Thursday, September 15, 2016

the Giant of Juno Falls (part 3)

Jesse S. Mitchell

part two here

part one here

But it didn’t rain and the sky just sat up there, wilted, grey, menacing, holding back, holding back. So, the family went on, past their home, further down the road and deeper into the woods.  They went to Leah Williams’s mother’s house as was their usual custom on Sunday afternoon.  The drive was soundless except for the monotonous hum of hard rubber tires, punctuated by sharp pops of small rocks on the chip and oil road, barely paved.  Noah’s father had to constantly swerve to miss ever widening potholes and drop offs.  The movement of the trip was serpentine and nauseous.  Boring and wearisome and time-consuming.  Noah rested his head against the window of the backseat passenger side and looked out and up but all he could see was rocky hillsides and teetering pines, old old ancient-old knobby oak trees hanging on to their dormant rust colored leaves, fluttering like impotent feathers, so long locked down into the stony soil the old trees seem to want to take flight, pull up roots and run, but they could not, they knew they could not, so they just trembled in the breezes and teased the wind. Before long, Noah began to close his eyes.  His lids so heavy and stomach churning.  He fell asleep.  He always fell asleep on his way to grandmother’s house.
While he slept, he dreamt.  And began to see, with his dreaming eyes, tall Juno Falls and the shadowy cave.  The creak was swollen to river-size and up above the falls was more and more water.  The red giant was up there, working, building, placing trunks and huge trees across the edge of the falls.  He was picking up stones and boulders and making walls and he was using his own body to fight back rivulets and surging  streams that broke through in places.  He was trying to keep the gushing water back, trying to keep it out of the valley below.  He was singing.  No, not singing, just speaking, chanting maybe.  Noah understood the language, plain English, but it was a story he had never heard or at least not told that way, some old Chaldean legend.
Everything there was.
Everything there was.  Pure ones.  Fat ones.  He selected and put them on board.  The birds that fly in the sky, cattle of Shakkan.  Wild animals of open country, he put them on board.  He invited all his people to a feast.  He put his family on board.  They were eating and they were drinking and he went in and he went out, he could not be still or rest on his haunches.  His heart breaking and spitting bile.  The face of the weather changed.  Adad bellowed from the clouds.  When he heard his noise, he sealed the door with the bitumen.  Closing the door as Adad demon-bellowed from out of the clouds.  The winds raging.  The rope was cut.  The boat released.  Anzu tore at the sky with his talons and he broke the land and the flood came out like god-blood from behind the clouds. Sweet water. The kasusu.
The giant’s voice was loud and very deep.  The ground around Noah rattled with every word and it seemed like the cloudy sky thundered at every syllable.  The car finally began to slow and creep into a long driveway and the change in direction and  speed woke Noah up.  The dream was still in his head.  He had a hard time adjusting to the change; it was difficult shaking the dust from his mind.  And he wasn’t sure what he had just seen but he didn’t say a word of it to his parents as they walked to the house.


The old woman sat in a big overstuffed chair, bright blue eyes shining with multitudes of wrinkles at the edges of the lids, webs, smile creases down the cheeks, and long dimples.  Her grandson, Noah, sat in a smaller chair next to her and vaguely listened as she talked but mostly he was focused on watching out the window, looking outside toward the trees and ravines, where he wanted to be.  The house smelled like pork and rose petal scented potpourri.
“Now, my father and grandfather you know were from Wrexham, Noah.  That’s north of Shropshire and they had all kinds of stories like you are talking about.  They used to tell me about the Giant of Shrewsbury.  He made the Wreakin Hills from a load of dirt from his shovel and the mud he scraped off his boots.  Meant to cover up Wales or England or whichever, can’t be too sure now but anyways he got outsmarted by an old shoe salesman or shoe repairer…I don’t remember.”
“I wish you wouldn’t tell him stories like that.”  his poor mother sighed.
“Oh why? Imagination is good for a child, turns ‘em wheels in the brain.  A good story never harmed nothing.”
“Maybe not but it’s all I can get him to think about anymore.  Only reason he goes outside is to look for the foolish thing.”
“At least he is goin’ outside.  Good for him.”
“His school work is suffering.”
“Good.  Needs to a little at his age.  They expect too much from them at his age.  Ten years old ain’t no time for hard work.”
Leah Williams was attempting to argue with an unbeatable foe.  She relented, waved her hand, and said no more.  The older lady kept talking.  Noah fell deeper and deeper into trance, watching the tops of trees swaying and twisting in the wind.  Imagining the trembling earth shaking under big lumbering feet crashing down on the ground.  He could clearly hear the sound; it sounded like his father coming in tired from work every morning.  The way the door slamming made the whole hallway quiver, the way his father’s coal dust and mud covered boots hitting the floor made the floorboards rattle, all of that happening outside.  Writ large.  Gigantic.  Across the whole expanse of nature.  Or at least the whole of nature Noah knew and understood in the smoky hills of Appalachia, the knobby pines and bowed  red cedars, the valleys and rocks and yellow clay.  Mines and caves running underneath everything and streams and creeks running over the top of everything else.  Noah’s grandmother tousled his hair, he absentmindedly reached up to fix it, trying in vain to smooth down the unruly sticks and shocks of thick black fuzz on his head.  

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