Binge-reading Wikipedia can have interesting results.
Timestamp: September 2010, flashbacks to 1700s
Characters: Quebec, Canada
Warnings: descriptions of violence
Summary: In which Quebec takes a walk, picks up apples, feeds a bird, and recalls memories of some significance.
There's a street in the basse-ville of Québec City where he sometimes strolls when it takes his fancy, a row of small, home-owned shops with faded façades in need of a new layer of paint. The cobblestone street is in a similar state of disrepair, but in a way that seems almost appropriate: used, fatigued, ancient, but still hanging on, determined to show that it can still trip someone up if it wants to. The bricks and stones smirk - Hah, how's your sprained ankle now?
People call to each other from open windows and doors, everyday nothings. He sniffs and the odour of fresh bread and melted sugar wafts from the pâtisserie on the left. His stomach twinges. Time for lunch, perhaps. Later.
The shop on his right sells homemade quilts and other sewn accessories. He bends over to observe their wares in the display window and wishes he could touch the soft cotton and flannel sheets.
He looks up; the residence above the shop is still there, as it has been for the last three hundred years, give or take a few renovations. The window is open, letting cream-coloured drapes flutter in the breeze.
The girl had landed where he is standing now. He was on the other side of the street at the time, choking on blood from a broken nose, and he looked up at the window to see the girl, five or six years old, fall from the second floor, a silent waterfall of billowing skirts. She didn't scream. The dull crack of her skull hitting the road and her father's horrified shouts were enough.
The English soldiers dragged the still-screaming father out through the front door, carefully stepping around the mound of still fabric. Despite all their care, they left red footprints down the street. Someone would have to wash that away, and it wouldn't be them.
He unconsciously traces the path of blood down the street, following imaginary footprints. The soldiers barely cleared the block, he remembers, before he tore away from his detainers and caught up with them, and oh Dieu it felt good to get those first few punches in. Until he looked at the arrested man, the father who was his child, and faltered, and then they piled on top of him and dragged him down and took him to the nearest jail and he was tired, too tired to escape. None of his walls could hold him, but they weren't his walls anymore, were they.
His nose healed the next day, as did his cuts and bruises and broken fingers. The scars from the war, and what came after, stayed. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but symbolism also hurts me.
What utter crap.
"Watch where you're - oh. Here -"
He bends down to retrieve the apples rolling every which way and returns them to the woman's bag. She blows a strand of hair from her face. "Thank you."
He shrugs. "I can help you carry those. Where are you going?"
"Oh, no, it's fine. I live right over there." She points at the quilt shop, walking slowly.
He falls into step beside her. "I was looking at the display earlier. Do you make them?"
"No, my father does." They stop before the door. "The 'old-fashioned way', he always says. It's slow, but he's lived here his entire life."
"And you haven't?"
"I moved here a year ago to be with him."
"What do you think of the city?"
She looks away for a moment, shrugs, and smiles. "It's beautiful. It's like going back in time."
He buys a bag of pastries and a poutine and goes out to the park. Two hundred and fifty-one years, now. They had the big anniversary memorial event last year, and somehow or other it hadn't turned out to be a mess, even after someone had the disastrous idea of reenacting the battle right there on what was left of the Plains of Abraham. That idea was shot down faster than Alberta could tell you the current price of oil. He grins bitterly. What do you want me to do, he'd said, strip off my clothes so you can walk all over my scars again?
So they read passages from his people's history instead, and it seemed like everyone was there, thousands of quiet heads bobbing around. People sat or stood on the grass and listened. Even the seagulls seemed to shut up, which was a miracle of nature, no doubt.
There are a few seagulls circling overhead now. One lands and he throws it a piece of bread. The bird looks at him blankly and grabs the morsel of food before the others converge on it greedily. He rolls his eyes. Stupid birds.
"Salut, Québec." The voice comes from behind, soft and low, a mix of accents impossible to place. He sticks a forkful of poutine into his mouth and says nothing, savoring the potato-cheese-gravy mix instead.
Canada sits beside him on the grass, hands shoved into his red and white hoodie. It's a cloudy day but his wavy blond hair seems to glow anyway, framing a shy but serious bespectacled face.
Go away,thinks Québec. Unsurprisingly, Canada stays where he is.
"I didn't come last year," Canada says in French. "But I could feel it, sort of. There were a lot of people. A lot of energy."
"Yeah, well, good riddance," Québec mumbles through a mouthful of food. "What the hell would you know, anyway? Did you even exist back then?"
"I'm...not sure. I have memories from that time...the war...but I don't know if they're your memories or mine." Canada bites his lip thoughtfully. "It gets hazier the farther back I go..."
Then let me tell you what I remember,Québec wants to say. I can tell you how it felt to have the British trampling over my soil. I can tell you about the men I shot and stabbed and the blood I left for fertilizer. I can tell you about seeing defeat before me and refusing to believe it's there. I can tell you what it's like to have self and belonging stripped away until you're imprisoned by your own walls. I can tell you about a little girl who fell out of a window.
But some of that you know already, and some you'll never understand.
Canada smoothes his baggy jeans with large, long-fingered hands. He has my hands, Québec thinks absently, and sighs in exasperation. He shoves a bagel at his Nation. "Well, do you want it or not?"
Canada's eyes widen in surprise, then he smiles like the sun's coming out (it isn't; the weather is just as downright depressing as before) and takes the bagel. "Merci, Québec. I didn't know you cared."
"Don't push it," Québec grumbles, suddenly reminded of the fact that Canada shares more than looks with that Anglais bastard Ontario.
Je me souviens,he whispers, je me souviens, je me souviens.
It will not happen again, I swear it.
1) I am deeply, deeply sorry for any culture!fail, history!fail, or language!fail. Do please point it out if you happen to see an error. I am but a mere southern Ontarian who has not had the opportunity to travel very much.
2) I am aware of the negative portrayal of the English in this fic; bear in the mind the point of view and the situational influences.
3) ...I have no clue what happened to the formatting.