What do we do, in the face of injustice?
Some of us go out in the streets, some of us visit our elected representatives. Others do work behind the scenes, doing the hard and unloved work of making it possible for people to organize.
Some of us make art.
I can’t march with everyone, because as I’ve grown older my trouble with crowds has gotten worse. But I can write worlds into being, fantastic, hopeful worlds where art brings down corrupt leaders, where women are the dynamic centers of the action, where people who don’t fit into narrow gender boxes are joyfully part of the story.
So this weekend, I’m writing. I’m working on a selkie story: wild magnificence breaking free of its chains and the person who held those chains being rather gruesomely defeated.
It’s not much, but it’s what I can do.
My father hated the beach, hated the ocean, and did not like to let his family get too close to any bodies of water. But I begged and begged, and eventually he gave in.
I loved every moment of the trip, except one.
We crowded into the killer whale viewing area (Orcas, my mother said. They’re called orcas) with what seemed like half the population of the park. I stood on my tiptoes–I had inherited my father’s weedy frame, not my mother’s majestic height and breadth–and peered through the glass, fascinated by the graceful movements of the black-and-white bodies swimming through the water. After a moment, though, I discovered that something was wrong. They swam, yes–they swam around and around and around, passing by the viewing window every minute or so.
Around, and around, and around.
I looked up at my mother, my mouth opening with a question, and I realized that she was weeping silently, staring at the whales swimming before us. Around, and around, and around. I had never seen her cry before. I would never see her cry again.
–From the first draft of a story currently titled “The Five Foot Summer”