This Place

“No room in Toronto is ever used in the way it was originally intended. That’s what happens in a city always trying to reinvent itself. Like it has an itch it can’t scratch. Like it has a commitment problem.” At the beginning of Catherine Hernandez’s second novel, Crosshairs, forthcoming in December from Atria Books, the protagonist narrates a missive to his lover from his hiding place in a friend’s dark basement. In Hernandez’s description of the setting—a dystopian version of Toronto where a fascist government regime has rounded up marginalized communities into labor camps—one can see the ways in which identity can be layered or transformed through time, whether applied to rooms or cities or gender roles. Write a short story in which a change that’s occurring for the main character is reflected in some way through the setting. How might an environment evolve or change shape as a person does? Conversely, how does a person’s behavior sometimes resemble the shifting characteristics of a physical space?