Katherine Laidlaw recalls an abusive relationship in which her boyfriend threatened her with a boxcutter. In examining why she stayed as long as she did, she observes how the emotional scars affect her thinking and perception in what should be a new, exciting relationship — to the point where “Everything now — a flicker of tone, a sideways glance, a distant voice on the end of the phone — is a sign, a flag, a warning.”
Now, after the fire, all that’s left of the Frigons’ dream house is the foundation blocks it once stood on, a pile of rubble, and the blue trampoline their kids used to jump on out back.
From above, the damage left by the Beast—the nickname Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen has given to wildfire M-009—looks like a Rorschach test, with its blots and streaks of black. Officials say it’s burned more than 250,000 hectares now—three times the size of Calgary.