This month, my novel Metis: Mixed Blood Stories is being released by Sunstone Press and can be purchased from Amazon or in bookstores. In this book four adolescents tell the story of their sixteenth year. Two chapters, ‘Red Otter’ and ‘Chicago’ from the middle parts of the book can be read in the writing section of this website.
This novel begins with the story of sixteen year old Annie living in San Francisco who embarks on a road trip with her mother, uncle and grandfather to Medicine Lake. This trip has many purposes, one of them being a quest to save her grandfather who has been newly diagnosed with AIDS. In Annie’s voice the first paragraphs of ‘The Healing Journey’ offer an eye into the world of a teenager taking an unusual trip. I hope you like the book.
The Healing Journey
Mom has always told me that ‘Medicine’ is a great word in her country, the land of doctors. For her I think it is holy, a sacrament, even though it is peddled by drug companies that make millions. Grandpa tells me that the Métis also believe that it is a sacred word. In their language, a healer or doctor is called a médecin. The Métis médecins are all reportedly magicians, skilled in the mysteries of healing. They carry their médecine with them just like my mom carries her prescriptions today. We are leaving for Medicine Lake.
I’m driving, not because I want to, but because I have more room that way—I don’t have to be crammed into the back seat. Grandpa sits next to me while Marc and Mom argue in the back, wedged between the camping stove, sleeping bags, and cartons of food. What did Mom pack in the trunk? And where will we stop for breakfast? They’ve already started discussing it. No camp stove yet. A truck stop with eggs-over-easy or a bakery with scones and lattés? Why is it such a big deal, anyway? It’s early, and the sun is rising. Who needs to eat? Grandpa and I both put on our sunglasses just before we drive onto the Golden Gate Bridge. The sunlight fills our overstuffed car as its first rays hit the water. This bridge glows. I drive slowly, not because I don’t want to get a ticket—I just want to see the light on the water. I look to fiery Mount Diablo in the east as the sun pops up behind it, casting a copper light on a land of water and islands engulfed in the morning fog. My English teacher says we San Franciscans live in Avalon, a mythical place of misted islands and foamy seas, and this morning I finally see it. San Francisco. The Magic Kingdom. I try not to get into an accident, but look long enough to freeze this image for a future photo.
My teacher is right. I need to be on this trip.
As we pull off the shining bridge and wind up the steep road leading into Marin County, I break a promise to myself and look back. I want to see it— the hot, glowing bridge wrapped in silver fog, leading to my city. Bad luck. My friends are always telling me, “Don’t turn around, Annie. You’ll be okay. Just don’t look back.” Of course, they aren’t driving their sick grandfather and half-crazed mother and uncle into the wilderness on some kind of pilgrimage. They don’t have this kind of family. With this family, you look back