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‘1987’ in The Dalhousie Review

An awkward adolescent boy sits a stranger’s baby while counting down the top-100 videos of the year. On TV. It’s New Year’s Eve, 1986, in a windy town on a snowy island, years before the advent of the Internet.

This is the premise of my new story, “1987”, featured in the current issue of The Dalhousie Review. David, the story’s eighth-grade narrator, looks back on this fateful night and his relationship with sweet, tough-as-nails Brandi, the older woman (she’s in grade nine). While David watches video highlights from George Michael, Madonna, and Whitney Houston, he does not yet realize how critical the night will be in the storyline of his own life:

“So what are you doing right now?”

            It’s New Year’s Eve, that glittery right of passage, the last sayonara to an unremarkable year, the Year of our Lord, 1986. It’s two hours before midnight and you’re watching someone else’s kid, while his mother—a waitress at the Villager diner you’ve never met before tonight—is getting smashed at a dance at the Legion several blocks away.

            “Nothing.”

            “Me neither.”

            You listen to Brandi’s heavy breathing on the other end of the phone while watching pop music videos on TV. One of the American stations, featuring a balding 1960s pop star as the DJ, is counting down the Top 100 Videos of the Year. Madonna, Janet Jackson, and the still nominally heterosexual George Michael all feature prominently in the rotation. The baby is asleep, and the apartment, on the ground floor of a rundown Victorian house in the rougher west end of town, creaks in the December cold.

            “Are you home alone?”

            “No,” she says. “My parents are downstairs playing Uno. My brother is watching Ghostbusters on the VCR. I’m so frigging bored.

This marks my first publication in The Dalhousie Review, and I’m grateful for the editorial team for taking this one on. The Dal Review is one of the finest literary journals in Canada, and has a track record of publishing Journey Prize-winning stories by writers such as Miranda Hill and Alex Pugsley. The current issue features great work by folks like Liz Windhorst Harmer and Jay Hosking.

“1987” is part of my recently-completed fiction manuscript and one of several recent or upcoming publications. Find a copy of The Dalhousie Review at your local bookstore on in your public library. You can also order a subscription online.

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