“Do Not Disturb”
Emma Lakefield scanned the milling crowd gathered in the lobby of the landmark Delta Bessborough Hotel, the Saskatoon icon everyone called the Bess. No familiar faces. The perky smile of the Reservations Clerk drooped a bit around the edges as she searched for Emma’s name yet again. Emma reached for her half-empty café mocha to help calm the pre-conference nerves sparking off in her jittery stomach and also crossed her fingers.
The brightest minds and keenest entrepreneurs in the biotech industry, of which she supposedly was one, were gathered in Saskatoon for an internationally renowned Agricultural Biotechnology Conference. Somewhere within the walls of this Tyndall stone fortress was a podium with her name on it, along with chairs to be filled by industry leaders, investors, policy makers, scientists, researchers and other professionals. Remembering was enough to send her chocolate-infused coffee back up the way it had gone down.
Who’d have thought the little girl who’d played and dreamed along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River would one day be giving presentations in the beautiful warm brick castle on Spadina Crescent. She remembered playing hide-and-seek amongst the towering spruces surrounding the gardens behind it. Memories of falling in love for the first and only time by the old bridge intruded. She couldn’t afford to go there. Not today. Not any day…
“Return of the Mahikan”
S. E. Berger
Irina Sweetgrass’ homecoming had been twenty years in the making. Technically, she and her mother Oksana had an estate to settle. But in her heart, this was an opportunity to confront old demons and heal old wounds. Landing at Diefenbaker Airport in Saskatoon, Irina knew the bumpiest ride was still to come.
“Mama, we made it. The worst is over. See? We’re slowing down already,” Irina remarked with a warm smile.
Oksana said nothing, only offering a brief, skeptical glance.
Irina stifled a chuckle. Her mother’s first flight hadn’t ended in a fiery crash, yet her expression told a different story. The world of travel was second nature to Irina, since her job as a meteorologist on The Weather Network had her flying all over the country.
A tall Cree beauty with long raven hair and high cheekbones, Irina was clearly her father’s daughter. It seemed her mother’s only genetic contributions were her slender build and piercing grey eyes, eyes that gave Irina a striking look. Combined with her warm smile, her twinkling eyes had won the hearts of television viewers across Canada.
Her mother couldn’t be more different. Ukrainian-born, she’d come to Toronto as an infant and made two long trips since—both on land—in her fifty-two years, one to follow the man she loved back to his Cree reserve in Saskatchewan and one to flee him. Back east with relatives, Oksana had devoted her life to raising her daughter…
Litha’s foot slid further into the swells of water that slowly eroded the sand. She stood at the edge of the sandbar in front of the Delta Bessborough, the South Saskatchewan River rushing by with enough chop to make fizzy whitecaps. The current stripped the pebbles from between her toes, scraping the soles of her feet. Overhead, the inky sky threatened her with a thunderous clap and wind lashed her face with the cloying scent of wilting lilacs.
I’m falling, Litha thought.
She hit the sand with a tooth-clattering thud. With legs now immersed to the knees, the weight of her upper body kept her on dry land, but barely. With every wave, more sand was torn away; every second, another chunk sheared off.
The wolf sprang to her side. She was used to seeing it. Ever since she’d been a child, it had appeared whenever she was in danger, but never before had it seemed so close… so real. Litha’s hearing tunnelled and her vision blurred.
The air shimmered around the wolf, as if every particle of oxygen was illuminated with sparkling light. What was happening? The wolf’s body began to grow as its coarse brown fur quivered. Litha stifled a gasp as the white ruff around its neck fanned out like a fluffy white peacock, then collapsed inward, turning inside-out. The head bulged, as if bugs scuttled beneath the fur, but the wolf’s eyes remained the same, electric blue and endless. The wolf straightened up, increasing and growing in height until, seconds later, it was fully bipedal.
Oh my God…