When Mattie told him, she’d be leaving as soon as her spring teaching semester at university ended, he was less than enthusiastic.
“She has to be taught an entirely new way of life.”
“How do you know she’ll even take to it?”
“I have to do something, Simon. I can’t just stand by and watch her die. You’ve seen how listless she is.”
“She seems fine to me. Are you sure you’re not doing it because you feel guilty about the other birds?”
“Of course, I feel guilty about the other birds.” How could he be so insensitive? She took a deep breath. “That makes it all the more important to save Pickles and allow her to live the rest of her life in nature, free and not restricted to a tiny cage.”
“She’s hardly ever in her cage.”
“Look. I’m going, so deal with it.”
“What about the house?”
“What about it? You’re the carpenter.” They were building a new house and there were still lots of decisions to make. Visiting a cavernous building and supply store with Simon had been beyond boring, and after only one excursion Mattie had relegated the choice of fixtures and finishes to him.
“Okay, but don’t complain if the living room isn’t painted the colour you like.”
She wouldn’t. Mattie didn’t put much stock in her physical surroundings, probably the result of being bumped from one foster home to another until she was twelve.
She could tell Simon was disappointed, but she had to do this. Besides, last year he’d spent five weeks in the northern British Columbia wilderness helping organize, support and bear witness to yet another First Nations protest. Then, on arriving home, worked day and night for three more weeks on Wendy Walters’ political campaign. Mattie wasn’t jealous, anxious maybe, because she knew Simon was like a virus, a love virus, and all women were susceptible. Some showed no symptoms, some were able to fight it off, but prolonged exposure in proximity invariably led to full-blown infection. Wendy had a viral overload.
With the help of Simon, the Indigenous candidate had retained her seat in that federal election, but the Liberal Party hadn’t fared so well and only managed to eke out a minority government. With the Prime Minister’s popularity in the tank, a leadership convention was held, and Walters won on the first vote. Three months after the election, the government lost a confidence vote and parliament was dissolved. In the subsequent federal election, Walters continued her winning ways and led the Liberals to a sweeping victory.
Now the Prime Minister of Canada, Wendy Walters had more pressing issues than pursuing Simon, but Mattie had no misgivings about the woman who’d become the first Indigenous Prime Minister in the country’s history. She was tough, determined, and smart, as well as being the most powerful person in the land, and worst of all, still in love with Simon. Once things settled down, Mattie knew she’d come calling with all kinds of inducements to lure him away on the pretext of helping their people. And Simon would take the call.
But what the hell, Mattie had her causes too, and providing a better life for her beloved Pickles was a priority. Besides she trusted Simon. She just wished she wasn’t so far away, for so long.
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