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 history of being taken advantage of.
The therapist goes into more detail with relationship repair tactics: Set up regular times to air your dirty laundry. Don’t go to bed mad. Try a trust fall. You see the twitch in your lover’s posture; trust fall indeed.
I feel like you’re already picturing yourself on the floor, you say.
Good, the therapist says. Leading with an I statement shows ownership.
I feel like you’re being defensive right now, you lover says. I feel you should be trying to be more realistic.
You don’t trust me to catch you?
I feel you may not be able to.
That’s ridiculous. I’m not completely inept. I may have had little to work with in the past, but I’ve taken care of you. I’ve nourished you with my own hands, I’ve fought for our rights to our land and water. I’ve given you all I can. Baby bonus. Equalization payments. I’m the only one who paid their war debt.
I hear a lot of frustration, the therapist says.
Your lover cannot meet your eyes. I don’t how to say it right, they say. Not without hurting you.
Perhaps we can discuss the trust fall later, the therapist says. For now, let’s talk about maintenance.
Your lover says things like airing dirty laundry, positive sandwich talk, valuing empathy. You agree as wholeheartedly as you can. You wish your arms didn’t feel so hollow. You fight the urge to test your reflexes.
Read more from the Post-Oil NL project. You can find other fiction and nonfiction stories related to the Post-Oil NL project here.
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All this started with a set of discussion papers organized by Memorial University sociology professor Barb Neis in 2016, called Asking the Big Questions: Reflections on a Sustainable Post Oil-dependent Newfoundland and Labrador. We’ve built a bunch of stories around the issues we read about in the papers: audio stories, flash fiction, opinion, and essays. (We’ll keep dropping new content every two weeks.) I’d like to thank Barb Neis and the authors of the sixteen discussion papers for starting this discussion and for talking to us about their visions (or nightmares) for the future.