TITLE: THE WIDE STARLIGHT
GENRE: YA magical realism
You’re not supposed to whistle at the Northern Lights. According to Arctic legend, those colored waves of light are the souls of the dead streaming across the night. They don’t pay us living people much attention, but if you whistle, they’ll swoop down and carry you off forever.
I know it’s true because my mother whistled at them.
When I was ten months old, she took me out of the house at midnight. She’d dressed me in my snowsuit and two hats, one over the other, nesting cozies for the baby egg of my head. Silent, she carried me through Itigajaq, the tiny hamlet where I was born, and stepped out onto the frozen fjord.
Everyone says I was too young to remember any of it, but sometimes when I’m just about to fall asleep I see her face, a strand of black hair caught on her cheek, and so many stars over us that it looks like a blizzard frozen in time. The lights were a long line of ectoplasmic green, their edges hinting at pink, wavering from one horizon to the other.
Miles from nowhere and nothing, my mother stopped. She held me tight to her chest, pressed her nose against my hats, and whispered my name. Elisapie. I curled into her, sleepy and safe. Then she tipped her head back and whistled. It wasn’t a song; it was a call.
The wave of electric light curved down. It took her.
It left me there, alone on the ice.