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Indy Fiction

Part 8: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

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Part 8: At home, you and your lover sleep in different rooms. You weigh yourself down with bedding and blankets like it will keep you anchored, keep you from bursting out in the darkest hour with some dramatic gesture – I love you, don’t leave, here is a song, here is a poem – something passionate and spineless containing no real evidence or external support. Everything you do or say now is poisoned with desperation. You lie in bed watching an unseasonal snowfall smother the new spring growth outside. Social media teems with complaints and side-by-side comparisons of the current climate versus kinder weather in other places. You hear the front shut – you lover leaving early. There will be no escaping the desire for better surroundings today. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL In this moving story, Denise Cole talks about Indigenous resistance, what motivates her activism, and how she became a…

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Part 6: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

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Part 6: In the following days, you hold up your part of the bargain. For date night, you prepare a meal of fresh local food which you only had to ask four people how to obtain. You go out dancing to traditional songs, beautiful melodies composed from the most romantic of poverty-stricken situations. The two of you sway together. The music and fresh air encourage smiles and you feel warm and safe and loved. But when you are alone, anxieties fill reservoirs in your mind. Charm can’t fill the oil tank in February. How can you offer stability in this boom or bust life? You recall the restraint in the therapist’s voice: you sound frustrated. Well, no shit doctor obvious. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL Jerry Dick, Executive Director of Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, talks about how people in the province used to create homes and communities that responded to…

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Part 5: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

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Part 5: Your lover presents you with a list. At least it is not a Dear John letter. You open it right away to show how eager you are to start getting things right. The list is a number of plans and tactics; “I” statements, honesty hour, date nights. Your lover says if we’d installed these practices long ago, we wouldn’t be in this rut. We wouldn’t have this surplus of despair. You agree and make sure to help with the schedule. For Honesty Hour, your lover has procured a therapist as they feel a neutral party is needed. Arbitration makes you nervous. Stages like this in grievance procedures can result in ultimatum. THE SOUND OF POST-OIL Rhonda Pelley forecasts Newfoundland and Labrador’s future using a series of tarot card visual art pieces she created. She said she wanted to create art in response to Muskrat Falls and to the province’s…

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Part 7: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

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Part 7: The therapist talks about listening and being receptive to the other’s point of view and you realize all these instructions for really for you alone Your lover picks at their fingernails until the therapist pauses. When they unfold their prepared items for discussion, their hands tremble just a little. The urge to reach out is so powerful you sit on your hands. You’re good at sitting on your hands. Our life together is undermined by instability. I wonder if it can be any other way with you. I wonder if I’m crazy for staying. I wonder if I’ve done something to deserve this. We’re in a situation where even the concept of planning for the future is in danger – will there be work? Will there be positive change? Will we continue to love our friends and family as they distance themselves from you? Sometimes – and this is…

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Part 4: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain Its Romance

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Part 4: Your lover texts to say they’ll be home late. You wait, taking careful breaths. Every time you blink, you picture them with a different expression: their mouths forming a “no,” their lips curling with impatience. You hope you can beg for another chance without seeming too hopeless. You wish it was like those days at the beginning. One of the best things about learning to care about someone is witnessing the gradual emergence of their beauty. You notice how their cheeks fluctuate into a smile, into a laugh. You still see the shape of their shoulders when you close your eyes. In the stretch of falling in love, they become both known and new to you, like a surfacing, like a season of giving. Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in Bridget Canning’s series. You never thought of it as passion, but…

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Part 3: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain Its Romance

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Back home, you embark on a vigorous online research endeavour: Getting Better. Improvement from the Inside Out. Healthy Habits. Eating Organic. Holistic Nutrition. You read, take notes, keep an ongoing list of URLs, all the while recognizing how your focus slowly splits into thirds – get better, show you want to get better, get better just enough to stall your lover’s departure. It’s difficult to get into this wholeheartedly when you know your bank account won’t maintain these diets. Six dollars for a pack of greens turning wet on the produce shelf. Grocery chains sell you packs of blueberries for five dollars so you won’t get them for free in the ditch. And none of this online literature addresses your lifetime habit of just keeping your belly full. A limited food budget meant mom could get bologna and KD – it kept the kids happy, kept them going. It showed…

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Part 2: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance

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Out of your discount chair and into the bathroom. You splash water on your face. In the mirror, you take a look at yourself from all available angles. Your reflection reprimands you: stop being a sook. Go for a walk, figure out how you’re going to get your shit together. Outside, low-hanging summer fog makes a crawl space of the city. You stomp until pavement becomes stone, stone becomes moss and cliff. You find a space to plant your arse and regard the persistence of your ocean. Find a way to keep going, it seems to say. Don’t drown in your own petulance. Easier said than done. It’s so easy to submerge yourself in thoughts of what you could have been. A little spitfire. A praiseworthy example. An actual nation. Instead, it’s obvious your ruggedness is an act. Lately, everyone sees you as a failing grade, a low price, a…

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Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Save its Romance

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Part 1: You discover your lover’s email by accident. You aren’t sneaking — it’s addressed to you after all, even though it’s still lingering in the drafts folder. How are you not supposed to look at something for you? How do you ignore a message with a subject like Us? I have been thinking about leaving. You’re frozen to the computer chair. Your bare legs slowly paste themselves onto the warm vinyl upholstery. You bought the chair together on an excursion to a big box store where you weighed the pros and cons of ergonomic furniture. You both decided to go for the one on sale. Now there is always an ache between your shoulder blades after a long day of writing. Lately, it has become too difficult to envision our future. I know some of this is for my own personal reasons, but an unavoidable part of this decision is…

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