“His life, it was too short, so short.” Catherine closed the file, waved it in the air, as if she could conjure him back. He wished she had that magic, to bring back lives just as she brought life back to her artifacts. “He was the dearest soul I know, and never had a chance.” She looked to Thomas, and snuffed with her emotions. Clem and Thomas curled like brackets on either side of her, handing out tissues, murmuring kind words. Under her lashes, she looked his way, and TinTin knew she wasn’t looking for comfort. Like him, she was looking for those bits of Pi that she could carry forward. His work, his life, his thoughts—curated and alive because she bothered, and knew he would too. Shit, he’d finally been drawn into Catherine’s orbit, and from the looks of it, his first job was to rescue her.
“Look,” TinTin said, “you guys are staying for the night, so let’s forget this until the morning. The project is good. I say we order in beer and Chinese food and work our way through the vintage games. Pi would like that.”
Catherine lifted her head. “Vintage games?”
Thomas laughed out loud. “He means video games.”
“There are vintage video games? I love them already.”
The Bones: Crossing, Chapter 7 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)
“It would be the same if I went to live with you in Gaza. A newcomer waltzes in and they think she wants a share of the pie she hasn’t earned yet. I will spend my life fitting you into my arms, my heart, my life. But the town has to work you among the many into its fabric until you’re seamless. Only recently has Dad been that pliable, or willing to spend the time.”
“Your parents do realize that the whole area is sunk after the bicentennial.”
“Mom says there’s some kind of programming that makes her return like a spawning salmon and that’s why she won’t give it up easily.”
Clem sighed and pretended to scoop up sunlight by the handsful, let it trickle through her fingers onto the covers.
“The fabric of Catherine’s childhood is unravelling,” TinTin said, sighing, as Clem rubbed her warm hands on his arm. “This social fabric of which you are a thread, would it perhaps be another kind of Net worth studying?”
“I think it’s been studied enough. There’s never been a culture more documented and headstrong than my mother’s.”
The Bones: Crossing, Chapter 7 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)
He didn’t think the town was racist. They had their way of sorting people, of keeping them honest. The Wests had Indian blood from the frontier days and the genes popped up in random generations–two in a row with his dad and his sister. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t something the town let them forget. Even with his fair colour, he got his share of teasing. Rebecca, well, she got teased about everything and maybe the link to Tecumseh was just the last straw. The Galloways, they’d climbed the social ladder and right on up into the early government. The link to Tecumseh stuck but the family had always taken a hard line that nothing happened between old Rebekah and the Shawnee. None of their generations had come out brown-skinned like his father and his sister, so maybe it was true. In the end, Miles believed what mattered most was how people treated one another.
The Bones: The Crossing, Chapter 3 by Laura Wythe (Available on Amazon)
People all over the world claimed to be in touch with the rain, but Clem believed the whisperers who gathered the most media buzz were liars. Sure, small miracles did happen. Some prayers were answered, how many out of millions? The genuine survivors told how it felt like they’d died and only when they had given up all hope and struggle, only then, had the water, or the weather itself, carried them to safety. They had submitted.
Clem stopped asking for data. She surrendered to the rain.
The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 19 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)
“It rose fifty feet and was wicked above the tower lines to Sandusky.”
“Then it followed the Mississippi.”
“It ran along that corridor like a series of beads. Bring up the video feed and show her.”
Pi did, and in the corner of her screen he used the cursor to show her the sequence. “Then it reached Oklahoma and we shunted it west.”
“We’re still waiting for it to drop.”
“Still aiming for Uncle Walter’s pool in Phoenix?” Clem asked.
“Ha! He’ll wonder where that came from.”
“Actually, Pi, he’ll never know.” TinTin said this with relief. “He’s visiting my folks in Jericho. He heard they’re getting rains and he likes the idea of a green desert. We’ve tapped into his home security cameras. This small quantity of water should evaporate in less than two hours. Such is the arid state of Arizona.”
The Bones: Wooing, Chapter 18 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)
I’m done with disasters for now. And yet, there is still work to done, both personally and as part of the collective that lives on a shared planet. If there’s one thing that has remained true in 2020, it’s the connection to earth and the precious air we share. How visible that space is now! I work through electronic media, I visit and take courses in the same way. People I see in person are masked, with all that evokes. The trees, rivers, lawns, gardens, birds, critters, bugs, sky and weather remain immediate and true to form. One of my favourite “earth” connections this year is the food that a CSA farm delivers to my doorstep.
My novel, The Bones and the art show that followed its publication needs to wrap up one last thing before I move on to the next large project. I would like to finish sharing with everyone the rest of the work from Text to Textiles, the display of illustrations I made for The Bones. Some are sold, others are nested safely for another day.
Text to Textiles was based on the idea that the main driver of the plot in The Bones, Catherine, is the head textile curator at the Royal Ontario Musuem. She goes back to her family farm which is inundated with flood waters to gather textile artifacts and also to search out for the bones of Tecumseh. One is a great motive, the other rather obsessive, patriarchal, colonial, etc., etc..
There seemed no better way to illustrate The Bones than through stressing common Ontario Loyalist textiles after they are embroidered with traditional stitches. Less traditional materials are used to highlight Catherine’s daughter’s views. And then there are emboideries on silk with somewhat Gothic representations that link to another character and the silk memorial embroideries that would have been popular with Loyalists after the War of 1812.
I will make individual posts with the text below to carry on where I left off, but for now, enjoy the slide show!
Dolsen suggested viewing the river from the bridge that remained on Highway 2. They might see a solution by looking downstream. “When we got there,” Thomas told Catherine, “there was already a crowd and they were looking upstream. A mass of crate-like objects was bobbing in the water and coming our way. “‘Munitions on the loose!’ Crudge said. “‘Caskets,’ a bystander whispered. ‘A sign of the Rapture.’” “I warned you that they believed in it,” Catherine said. “They keep calling me for advice.” “Do you believe?” “Only that if they keep pressing their wool suits, the glare from the shine will blind St. Peter. They must remember to use a cloth between the fabric and the iron.” “They really have their best clothes out, ready to go?” “Enough of them.” “If I stay here much longer, I might hope for the same escape.” “As long as you brought your best suit.” “In any case, it was true. The coffins were in amazingly good shape, swollen with the rain, quite buoyant on the river. Frank Dolsen pointed out the masses of drowned earthworms, like small islands, and the air was thick with gulls.”
Her back would ache from holding the oar steady as a rudder in the rough waters. Tears streamed down her face and she did not care to wipe them. With her shoulders thrown back, Rebecca opened her soul to the river, shouting out the song that had rolled over her all the long winter. Over the tree-tops I float thee a song! Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide; Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways, I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death! She was the last one living the frontier life, and it was her duty to carry the past forward as her parents, and theirs, and theirs had.
The land settled out into the flat seabed, about 200 metres above sea level and gradually sloping away. The highway sat just enough above the water to make it seem like she was floating. Houses and barns looked like islands in the distance. A thin umbilical line to follow home, a lifeline between water and sky. The grey orb of the sun, pale and far to the west, was searching for an opening in the clouds, electrifying the edges with light. Would the sun touch the earth again? It did break through. Catherine gasped at the beauty, and as though embarrassed by her reaction, the sun quickly pulled back. It had not been expecting a witness to such purity. She was the only traveller on the road.
By his graduating year, TinTin knew he needed more than theory, more than a backyard experiment to convince people that he had a solution for peace. He set up an impressive demonstration. NASA and NORAD were the first agencies to notice the net around his neighbourhood, Toronto’s Annex. Only North American-made cars could pass through. The traffic tie-up was comical. Cars and trucks literally either passed through or stopped in their tracks. At high speeds, it could have been dangerous, but TinTin anticipated the problem, adding a thickness to the net, making it viscous so that vehicles slowed gradually and came to a standstill. Inertia and drag. The whole thing lasted only for a minute, then he pulled the net.