a deep breath of fresh air. I realised it smelled lightly of fish. I became more aware of the noises around me, which included nagging seagulls and the blowing wind. The sound of water heavily hitting the large rocks was pleasant. Christian took my right hand, which was pleasant as well.
Christian and I took a moment to cuddle together. Katherine and Daniel did the same.
I saw that Andrew felt a bit adventurous. He dipped his feet into the water and began to walk towards a boulder. He made it, but lost both of his green flip-flops in the process. I ran and quickly fished them out of the cold water before the tide could bring them further into the ocean. I then went to get Andrew from the boulder because he was afraid of losing his footwear again but did not want to walk directly on seaweeds. He didn’t like how slimy the marine algae were. It reminded him of worms. To be honest, I was never a fan of the texture either.
Doing my best to ignore the gooey plants that brushed my sandaled feet as well as the bottom half of my bare legs, I told Andrew to get on my back. I carefully gave him a piggyback ride to the shore, realising how heavy he was now. He is not fat. He just grew so much and I remained short and skinny.
As we continued our pleasant walk, we found a few curious openings in the massive rocks, many snails, broken oyster shells, and of course sand. Andrew wanted to bring some of the reddish granular substance home, so I gave him a small zip lock bag to fill. I had brought it with me just in case I found some nice seashells since I collected them. The only ones I found had holes in them so I tossed them back on the uneven ground.
Before it would become too dangerous to walk around the rocky grounds we headed back to the car, taking the time to admire the stars and shiny moon in the darkening sky right before getting inside the vehicle.
Nothing compared to the high tide of Hopewell Rocks though, starting with our first lookout. The grounds that looked cracked earlier could not be seen. A mass of water covered it all. “I told you it would look quite different, didn’t I?” Annie said.
“Now, remember how there was no water at all there before?” Annie asked us. We all nodded. “Now that you have seen the low and high tide of this part I can tell you my story, which is funny now but really wasn’t at the time.” Annie then explained how her and three of her friends had ventured far out onto the dry land and then noticed that the tide was coming in. “We started walking back but realised that we would never make it to the shore before the high tide. We knew we would not be able to swim once the water rose because it was too far and the water is freezing which would have led to hypothermia. So, we escalated some high rocks and waited until the tide came and went.” Annie gave a little chuckle and added: “As I said before, this happened way before I became a tour guide. I am much more experienced now.” She had definitely proven that.
With Annie’s story in mind, we took the small shuttle that looked like a golf cart down the foresty hill like we had done in the morning.
When we got to the lookout, we could see several people in yellow kayaks floating in the water where we had walked around earlier in the morning. We could not go all the way down the stairs unless we didn’t mind getting wet. Who knew where the crab Andrew had found was now. All the seaweeds we had seen where now covered and completely out of sight. So was the large opening between the flowerpot rocks. “The water has now reached fifty feet,” Annie said.
I think I must have stood with my mouth partially open for quite a while. I had seen pictures of the low and high tides of Hopewell Rocks, but being on site was something else. It was amazing!