‘Fish change Direction in Cold Weather’ by Pierre Szalowski

In the winter 1998 I was too young even to realize that it existed such a place as Canada.

I barely knew there was a continent across the ocean.

Nonetheless, this didn’t stop the outburst of the great ice storm, which caused no little trouble to so many people in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

In ‘Fish change direction in cold weather’, that’s exactly where Pierre Szalowski led me to.

Nowhere and everywhere in Montreal. It’s the 5th of January 1998 and the storm is about to strike.

Only a few people – in fact almost no one – know that yesterday a child, right after being told that his parents were splitting up, stood up in front of the window and looked at the sky, asking for help.

Little did he know that his plea would be followed by a violent ice storm, which would change the lives of many more people than just his parents. Starting from his best friend Alex, a first-class bully, and his crusty father; on with the ‘brothers’ Michel and Simon, a gay couple who doesn’t even dare to take a walk together, so afraid they are of being judged by people; then the stripper Julie, whose disillusionment about men is always reaching a new low; and of course Boris, the self-centered and eccentric mathematician, who’s studying hard on knot theory and the path of fish in his aquarium.

The ice storm comes, the power goes out and the temperature drops. One by one, they are forced to deviate from their usual path.

Michel and Simon have to open their door to Alex and his father, while Boris have to rely on Julie’s help to keep the water in his aquarium warm enough.

It’s as if the neighbourhood itself is turning into an aquarium in front of our very eyes: the people become the fish and they do change direction in cold weather. As the ice rain keeps on falling, they have to turn on each other to get through the hardest moment.

Last winter has been a long and cold one. Who knows, maybe it was due to some child’s wish to make the fishes change direction and swim closer together.


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