A Sharp Morning

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The sky was a clear blue with glittering beams of brilliant sun slowly falling to rest on the boughs of trees and the soft, leaf covered ground. The forest was filled with the sounds of the Maine wilderness. I stepped out of our cabin and inhaled the early morning pine-scented air and was filled with the joy of being outdoors with the wild all around me. I glanced at the heavens. What a day this was. What a day.

The leaves crunched softly underfoot as I walked away from the cabin and towards my father, who was sitting astride a recently cut log, with a very long draw knife trying to peel the away the bark. His short black hair stuck straight up from his night’s rest. His face was creased and wrinkled with seriousness and unerring focus. The muscles of his arms flowed underneath his shirt; those arms that had comforted me many times before.

The question was on my lips even before I had thought it, and instantly I regretted it as the words flowed out.

“Can I help, Dad?” I silently chided myself on my impulsiveness.

“Sure you can, come here.” I settled down on the ground and waited. Immediately, my father launched into a complicated lecture on how to peel the bark off a log with a draw knife. As he drawled on, my focus shifted to the woods surrounding us, taking in every small detail, every dew drop, every leaf. Everything seemed to glint and flash, amplified by the peacefulness and sheer beauty of the woods.

“You got that?” My dad’s questioning voice jerked me back into reality.

“Yup,” I automatically responded. I lifted the knife and sat on the log. The knife felt so foreign and unnatural in my grasp.

“I’ll be down the Orange Trail if you need me.” With that he trudged off into the woods following an almost invisible path. I sighed with relief.

Slowly and awkwardly, I tilted my body forward, holding the knife out in front of me. With caution and careful precision, I lowered the knife until it touched the bark and pulled. The knife dug in deeper and then failed to budge. I pulled again, harder this time, and still the knife held fast. As I worked to free the knife, I wondered what I had done wrong. Why wasn’t it working? I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this without help from Dad, that I could figure out how to peel away the bark by myself. I wanted to make Dad proud.

So I flipped the blade around to hold it a different way. I went against everything that my father had just lectured me not to do. I was going to suffer the consequences. And once again I leaned forward, steadying myself with the balls of my feet. Just before I pulled, a flicker of doubt passed across my mind, making me hesitate for a split second before resuming my effort.

I felt my muscles tense and tendons stretch as I pulled with all the force I could muster into that one moment. The bark gave way. The knife cut an easy path through the bark, like butter, and then severed a long sheet of bark. But the knife kept moving. Everything seemed to slow down as the knife moved closer and abruptly stopped when it hit my knee. There was no pain.

The rest of my movements were in a haze as I rolled up my pant leg, hoping, wishing, fearing. The pant leg rolled over my knee. A clean bloodless gash, about an inch deep was carved into my knee. As I gazed on in mute horror, blood welled up inside the cut, bubbling and frothing like a drowning man clawing towards air. I screamed.





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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

Hobbles said...
Sept. 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm
Alot of people are saying on here that it doesn;t seem finished. I get what you were going fo rhere. I get what you wanted us to think and feel. Very well done. Congratulations. 5/5
 
raggedyanarchy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm
Good use of imagery, but i doesn't sound very finished...and a little more back story might be helpful.
 
BrittyMS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm
It's good, but it doesn't sound finished. What happened after? Did you faint? How did this affect you in the future? Keep up the good work!
 
teacher6 said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm
So what did you learn from this? How did this affect your life in the future?
 
Uncle T. said...
May 9, 2009 at 3:48 am
Jackson, your writing is exceptionally impressive, desciptive and insightful. A boy has many passages, struggles, and enlightenments in becoming a man....and sometimes we learn the hard way. There is no doubt you possess much wisdom and write with a smooth style of intelligence, but never forget the words of advice from your parents. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. You are very skilled and blessed with an amazing talent. GREAT STUFF!!
 
Faye said...
Apr. 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm
Wonderful story Jackson - and well told. You not only brought back memories of wonderful times in Maine but that inner struggle between being a kid and becoming an adult. Very well written - you have a great command of words and how to put them together.. what a gift you have! Thanks for sharing - Best wishes in your writing and other endeavors!
 
ETV5310 said...
Apr. 4, 2009 at 12:52 am
WOW! Thge author's vivid description put me right into the Maine woods. If his Papa is not proud of his bark carving, he certainly should be proud of his literary talent and vocabulary, worthy of an adult, much less a teenager. Keep writing, Jackson!
Wally
 
nonni said...
Apr. 4, 2009 at 12:15 am
Having been there myself, I know how well you caught the spirit of the cabin and the Maine woods around it. Your writing reveals your heart. This is good. What happened next? Write another story about that -- please. Nonni
 
ss said...
Apr. 2, 2009 at 11:10 pm
Jackson - you write like a professional with details that make your story come alive!

Aunt Sharon
 
Susan73 said...
Apr. 2, 2009 at 1:11 pm
GREAT JOB JACKSON!!! I felt like i was in the woods right next to you!
Aunt Sue
 
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