- Despite publication Tahoma Literary Review’s Spring 2016 issue, “To Do:” was written during the 2014 Olympic Winter games, the morning the Canadian Men’s Hockey team won gold against Sweden, at around 5am. While many of our friends watched the early morning game in sport lounges and bars, my husband and I were sick with lung infections and instead basked in the glow of the Russian arena from the comfort of our own bed, pill bottles rattling as I typed.
- The scene between Amy and the stranger is loosely based on my own experiences in childbirth. Before we were admitted to the hospital on the Halloween night Chloe was born, I found myself alone outside the hospital entrance when a major contraction hit… and hit… and hit. They didn’t cease. My knees went weak and I began to moan and cry in so much pain and fear. I sensed people walking all around me but I wore a large parka over my pregnant belly – with the moon and the holiday night and my moans, they likely thought I was mentally unwell. I had never felt more alone. Until, that is, a man came to me. He was very tall and had dark skin and large hands, he spoke with a thick accent and called me Little Mama. “You’re going the wrong way, Little Mama!” he said, cupping my elbow in his palm, gently shepherding me to the front doors. “You’re going to have your baby tonight.” Instinctively, I let go of the brick wall I was leaning against and steadied my weight against his arm. “I just – I just – ” I couldn’t talk, panting still through the continuous contractions. “I know,” he said, “I have five babies. Look at me. Deep breath. Breathe.” By the time Freddy had returned from parking our truck, the man was gone, sent away after I caught my breath. I’ll never know his name, but I will always be thankful for his help.
- “To Do:” was a submission darling, but had a long journey. The story made it to the final rounds of considerations at Grain, Event, The Rag, The Masters Review, and Carve before finding its home at Tahoma Literary Review.
- “To Do:” was shaped by the critiques of 2014 Metro Writer in Residence Margaret Macpherson, 2014 Athabasca University Writer in Residence Tim Bowling, and, of course, Tahoma Literary Review Fiction Editor, Joe Pineponto. It takes a village.
- Return readers might recognize elements of the story such as “The Cigarette Shop”, or the characters Shannon and Larry from my other stories. Shannon and Larry appear in the Alberta Views title, “Northside Delacroix”, and Shannon also played a large role in “But for the Streetlamps and the Moon and All the Stars”, my first piece published at Tahoma Literary Review.
- The protagonist of “To Do:”, Amy, was inspired by women I met when working with high risk families and foster children. You can read about this in-depth here.
- I like to give my characters what I call “tics”. Shannon had a motto (Northside, Bitch), Patty listed adjectives, ending with a new vocabulary word she learned in school (“warm, alive, euphoric). Amy writes lists.