Writer in Residence

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: The writing process Part 7 of 9

By Christene A. Browne

Love like anything that matters in this life is a risky business. To fall in love, one must take a big leap of faith. I wanted my characters who were dissatisfied with their isolation to jump both feet into the possibility of love. Since love is a feeling, I had to grabble with what it look like in real terms.  As I plotted Adam and Eva’s first date – I thought about the nerves that I’ve felt when entering uncharted territories of love or otherwise. When I’m writing, I always try to keep the reader inside the characters emotional sphere. At the same time, I try to throw in elements that many people could related to. What I inadvertently ending up doing in this circumstance is placing equal weight on the two major tensions at play; the trepidation of the first date and the danger presented by the pandemic. Some may question if love is worth the risk in normal times with all of its headaches. But in the time of a pandemic is it worth getting infected, ill and possibility dying.

The conclusion that comes to me in the process of writing the story is yes, love is always worth it no matter what the circumstance, no matter how dire. That is the nature of love.


         Eva?” he asked puzzled.

        “Yes, it’s me,” she replied with nervous excitement.

        “I like your lips,” he blurted out wishing that he could see her actual lips. “I mean I like your mask, he rebounded not wanting to sound like a pervert.

       “Thank you,” Eva replied feeling a pang of self-consciousness. Her first instinct was to cover up her lipped mask but she resisted and kept her arms at her side.

       “How goes it?”  Adam interjected anxious to get the pleasantries all the way so they could just have a normal conversation. He had very meticulously jotted down some talking points based on Eva’s online profile. There were things that he knew that she would feel comfortable discussing and other things that he knew to leave alone. He knew the issue of the new vaccine trials was a sore point for her since she had responded with a sad emoji when someone had posted a story of the trail on her Facebook wall.

     “I’m good, how about you?”  Eva replied stepping a few feet back from Adam. She had always been a stickler for rules and had seen that following the rules had meant that she had not fallen sick even once during the first and now this second pandemic.

     “Where to? Do you have any place in mind where you would like to walk?”   Adam blurted out after the pleasantries were over and done with. He had a place already in mind but wanted to appear gracious.

     “No, not at all. I’m a bit tired of the same four or five routes I take regularly. Lead the way.” Eva conceded.

    That was music to Adam’s ears. He wanted to lead her right back to his place and into his bed, but he knew that she wasn’t that kind of girl and those type of actions were also not sanctioned. Casual sex was not prohibited but the messaging suggested that a minimum of one month of meeting someone in person would be the appropriate amount of time to wait before engaging in a sexual act. The same messaging also talked about extending online engagements for several months before physical encounters. 

    Since they had met in person, they had forgone months of getting to know each other online or over the phone, which had become standard for any relationship.

    “Okay, I know where we can go. I’ll take you to meet some of my friends,” Adam began as he started to lead the way.

    Eva stopped abruptly.

    It took, Adam a few beats before noticing that Eva wasn’t following him.

   “I don’t know if I feel comfortable meeting your friends with the protocols and all,” Eva stammered.

  “Friends,” Adam laughed. “No, no, sorry, they’re not real, don’t worry. I should have mentioned that from the beginning.”

   Eva was relieved and puzzled at the same time, not knowing what Adam was talking about. She told herself it was broad day light and people were around, although in the distance. Also, all the warm and fuzzy post and likes on Adam’s wall told her that she could trust him, so she followed awkwardly along at a safe distance.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Christene Browne, originally from St. Kitts, is a well-respected and internationally acclaimed Toronto independent filmmaker and was the first Black woman to direct a feature film in Canada. In 2011 she was awarded the Visionary award by the Women's International Film & Television Showcase for her ground-breaking documentary series Speaking in Tongues: The History of Language, which features Noam Chomsky. She recently completed a feature documentary on Toronto’s Regent Park, the oldest and largest Canadian housing complex, and is working on an animated documentary on the early life of famed Canadian author Austin Clarke. Her first novel Two Women (2013, Second Story Press) is about two women who share the same soul and deals with the cyclical nature of domestic violence. Her second novel Philomena (Unloved) (2018, Second Story Press) tells the story of a woman who lives a life devoid of love and deals with issues of sexual violence, mental health, and homelessness. She currently teaches at Ryerson University in the RTA School of Media and is developing her first libretto.