Chapter one of “A Future so Bright”

A post pandemic utopian novel by Robin LeDrew

 [[- 6:00 am Pacific Standard Time CBC headlines for Wednesday, March 13th 2075: Another eruption of violence in the Deep South; Chinese reparation workers have started to arrive…Road reports: Make sure you have your vaxxicards in order. [  ] all multi-person vehicles must display their green diamond clearly, passenger-side front windows. Private vehicles will be checked for quarantine compliance.]]

Yada, Yada- Did I forget anything? Naeve switched off her bud and hesitated outside the co-housing earth shelter. Drawing kit: tick; Sanispritzer: tick; Mask: tick; Shades: (Fumble in pocket): tick. Saddle Mountain shadow would give her plenty of time to skate to Town, sans-shades.

Inhaling deeply, she made her way past the greenhouses and gardens to the Bessette creek riparian trail. The Hawthorne and Saskatoon branches were still a naked tangle but blow-down had been cleared from the trail by eager volunteers. She snapped on her blades and bent low, she pushed off .

Gronk. Splsssssh! 

A heron coasted low over the trees; a beaver cut a wedge in the still water. Come September, fisheries would break careful passages in the beaver dam in the ritual hope for returning salmon. Naeve grinned. Fisheries, oh yeah. What a life! Last October, she’d gone to their recruitment salmon bake at Shuswap Falls. Her first taste of sockeye, red, succulent, steam baked in a pit. Federal contract work good way to get the old Basic Piketty.

The riparian trail arched over the junction of Albers and Mabel Lake roads. Naeve paused and leaned on the railing, scanning the scooters and pedicabs passing below. An e-crummy competed for the crumbling asphalt; Tsuius Creek flags rippling out the windows; all the red and yellow LEDs flashing. 

“Got the whole wide world, in our hands…” The crummy was rocking. “Got the Green New Deal…”-Hey, a loudspeaker? Too decadent! “Got the Monashee treees…” “n the birds’n the beeeeez….”

Naeve checked her cell for signal and texted a quick message. Seconds passed and: Yip, yip and yip. I’ll hang with Zizi today. Now she’s one good reason to go with Forestry. 

Grad this year and all her mother seemed to think about was: ‘Got your plans figured out yet, Naeve? Know where you’re getting your credits?’ Army, shelter, wind and solar, hadn’t even made the short list. But it was still a toss-up: Forestry or Fisheries?   

I’ll decide soon enough. What’s the panic?

A cart stopped at the intersection to let the crummy pass: Midi, mothering-friend, taking her Fjord, Tom to the market. Three year old, Gemma, was ‘driving’ with Midi’s strong hands for back up. 

Midi never asks me what my plans are. Comfortable, that. 

Whoa, what’s that coming?  Ground level, the intersection was a blind corner but  Naeve could see the approaching danger. A logging truck?  The silent battery powered beast was heading to the auction for sure. 

‘Oh My Goddess!’  Naeve gasped in horror and waved frantically, catching Midi’s eye. Seconds later the truck let out an ear splitting blast. Tom shied away from the intersection, but alerted, Midi had already taken charge of the reins, calming him safely back. The truck thundered on. Midi waved a preoccupied thanks.

Eff! That was close!  No excuse for driving that fast. Dad never – I’ll lodge a complaint. I’ll make a citizen’s citation. Filled with righteous anger, Naeve slalomed across the overpass narrowly missing two cyclists. Racing rig. Hastily cramming on her mask, she pulled aside to let them pass. 

The usual gabble of scattered thoughts flooded her brain: Given the lockdown, where would the bikers spend the night? Reactions to her mother’s spiritual search; (another session with the Ouija last night) Do I believe in the concept of life after death? Reactions to CBC blatting in her earbud:  Will that Chinese animation teacher be at the market? 

Yada, yada-  is that ditch apple budding? Whoops, muskrat skat!   And a few more practical thoughts: It’s going to be sure-fine hanging with Zi. Gawdess, I’ve missed her! When’s Midi coming back? I could stay late and get a ride home.  It took a klick but she calmed down. She had six klicks to go.

The rush of Bessette helped soothe. Our spawning ground. if the salmon ever come back  What’s the Secwepemc name? Grant’ll know.  Naeve had met Grant at the salmon bake. Cute! I’d like to get him in a water fight! 

Three klicks later, she crossed Bessette at Manuel Bridge. Someone with a mane of stark white hair was perched on the far side staring intently down at the water; an out of place tropical bird in the mist. Local spring gear was red-green plaid, like her own hemp jacket, not a neon billow of pink silk and – not “he” and not “she”; definitely “they” had an iPad. Serendipity! Synchronicity! Quantum entanglement! Fate! 

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