Currently resident in the Yukon Laura has lived in several regions of Canada. Her fiction has appeared in Rosarium Publishing ‘The Sea Is Ours,’ Third Flatiron ‘Fire’ (Pushcart nomination,) Domain SF, Hello Horror, and others. Her poetry has been published in Scifaikuest, the Fib Review, Haiga Online, Haibun Today, and others. www.lauraleehill.com
The Sign Post Forest by L.L. Hill
She danced around the Sign Post Forest like a leprechaun that had found its pot of gold, snapping pictures from every angle. Her camera clicked on an old hub cap emblazoned with a family’s name and the date, 27 July 2020 that they had stopped to memorialise their trip.
Winston’s brows were drawn together in an introspective scowl. He rubbed a freckled hand over red stubble and combed his oily, camp washed locks. His green eyes followed his girlfriend Mae Li as she explored.
Winston did not get it. It was a forest of over 150,000 signs of countries, cities, towns, streets and families on filched government signs, painted paddles, gold pans, boots, license plates and even tin foil pie plates that covered over three acres in the Town of Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. It was a bewildering babel to him.
“Wouldn’t you’ve preferred to see the spectacular auroras that lit up the news a day ago?” asked Winston as Mae Li folded herself over to take a picture of a post from the bottom up. “Imagine that picture with the sky lit in shades of green and vermilion.”
“The sky is blue. How many days in Vancouver have you wished for that?”
“But isn’t it bad luck to miss seeing something that you’ve traveled to see?” He rubbed a mosquito bite on an ear.
“Bad luck? You spent an hour discussing the black cat that didn’t cross our path as we left the dorm. You are too superstitious, Winston. Just think of all of the radiation exposure that we missed.”
“Which would mean the cat was a sign of good luck. My point was ‘luck’ is an intrinsic part of all cultures, more so than auroras, solar flares and even signpost forests.” He grinned as she rolled her eyes before dodging into another row of posts. He felt free to discuss anything with her.
His father had worked with earth moving equipment, giant machines that shaped roads and scraped minerals out of the ground. With the lean muscle in his arms, Winston hauled himself up on the tracks to look at the cab. This machine had been used eighty years ago to carve the Alaska Highway out of a wilderness of mountains and swamps. He imagined driving it, pushing a trail through trees, grinding over their fallen trunks, raking glacial till, leaving a road for others to follow.
“I found it,” said Mae Li behind him.
“Found what? I didn’t know that you were looking for something,” Winston said turning to look down at her. He smiled to see the glee in her brown eyes.
On impulse he jumped down, reached out and kissed her cherub’s lips. She giggled up at him and led him away by the hand.
“Here it is,” she said pointing to a license plate sized sign with the names Li Han and Mae Johnson etched on it.
“Oh neat, it’s your parents!” he exclaimed.
“They used to drive through in the summer on their way to the University of Alaska,” she said entwining herself around him.
“You didn’t tell me that it was here,” he said. “Is that why you weren’t worried about missing the auroras?” He kissed her dark hair and inhaled the morning breakfast fire’s resin.
“I didn’t know if it could be found in the midst of all of these signs and symbols of families and homes from around the world,” she said watching his face.
Winston’s face blanked and then confusion rippled across it as he looked from her to the profusion of sign covered posts. Some seemed to have twisted to watch the young couple. A light breeze that had ruffled the aspen leaves stopped to listen.
“I thought that this was a travel stop that listed other travel stops,” he said almost to himself.
“No, they’re all signs that represent families and homes.” She ducked her head into his chest and he tucked his chin over her head.
Now it seemed to Winston that all of signs on all of the posts had eyes and ears connected to all of the families that had posted them. All of them were leaning towards him and Mae Li, watching and listening. He smiled. All that he needed was something to draw a sign on.