In the spring of 2017, I began working on a side project, mostly as a joke: a short novel involving the small town in Oregon where I live, featuring my husband Nate in a dystopian near-future. As it turns out, I accidentally predicted a situation reminiscent of the COVID-19 pandemic – except that in my novella the crisis was a nuclear winter rather than a zoonotic virus.
Living through the early pandemic, my thoughts turned back to my satirical story, To Look for America. Among other things, I had anticipated the cancellation of professional sports, mass unemployment in the service industry, a vast reduction in air travel, ecological regeneration though forced human shutdown, and the mystical endurance of Costco. Impressed by my prophetic powers, I started working on it again, wondering what else I would predict…
Some of you feature in this tale, although I’ve changed all the names to protect myself from defamation lawsuits. My sister Melanie, for example, features in this story as Melania but still goes by ‘Mel.’ I myself go by ‘Mare,’ but my name in the story is America, and I do in fact go missing. My husband, known from here on out as Heck (short for Hector) West, teams up with our cat (Schrödinger) to try and find me (“to look for America”) after the police prove less than helpful. The local university where I used to work is named after a famous Quaker: Richard Nixon. And so on.
I have decided to release this story on my website as I complete it. Please join my mailing list for updates about future instalments. I hope you enjoy.
Marilee (hereafter known as America) West.