“She put too much weight in little signs, that girls, and allowed herself to believe in the watery promises of the heated moments.”
In Case I Go is a unique story in that it is a haunting of sorts, a ghost story that is more slips through time and a barrage of memories of guilt, shame, and passion. Just who do those memories belong too, though? “Like you and your family, Elijah.” Mary says. “You’re an invasive species.” Over time, he will come to understand just what she means. Mary and Eli are special, but why is it Eli can hear her speak, see her when no one else can, when everyone knows Mary can’t communicate? Why does he have visions or dreams, how are they speaking this way? Nicholas and Lucy have moved to Coalton, hoping for a peaceful lull, from Lucy’s ‘moods’ from the strain in their marriage, but the mountain town and their own ancestor’s past transgressions will seek to be known through their young son, Eli. Erotic visions and encounters with Mary, a Ktunaxa neighbor, feel more real than anything else happening in the present. Dreams are blending with the waking world and Eli is too young to understand what is visited upon his soul. How can this young boy have memories of when he was a full grown man, in a time before he was even born? How is his neighbor Mary a part of this strange slip through time too?
Lucy and Nicholas have big problems, there is the drinking, the moods, the many apologies Lucy truly means but don’t make a bit of difference. Between trying to eavesdrop on his parents nightly conversations to Mary calling to him in the night, Eli is pulled into two different worlds. Surely, it’s just his imagination? Mary is confusing him with his great -great-grandfather! What had he done to Mary? What is real? With visions of blood, of fires- Eli doesn’t know anymore, and that’s terrifying.
Lucy writes letters to Eli she never sends, shamed by her poor mothering. Afraid when she recognizes herself in his expressions, revealing things far too grown up, but again- her young son will never read these musings. It’s a tender part of the novel, because the reader gets a glimpse of the inner torment Lucy feels due to her mental state. She confides the problems with her relationship with Nicholas, where did their passion go? Just what has it morphed into and is she to blame? She is still haunted by the first years of her son’s life, when he was ill. Thoughts of shame at the fleeting resentments of a life with a sickly child float around in her memories, stinging her for the selfishness. She loves her son fiercely, her strange indigo boy.
As Nicholas works in a mine, and Lucy struggles with her inner demons Elijah is tormented by the sins of his ancestor. The dead have not been well cared for, Sam’s niece is friends with Eli, the real Mary, but he pretends to talk to Mary when she isn’t even there. Sam’s Mary doesn’t speak, so how can that be? Why is Lucy so interested in Sam, when he was Eli’s friend first? Why is Mary pointing out the growing closeness between Sam and his mother? Eli doesn’t like it at all! How can Mary be two people? Why is Mary telling stories, he knows Mary is Sam’s niece, her mother was taken away. Why is she telling another sort of story that isn’t her own? Nothing makes sense, everything is tangled up in his mind.
When he is walking in the woods with the real Mary, he tells himself that other Mary is just a dream, and this is the true Mary, he is just mixing everything up. Maybe a long ago seduction that thrives through the bloodline has found it’s way to the present, is surfacing through Eli. Eli and Mary are the outlets for the source.
The quote I used moved me, there is a time in the lives of many women when they rely on the ‘watery promises of heated moments’, something that transcends ethnicity, a bond women share the whole world over, through time. Call it foolishness, youth, or naivete, many are victim to seductive moments, leaning on sour love.
This all sounds befuddled in my hands, but the writing is wonderful and the story is a lovely creation. I knew next to nothing about the Ktunaxa until I read this novel. When a development disturbs a historic graveyard, everything intensifies. It’s not about fixing the past, because you can’t, especially that of your ancestors. Yet, truth must have it’s way and stories need be told, even if through the voices of the ill remembered dead.
Publication Date: October 16, 2017
Arsenal Pulp Press