Behind the stories

The Intersection, short story by Lorina Stephens
The Intersection, short story by Lorina Stephens

During the recent promotional tour Laksamedia undertook for the critically acclaimed anthology, Strangers Among Usauthors shared the genesis of their stories. The exercise and the experience was one which apparently touched so many of the people who attended, both writers and readers alike, and very much addressed the mandate of the anthology: to boost awareness of mental health issues.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the events in Ontario, given my mobility issues and isolation from major urban centres. So, I thought I would share through my blog and social media, my own experience of how my short story in the anthology, The Intersection, came to life.

When first Susan Forest and Lukas Law invited me to submit, I demurred, stating my own experience of mental health was one of heartache and loss, having been estranged from our daughter for some years now, who is both bipolar and dealing with personality disorders. How could I possibly come up with a story which would be uplifting, which would celebrate those who struggle so hard with mental health?

It was Susan who ended up being the one who truly encouraged me to dig deeply, and left the door open for a submission.

So I did. Dig deeply. Thus The Intersection came to life, a story based on an actual event which took place between my daughter and my son. She was paralyzed in a panic attack one day in downtown Toronto, unable to navigate a street crossing. She reached out through her cell phone to her brother in Calgary, who then metaphorically took her hand from some 2700 kilometres away, and talked her across the busy intersection, safely, securely, and thereby overcame another difficult moment.

The event transformed for the anthology to transcend time and place. It occurred to me that despite technology and advancements in medical science, people will always need that fundamental physical link to each other, that touch which expresses reassurance and guidance without words. It is possible to give a lending hand even from a distance. It is possible to navigate through life, and more easily sometimes with the care and compassion of those we choose to keep in our lives.

After that event, however, our daughter disappeared into a conflated world of delusion, and in the end, because we would not support that delusion, she severed all communication.

That day remains despite the hurt, when a woman was able to cross the street because someone metaphorically held her hand.

Strangers Among Us is available in both print and eBook from Laksa Media and online booksellers worldwide.

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