by Melissa Hardy

Rosemary stood on the bluff gazing out over Lake Erie. It was eight in the morning on a day in late March; though technically a spring day, with temperatures hovering at six below, it didn’t feel that way. She tugged her toque down around her ears and wrapped her scarf more tightly around her neck. At least there was no wind. For the moment the lake stretched out before and below her, ice coloured and smooth as glass. It wouldn’t last—this quietude, this complacency. The day had been birthed in a spill of coral; and in Rosemary’s admittedly limited experience with large bodies of water, the old adage “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning” had yet to be proven wrong.

Rosemary stood on guard duty. It was her job to ensure that their golden retriever Gilly didn’t end up either in the lake or in the ravine, where she would inevitably emerge muddy, sopping, matted with burrs, and possibly savaged by a rabid raccoon—either that, or shot and/or poisoned by the Flanagans, neighbours up the way with whom Rosemary’s husband Cormac had been embroiled in a feud for several decades and whom nobody could trust not to do such a terrible thing as shooting and/or poisoning a dog.

In the far distance—fifty-three nautical miles due south to be precise—was Ashtabula, Ohio. Ashtabula had been a last stop on the Underground Railroad. There, fugitive slaves who had made the trek north hid in warehouses until they could be smuggled aboard boats captained by sympathetic Canadians and ferried to freedom on Erie’s north shore. Ashtabula translated: “always enough fish to be shared around.” Now there were quotas and catch limits and the occasional die off when tens of thousands of fish washed up dead on the shore, victims of lake rollover or runoff from pig farms. Plenty of Fish, Rosemary thought, was the name of the online dating site where she’d met Cormac nearly a decade earlier.

Behind her reared up the white-clapboard bulk of Buckthorn House, double porches looming as it yearned lakewards across the fragment of backyard that Erie had yet to appropriate—ten metres, porch to precipice. Buckthorn House was perched precariously on what the Antler Creek Conservation Authority deemed “a zone of pending failure.” This meant that the bluff could be expected to collapse—probably sooner than later—toppling the house and its contents into the lake, along with a gardener’s shed, a ruined gazebo, a derelict greenhouse, and assorted lawn furniture.

Of course, the current location of Buckthorn House—there had been three—hadn’t been “a zone of pending failure” when the house had been picked up in sections sixty years earlier, loaded onto a flatbed truck, and hauled from its site at the end of Victoria Street up Harbour View to safety. That had been in the time of the Aunts, Cormac’s that is, Norma and Velma. Victoria Street had run directly below the spot on which Rosemary now stood, parallel to the lakeshore. It had been the street on which prosperous families from the nearby city—owners of shoe factories, haberdasheries, breweries, and car dealerships—built their summer cottages, beachfront properties until they weren’t. Nothing now remained of what had been Victoria Street; it had been lakebed for half a century. As for the new site on Harbour View, Norma and Velma had taken care to situate the house and its various outbuildings some twenty metres back from the bluff, hoping that such a generous margin might serve to save the house from further depredations on the part of Erie.

The lake, however, had different plans.

Or rather it had the same plan it had always had, and so it had continued to gnaw away at the perimeter of its shallow basin as it had the past four-thousand years of geologic time, gobbling up an approximate one half to three metres of shore per year. Soon Buckthorn House would have to be picked up for the third time in its one-hundred-year history and moved as far back as the property would allow, or abandoned to the fate of so many other lakefront properties that had been contemporaneous with it. Erosion was a fact of life in Orchard Beach. Half the village paid taxes on land that had been underwater for decades.

“Hurry up, Gilly,” she told the dog, hugging herself tightly and rocking back and forth on her heels in an effort to generate some warmth. “It’s too cold to noodle around!” But Gilly was busy sucking up desiccated goose poop. “Gilly!” she protested, though without conviction, adding, “Who eats goose poop?”

It was a rhetorical question. Clearly Gilly, whose present body language conveyed a mix of guilt, shame, defiance, and relish—as befit a dog who was a good dog, but still a dog.

Rosemary sighed and shook her head and turned back to the lake. And it was then that she first spotted the vessel, or whatever it was, on the distant horizon. She shaded her eyes with her hand. What is that, she wondered. It didn’t look big enough to be a fishing boat and anyway, was the commercial fishing season even underway so early in the year? She hadn’t seen the tugs go out since the fall, and the fish market in the village didn’t open until April. Not an icebreaker certainly; the lake hadn’t frozen over that winter, and it was too small to be a freighter. As for it being a pleasure boat, who went boating in these temperatures?

Gilly, having dispatched all the goose poop within range, was now herself pooping.
“Good girl!” Rosemary congratulated the dog and dug in her coat pocket for a vanilla-scented biodegradable poop bag. Old knees creaking in protest, she knelt down to pick up the poop—if she didn’t, Gilly was bound to hoover it on her next outing or roll in it—and she forgot all about the thing, whatever it was, on the horizon.


Just before lunch, in accordance with routine, Rosemary let Gilly out again; pulling on
her coat, she followed the dog out the door and into the backyard. Sure enough, in the four hours that had elapsed since morning, clouds and fog had rolled in and the wind had picked up. She walked as close to the edge of the bluff as she dared—it was badly undermined by wave action at the toe and this whole stretch of bluff, all the way to Hawk Cliff, was prone to sudden sheet sloughing. One false move and it was a nearly two-storey drop into the frigid, churning water below.

The lake fascinated Rosemary. Absorbed her. Indeed, she sometimes wondered if she would have married Cormac if he hadn’t been in possession of quite so spectacular a view. Theirs was a second marriage contracted late in life, more companionable than hormonal. By the time they had met, courtesy of an algorithm, they had depleted whatever small store of passion they may have begun life with. Cormac was not so funny as some men Rosemary had dated online, and there had been younger men than he, and men whose politics more closely aligned with hers. And there were men more sophisticated and worldly than Cormac who had spent his entire life in a little fishing village, in one largely rural and conservative leaning county, whose career had been that of a water supervisor in charge of testing ground and surface water for the Antler Creek Conservation Authority.

But Cormac had brought with him Buckthorn House—a great behemoth, rambling and shabby, in need of much repair, impossible for two old people to properly clean, yet still absurdly grand with its five bedrooms and sun porch and games room and front and back stairway and pseudo-Georgian facade. A whole third storey intended for servants’ quarters provided room for all of her and Cormac’s children and grandchildren to come—if only they would come, which they rarely did because they were all so busy. All of it built with money Cormac’s grandfather had pocketed during Prohibition running fishing tugs loaded down with liquor across Lake Erie to the ports along Ohio’s shore—Conneaut, Ashtabula, Fairport and Cleveland.

And Cormac had brought with him the lake.

What fascinated Rosemary about the lake: it was always changing. In the seven years since she had come to live here, she had yet to become accustomed to its chameleon nature, its vagaries. It was not a blue lake, nor, save for its westernmost basin, a green one frothing with algae; neither was it tea coloured, like some of the lakes up north. Now, for example, it appeared dull, the colour of gun metal. After a storm, on the other hand, bottom silt churned as waves pounded against the stark and unvegetated bluffs that formed so much of the lake’s northern shore, gnawing at their feet of clay; it turned the colour of swirling putty, with just the slightest hint of pink. It was whipping up into a storm today, winds out of the southeast, waves tipped with foam the colour of cream.

And there, this time considerably to the east of where she had first spotted it, down Long Point way, and closer to shore, she saw it again—a dark heap upon the water that did not appear to be moving so much as bobbing. “Cormac! she turned and called. “Cormac, come out and see this.”

Cormac was making lunch—soup and cheese sandwiches. During the half dozen years
that had elapsed between the death of his first wife and his marriage to Rosemary, he had become quite the cook. The Tuscan bean soup was homemade, the rustic loaf fresh from the bread machine. Cormac stuck his big head out the door. “What is it?”

“Get your coat, and come out here. There’s something . . . I can’t tell what it is. On the lake.”

Cormac appeared a few moments later, dusted with flour, wearing an apron over which he had hurriedly pulled a khaki-coloured duffle coat. Stooped and shaggy, with white hair that needed cutting and bristling eyebrows like bottle brushes, he had the skin of a man who had spent a lifetime working outdoors in a cold climate—a Jackson Pollack canvas of exploded capillaries.

“What is it?” he asked.

“You can’t see from there. You have to come over here.”

He came up beside her, bare hands shoved deep into pockets and shoulders hunched.

“There!” she said, pointing east in the direction of the water tank on the horizon. “I saw it this morning. At least I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing. What is it? I can’t tell.”

Cormac peered into the distance. “Doesn’t look like a proper boat,” he said after a moment. “Too low to the water. If the waves get much bigger, they’ll swamp her. Looks like one of those heaps of debris you used to see floating in the Cuyahoga River down in Ohio. That was pre-EPA days. I remember one of those heaps catching on fire. They were soaked with oil, flammable as hell. That was back in ’69. Spark from a passing train—that’s all it took. Up in flames. Me and Dougie and a couple of the other fellows went down to see it. Made the water crossing from Orchard Beach to Fairport and then on to the Port of Cleveland. You’ve never seen such a poor excuse for a river. Didn’t flow. Oozed. Made a sound like ‘glub.’ Not a word of a lie, Rosie. ‘Glub.’” He nodded. “Yup, that’s what that looks like. Like a heap of debris. What the hell is a heap of debris doing floating in the lake?”

“I’m getting the binoculars.” Rosemary started for the house, and that’s when she realized that Gilly was nowhere to be seen. “Cormac, did you see where Gilly went?”

“Gilly? No.”

Rosemary panicked. “Gilly! Gilly!” She had an abiding, deep-rooted fear that someday one of her dogs would be struck by a car. She had grown up during a time when dogs roamed freely and, as a consequence, were not infrequently struck by cars. That no dog of hers had yet ended up as roadkill, she ascribed to the extreme vigilance she exercised at all times over their whereabouts. But now Gilly, her baby, was gone.

“Well, if she’d gone down the ravine, she’d be down at the lake about now,” Cormac pointed out. He was seven years Rosemary’s senior and had lived his whole life in the country; country folk tended to be more relaxed about dogs than city folk. “She probably went round the house to check something out.”

There were only twelve houses on Harbour View. The inhabitants of half of these were currently playing golf in Florida. As for those neighbours who were not in Florida, they, like Rosemary and Cormac, were old and rarely left their homes; and when they did, drove with
extreme, even maddening caution. Nevertheless, fearing the worst, Rosemary took off at a brisk trot around the house and towards the road.

Five minutes later she located the golden retriever half way down the hill, parked at the foot of an old maple. The dog had managed to tree one of the neighbourhood’s feral cats—brindled, furious and spitting, patchy with mange. Gilly appeared very proud of herself, all puffed up and in the zone. The dog was, as their daughters would have put it, “living her authentic truth.”

“Gilly!” Rosemary cried and flung herself upon the dog, embracing her, weak with relief at finding her intact and not flattened in the middle of the road, the light in her big liquid eyes replaced by the marble stare of death. She then collared and dragged her roughly home, saying “Bad dog! You bad dog. If you ever . . .”

They sat down for lunch which Cormac ate painstakingly slow, his teeth aching. He observed her in silence for a few moments, then commented in his offhand way, “You eat like a dog.”

She smiled, finishing her plate. It was their shared joke. They were not so much soulmates as co-conspirators. “I do,” she agreed.

And then it was time for a nap, their siesta—a daily break from one another—with him on the couch in the family room, her on the bed, and Gilly at her feet. Cormac and Rosemary forgot all about the thing they had spotted in the lake.


At three that afternoon, the wind picked up and fog began to roll in, reducing visibility to a half a kilometre and transforming the two beacons that lit the entrance to Orchard Beach’s harbour into two glowing balls of fuzzy light—one red, one green—bright blurs in an otherwise grey and diffuse landscape.

“It looks like we’re in for some weather,” Rosemary told Cormac. “I’m going to get Gilly out early and load up the bird feeders before it sets in.”

Cormac laid down The Lake Erie Beacon. “Maybe I should move the car out from under the oak. I worry about that dead branch. Would you remind me to book the tree guy sometime next month?”

“I am not your brain,” Rosemary told him. “Write it down on the board.” Knowing that he never would, she crossed over to the small blackboard they kept in the kitchen for reminders and wrote “tree guy” in bright yellow chalk below the words “twine” and “stool softener.”

“Right,” said Cormac. “Winds could get up to eighty k later towards evening. That’s what they said down at the diner.” He stood, an action comprised of several parts: cautious liftoff, a straightening, but not too fast, followed by a bit of wobble before equilibrium could be achieved and forward motion enabled. He was seventy-two.

“Gilly!” Rosemary called. “Come here, bad girl. Out you go. And this time I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

She shooed the dog out the door, pulling on coat, toque, and gloves as she went. Then she set about collecting the various bird feeders stationed around the property from their respective hooks and refilling them from bins in the garden shed. She was just returning the last of the filled feeders to its hook when she heard something, a kind of distant muffled clamour.

Gilly, rooting around in a pile of leaf litter for some prize, snapped to sudden canine attention, ears hiked; she had heard it too. “What the . . . who can that be?” Rosemary asked.

The sound seemed to have come from the direction of the lake, or at least she thought it had. Fog can disperse and attenuate sound, spread it out, making it difficult to pinpoint its source. “Hello!” she called out tentatively. “Is anybody there?” Her voice was thin and crackly—an old woman’s voice. She doubted it could carry any distance. “Hello?” she called again. “Anybody there?”


This time she was sure the sound emanated from the lake and from not so far away as she had at first supposed. The realization of its proximity startled her; she felt a flutter of panic, of trepidation. On the east side of the property a small creek in search of lower ground had carved a steep ravine into the bluff. It was not uncommon for things to get lodged at the point where the creek emptied into the lake, trapped in the accumulated deadfall. Two summers before, after long anxious days of searching with divers and search-and-rescue helicopters, emergency crews had finally located the body of a drowned teenager wedged in with the tangle of branch and root at the base of their bluff. That had been a horrific day—the grieving family waiting on the back porch of Buckthorn House as a grim-faced rescue crew worked to free the boy’s bloated body from its cage of debris, reporters and television crews everywhere.

Rosemary shuddered at the memory, sickened by it. Was this another such occasion? Had some elderly neighbour taken a tumble down the ravine and broken something? Or some visiting grandchild? Or an idiotic kite surfer in a wet suit who failed to understand the lake’s essential nature, who thought that because Erie was the shallowest of the Great Lakes it was the least dangerous; its very shallowness is what gave it its murderous riptides and undertows.

Rosemary started off across the lawn, Gilly bounding ahead of her. When she reached the bluff’s edge, she called out, “Hello?” She cupped her mouth to focus the sound, make it carry. “Anybody there?”

Cormac rounded the corner of the house into the backyard. “What’s going on?” he asked.

That was when she saw it—the thing, the boat.

“Cormac!” she cried in a strangled voice. “Cormac, come here!”

He crossed the lawn. As he drew near, she turned and caught him by the elbow, dragging him forward, pointing.

Approximately forty metres from shore, an inflatable boat bucked waves upwards of two metres. At the sight of two old white people and a dancing dog on a bluff with a great white house looming up out of the fog behind them, the boat’s chaotic jumble of passengers—what looked to be three men, five women wearing brightly coloured headscarves, and a myriad of scrambling children—began waving their arms and making a terrific ruckus, a mixture of wails and cheers and cries of “Help!” and “S.O.S.!”

They were, all told, the blackest people Cormac and Rosemary had ever seen.

“Good heavens,” breathed Rosemary.

“Damn straight!” said Cormac. He squinted. “Day like this. Boat like that. By rights
they should be at the bottom of the lake. Fourteen-foot Sport Runabout, only supposed to hold seven adults, and look how low she’s riding. We used to have one of those down at the station. Good for rescue, but I wouldn’t use her for lake crossings. Not in this kind of weather.”

Cormac had been a volunteer fireman until he had turned sixty; after sixty, try as he might, they wouldn’t take him. There were rules. He had loved being a volunteer fireman—the excitement, the danger, the camaraderie. He still hung out down at the station, still shot the shit with the boys, and still cooked chili for the fundraisers twice a year. In a place like Orchard Beach, largely rural and on the water, rescue operations took a village; everybody pitched in.

“What should we do?”

“Well,” said Cormac, suddenly brisk. “Can’t leave ’em out there, so I guess we’d better rescue them. Go get my cell phone, the binoculars, the kitchen blackboard, and some chalk.”

Rosemary, impressed by her husband’s take-charge manner, did as she was told. When she returned, he took his phone, and relieved her of the binoculars which he strung around his neck.

“Wipe it clean,” Cormac said, pointing to the blackboard, “then write down my phone number, big as you can.”


“We’re going to get the boat to call us.”

“But what if they don’t have a phone?”

“Everybody’s got a phone.”

Rosemary erased “twine,” “stool softener,” and “tree guy” from the blackboard using one end of her scarf, then wrote Cormac’s phone number on the board in big yellow numerals. At the same time Cormac was waving his phone at the boat over his head in broad arcs, like a runway flagger flagging in an airplane.

A few moments later, one of the men in the boat mirrored his gesture, hoisting a cell phone aloft.

“Okay,” said Cormac. “So far, so good. Now, hold up the board.”

“They won’t be able to read it at this distance,” Rosemary worried.

“That’s what binoculars are for.”

“But what if they don’t have binoculars?”
 “Have some faith, Rosie. Hold up the board.”

Rosemary held up the board as Cormac, with exaggerated gestures, mimed peering through binoculars while pointing to the chalkboard. Rosemary got in the act, holding the board in one hand and pointing to it with the other, like an aged gameshow model showcasing a prize. This sparked a commotion on the boat which resulted, a few moments later, in binoculars being produced from somewhere on board. Now one man peered through the binoculars while the first man, the one with the phone, keyed in Cormac’s number on his phone. A beat later and Cormac’s cell phone rang.

“Hello,” said Cormac. Rosemary could hear his half the conversation.

“Are you guys in trouble?”

“What happened? Where’d you set out from?”

“Ashtabula? Christ!”

“Yes, this is Canada. This is Orchard Beach. Orchard Beach, Ontario.”

“No, you missed the harbour. The harbour’s over there, where the lights are, the red and green lights.”

“No, no. You’re all right. It can’t be more than two metres deep out where you are. On a better day you could swim to shore, no problem.”

“Nobody can swim? Well, it’s too choppy out there, anyway, not to mention cold. Besides, you got kids on board.”

“No, you hear me? Just sit tight and wait. We’re going to get some folks and bring you in. You’re not taking on water, are you? You look like you’re riding kind of low there.”

“Well, just keep bailing it out. I’m going to hand you over to my wife, and I’m going to go call this in. Okay? You’re going to be fine. Just sit tight.”

Cormac, rendered crisp by purpose, handed the phone to Rosemary. “I’m going to call down to the station and get suited up,” he told her. “We can bring them in with a grab line. It’s too close to shore to bother with a boat and too rough. This is going to take a few minutes. You keep this guy on the line. Keep him calm. The worst thing they could do is panic. Tell them, if they just sit tight, everybody’s going to be all right.” Off he lumbered towards the house but with a hitch to his step that she recognized as excitement.

She turned back to the lake.

“Hello,” she said tentatively into the telephone. She dreaded speaking on the telephone at
the best of times, especially to strangers, but there was no help for it. “Who am I speaking to?”

“Solomon,” came the voice from the other end, heavily accented, thick and almost sticky.
“Solomon Waraabe.”

“Hello, Solomon. My name is Rosemary. That was my husband Cormac you were talking to. He’s gone for help. Did I hear you came all the way from Ashtabula? Clear across the lake?”

“Yes, Missus,” said the man.

“Wow,” said Rosemary. “How long did that take you?”

“Set out at dawn this morning, Missus.”

Rosemary shivered. The crossing to Ashtabula on a fair day took two, maybe two and a half hours. These people had been on the water eight or nine. “That’s a long time to be out in this weather,” she said.

“Yes, Missus. It is very cold. We are very wet. We ran out of motor fuel. The man said it was enough, but it wasn’t.”

“What man?”

“The man sold me the boat. I found the boat on Kijiji. Very good price, but not enough oil. Not for crossing the lake.”

“So, you intended to cross the Lake?” Rosemary asked. Up until that point she had assumed that what she saw before her was the outcome of an ill-conceived family outing gone sideways.

“Oh yes, Missus,” Solomon said. “I have been in Ashtabula for ten years. I have a Green Card. I drive a cab. That is all good, but my family—my brothers and their wives and my wife’s sister and her mother and all these children here—they are refugees from Somalia. We are afraid ICE will come for them, break down the door, and send them back to Somalia. They cannot go back to Somalia. It is a terrible place. There is only death there. There is only famine and drought. There is al-Shabaab, always al-Shabaab. There is no government in Somalia, only chaos. And now in the United States, chaos. So I bring them to Canada, where they will be safe.”

Ashtabula, she thought. First the Underground Railroad, now this. In the first instance, the refugees to Canada had been slaves, brought to the United States in chains; now it was Africans who had come there of their own volition, only to be driven out. “But all those migrant boats that keep sinking,” she said. “In the Mediterranean . . . didn’t that worry you?”

“The Mediterranean is a sea,” Solomon said. “Erie is a lake.”

Erie seemed to Rosemary far too big to be anything other than an inland sea. In her estimation nothing capable of creating its own weather system could properly be described as a lake. Nothing you could see from space. Nothing you could sit in the middle of and still now see either shore.

Cormac reappeared wearing a bright-orange exposure suit and high black rubber boots, trophies from his fireman days. As he waddled towards her, his gait rendered vaguely ursine by the unwieldy suit, she heard sirens in the near distance.


Rosemary knew that within five minutes the OPP, firemen, and paramedics would come swarming around the sides of Buckthorn House onto the bluff. Men in suits like Cormac’s—Jeff Combs and Craig McDonald and Jim Price and Steve Shaw—would make their way down the ravine using the knotted nylon rope that Cormac had latched to the trunk of an old white spruce, so that his kids and then grandkids could scramble down to the thin strip of exposed land, perhaps three-feet wide, that hugged the toe of the bluff; it was not a beach so much as a slick, a place where racoons came to wash their food, deer to drink, and Gilly to roll in reeking fish corpses when she could manage to escape from Rosemary. There would be two police cars and a fire truck and an ambulance, blue lights blazing, sirens bleating.

Those neighbours who were not in Florida would want to know what was going on—all that commotion—and pull on coats and put in teeth and gather on the front lawn, and try to help but instead get in the way.

There would be shouting and orders bellowed through a bullhorn and Gilly, crazed with excitement, would dash here and there, jumping on people, and barking; unable to contain herself one second longer, she would make a dash for the ravine and down the creek and onto the strip of slick where she too would be in the way. Men would yell, “Get that dog out of here!” And Rosemary would shout, “Gilly! Gilly!” but Gilly would not listen.

Rescue boards, grab bags, lines and slings—the whole apparatus of a winter water rescue—would be tossed over the bluff to men waiting below. Then one by one the refugees would be trussed up like holiday birds before being hoisted up the side of the ravine, swaddled and shivering and teeth chattering, then wrapped in blankets.

And the Tattersalls, who would not buy their gas down the village but went all the way into town instead because they mistook the Sikhs who owned the local station for Muslims, would mutter to the Foresters, “I don’t know about all these Muslims coming into our country all of a sudden. You know they don’t have the same values we do.”

And the Foresters would agree, but in a low voice say, “First we maybe ought to take care of the people who are already here.”

But that would never happen, Rosemary thought, taking care of the people already here— aboriginals, homeless people. We didn’t help those, so why should we help these? It was just a thing people said, so they wouldn’t have to help anybody. She knew. She had been a social worker. That’s how it worked. All the while other neighbours—the Bedfords and the Finches and the Palmatiers—kinder less fearful people, would have doubled back to their houses and returned with extra blankets, packages of Mr. Noodles, sleeves of crackers, and tins of cookies.

A mixed bag, she thought, Canadians—Canada. On and off the fence. Open and closed. Highly opinionated and deeply ambivalent. People coming to Canada rarely understood exactly what they were getting into, what the country actually was. It brought to her mind Heritage Minutes on CBC, a series airing years before in an attempt by the government to create a cohesive narrative that could serve as the country’s own. One such “minute” told the story of how Canada had acquired its name: on first encountering a group of Iroquoians, Jacques Cartier, the Breton explorer who was to claim Canada for France, gestured to their settlement and asked, “What land is this?” The Iroquoians replied, “Kanata,” which translates to “village” or “settlement.” Rosemary lived in a country called “village” with a land mass of 9.985 million kilometres and one fifth of the world’s freshwater, from which a catch of cold, wet Somalians would soon be hauled in.


“I’m handing you back to my husband,” Rosemary told Solomon.

She gave the phone to Cormac. “His name is Solomon. He’s from Somalia. They are from Somalia.” Then, in no uncertain terms, “You’re not to go down there, do you hear me? I don’t care if you’re wearing the outfit. You’re too old, and you’ll break something. Promise me.”

But now the first wave of rescuers came jogging around the side of the house, ponderous in bulky exposure suits. “Cormac!” one of them shouted. It was Steve Shaw. Gilly rushed him, wild with joy, leaping and taking air.

“Over here!” Cormac waved. It—that thing that would happen next, the rescue—had begun. Rosemary stepped back to give Steve space and was about to go to the house when she heard Cormac speaking into the phone. “All right then!” he said. His voice was strong, authoritative, exuberant. “Solomon, is it? Solomon! Don’t you worry! We’ll have you all safe and sound on dry land in no time. And welcome, by the way. Welcome to Canada.”

Melissa Hardy

Melissa Hardy’s short stories have been widely anthologized, including in Best American Short Stories, Best Canadian Short Stories and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. The author of five novels, most recently The Oracle of Cumae (Second Story Press, 2019), and the winner of both the Journey Prize and the CAA’s Silver Jubilee Award,  Hardy was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but has made Ontario, Canada her home for over three decades. She lives in a small fishing village overlooking Lake Erie with her husband and golden retriever.