An End to Authenticity

by Kristen Cochrane

“Are you going to experience Resort Cuba or the Real Cuba?” my friend asked me as I prepared to leave Canada for Havana. “Or the Actual Cuba?” she added, neatly encapsulating the traveller vs tourist debate.

Illusive and Delusional

Fallible flew above the wing. Midday direct: JFK to LAX. Leave at noon, fly for six, land round three. To Fallible’s left, two men streamed reality TV as she watched her only fathom-able in-flight entertainment, the sky. Once she too was so spoiled she’d forget. I’m flying, Jack! The wing outside was pigeon grey.

Snowdrops

The average 20-year-old checks their phone 90 times a day. But Layla was not average. She posted the video as she waited for the toaster to ping and checked the view-count three times in the two minutes it took her to finish breakfast. The internet replied with silence and that stung a little, as it always did.

Persephonica

The ground is torn up and black with soot and blood. Bodies, male and female, are piled in great heaps. A lone figure stands amongst it all, his aged face flecked with earth. Spools of smoke gather behind him, then unfurl into the wind.

Plants, Powders and Spirit Voices

“I’m definitely going to shit myself,” I told my friend, as I stuffed a pair of pants into my rucksack. We were in her apartment in Bogotá, readying ourselves for an overnight stay in Colombia’s Cordillera Oriental mountains, where we were to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony.

The Sun Trap

‘They’ll want to talk to you,’ her mother says, squinting and raising her hand to shade her eyes. Her skin is sun-dark, mottled with age. Her grey-blonde hair cut short. ‘I can’t sit here, the bloody sun is right in my face.’ She stands and switches her seat to the other side of the table. ‘I don’t see why.

Lifeline

Jessica had installed the LifeLine kit two days ago. She had been the last of her friends to do so, although living in the comparative isolation of Zermatt, she should have been one of the first. This morning, like most, she woke at 5am and swiped from alarm to email to catch any correspondence coming from PST. There was, as there had been for the past three days, nothing.

Dubious Heritage

I am descended from a long line of liars, which is even less noble than it sounds. It’s impossible to trace my dubious heritage, though I suspect it goes as far back as the Roman Empire, or earlier still. It’s impossible to trace because depending on who you ask, my ancestors are: Italian, Indian, Jewish, Scottish, English, German, rich, poor, brilliant and ordinary.

Seeking Patriotism

I’m inclined to argue that my sham national pride is, in many instances, better than the real thing; that orthodox patriotism often masks nationalism and the odious opinions of those intolerant of others. I’m in decent company in this assessment.

The Shaman from Monaco

At the start of 2015, I met a Canadian ex-banker-turned-shamanic healer from Monaco, who was in China to close a deal on his robotic inventions. He introduced himself by coming over to my table in a hotel café and asking me what I was doing here. A straightforward question, yet it hung in the air, reluctant and vague.