Writer in Residence

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: The writing process Part 6 of 9

By Christene A. Browne

I am a true romantic, one that loves love and I particularly enjoy writing about love. From the onset of the story, I knew that it was some sort of romance, but I didn’t know if the outcome would be a positive one.

What I wanted to maintain was that excitement that one feels when they are falling in love for the very first time. I believe this was at the back of my mind as I was writing.

When I settled on the genre of the story, I had to consider whether is it made sense to write a science fiction piece that took place only five years in the future. Would I be able to infuse enough science into it seeing that not much could change in five years. The other thought was would the elements that I added be enough to be considered in the realm of science fiction. Did I really need to introduce Martians or telepaths for it to be science fiction. Or could anything that existed in an imaginary future be considered science fiction. Octavia Butler famously described science fiction as ‘a handful of earth, a handful of sky and everything around and in between.’  I questioned if I had those elements or if I needed to go further into a more imaginary world.

I decided to keep things as they were since a second pandemic in only five years was hopefully more than imaginary enough. I decided to allow the difference to be more psychological than tangible.


     Extra time was taken to chose which mask he would wear. He knew the skeleton jaw was out of the question, so was the dog snout one that he wore most of the time, since they might be too much Eva’s seemingly conservative taste.  After fifteen long minutes, he settled on the plain blue mask that he was wearing when they met. It was not completely clean but had been aired out sufficiently.


     Eva’s mask choice was a bit more risqué. She selected on one that she had bought as almost a gag for her last birthday. It had on a pair of large red lips that were puckered up. A conversation piece to say the least. She was not in the habit of wearing expressive mask, but she felt since Adam wouldn’t be seeing her actual lipstick this was the next best thing, even though she didn’t feel quite right leaving the house with it. As long as she didn’t catch a reflection of herself anywhere, she thought, she would be fine. The gesture was meant for Adam not her.


     When Eva got to the designated meeting place, a park not to far from her house, it was unclear how she would recognize Adam. He had suggested that the walk be an unplugged one, meaning no electronic devises allowed, meaning no phone so they couldn’t text or call one another to confirm when they arrived. The use of cell phones outdoors had diminished in any case because of the network free zones that had been instituted to make people pay more attention to their environment. Adam had not thought that one out all the way since it had been so long since he had made any kind of arrangements to meet anyone anywhere.


     When he saw the woman with the puckered reds lips mask approach, he told himself that it couldn’t be Eva. She didn’t seem the type to color outside the lines let alone wear a novelty mask. That was his thing.


     “Adam?” Eva asked. She had recognized him right away. Not by his mask but by the way he stood. She now had it cemented in her database.

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.