EXCERPT

The windows rattle a little as we fly down River Street. All things considered, the Sabre’s held up surprisingly well. It’s probably seen more than one transmission, but besides a little rust around the wheel well and a long crack across the back windshield, it’s in pretty decent shape.

“I can’t believe you guys still drive this thing.”

“Hey, there’s a lot of memories in this car.” She surveys the interior for a second. “Lost my virginity in here.”

“I did not need to know that.”

“Yep. Right there where you’re sitting.”

Jesus!

I try to change the subject by way of turning on the radio. Thunder Bay has only a handful of stations, and they’re all bad. I’ve never fully understood how there can be so many good songs in the world, but every time I turn on 94FM, they’re playing ‘One Week’ by the Barenaked Ladies.

I open the glove compartment and rummage through a mess of battered cassettes to find something better. I take out one ancient mixed tape and through the scratched-up haze of the plastic case read the tracks. Penpals—Sloan; Looking for a Place to Happen—The Tragically Hip; Helpless—Neil Young. They’re listed in a faded but familiar handwriting. I hum a little note of recognition and smile to myself.

“What’s that?” Ruth asks.

“Ah, nothing,” I say. “Just an old tape Soda made.”

She keeps one hand on the steering wheel and uses the other to crank down the driver’s-side window.

“Oh, come on,” I say. “It might be worth something.”

Ruth takes the cassette out of my hand, then lobs it outside over the roof of the travelling car. I look out the window and catch a fleeting glimpse of magnetic tape unspooling on the sidewalk.

“Not to me.”

She accelerates and keeps her eyes on the road.

 

From the forthcoming novel To Me You Seem Giant available September 2017.