Story Starter June 2017 – Abigail Taylor Rickard

Our June Story Starter features work by Abigail Taylor Rickard.

OWC is pleased to spotlight these talented artists and partner with the community in Moose Factory, ON on this special project.

To enter, write a short piece (100 words maximum) inspired by the art featured below. It can be any form of writing (poetry, prose, dialogue, haiku, etc.) as long as it is original. Submit your entry in the comment section below. Check the full entry rules and format here.

Introducing our June inspiration piece: 

About The Artist:  

This piece is the result of a thriving photography group guided by professional photographer and teacher, Julia Martens, who has resided in Moose Factory for 3 years now.

Spring on Ice Road is the work of Grade 12 student Abigail Taylor Rickard. She is encouraged by fellow photographers of the group: Adelle LaPorte, Nancy Samuel, Catherine Reuben, Kate Lovegrove and Julia herself.

Want to check out past contest entries? Click here.

Feeling inspired? Paste in your 100-word entry below!

  • Forward
    Time awaits conclusion
    Risk is elemental
    Thought is ethereal
    Action unwarranted territory

  • They told him she vanished that afternoon. At the edge of Creak Bay, he sat in his old truck grinding his teeth as he replayed the argument they’d had. If he could just take it all back! The melting ice of the bay shimmered as the sun set. It didn’t look treacherous. But he knew it was. He swallowed hard, his foot poised on the gas pedal. He would find her. And he would die trying.

  • Drive at Your Own Risk

    Sunsets as raw silk
    cast shadows that run towards me
    Still I edge cautiously towards the light

  • My car
    It doesn’t float
    Said the mechanic
    It’s not a boat

    But the ice became water
    And I heard the wheels grope
    And he bubbles were rising
    Where was that periscope?

    I looked for the nearest exit
    In no mood for a dip
    I assure you that this captain would not
    Go down with her ship

    The mechanic, he’s happy
    He’s made a friend for life
    I visit him so often
    I’m like his second wife

    My car
    Yeah, it’s running
    But with a complex so insane
    It hesitates to budge an inch
    When it begins to rain

  • As the sky darkened, a glove-covered fist struck the orange sign with a small shower of snow flakes, knocking it at an angle. A young man stood in the snow-covered road, staring at the words printed there, almost as if he couldn’t believe they were real. Beyond the new sign, the road split, deep pockets of slush hiding the lines that separated the asphalt from the water.

    “Only a week too late,” he muttered angrily.

    He placed two red roses, one large, one small, down beside the sign, before turning away from the mocking words.


  • The first time he saw the sign he scoffed at it. A yellow diamond with stern black writing,
    What do they know? I’ve been driving and logging these backwaters since I was knee high to a moose, fer Crissakes.
    He geared down, felt the truck growl in response.
    He knew where the crack started. Felt it rip through his soul again. Just like every winter night.
    50 years and the water was as cold and black as it was the first time.
    “Drive at m’own risk?” He laughed as he drove his truck back to the bottom of the lake.

  • Mucker’s box was loaded with supplies for the Arctic char fishing expedition. I was headed to camp to meet the rich Americans . The guide job earned me enough money to last the brutal winter. I felt like a bird in flight when I left the Rez. The road was rough and we had been gifted with a freak early June snowstorm to boot. I stopped Mucker has I saw the sign that leaned north in the slush. It read, “Drive At your Own Risk ” I got a soaker to my shins when I stepped out the cab. I pounded the cab and yelled, ” Mucker – get ready to giver’ bud ! “

  • She is beautiful but treacherous. But I am too far to turn around now. I don’t heed the warnings surrounding me. I feel flippant and young as I push forward, racing to the edge of a cliff I cannot see but can sense all the same.

    I tell myself that I will enjoy the thrill while it lasts. This beauty, this madness, is only possible, I think, if it’s razor sharp. I move in closer; I’ll take the risk.

  • About Moose Factory – Acrostic (100 words, not including title)

    Moose Factory… Nope, you’re right, I have never heard of it!
    Over there, not far from James Bay…
    Only way in is by ice road, when frozen;
    Save for water taxi, when thawed.
    Everyone there knows why it’s special!

    First English-speaking settlement, you say?
    And the HBC’s oldest tombstones?
    Can’t forget that it was the HBC’s second post!
    Tourism is certainly growing there now…
    Originally called Moose Fort, way back in 1673!
    Really, these days, Weeneebayko General Hospital employs lots of folks.
    You really should go, if you have the chance… It’s historically significant! It is Canada’s Sesquicentennial after all!

    The sun was melting like golden honey in the sky and the forest basked in its warmth. We’d been travelling for days on slippery roads. When we saw the warning sign, Becky was more anxious than ever. She begged me to take us back to the motel we’d just passed, until the roads improved. The ice on the road ahead, gleamed like diamonds in the setting sun. I couldn’t turn around. I had always told Becky how fearless I was. Living without her now, ever since she disappeared under the treacherous ice, is the only fear I’ll never conquer.

  • She had been driving through life at her own risk for years, so coming upon this sign seemed like an eerie sort of message from the universe, putting into words what had always been intuitive for her…and she noticed it made her a little sad. She felt exposed somehow, like she was getting one last warning before proceeding. A voice inside her head, almost admonishing in tone, gave her cause to pause…”Maybe it’s time to consider the consequences…” She took a deep breath, and put the car in park right in front of the sign. What had she risked so far? What was she risking by going forward now? Oh well, she thought as she moved the gear shift into Drive and gunned the engine…it’s too late to change course at this point in her life. She felt the familiar adrenaline surge through her veins as she spun out onto the frozen field.


    Many warned me not to leave behind the life that I knew, but the calling was too loud to ignore.
    I rose to the challenges as I embarked on my new journey.

    And so here I am now in the Great White North.

    “Drive at your own risk” the warning sign said as I approached a treacherous road one frozen Canadian winter. The road glistened with ice and smirked ominously in the fading sun. Dark and formidable; the forest stood guard.

    “Why would I drive when I’d learnt how to fly?” A few hours later I became a Canadian citizen.

  • Drive at your own risk that white wasteland of love
    Is this worth it?
    Will you now leave me bone-chilled alone?

    I guess the signs were blurred
    by spring’s love-rosy shades
    and to tumultuous times we drove
    with joyful-cozy ignorance and hurried-heart indolence

    Bone by bone we build a life…
    and you can’t live if you don’t risk freezing
    in the winter night, right?

    But will summer ever come again?
    Or are we adrift without end?

    For this we fight- the day of golden light!
    Above crisp pines that tap root into our souls
    There is the horizon sought, take a right!
    We’ll melt our icy shell to show soil for new seeds sown

    Baby come, lets find spring!
    Its neither you nor I, but both who need lead
    Let’s hold hands again, ring to ring
    this time experience leads us down the lane

  • We all take chances in life and sometimes those chances are the biggest risk. I asked myself a million times why I asked her to do it. It was only a dare. She was just supposed to touch the sign and come back. I was not trying to be mean. She was to suppose to come back. How was I supposed to know that there was something in the ice? The sign it was joke. Nobody took it for serious “drive at your own risk.” Maybe crazy Paul was not joking when he said he saw something. But what?

  • I stand here reading the sign that I have driven past countless times without thought. “Drive at your own risk” Now I just stand here staring, I do not feel the temperature, I should be cold but I’m not.
    Wondering, where everyone has gone, just minutes ago there was crowds screaming, crying, scrambling, but now all I see beyond the sign is a lonely marker, it draws me near a bone chilling cold sets in.
    I look up to see the bottom of the marker struck freshly in the ice, then darkness.
    I stand here reading the sign.

  • Signs

    Drive at your own risk. A small smile formed. Getting this far had been a long shot. She got out of her truck and looked to the south.
    The mushroom cloud was still hanging in the air. All the signs of the destruction to come had been there. You could feel the angry energy coming off people in waves.
    She was alone and felt relieved. A sign she’s losing it?
    She tightened the ropes holding down her worldly possessions and got back in the truck.
    Drive at your own risk. She actually laughed out loud this time.

  • A moment earlier the sun’s last rays had ricocheted off the ice almost blinding him. Now the shadows of the dark forest grew grotesquely large camouflaging the trail so that it was almost impossible to tell if he could still cross here. They hadn’t told him about this. Had they known all along that it was almost impassible? The message had just said that it was urgent. He looked at the sign. It had been there for some time. He had heard that if you drive slowly the ice isn’t as likely to buckle. Sweat started beading on his forehead.

  • Haiku

    In deepening dusk
    Frozen landscape looms ahead.
    A mortal warning.

  • The grip on my heart was ice-cold. It mirrored the frozen lake; tight and solid at its core, thawing only slightly at the surface. Small puddles of light reflected the promise of morning, only to crystallize again in the bitter wind. It had been a year to the day. 365 days of anguish. I kicked the sentinel, its condescending message mocking my pain. I was weak. The sign did not fall – only leaned in pathetic irony toward the very spot where the journey had ended.

  • I long for this island – the true north. The utter silence and calm is my drug. The remoteness is deep in my soul. “Drive At Your Own Risk ” – the warnings remind us that we are surrounded by water at times, but mostly ice. The ice road to the mainland can be fragile and vulnerable , like a premature infant. This place is not big enough or important enough for a bridge. It’s too small for money or attention. But, it’s private , it’s deeply personal , my home and native land.

  • Remember when it was cold all winter long?
    Things really have changed; the drive north is never certain. When you start out it all seems safe. But the sun comes out, the snow turns to slush, ice gives way and the load disappears. Food, supplies and sometimes even people sink into the not quite cold enough darkness of some lake.
    Maybe if someone had posted those signs further south before things started to change. And maybe if the sign read “Drive at risk to us all”

  • Evening approached and we had many miles to go on our snowmobile before reaching our destination. My companion Gloria was tired from being bounced around on the back seat. The black spruce forest was silhouetted against the red clouds of the setting sun, signifying impending darkness was near.
    Approaching the river a sign read DRIVE AT YOUR OWN RISK. We walked onto the river ice deciding it was thick enough to support us. We drove slowly across to the other side. I looked over my shoulder and Gloria was gone. then I knew the sign referred to something more ominous.

  • The basic power to have
    Setting the tone for every situation
    Limits are broken
    And every situation becomes a risk
    A three letter word
    Packed in with so much meaning behind it
    A vibration that only the universe can understand
    As it sets the same frequencies
    Whichever the outcome you choose it
    Driving down this riddled road
    A long distance journey of life
    Will you ignore the caution sign
    And drive like everything fine
    No one will know because you would have to choose this on your OWN..

  • Gina pulled her cruiser up to the edge of the ice road across the Moose River. It had corroded substantially since last night, what with the midnight sun and all. Her prime suspect was gone. The robbery had put Jimbo from the Gas’n’Gulp in the hospital (under the care of Dr. Whiteduck. He’s good. I had him after the skidoo thingy, remember?) Only a desperate ice-road trucker would have risked the crossing to Moose Factory with this break-up floe. She radioed the Moosonee station.
    “We pulled a Kenworth cab down river this morning”, they said. “Empty.”

  • Remembering Winter

    Antarctic Glaciers
    Calving way down south, but here
    We lost snowmobiles


    Maxi and Mila were identical twins. They were four years old when they were separated after their parents’ divorce. They decided to run away together, as separation was too painful. One night, when they were together for a sleepover, they sneaked out into the freezing cold. As they approached a sign, Mila exclaimed, “I bet it says Welcome to Canada!” The forest ahead looked foreboding in the twilight evening, but the twins longed for its shelter. Laughing with joy they skipped merrily on the thin ice. The sign gleamed in the fading sun. Drive at your own risk, it warned.

  • *** CONTEST CLOSED.*** Thank you and good luck to all who entered.

  • Sun dappled tire tracks
    Evidencing blind folly
    Drive at your own risk

  • Gina, a police constable stationed in Moosonee, was working on a case involving a violent theft in a convenience store in Moose Factory. Gina’s prime suspect was the driver who made the last delivery there.
    The ice road was melting and unsafe, and it was too early to use a boat to get to Moose Factory to collect evidence. On her way to interrogate the driver, Gina had a call about a car in the Moose River. The car was registered to her suspect and there was no sign of him. Did he survive?

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