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  • Writer's pictureMiguel G. Lourenço

FICTION: The Red Tonequi

Updated: Feb 13, 2019

Picture by Crista Forest

The Red Tonequi is a fictional memoir book that has been in the backburner for a while. Below, you will be able to read an extract of one of the early chapters. It was first developed for the Life Writing module in university. The Red Tonequi's one of my personal favourites--a cathartic creation.

I never got around taking off the rosemary necklace that hung from my rear view window, left there by my ex-wife. It bumped and tapped the windshield as I sped through the bumpy dirt road. I was running late to meet up with the housekeeper that maintains a small cabin in the woods not far from the intersection. His name was Robert Went. I knew a Went back in college; it brought me back to all the jokes revolving around his surname. My sense of humour and creativity have long since improved. The contents of my messenger bag struggled to keep their footing as well:

  • A container filled to the brim with apple crumble. It had still been hot when it was sealed; the plastic was all fogged up. The old woman living in the apartment in front of me loved to share her cooking, especially since her husband passed away. I think eating the crumble contributed to the longing I felt during my trip to Guoontonuk; the thought of living out my older days by myself, yearning for a connection frightened me even in my early teens. As a divorcee and father of two, it had become a living nightmare.

  • My binoculars, passed down to me by my father. William had been a nature enthusiast long before I was born. This particular item was one of few things I found worthy of taking from the huge, dark mahogany chest etched with Native American folklore he had left me in his will. A leaf scrapbook and an animal sighting notepad were the others. My father played no part in my epiphany, funnily enough.

  • My smartphone, passed down to me by a Target employee. Technology tends to be mother nature’s recurrent enemy. Especially in Naturalists’ tales. I for one, like to depend on an internet connection for databases, colleague inquiries and note taking whenever a more traditional method isn’t viable.

I thought about honking to notify Went of my presence, but the nature lover in me reminded my hurrying self to relax. I decided to collect my things instead and head out; knocking on the door instead. Knock, knock, knock. A woodpecker echoed the beating knuckles on reinforced wood. A lyrebird blared in the distance. Went opened the door. An old man in his 60’s, black brows contrasted by gray hair and a graying moustache; the housekeeper bowed his head and welcomed me inside. That’s the kitchen, he said. That’s the bedroom, that’s the toilet. That’s the landline, he added, pointing at the desk next to the stone fireplace, logs crackling a dispute with pinecones. His number was on the first page of a notepad he left next to the ancient cream-coloured phone. Went advised me to call him if I needed more time or information about the reservation. I thought it unnecessary.

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