December 31, 2003 15:33 | Confession / Stories

Skipping stone

I grew up on a four and half acre piece of forest where the Lake of Two Mountains flows into the Rivière Des Prairies. Our immense Tudor style home was on the western tip of Ile Bizard, at the end of Monk's Point road. If it sounds surreal, then you'll already know me a bit better.

One of my absolute favorite pastimes was going down to the waterfront and skipping stones. My father had taught me how at a young age and I soon fancied myself a real pro, often imagining myself winning stone-skipping world championships.

One... two... three... four, five, six 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14... Fourteen skips! Perfect straight line, clear across the river! Yeah!

Though I never managed it, the river being about half a kilometer wide, I tried so hard to land that stone on the other side, in Pierrefonds.

After a while, I stopped counting.

Tac... tac... tac, tac, tac, tac, tctctctctctctc shloob.

Hm. Shloob.

After such a glorious flight... shloob... the stones disappeared. Caught by the surface and pulled under, into the depths.

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood when it first occurred to you that you don't go on for ever. It must have been shattering - stamped into one's memory. And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. What does one make of that? We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the words for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling with the knowledge that for all the compasses in the world, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure. (He reflects, getting more desperate and rapid.) A Hindu, a Buddhist and a lion-tamer chanced to meet, in a circus on the Indo-Chinese border.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard