A path through a forest of old cedars.

Alvin: I think what I’m getting at is there’s two ways countries have been progressing lately. According to that book by Tim Snyder there’s the politics of inevitability and the politics of eternity.

Mona: I thought we’d be eternal. Eternal sounds better. 3am eternal.

Alvin: We’re not. Not yet.

Mona: It just has a better ring to it.

Alvin: I know, but the politics of inevitability means we’re on this path of inevitable progression. Things are getting better.

Mona: I would have believed that, like, in the early 2000s.

Alvin: This sense of, like, oh, we’re growing.

Mona: Maybe it was the age I was, too. That comes into it. Inevitable upwards growth. I take it to mean. But what I take from it is eternity is not good.

Alvin: Not in this context, no.

Mona: Eternity in the sense that we are stuck in an eternal cycle. Of grievance. Things are not going to get better. [In a Russian accent] “But in Russia, that is not our fault.”

Alvin: Who are you right now?

Mona: Let’s say I’m a Putin inner circle Russian rich guy.

Alvin: Who is saying…?

Mona: Who is saying, [In a Russian accent] “It’s not our fault, it’s the west, it’s the corrosion of Russian morals, it’s the homosexuals.”

Alvin: They’re always against the gays.

Mona: “And so we don’t progress.” The Ukrainians want to progress.

Alvin: Yeah, the Ukrainians want to become a new kind of country. They don’t want to remain eternal. But the Russians are stuck. There’s no path forward.

Mona: I find it so weird Putin has no successor. He thinks he’ll live forever.

Alvin: His hair will get wispier.

Mona: His face will…his skin will get more shrunken, closer to the skull. Then he’ll just be a skull.

Alvin: With the thinnest…

Mona: With crepe paper skin, terrifying, ancient, but still trying to rule the country.

Alvin: I can’t imagine what comes after him.

Mona: I imagine him touring these Russian AI labs and stopping at someone’s desk and tapping his finger on a monitor.

Alvin: Trying to act offhand.

Mona: Totally offhand, Putin says, [In a different Russian accent]“So I was just wondering if we’re close to downloading someone’s consciousness.”

Alvin: The Russian programmer talking to him is terrified.

Mona: The programmer is looking back at him like, [In a slightly different Russian accent] “Yes, we are getting close to fully replicating your thought process, your personality, your entire soul, so that you can live forever and we never have to worry about a successor. Here’s to the politics of eternity.”

Alvin: That night he packs.

Mona: Yes, the programmer’s on the road to Georgia in the middle of the night. No doubt. All these young people.

Alvin: Bags in the front, bags in the back, note on the door.

Mona: Are your draft years over?

Alvin: My own draft years? In most cases. I think? I wouldn’t be selected first. I would… If I was in Ukraine.

Mona: That’s one measure of the luck of fate. Never during those years did someone say, “You’re drafted. You’re going.”

Alvin: I know.

Mona: That is pretty fucking rare. That is rare, historically.

Alvin: I know.

Mona: You would have run away in a second. You would have gone to Tbilisi.

Alvin: If I was a Russian… If I was sitting next to that programmer, sure.

Mona: You would have found a way out of Ukraine as well.


Or you’d find a supporting role.

Alvin: Wow.

Mona: Or a firefighting role.

Alvin: I do care about this stuff.

Mona: I know. I know. And I can see a lot of first aid, tending to wounds, roaring engines, sirens.

Alvin: Playing a part.

Mona: Playing a role. Just not…killing.

Alvin: I read about a graphic designer who now just launches mortars.

Mona: I’m sure.

Alvin: But you don’t…

Mona: No. Someone has to bandage wounds.

Alvin: But I’m there. I haven’t left.

Mona: Yeah. I think so. No, I know so. You’d be there.


The paint aisle.
A downtown café.
A large hardware store.
A laneway.
A path through a forest of old cedars.
A cafe in Oregon.
A used bookstore.
In Christian heaven.
At the home of a crossword puzzle setter.
Outside a car dealership.
The Salish Sea.
A cafeteria.
In a forest.