Peter took the Grind Café Writers’ Group “Free-write Challenge” at this year’s Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival at Trout Lake, Vancouver. The brave drew random prompts then took a break from the fest to go sit under a tree, and let it rip for 10 minutes without stopping in a free-write—and see what emerged. Braver yet, they agreed to let us post their raw version. So remember, this is unedited, unfinished output. Thanks to all participants.
Prompt: This was a special prompt with a Part A and a Part B.
- In Part A people were asked to write for 10 mins. about a traumatic event in their lives and to write Part A before reading the instructions for Part B.
- Part B asked them to go back and read what they wrote, then insert what their feelings and emotions were during the events they wrote about.
My dog Pal died; he was the wondrous dog who allowed me to be a boy in Cameron Lake and Errington. With him, I was not afraid of cougars or bears even! I would launch off into the woods, up a side hill, anywhere really that was too wild for modern children raised in the fears of the world that has arisen, that has grown all around us.
But of all these things, Pal hated snakes, so he and I would go into the fields, and I would give him any snake I found, usually garter snakes—and he would hold them in his mouth and shake them to pieces.
Another time, I was lost in the woods in Errington but Pal knew the way home. I remember when we broke out of the woods, that my mother and all the neighbours were spanned out across the fields, looking for us.
It was the loss of the one who made these memories happen for me—Pal—that was the trauma.
©2013 Peter Hansen
It happened late at night and I remember that the event was important enough that my Dad woke me up to tell me what had happened.
I do not remember exactly how it was, but I was told that Pal had asked to be let out, in the way dogs do and, stepping down a few steps, he collapsed and rolled down the steps—dead.
The shock of it---the profound sadness that a boy feels when a close companion passes, I did not fully realize.
It was like it was not real.
It was like I could not truly feel it deeply enough to know what it was, what the feeling was, what the effect of it would be.
But I never really got over it.
I sort of ignored it these long years, and only now as I think about it forty-six years later, do I even admit that it was traumatic.