Mom’s parents were as near to normal as you can probably get. My number one treat as a kid used to be to go stay at their house. They lived in Hastings-Sunrise, just outside Vancouver. Front lawns tiny but combed, weatherboard always touched up, that kind of neighbourhood. Pop ran a small garage, grandma was a housewife. Adorable people. And then they had this daughter. Juno. But I guess they did give her an ominous name. I still haven’t figured out where she got the Magic from. There’s some Inuk on grandma’s side and pop came from Hungary as a boy. But for reasons that will become clear I’m not keen on delving into this kind of thing.
From an early age Juno had a way with people. This is probably the reason why nobody noticed something was up with her before she did. Everything always went exactly her way, so she was never obliged to actually do anything. Even when she first started school. She was hailed as an all-round prodigy. And nobody could help adoring her, with her perfect blonde curls and little doll face and smile that could charm the leaves off the trees in high summer. Everything was so easy. Too easy.
One sunny fall afternoon when they were both five years old, Juno and her best friend Doris ran across some open ground towards the creek at the back of Doris’s house. It wasn’t a race. If it had been, Doris would’ve arrived at the creek’s bank at least a half minute after Juno. As things were, they slid down it together. Juno landed on the only sandy patch in sight. Doris hit a rock that tore a gash the whole length of her arm. As well as about deafened, Juno was stunned. She couldn’t believe that anybody could be so stupid, and said so to Doris’s mom back at the house. Doris’s mom was the product of generations of solid Canuck farming stock without a metaphysical bone in her body. Over Doris’s howling she explained the concept of accidents to Juno. She said that sometimes stuff happened to folks that they hadn’t planned or foreseen and that they could do nothing about, because no person could control everything. These things just happened, she said. No use crying over spilt milk.
While walking home in the twilight shortly afterwards Juno felt for the first time in her life that the world was out of kilter.
By one of those accidental coincidences Doris’s mom was so well up on the next day was Halloween. In her short trick-or-treating career Juno had already been a pumpkin, a ghost and a cat. Ever the model mother, grandma had made her yet another surprise costume that year. (Doris’s mom on the other hand did her forefathers proud by turning misfortune to her advantage and, after bandaging up the rest of her daughter as well, giving Hastings-Sunrise its finest ever mummy.)