The Stories: Notes from the author
 

OVERBURDEN


... Doc set down the Clanney -- the lamp whose flame was an omen he read like a mystic reading an oracle. He knew what Frank thought, that it was about as accurate as a crystal ball. He felt the burn of ridicule along his back as he scratched his report into the book with a dull pencil ...

My Dad was deputy mine examiner in one of the last working mines in Glace Bay when he retired. But it wasn’t until years later that he admitted to lying awake worrying about the conditions in the mine on nights when, like the fictional character, Doc, only he and one other knew the facts.
In mid-April 1992, having carried this potential story around for a long time, I wrote a first, incomplete, draft. Incomplete, because I set it aside to take a scheduled trip. Not three weeks later, while I was away, two major news stories broke back home in Cape Breton. The McDonald’s murders in Sydney River; and the Westray mine disaster in Plymouth, Nova Scotia. Overburden is not my father’s story; nor is it the story of Westray. But it could have been.


       
 

TUESDAY


... Susan’s first stop was the bank. Not their bank. Her bank. The same bank as the one they used, but a branch across town so that her bank card would look the same whenever Sam dipped into her wallet for a spare twenty dollars. It was a grey morning, but she was wearing sunglasses and kept her face averted ...

I am not a morning person. But every once in awhile I wake very early and as I lie there trying to find my way back to sleep something pops into my head. I reach for pen and paper and the next thing I know two or three hours have passed. And I have a first draft from start to finish. I have no idea where these morning glories come from. They have about them a kind of quirkiness. Maybe it has to do with relaxed inhibitions, the brain not fully awake, following a lead just as dreams can sometimes follow a storyline to an acceptable dream-logic conclusion. Tuesday is one of these.


 
 

MY PRETTY GARDEN


... I am not naive enough to imagine a photograph has been blowing around for two weeks only to find its way coincidentally into the same yard as the others. I bring this one into my home -- only because it has achieved a higher status. Evidence. Of what I am not sure ...

In fact, this is creative non-fiction. Only the names and a few minor details have been changed to protect the innocent. That would be me.


   
 

KATIA SUFFERS


... Katia suffers, but her days pass quickly in the service of others -- sister, husband, sons. In the evening her restless hands fashion crochet-cotton masterpieces out of heartache while the television radiates ghostly images of what was and what could be. At night she lies awake casting wishes like nets ...

This story was inspired by not just one real-life experience but hundreds, thousands -- by who knows how many war-time loves, how many secrets born in silence.


 

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