Word Prompt: Steam | Story Prompt: from the book “Fight Night” by Miriam Toews

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“Mom talked about fighting. She said if she wasn’t fighting she was dying. And that she has to fight to feel alive and to balance things out. So she keeps fighting. She said we’re all fighters, our whole family. Even the dead ones. They fought the hardest. She said she sometimes felt haunted by Grandpa and Auntie Momo. She thought about their last minutes and seconds and about what they were thinking and then about their bodies being in pieces and what if they didn’t die right away. The worst thing is that they were alone. Auntie Momo had wanted Mom to write her letters but Mom didn’t. She just sent e-mails. Why didn’t she write letters? That’s another one of her fights. She said she replaces those images in her head with pictures of me and Gord, even though Gord doesn’t exist yet. She said what makes tragedy bearable and unbearable is the same thing — which is that life goes on. She told me she says things to herself like, my suffering is the world’s suffering. My joy is the world’s joy. She just went on and on. She said part of fighting is saying things to yourself. While she walked and talked she tilted her head way over to one side and counted to thirty and then moved it way over to the other side and counted to thirty. She said she was trying to create space between her vertebrae.”


I had almost put off reading this book because I thought there might be some kind of organized fighting in it (i.e. boxing, or wrestling or whatnot) — and I was more than pleasantly surprised that there was none of that. I am a little slow sometimes, so I admit that it took me a while to understand what this book’s title is referring to, and how it relates to the story. (I won’t give it away if you haven’t read it yet.)

I appreciated being led through the story’s ups and downs told by Swiv as she learns about “fighting” first-hand from her Grandma. I found that the angst and conflict in the story parallels the scorch and steam of summer… and I wondered as I was reading if some of the scenes were written in summer and were informed and enhanced by the experience.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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