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 Land Protector. She recalls the moment in 2016, when the falls went quiet.
In the spare room where they slept, you see they have pulled out empty boxes. They are lined up on the carpet like headstones. You fight the urge to throw them out – if you want to prove you aren’t toxic, you have to show how open and emotionally healthy you are which goes against every instinct because you are not okay. You are on the verge of being abandoned and there is no improvement plan.
The clunk of the mailbox reminds you to clear the step. All you need now is a Canada Postal Worker injuring themselves on your watch. You layer up and go outside. The predicted thirty centimetres is more like forty-two. Your neighbours are shoving their doors open, blinking in disgust. At least you procrastinated putting the snow blower away for the season. The purr of the engine is a kind distraction and you clear a pedestrian path down your street, then the next, and on and on until you realize that in your daze of self-pity, you’ve made your entire neighbourhood walkable. There is a ringing in your ears and you kill the engine, but it remains – it is your neighbours cheering. They clap and tip steaming mugs from their doorways. Some move forward, mothers with strollers, children, people with walkers and canes. Now we can move freely, they say. Thank you for putting us first. God love ya.
And then you spot your lover, arms heavy with empty boxes from the NLC. You blush – here you are, once again, grabbing any opportunity to set your ego a-glow. You step forward – you can at least offer to help. How many more boxes are in the car. Let me get the door.
And then they are airborne, whisked off-guard by a patch of black ice or frozen litter and the boxes fly from them and you are running, pitching forward in your wool-lined Sorels, arms reaching. Your lover lands hard in your embrace and everything in your body screams in effort. But you have done it, you have secured this fall, even though something in you is probably broken, for now the crowd cheers for you, all laughter and praise, you did it, you didn’t break apart yet. And in your arms, your lover smiles. Together, you wave to the street.
Read more from the Post-Oil NL project. You can find other fiction and nonfiction stories related to the Post-Oil NL project here.
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.