Imagined Futures

Of all the memories I have of my mum, some of the most vivid are of conversations we had while in the car together. I don’t know if it was the mix of stimuli – the music on the radio, passing scenery as we drove along, the inevitable laughter … or if my brain just recognized these moments as the kind that needed to be stored at the highest fidelity. Whatever the case, I’m grateful. The car had always been a classroom when it came to my mother; while some people might remember fondly conversations across the dinner table with their parents, I have the various incarnations of vehicle over my lifetime.

Now, the thing about my mum was that she never really gave me advice about life. There were a few instances, but for the most part, she actively denied me the satisfaction of guidance. In those moments, it was always frustrating, (I wanted an answer, dammit!), but these days, I look back and realize that what she was doing was gifting me her trust (that I would figure it out) and gifting me the chance to trust in myself. It was a gift of self-determination, really. So, while we spoke often about what the future might hold, the path I was going to take was always up to me.

The thing about the future though – no matter how assured you might be in who you are or what you want or where you want to be – is that it is always in flux, and full of forces outside of your control.

Some people have religion. Batman helps me make meaning out my life.

I was inspired to write this impeccably infrequent blog post by a friend (and fellow writer)’s blog post entitled “Imagined Pasts”, because it got me thinking about all those conversations I had with my mum whilst going for groceries, or visiting, or any number of other things we did via car. I remember distinctly, for instance, while sitting at a red light at the five corners in the EoA of London, my mum giving me what I would later refer to as the “Alfred Speech”, in which she basically told me that, as far as she was concerned, there was nothing ‘here’ for me and that I shouldn’t ever feel guilty about leaving and figuring my own way in the world. That was about as close as I ever got to ‘mom advice’. “Imagined Pasts” started me thinking about all my imagined futures.

When my mum gave me that permission to leave and not look back, I doubt she ever thought I would return to Londontown, (aside from Christmas visits, which was her one stipulation). I was just about to leave for Vancouver at the time, with a game design future laid out before me. In some other reality, that Melissa is still in Vancouver making games, or maybe she took that offer to go work in Gothenburg and is who knows where …

I figure everyone in their life eventually has that reckoning when they realize that being an adult doesn’t actually mean anything (aside from the fact that you have to pay bills). As a kid, being an adult seemed like this threshold I would eventually pass through – coming out on the other side knowing what it was I was supposed to do with my life and knowing exactly how to do it. Then, as a young adult I started to doubt. I started to wonder why I didn’t know what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to come to this enlightenment. I remember thinking all the classics too: that I would have all the time to do the things that I enjoy, that I would have the freedom to buy things I wanted to buy, travel to all the places where I wanted to travel, and then, of course, that I would eventually escape my hometown. Surprise, surprise, turned out none of these things are true! More importantly though, I think one of the biggest reckonings in my life has been the realization (and continued acceptance of the fact) that my future is never going to be exactly as I imagine it. I don’t know if I’ve publicly confessed to the fact that my life is not what I ever thought it was going to be, but that’s the truth.

It’s been eight years since my life fell apart the first time (due to forces outside my control), six years since my mom died suddenly, and three years since the last time my life fell apart due to forces outside of my control. I’m tired of picking up the pieces of a life that I used to have and trying to cobble something manageable together, but it’s what you got to do. Lately, it’s come to my attention that maybe – just maybe – I might actually have reached that point where I’m no longer picking up pieces, but actually am building something new. Moving forward. So, with that in heart, I’m currently trying to heal, which is a new concept because for the longest time, I’ve really just been trying to survive.

My life is not what I ever imagined it would be, but who’s is? There’s a certain freedom to simply expressing that question – challenging this long-held notion I’ve carried so long in my mind, body, heart and spirit. ‘Letting go’ of past imagined futures isn’t exactly what I’m advocating though; it’s more about futurity. That gift of self-determination.

Futurities are the work we do (as Indigenous Peoples) to build a better future for ourselves, our communities and our nations. First we must envision a better future; then, we work towards it. For me, my futurity seems to be starting in earnest right now: healing, taking stock and imagining a new future, something I haven’t allowed myself to do in a very long time.

The Skin of the Earth — Child’s Play

Chapter 7

Daniel hooked around the threshold of the door to peer into the lobby.

“Far end,” Sundown said, crouching, watching.

He followed her line of sight. Near the opposite end of the wide hall, where the boys had been playing their game, stood one of the youth in blue bandana and trenchcoat, arms outstretched, encircled in a white light that was emanating from the ground. The boy’s lips were moving but Daniel couldn’t make out what he was saying over the screeching and shaking of the building.

“Is he … summoning?” Daniel asked, incredulous.

“Nope,” Sundown said, taking a step out into the lobby. “He’s summoned. It’s done.”

Continue reading

The Skin of the Earth – The Everseer

Chapter 6

The door opened to a grated catwalk, revealing another section of the Junction just as large as the makeshift skate park but a storey or so sunken. The catwalk ran down the middle of the room, ending — much like the rails Daniel had seen when they first arrived — abruptly, with scaffolding holding the pathway-to-nothing in place. To the detectives’ left, a spindly staircase was bolted to the wall. Sundown held the railing as she made her way down.

The staircase disappeared into grey mud. The walls of this section seemed raw, as though their flesh had been torn off; in truth, this room felt more like a sub-basement that had never been meant to see the light of day. The air was moist and damp with tendrils of black moss reaching out across sections of the coarse bricks. The corners were bathed in shadow, in stark contrast to the pool of sunlight that streamed into the middle of the room from a gaping wound in the roof overhead. This is where they found the Everseer.

Continue reading

Skin of the Earth – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Daniel sat in the slider quietly, feeling physically and mentally exhausted. He fiddled with the bubble, readjusting it to the cuff of his shirt. Sundown hadn’t said anything since returning to the slider. How had she known that he had magic? 

“I take it you’re going to strap me in once we get to the Junction?” he said after a moment.

“Why, are you forfeiting?”

“You mean I passed your second test?”


Daniel went over the events of the ride thus far. The Grid question, then – what? Was it really a test to see if he had magic, or was there something else? What else could his partner have gleaned from pitching him out of the slider? What a question, he thought. 

“We’re almost there, so you do want to keep playing or not?”

“Are you going to throw me out of the vehicle again?”

“Tick tock.”

Continue reading

The Skin of the Earth – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Daniel did his best to remain as neutral as possible. “What do you propose?” He was disappointed to hear the annoyance in his words.

Sundown was still smiling. “Three questions. You get two out of three right by the time we get to the Junction and I’ll let you keep playing detective with me.”

Daniel chose to look straight ahead rather than allow Sundown’s continuing pleasure at his frustration further seep into his body. “And who’s going to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t correct? You?” He didn’t wait for her to answer. “It seems a little stacked against me.”

She let out a snicker. “Welcome to the boden.”

Continue reading

The Monster at the End of the Manuscript

Blame it on the narrative inquiry course I took in the summer, or the year-end, but I’m feeling retrospective, meta even. (Or maybe, this is just another permutation of my overdeveloped ability to procrastinate? Either way,) I want to write about writing …

I’ve been methodically wading through the homestretch of my novel for the better part of a year now. I use the word wading because these last few miles have turned out to be more of a bog than the smooth, downhill trek I had always envisioned. My boots get stuck in scenes. I get turned around in the mist. Sometimes I lose entire sequences in the mud. Just yesterday, I realized I’m missing a side B plotline that was always in my brain but never fully materialized on the screen. All of this to say that I’ve been thinking alot about writing, writing this novel in particular, and seeing more of the process with each resolute trudge. There’s something ahead in the mist and it is terrifying – an ending, not just of the story but of something far more visceral. Continue reading

The Skin of the Earth – Chapter 3

Chapter 3

He had studied conflict resolution, human psychology, workplace dynamics … none of which had prepared him for the resolute indifference currently being exercised by his partner. A frog is a frog. That was the last thing his sister, Maddie, had said to him before he had left for the boden. She spoke in dreamtongue now because the spark they had used to waken her had been tainted. It can’t be anything else, no matter how much it wants to be a salamander. Was Sundown the salamander? A creature of fire, it wasn’t entirely unfitting.

Daniel took a seat, exhaling, expelling as much negative energy as he could, and decided to try and wait out his new partner.

Two detectives walked by on their way into the captain’s office, sharing a smirk.

“Who’s this, Sunny? Mail order groom?”

“New intern,” Sundown muttered without bothering to open her eyes.

Daniel opened his mouth to say something but the two men had already left. He returned his attention to Sundown, finding his patience expended. “Are you going to tell me about what happened this morning?”

“Not right now.”

“Then when?”


Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Death

My mother died on December 26, 2015. Due to a complication from the vasculitis she had been battling for two years, she had to have emergency surgery and shortly thereafter, had a stroke and then another. She simply never woke up.

I tend not to say “I lost my mother” when I have to tell people. It’s a weird thing to say, isn’t it? To have lost something implies ownership of responsibility. I’m not responsible for my mother’s death and I certainly didn’t misplace her. This, of course, speaks to the very clumsy way we have for talking about death.

Continue reading

The Skin of the Earth — Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Come on,” the man wailed. “I don’t know a thing about Jerrica, or anything.”

“Really?” Sundown commented. She began a slow tour of the one-room apartment. Daniel made a point of standing back as his new partner played her little game. She stopped in front of a beat up side table with a gaudy lamp sat atop it and started playing with the purple beads that hung from the shade. “Because Finley told me you were running crystal for Jerrica.”

“Fin? Come on, Sunny. That’s bad data. You know how much that one lies.” The man’s voice sounded calm enough but the sweat on his brow betrayed him.

“Exactly why I’m here, Diggs. Got to verify …” Sundown put a boot on the side table …

“I can’t believe you don’t trust me –”

… and kicked it over. The lamp shattered, and shards of rose quartz spilled out onto the dirty carpet.

Diggs, for his part, just stared silently at the pile of pink gems.

Curious, Daniel knelt down and picked one up. They buzzed softly in his hands. “Tuning crystals,” he said. “They’re pure.”

Continue reading

Mirror — Storytweet

New #140story — what do you think?

Erik splashed water on his face. He could feel eyes on him but surely the men’s room was safe.

His reflection quietly disagreed.

What is a storytweet?

Basically, an exercise/experiment to stretch my brevity and impact skills. The goal is to set a scene or atleast provide a tiny window to a bigger story in 140 characters or less.

Check out the other storytweets here.