This week on my podcast, I read part one of my short story, “The Canadian Miracle,” a story set in the world of my forthcoming pre-apocalyptic Green New Deal novel, The Lost Cause, which comes out on November 14.
Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. -Fred Rogers, 1986
It’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud. -Bing Crosby, 1927.
I arrived in Oxford with the first wave of Blue Helmets, choppered in along with our gear, touching down on a hospital roof, both so that our doctors and nurses could get straight to work, and also because it was one of the few buildings left with a helipad and backup generators and its own water filtration.
Humping my bag down the stairs to the waterlogged ground levels was a nightmare, even by Calgary standards. People lay on the stairs, sick and injured, and navigating them without stepping on them was like an endless nightmare of near-falls and weak moans from people too weak to curse me. I met a nurse halfway down and she took my bag from me and set it down on the landing and gave me a warm hug. “Welcome,” she said, and looked deep into my eyes. We were both young and both women but she was Black and American and I was white and Canadian. I came from a country where, for the first time in a hundred years, there was a generation that wasn’t terrified of the future. She came from a country where everybody knew they had no future.
I hugged her back and she told me my lips were cracked and ordered me to drink water and watched me do it. “This lady’s with the Canadians. They came to help,” she said to her patients on the stairs. Some of them smiled and murmured at me. Others just stared at the back of their eyelids, reliving their traumas or tracing the contours of their pain.