Melissa Martin

  • We're all screwing with the wrong people

    Strip away everything that came before, all the humiliations and horrors of the road, and the fourth season of The Walking Dead ended with a man talking to a wall. That's it. That's the bone the AMC threw to fans last Sunday night, to gnaw over until the series cranks up again in fall. It ended -- spoiler alert! -- with the show's band of battered protagonists trapped in a boxcar, herded there not by zombies but by post-apocalyptic hipsters of nefarious intent. Never trust someone who has time, in the middle of a zombie war, to get their hair cut at Hunter & Gunn, the message was.
  • Blunt the words that stab us

    When I clicked the link my friend had sent me, my own face leered back at me, pasted on a Twitter account that sure as heck wasn't mine. The photo was a silly self-portrait I had taken as a joke a month before, lips contorted into a goofy grimace, though now it was the default avatar for a Twitter account called @slutwhore_1. The link had swiped my email address too, advertising it as a direct line for free nudes. "At some point today," announced this account that wore my face, "I hope I get gangbanged."
  • Winter's bones

    The second week of March pulled the mottled shroud back from the corpse, laying bare the city's wet and broken body for all to see. There is nothing unusual in this bleak unveiling, just the annual collection of unlovely things that cling to Winnipeg's bedraggled streets. Underneath the snowbanks, a winter's worth of waste is congealed into a leering death mask on the city's windbitten face. Now that the snow is making its reluctant temporary retreat, the stage is free for an encore performance of burnt cigarette ends and thawing dog feces.
  • The fear of losing control

    To calm me down, he takes me on a midnight walk through the wind-bitten city, our boots trudging the line between West Gate and the battered end of West Broadway. "You're not going to die in a plane crash," he says in a sing-song voice, a bemused melody to pair with the pounding in my chest. Ten hours till take-off.
  • Forever indebted

    My fingers hammer on a laptop, the laptop rests on a couch, and the couch sits in an apartment on Treaty One land, just beyond the Assiniboine River's edge. This is a simple acknowledgment, a practice rare (but catching on) of naming the territory we stand upon. In Winnipeg, that land is described in the first treaty, a document "made and concluded this third day of August in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one." It was signed by the lieutenant-governor and seven chiefs: by Miskewkinew and Kakekapenais, by Nashakepenais and Nahawananan, by Kewetayash, Wakowush and Oozawekwun.
  • More harm than good

    On the northern edge of Virden, along the naked rope of asphalt that braids the mummified prairie, there is a nondescript hotel room in a nondescript hotel. It is a nice hotel but not a Nice one, an everyhotel at best. Its features fade into a pastiche of all the rest, white stucco ceiling and gold-tone frames around pastels of non-specific trees. It boasts amenities ("elevator access to 2nd floor") and a continental breakfast, and a woman at the front desk with gold-tone hair who beams at you upon entry. "Still chilly out there?"
  • Fists of fury and faded memories

    When the hands that hurt finally pull themselves off of your body, there is a heartbeat of time where you realize you can't-won't-don't want to tell anybody. Because you're afraid people won't believe you. Because you're afraid that if they do, they'll hate the person those hands belong to. That is all I want to say about heartbeats, and silence.
  • Change happens, even in Winnipeg

    In the frowsy warmth of Folklorama halls, in line between the steam tables and the bar, my head spins with a little deja vu. I'm not so old yet, I don't think, almost 32, but some of these poster boards on the gymnasium walls, well I swear they've grown up with me. I swear I've seen these same ones for a decade, maybe more. I wonder where they spend their winters, how they pass the 51 weeks of the year where their trivia goes unread. Are they stacked in a cloakroom somewhere? Does an earnest volunteer take them home? If so, is it the same one every time?

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