The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Cause we don’t post enough around here! And because it’s 10:30pm and I have to board a plane to Regina in 30 minutes and my post is due tomorrow. And maybe sometimes I’m too honest? So, some fiction:

Places She Cannot Go

She is on the couch, her head tilted down, so that she looks at me out of the top of her eyes. The room is lit from above so her mouth is in shadow and I cannot see her speak.

“Where are you going?” she asks.

Where am I going? she wants to know. Always. Even if it’s only to the store I have to tell her I’m going to the store.

“I’m going for a drive.” And I realize that she fills me with fear. I look at her legs as if to ask her what she could possibly do about my leaving. It is an exhilarating feeling. “I think I’ll go see Mother.”

I look past her at a picture of us, both smiling, her legs draped over my arms, my face happy, no signs of the strain in my legs as I forded that threshold. She looks past me at her chair folded in the corner. I watch her hands spasm, like her legs that walk at night while she is dreaming. I shook her one night about to tell her that on some level her brain knew her legs were still there. She looked at me when she woke up. Looked through me. Like she knew this already. I couldn’t tell her, it would have been cruel. So I waited until she fell asleep again and then I woke her again, only this time it was to watch her legs stop.

Her legs have not worked in 186 weeks.

On the highway to my mother’s, a truck smashed into our car like a metal fist. I held my breath, squeezed my fingers into the steering wheel. The seatbelts pinned us down as the car turned into a decelerating, crushed amusement ride. I didn’t scream. I couldn’t. But she did. She stopped when we came to rest upside down, in the ditch. She asked me if I was okay. I was.

The accident was so loud, the aftermath so silent and numb, that in those infinite moments before rescue I heard the plumbing of the universe gurgle and decide my fate. Someone rapped on the window. The doors were pried open. They pulled me out first because I let them pull me out first. I didn’t say, pull her out first, she is hurt. I didn’t say, I have to know she is okay. She came next, pulled through the blood and gore, her cut seatbelt tangled around her like an umbilical cord. They laid her beside me and she looked at me and calmly said, I can’t feel my legs. I didn’t look at her when I told her they were still there.

To be aware of yourself like this is a terrible thing. I want so badly to sleep again. My eyes have grown accustomed to the dark. Now when I wake her she cannot see me. I go places she cannot go.

I don’t go see Mother. I drive until I find a deserted stretch of highway. I accelerate with all the windows down. Seventy-five. Ninety. I close my eyes. My foot trembles. Nine seconds.

I’m still a coward.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

So glad to read more of your fiction, Steve. You're right: we don't post enough of it. Your piece packs some power, especially the ending. Thanks.

Tue Jun 26, 09:13:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Thanks for posting this, Steve. Powerful stuff, indeed.

Wed Jun 27, 08:35:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Fiction! Of course. I can't believe I never thought of that. Thanks Steve for setting a precedent.

Thu Jun 28, 01:21:00 pm GMT-4  

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