“Her bigness sweeps my being” by Sasha in the bedroom

Thursday June 18, 2020
1:02pm
5 minutes
America
Claude McKay

Supple in her sweeping she walks in to rooms and people
Notice the broadness of her shoulders or maybe
it’s just her command
Her gaze is chestnut and pride
A few nights sleeping under a bridge when you’re seventeen and
High on meth
And your gaze changes for
Ever

June calls for brightly coloured beads and Slurpees spiked with vodka
Drum and bass sweaty thighs sticking to garden chairs
Ice cubes melting in bellybuttons
Asking for what she actually wants for once in her life for
Once in her fucking
Dream she is the real versioning vision of who she knows herself to be

When she turned forty
She promised to forget about all the assholes who took her for granted
She’s wasted so many hours with a clenched jaw
Focus on the love her cat gives her in the morning
Paws pressing into her forehead
Nails flirting with a scratch
Her cat saves her life and she never thought she’d be someone
To say that

Always hated when people spoke of cats in such a way

She turns up CBC radio
Opens a window
Picks up Rocco
Pats his calico head and picks gunk out of the corner of his eyes
She’ll make waffles for breakfast

Because it’s June 18th
Because it’s Thursday
Because she’s here and she slept decently well last night and she doesn’t feel the growl of an unanswerable question in her elbows

“Pandemic of lilies” by Julia at the “cottage”

Wednesday June 17, 2020
10:03am
5 minutes
My Sister Says White Supremacy Is Turning Her Crazy
Morgan Parker

It’s now a different day but it still feels eerily like yesterday.
Uber Eats guy is on a first name basis with you. Wonderful. A bit
sad, but nobody else is witnessing this exchange, so, wonderful.
This time a spicy chicken sandwich accompanies the egg mc muffin
and double order of hash browns. Last time they forgot the extra
hash brown and you had to pretend like that did not make or break
your day but you could not stop talking about it for a week and
a half. The chicken this time, no mayo (you learned your lesson)
was a welcome addition and even though you felt greasy you felt
fed so you chose fed first and greasy as the bi-product and thing
that will likely get dislodged from memory with ease because that
is what keeps you and the Uber Eats guy on a first name basis.

You never ate takeout of any kind before the pandemic. You’d like
to think when this whole thing is over you never will again. But
you also know what lying to yourself sounds like and it sounds like
this. You wish you had a better habit, like buying fresh cut lilies
for the living room but you bought this habit. This deliver to your
door habit.

“Pandemic of lilies” by Sasha in the trundle room

Wednesday June 17, 2020
12:49pm
5 minutes
My Sister Says White Supremacy Is Turning Her Crazy
Morgan Parker

You exit your third floor bachelor apartment for the first time in seven weeks. The pandemic has made your OCD spike, and you can’t bring yourself to even go on walks, let alone line up for more cereal. You’ve been getting your groceries delivered. Today, you brave the potential exposure because the walls of your place feel like they are shutting in, leaning down, squeezing your ribs. You need a walk. You need fresh air. You need a smooch. You need someone, anyone really, to lie on top of you, the weight of another body on yours. You’ll settle for a walk. Fresh air. Pittance. You wash your hands before you go, put on gloves and a mask. You wear sunglasses and a blue baseball hat. You are paranoid that you’ll run in to someone you know, even though you don’t know anyone who lives in your neighbourhood. You’re glad it’s early. There will only be dog walkers and mothers with small kids out. You know this because you usually sit by your window at this time and see what’s happening on the pavement below. You watch dog’s shit, mother’s wipe snot from noses, and the empty bus careen around the corner.

“10. going, going, gone” by Sasha in the trundle room

Monday June 15, 2020
12:52pm
5 minutes
alternate names for black boys
Danez Smith

  1. Take a seat and observe how the room twirls and smokes, scoffs and languishes. You are the eye of the storm in your silence and watching.

  2. It’s been so long since you’ve been in a group, since you’ve been at a party, that you don’t remember where to find words or place laughter. You bite your tongue a hundred times before you slice with a something small and the man in the rimmed glasses cocks his head and looks at your breasts.

  3. You wonder how many people here are pretending, how many people are holding in a fart or a pee, how many people really wish they were someplace else, swimming in a cool lake, touching the papery skin of their mother’s forearm.

  4. It used to take you hours to get ready for something like this, standing in front of the mirror, a bottle of tequila on the bathroom counter, swigging and painting your face for battle. Today it took you exactly six minutes to brush your hair and put Vaseline on your unruly eyebrows and chapped lips.

  5. You arrive late, as usual. Toss your jean jacket on the back of a chair, on top of other jean jackets and cardigans. You smile without showing your teeth. You forgot to brush them. You wonder about your breath, and if you’ll even get close enough to anyone to smell their toothpaste, their IPA, their roast chicken dinner.

“your face remains close to the ground” by Julia on her bed

Sunday June 14, 2020
9:18pm
5 minutes
Inmate of Happiness
Elizabeth Metzger

Are you sniffing something funny, Mama, I hear her say in her small voice. When I emerge from under the the toilet I hold up my camera.

No, baby, I was taking pictures.
I flip open the screen and show her the last things I had shot. A silverfish in a spider’s web, a knot of hair.

Why do you want these pictures, Mama?
And I don’t have an explanation quite yet but I tell her it’s something I want to look at again. A moment I thought was important.

Why I am crawling around in shaved beard hair and lint, I do not wish to risk articulating

“your face remains close to the ground” by Sasha in the bedroom

Sunday June 14, 2020
7:02am
5 minutes
Inmate of Happiness
Elizabeth Metzger

Annie orders extra plates of things when she goes on dates. Because why not. Because she deserves the smoky eggplant dotted with pomegranate jewels. She must taste the pickled carrots on a bed of yogurt and mint. She wants to see this almost-stranger’s face as they dip a triangle of warm fresh pita into silky hummus. She orders with confidence and curiosity, unafraid to try the dishes on the menu that might be skipped over. Tripe, liver, chicken feet, mousses, raw beets shaved into snow. She is kind to wait staff, asks them their name and how they are and listens deeply to their answer. She knows what she wants. This adds inches to her beauty and shimmer to her glow. If you saw Annie walking down the street you might not notice the fullness of her presence, but if you are lucky enough to dine with her, you will be as enraptured by the depth of her noticing as you are by the spread. She has an impeccable palate, whispering, “is that sumac?” Or, “Saffron! Saffron and raisins!”

“for us to breathe.” By Sasha in the living room

Monday June 8, 2020
10:07pm
5 minutes
A Small Needful Fact
Ross Gay

“She’s having a panic attack,” the doctor says. He has eyes like a cocker spaniel. Like a fish. Like your grandmother. He has big hands. Hairy hands. Knuckles that have been grated and bruised. “I don’t want to prescribe anything but therapy,” he is talking to her mother and her mother is the kind of woman who still wears a girdle and drinks sugar free iced tea from a can. Her mother picks at scabs when no one is looking, and buys herself a secret doughnut on the first day of her period, but she doesn’t menstruate anymore, so she actually buts herself a doughnut once a month on the day that she used to start her period. She is a very anxious woman, always pushing back her cuticles, reaching for gum. Anxiety is a thread woven between the women in this family, woman to woman, down the line, a strange kind of relay race.

“Andrzej squinted at it” by Sasha on her couch

Friday June 5, 2020
10:16pm
5 minutes
The Button
Makana Eyre

Andrzej squints into the sun. He looks to the grass, bold in it’s shade of green, and sees spots. He tightens his backpack straps. He wishes he was older than eleven, and bigger than Elijah. Born at thirty-two weeks, Andrzej didn’t grow the way the doctor’s told Mia and Kendrick that he would. The boys in his class are starting to shoot up, corn stalks, but Andrzej only grew a quarter of an inch last year. He’s glad that Mr. M decided to take them to the protest instead of doing a Geography Quiz. Elijah hasn’t been feeling well, so has been staying home from school since Tuesday. Mia and Kendrick both go to work when Elijah’s sick and Andrzej knows that he must watch a lot of television.

“can have a foul odour and taste” by julia laying down

Tuesday May 26, 2020
9:41am
5 minutes
Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Label

Tabby prides herself on her cooking. She’s been living on her own since she was 17, left home earlier than she meant to, had to find a way, found a way. She loves chopping parsley, and walnuts, and mushrooms. She likes to cook with music playing, she’ll shuffle a playlist and see what ingredients are inspired by the new artists or the old songs. Tonight, a pesto, but with some substitutions. Ever since her last period she’s been forgetting more and more. After measuring out the salt and pepper, she pours in a quarter cup of white vinegar. She remembers that vinegar can be a substitute for lemon juice, and since she forgot to buy lemons, she only has one option. The acid lingers in her mouth for hours. She can’t figure out why.

“can have a foul odour and taste” by Sasha at the kitchen island

Tuesday May 26, 2020
8:23pm
5 minutes
Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Label

Henry sticks a meat thermometer in the chicken. Shawn is arriving any minute from now, and he fears he underestimated the cooking time. Why does this always happen? Henry is not a confident cook. He has his dishes. Roast chicken isn’t one of them. He thought he ought to branch out. He threw some parsnips and carrots under the bird, and put three cloves of garlic and a lemon in the cavity. He followed the recipe carefully. Maybe it’s his old oven. Cooks things unevenly. There’s a knock at the door. Shit. He looks down and realizes that he forgot to change into his outfit. He’s still wearing a ratty grey T-shirt and basketball shorts. Well, there’s nothing else to do but embrace the moment. Fail forward, he mutters.

“Wild Gourmet Fish” by Julia on the bed

Monday May 25, 2020
1:08pm
5 minutes
West Coast Select Flyer

Haley and Hartley miss making shrimp skewers.
Shrimp has been expensive lately, and the old grill is kaput.
Haley and Hartley can eat other things so it’s okay.
Hartley says the grill never really worked that well.
Haley thinks he’s full of shit because she used to grill
all kinds of vegetables and never had a problem with it.
Hartley got rid of the grill one day and said it was done.
Haley wondered if Hartley was exaggerating and
didn’t want to do some necessary things with it first,
like check to see if it needed a deep clean (like most
things in the apartment) before tossing it to the alley-way
mafia coming by in 10 minute intervals to go through the
bins. Hartley told her that it was for sure done and it
never worked that well to begin with and Haley didn’t go
down and check so she decided to accept the fate of the
old grill even though she couldn’t bring herself to believe
what Hartley was telling her about it. Maybe because once
Hartley threw away some of the mason jars she had stored
under the sink next to the grill. She went looking for them
one day because she was storing them for a reason and they
weren’t there. It took a week for Hartley to admit that he
had thrown them out. He said he didn’t think she needed them.

“the notion of being thawed back into life” by Sasha in the tent

Saturday May 23, 2020
4:44pm
5 minutes
The Childhood of Jesus
J.M. Coetzee

The thaw comes after a long time of being chilly. Inside the intestines, lungs and gallbladder, the kidneys and the blood. She didn’t realize until the thaw began. The release of small drops of body water. A body of water. Our bodies are water. She didn’t realize what had been frozen for oh so very long. She stretches into the end of May like a cat. Spine twisting. She leaves a trail of moisture in her path. Not suspect at first, but the thaw picks up pace and then she’s dripping at all hours of the day and night. She realized that being naked is the easiest way to weather this strange storm. She only wears a bathing suit (blue one piece from Target from her Bubby) when she goes to water her vegetable garden, just in case Tom and Bob next door are trimming their roses. She doesn’t want to upset them.

“and took another profound drag on it” by julia on the couch

Thursday May 21, 2020
7:59pm
5 minutes
The Bonfire Of The Vanities
Tom Wolfe

Before she answered she exhaled a ring of smoke. It floated away and she watched it. Brandan had a knack for drawing out a monent. Her collar bone, pertruding
out of her pink v-neck, seemed to be angrier than she was.
“he can have the kids, I want the house.” And that was what she said. She took another profound drag on her cigarette and then closed her eyes as if for the last time. She opened them slowly, but that was all she said.

“and took another profound drag on it” by Sasha in the window seat

Thursday May 21, 2020
7:13am
5 minutes
The Bonfire Of The Vanities
Tom Wolfe

When she wakes up in the middle of the night, the crickets shrieking outside the cracked window, she thinks about how long the money in her bank account might last, when she might be able to see her mother again, and how her hips ache. She gets up and pees. She drinks from the bathroom sink. She squints at herself in the mirror, hair looking surprisingly good. “Huh,” she says. She pads back to her bedroom, stopped to peek in on Nassau. Tucked into his bed shaped like a rocket ship, he’s still except for the small wheezing chest – up and down and up and down. His inhaler on the bedside table, next to his comic books and green stainless steel water bottle. She leans over her boy, listening to the quality of the wheeze. Should she wake him? He’s fucking beautiful – Larry’s exquisite eyelashes, her mother’s jawline, her cheekbones, and lips all his own. Nassau furrows his brow. Turns over onto his side. Coughs. She tiptoes out of the room.

“nobody should let them in that night” by Sasha at the table

Wednesday May 20, 2020
2:44pm
5 minutes
Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

The night of the accident was the first one that really felt like summer. Becca and Sam were in shorts. Maybe pushing it a little, but whatever. Dylan and Stuart had joints tucked behind their ears, a lighter in Stu’s back pocket. The Zippo that his big brother James gave him for his seventeenth birthday. That’s where they got their weed too, and their beer when they drank. James liked the power he held over Stu when he did shit for him. He liked when Stu owed him something. You never know when you’re going to need a favour, or a cover. Stu didn’t think that James would be in the barn when they got there, and he didn’t know that James had dropped acid three hours earlier, on his way home from his job at the Garden Centre. “Who’s there?” Stu called when he heard something. The barn creaked. James whistled the whistle that their Grandmother had taught them in case they got lost in Walmart or the woods. “Shit,” Stu mumbled.

“nobody should let them in that night” by Julia on the bedroom floor

Wednesday May 20, 2020
9:24am
5 minutes
Wuthering Heights
Emile Brontë

She whispered in her sleep state
something along the lines of
I do not need to wait for him…
And when the morning came and his
skin wrapped around hers, she could
only flutter her eyelids and sink
deeper into him.

The night before she had reached
a grand conclusion, sitting on the
veranda, sipping lemon water, sifting
through uncomfortable feelings.
She realized that she could leave without
him in tow, and without his permission,
surely, in a world safe enough for all
of her to wander through.

The sun setting pink in the sky was
reflecting off the clouds, a smoke
signal for her to pay attention to
and she noticed the way it rivaled
her desires to be free at last
from the confines of miscalculated
duties.

In the morning light she could have
left him right then and there and
worked very hard not to feel any
particular way about it but then
in that moment things burst open
and all she could want was everywhere
she already was.

The permission to leave, was enough,
and she gave it to herself without
discussing it with anyone outside
herself. It came from within and she
honoured it with a solitary bow
from the top of her head all the way
down to the centre of her longing.

“so for a long time the king was defeated” by Julia on the patio

Tuesday May 19, 2020
9:08pm
5 minutes
The Jewish War
Josephus

Listen
I want to tell you something
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
if you are interested in receiving it I would like to give you what I know
You are a grand elastic band and
you play in the chorus of your dreams
you are the bending inbetween
the conversation point of seams
brought together intersecting
into something undeniable
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
I am happy that you’re here

Another story, similar but not
the same, is the one where the
king was defeated, yes the king, even the king, and for a long time
he told himself the story of how
defeated he was and he believed it
so deeply he knew just how to respond as if a court jester were sent to entertain him with a cruel joke of forever this way

and he did not laugh but summoned the jester all the same
every night he told himself what he wanted and the jester came to
tell him what he already knew he’d hear and he did not laugh
(The jester tried many approaches, you see, joyful at the opportunity to do his job…)

“so for a long time the king was defeated” by Sasha at the kitchen table

Tuesday May 19, 2020
11:44am
5 minutes
The Jewish War
Josephus

Look Lauren, I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it’s unlikely. Recovery won’t be straightforward, okay. You’re going to need intense rehabilitation – physiotherapy will only be the start of it. You’ll need occupational therapy and you’ll have to get your home outfitted to accommodate – … It’s going to be a long and hard path. I believe in you. I believe you can do it, but I don’t want you to have some idea of how it’s going to look or how it’s going to go. Any progress is good progress, is against the odds. You have your age on your side, and the fact that you’re in decent shape. Do you have insurance? I don’t see anything noted on your chart here…

“they must not wait for him” by Sasha in the kitchen

Monday May 18, 2020
2:22pm
5 minutes
Tacitus
The Histories

You slice off the end of your finger. You don’t scream. You don’t curse. You don’t fall to the floor. You look at the fingertip on your cutting board. You sigh. You see your father’s face, flushed. He’s just come in from the garden. He’s just come home from a long night shift. He’s just grilled three pieces of salmon on the propane barbecue. The blood starts to drip onto the floor, pooling on the linoleum. You used to faint whenever you saw blood. Daddy helped to train your mind to bear it. “Like a marathon runner, or a samurai fighter, Danielle!” He’d get down and look you right in the eye. Your eyes are the same colour as his. People used to stop you on the street and comment on it. Act like you didn’t know.

“Ooh! A fun challenge!” By Sasha at the table

Friday May 15, 2020
3:25pm
5 minutes
From brittab.com

Monica shrugs her shoulders. She feels Dan’s eyes on her body, taking in the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes. She remembers when she used to lie with her head on the soft place between his shoulder and his clavical. The easy silence between them. Now, a layer of plexiglass between their hands as they reach, palm to palm. “I don’t know what happened, Danny, he doesn’t have a father figure, he dpesn’t have a role model,” Monica repeats herself. Dan knows that she does this when she’s anxious. He remembers how she bailed him out at least a half a dozen times when he was working with Len and Gary. The way she’d peel out of the parking lot in her old red Honda Civic, tires screeching and then rail into him, repeating and repeating as he bit his tongue and said, “I’m sorry, baby.”

“We think you’ll like it here” by Julia, standing

Sunday, May 10, 2020
10:42am
5 minutes
From an email

Carmello films himself sanding wood for a new armoir that he plans to put in the bedroom
“First you have to have a plan”
he says to nobody, believing himself a guest on a late night talk show that cares about woodworking or Carmello in all his deadpan humour

“I know some of you like to finish the wood so it looks uniform, but for me the best part is highlighting the pieces that don’t customarily belong. It’s more assymetry for me these days that really excites me about being in the shop”

Carmello’s bedroom was in need of a revamp ever since Lydia cursed him out for not having enough space for all her things

“Maybe it’s time for you to downgrade some of your shit”
was the wrong thing to say to Lydia and he hadn’t heard from her since

Carmello began like this, slowly transforming himself and his life into something that a woman like Lydia would be proud to share, maybe even brag to her tit mouse friends about

“He always thinks of the little things, the fine details, the sweet intricacies”
He heard himself say in Lydia’s voice

“what tiny synapses” by Sasha at the table

Saturday, May 9, 2020
1:30pm
5 minutes
Supermarket Lobsters
Robbie Gamble

Jinny can’t stop jerking off. She sneaks into the bathroom on her break and touches herself. She wakes up and masturbates. She goes to sleep with her hand in her pyjama bottoms. She washes her hands more than she used to. Isn’t yet at the part in the story where she questions her shame, her queasy feeling when she thinks about anyone knowing that she’s orgasmed six times today, thanks to herself. She used to despise the term “horny” but she’s reclaiming it, whispering it under her breath when she feels howshe really is just that – “horny horny horny hornyyyy…” There isn’t a suitable synonym. She’s tried to think of one, synapses firing red and ready. There must be another word for it! She’d just started online dating again, after deleting the apps at Christmas after three dozen strange, awkward, boring dates. She’d connected with a few people before the pandemic started, but things got strange and tense once everyone was in isolation. Robi, who wore a beaded necklace and overused the moon emoji, wanted to do a FaceTime date but Jinny said no.

“when you went to Vermont” by Sasha on the couch

Friday, May 8, 2020
7:41am
5 minutes
she is in the kitchen now
Nora Pace

When you went to Vermont you never expected to see your first dead body. Hard to believe that you made it to forty-five without ever encountering a corpse, open-casket funeral or something. You wear gators for rain over your hiking boots and quick dry pants as further protection against tics. You’ve never been scared of something the way that your scared of tics. Maybe it was seeing Claire get Lyme’s and how her doctor acted like it was all in her head, just like the endometriosis and the depression. Maybe it was that something so small could have such a huge impact, a life changing crippling, debilitating impact. You aren’t one for attention-to-detail but when you come in from a walk you strip down and scour every millimeter of your body. It’s hard because you’re hairy. You suit up, and head out from the cabin you’ve rented. You’ve hiked since you were a boy, trailing mountains and bush with your beloved father who could do no wrong in your eyes, even though all he could do was wrong in the mother’s. You take the path you’ve scouted, but turn south instead of north, descending down into a deep valley. Three miles in, you see something different that the milieu of greens, golds, and browns. You walk closer.

“The cost of rural housing” by Julia on the bed

Friday, May 1, 2020
1:55pm
5 minutes
Life After the City
Charles Long

Bobbie-Jo wants to buy a house in New Brunswick. She has never been to New Brunswick, doesn’t have any friends from New Brunswick, does not currently work in New Brunswick, or even know the capital of New Brunswick.
Bobbie-Jo doesn’t care about the rules and the way things “oughta go” because watching her aunt Aimee lose her mind while trying to keep everyone else in it was torture at best. Bobbie-Jo knows about dreams instead, about leaping up and out. About maybe landing on a star or something like it. Bobbie-Jo knows the prices of homes in New Brunswick are better for her than they are here. She doesn’t need to live in a big city. The prices are even better for her in the country. Bobbie-Jo writes her big ideas on the back of an old Lifehouse poster for No Name Face.
She maps out her next few years in a broad sense. Things aren’t here they are there. Things aren’t happening, they’re slipping away. Bobbie-Jo sways to the beat of her own night music.

“Knock! Knock!” By Sasha in the bedroom

Thursday, April 30, 2020
11:30am
5 minutes
Villa Incognito
Tom Robbins

Minnie Gowan’s “Knock! Knock!” is out of a horror movie. At least that’s what Veronica thinks.

“Why don’t you just, like, actually knock on the door? Why do you yell that when you can just… knock?!” Veronica smiles at the end, to offset the tone.

“Turn the magnifying glass back on yourself, Vee,” Minnie stands with the fridge door open. “Where’s your orange juice?”

“Finished it this morning,” Veronica raps her knuckles on the table. Knocking on a door is way simpler than yelling. Maybe I do have control issues, she thinks.

“What other beverages do you even have?”

“Um… soda water? Actual water? Tea?” Veronica reminds herself why Minnie is here. To go through Penny’s things, to organize the paperwork for tax season, to help get things together.

“Hargrove was a stop on the Greyhound route” by Julia in the kitchen

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
6:16pm
5 minutes
Andy Catlett
Wendell Berry

Barry was taking the bus. He liked to get there pearly early twenty-nine minutes ready on the platform ticket in hand scone in belly newspaper under arm and affirmations playing into his ears with navy blue foamed headphones with a too long loopdy looped navy blue cord looped around fingers and tucked into pockets and trying to take over Barry and his whole life just by being so obvious and getting coiled around everything like kitchen cupboard and drawer knobs

Barry was 5″7 and not a hair taller although one hair did stuck up considerably which is where he began concluding his height giving statements with not a hair taller almosy wagging his pointer finger into the arbitrary air and all its surroundings

“The summer wore on,” by Julia on the couch

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
10:35pm
5 minutes
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Jacqueline Kelly

Grier was masturbating again
upon waking up from long stretches of her day lived in the awayness
of naps and leaving a moment
to sleep over it

Her eyes would flutter open
and closed and she would reach
for the calendula salve on the
side of her bed because it was
already there for the palm hand skin

In moments of stress, Grier would force herself to climax so she could find the great open mouthed haaa that followed: the peace, the whatever that unhinged her personality from her bones and let her lay naked of the stories she told herself

She would stay like that sometimes for half an hour, unencumbered by all the external demands she invented

“The summer wore on,” By Sasha at the kitchen table

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
9:37pm
5 minutes
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Jacqueline Kelly

The summer stretched ahead of Bernadette like a desert. It made her mouth dry just thinking about it. She was supposed to work at the garden centre again, where she’d direct seniors towards dahlias and hanging pots and overpriced chicken poop and flirt with Charlie. She planted to earn twenty cents above minimum wage. She planned to have a good T-shirt tan by the end of August. Now, with the garden centre closed and no real job prospects aside from helping Pete with his filing (yawn), Bernadette felt like summer was an expanse of nothing in a way that she hadn’t since she was a kid and summer meant burning day camps and trying to amuse herself with popsicle sticks. She felt her stomach turn to porridge, and sink low. Did she need to go to the bathroom?

“The internet traded my personality” by Sasha at the kitchen island

Saturday April 25, 2020
4:12pm
5 minutes
Vancouver for Beginners
Alex Leslie

What is the photograph on the chest of drawers in the bedroom? Is it your mother? Your mother’s mother? Your mother’s mother’s mother? These women all carried the seeds of you in them and that’s really all that matters. Cut-out dolls in different shaped dresses, similar shaped bodies, strange toes, ground molars. You’ll scan this photo one day, but for now it only exists in hard copy and there’s something about the impermanence of that that is bold. You’ve never known anyone who has had a fire, but the threat is there, especially now. I remember when you showed me around the house and I looked at the recipes on the fridge, opened the cupboards, tilted my head to read the titles of the book shelves.

“Women who sit, unwashed” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Wednesday April 22, 2020
9:39pm
5 minutes
Do You Know Any Lazy Women?
Cynara Geissler

Dina sits, unwashed, at her kitchen table in her red terry cloth robe. It’s three in the afternoon. She spent the morning in the garden with her hands tickling worms and dandelion roots. She’s never had a garden before. She’s also never spent five weeks alone, untouched, unmarked by the whiskers of connection with her Mom and Dad, her best friend Dan, her neighbours Ellie and Mark. She decided she wanted to grow peas and lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. Start there. She sprouted things in little pots on her window sill before transferring them to the raised beds she built out of old wine boxes. She is not a handy person, or doesn’t consider herself to be one. Maybe she is. She built those beds and used drill and even got under her sink on her back, screwed and fiddled and fixed a leak. She took a shower after coming inside, watched the dirt circle down the drain.

“As good as it will get” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Monday April 20, 2020
11:12am
5 minutes
Rainbow’s End
John Paul Lederach

You make a weird symbol with your hands and it’s not the first time and I have no idea what you’re doing or why. I wonder if this is proof. I wonder if this is the real sediment at the bottom of the jar, when left undisturbed it settles, but when moved at all it makes everything cloudy. The symbol is kind of like an L but also like a W and I think about all the words that start with L and end with W. LOW. I wish I didn’t care for you the way I do. Your strange freckles over the bridge of your nose. Your noisy belly gurgling when you’re hungry. The way you yawn.

“Pink Pearl” by Julia on her couch

Sunday April 12, 2020
8:46pm
5 minutes
from the Dixon eraser

They called her Pearl
she liked to wear a string of them to dinner when her grand babies visited

Her grand babies were all grown up and and she took great pride in filling their glasses with red wine

She liked that they could raise a glass to one another, laugh at the same jokes, and see each other as friends

Pearl would often mix Cocoa-cola into her wine
she liked things sweet as can be
added a teaspoon of sugar to her water, same as she did for her grand babies when they were still babies

Sometimes she would fall asleep at the table in mid laugh
her dyed blonde curls grazing the glass

Sometimes they would shake her awake and others they would leave her there

“He can fix anything” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday March 31, 2020
4:21pm
5 minutes
Easter Morning
Jim Harrison

He’ll be waiting till morning because he can’t do anything until the sun rises.
He’s busy, all day, it seems, but night time shuts him right down. This might be
a survival technique or some kind of boundary he put in place a long time ago that
he hasn’t been able to unlearn. It’s too fucking bad because I need my drip fixed.
I know that sounds sexy, but I’m talking about my faucet and if he can’t do anything
tonight, then I’m shit out of luck and things, as far as I can tell in my world, are
all about me and that simply won’t fly. Before you get on my ass about waiting for
“him” to fix my shit like some knight (day) in shining armour, there is a reason
why I am not doing it. I am the one who washes the dishes, and makes the food, and
rakes the leaves, and initiates intimacy, and folds the fucking laundry. Do you know
how he does it? He wouldn’t fold it, that’s how. I tell him, we want to take care of
our delicates because they go near our genitals and we should be respecting our
genitals. AND I don’t like my folded boxers touching his mushed up balled into the drawer
boxers. Makes me feel like I have to clean everything all over again. Plus, he’s a plumber.
That’s what he does! And he can fix anything! HE JUST FUCKING WON’T.

“Catfish Lane” by Julia on her couch

Monday, March 30, 2030
5:53pm
5 minutes
The Cure
Ginger Andrews

So Kitty and Kat are on the internet and they’re pretending to be older, sexier, more experienced versions of themselves. They are 11 and 12. The world is getting younger, did you know?
They ask, ASL? and they respond, 18 and a half, F, Florida. Kitty and Kat think Florida is the coolest place on earth. That’s where their neighbour, Leon, always goes when he gets to stay with his grandmother during summer vacation.

Kitty is laughing so hard at what she’s reading, she can barely get the words out. Kat makes her move so she can write back to “Chad” who works at Mcdonalds and has a motorcycle. Also in Florida. They knew it was cool.

Kat wants to tell Chad that she likes kissing with tongue but Kitty can’t handle it and pees her pants a little bit.

“Catfish Lane” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Monday March 30, 2020
11:10am
5 minutes
The Cure
Ginger Andrews

The house at the end of Catfish Lane is painted blue and has shingles that need replacing. It was built in 1937 by a man named Gerald, who cried into the floorboards, putting his broken heart into every nail and beam. By the time the house was done, Gerald’s heart was almost completely mended. Almost, because broken hearts don’t ever completely heal. A little crack remains, where good, warm things might grow if we let them. Many of the other houses on the street have been replaced, renovated, remodelled, but this one, number 9, is exactly as Gerald built it. Only the kitchen cabinets have been replaced. The owner before last replaced the one’s that Gerald built. The knobs are round and the tracks smooth. The drawers open and close with ease. Mandy and Simone bought the house this past week, and as excited first home owners, go into the library and research the history of the place. The photographs in the library show Gerald, standing beside the newly built house. He isn’t smiling, but he isn’t not smiling.

“A marriage is risky business these days” by Julia at The Cottage

Sunday, March 22, 2020
9:23pm
5 minutes
Wedding Poem for Schele and Phil
Bill Holm

When the invite came in the mail I didn’t take it out of its envelope.
Marnie would have fainted if she knew. I just threw it straight into the trash.
It was hard not being able to tell her. I mean, if you were me you wouldn’t tell her.
No one needs their best friend telling you that they can’t trust themselves to make a better decision.
I couldn’t support it and I don’t think I should have lied to her about it.
If I had gone, she would have had me there but I’d be lying the whole time.
It’s not better to lie about stuff like that.
Guess you could say I avoided it, I lied, same same double same, but the truth is, Marnie didn’t get subtle wake up calls.
She didn’t take anything seriously and in a way I kind of hoped she would have this one time.
It was the end of our friendship, to be honest with you. Marnie wasn’t going to listen to me tell her after the fact.
It’s my fault though. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror after I let her walk down the aisle.
Some people think it was my job to say something, but I don’t know, if it were that easy…
Well. Anyway, all I can say is marriage is already a risky business these days. It doesn’t need
more doubt thrown onto the fire.

“but what disturbed that idea” by Julia at her desk

Saturday March 14, 2020
5:29pm
5 minutes
The War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells

We were going to leave. Leave for a while, you know, nothing permanent, nothing too far out there, but things have changed since we said we’d do it. We told only a few people but that’s because we were trying to go off the grid in a casual, ghost-like way. If we left our current lives quietly, nobody would have any suspicions raised because there’d be no one sounding the alarm, and by the time they noticed, by the time they came looking for us we’d be far enough gone that they wouldn’t be able to interfere. Although we were worried about that slight possibility, we knew that most people cared about themselves more than what we were doing so the reality of us being persons of interest was not one we’d have to face. That being said, we were slightly concerned that Canada Post would be the first to realize that we had left. They tend to be the most aggressive about people especially when they’re trying to deliver your mail but can’t seem to do that if your mailbox is too full. That’s when they start keeping tabs on you to make sure this is, after all, your true address, and you, after all, are a true citizen.

We had rented a small cabin in a place I will no longer share, in case we can still access it. I shouldn’t have said cabin, but maybe that won’t matter either after any of this. What disturbed the idea of us going was the whistle from the morning bird; calling us, calling us, calling us.

“but what disturbed that idea” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday March 14, 2020
3:02pm
5 minutes
The War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells

It’s my first time ringing the bell and Marla makes a silly face and Goddamnit I hope I don’t laugh. Don’t laugh! Don’t laugh! DON’T LAUGH! But you say this enough, and you say it with an Irish accent, and then of course… you laugh. Shit. I want to ring the bell all serious and true and committed and professional, like I really am the grown up that has a job that pays seventeen dollars an hour (WHEEEE!) and where there are incentives and bells get rung and goals get achieved. Don’t laugh! Shit. Marla will be the death of me. I wonder what the spot behind her right ear smells like. I wonder what she wears to bed. I wonder what she eats when no one is looking and how she does it, like, does she use her finger, or a sharp knife?

“On the dank and dirty ground.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday March 10, 2020
3:51pm
5 minutes
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare

On the dank and dirty ground, you see a shiny penny. You pick it up. You turn it over and over in your hand. You’ve heard stories about these copper discs, how they were once used to buy things like candy and newspapers. Your father was once standing on a crowded subway platform and he looked up, smiling, thinking of a funny video he’d seen earlier that day, shared with him by you, of all people, and someone else on that crowded subway platform had decided to throw a penny in the air, and it hit your father right on his left front tooth and that tooth chipped, the small bony piece flying up and then down, never to be seen again. You love your father’s strange tooth, now mended, but the shadow of the crack visible in bright light.

“You are something like” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
7:16
5 minutes
Earthly Love
Nathaniel Perry

Robbie and I would talk while our mother’s ran the fundraising garage sale at the school. He looked like a cherub – round cheeks, blonde ringlets, big loonie eyes. Sweatpants with elastics around the ankles. Who cares about fashion when you’ve got that smile, that charm. Who cares about anything. Always a goner for the art of conversation. He made me laugh. Rolling change, trading stories, touching sneaker toes. Robbie. I never thought about him in any real special way until I ran into Tara out of the blue, who I hadn’t seen in years. She was babysitting my neighbour, Freddie. Tara somehow got to talking about boys (of course) and said that she had a huge love-on for this guy Robbie and then I jokingly said “Robbie Jenkins?” And she said, “Correct!”

“We try in a polite and partly exhausted way” by Sasha on her couch

Monday February 24, 2020
9:52pm
5 mintues
Gooseberry Marsh
Gretchen Legler

Your stomach hurts? Well, have you had a snack? Here, I’ll make you a snack. Hummus and cucumber? Cheese and crackers? What would you like? What do you feel like? What about a cup of tea? Would you like a cup of tea? Is it an allergic reaction? Do you think you ate something that didn’t agree? Could be food poisoning? Do you know the symptoms of food poisoning? How are your stools? Have you called Dr. Gordon? I mean we don’t want to make a fuss… but, maybe it would be a good idea to call Dr. Gordon? The rash is spreading quite quickly. I don’t want you to worry, but you’re turning a strange shade of… But, Dr. Gordon has been our doctor since you were a kid, since you were – … Oh. Okay. Well, I mean – … What did you say? What did you tell her? Why don’t you just have a snack. You probably haven’t eaten since breakfast. Maybe you ought to lay off sushi for awhile. Who knows what kinds of bacteria live on that raw fish.

“At times they cast themselves” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday, February 21, 2020
2:34pm
5 minutes
My Love Feeds the Crows
Mark Sullivan

Gus used to laugh when we sang off tune on purpose. See, everyone in the family has perfect pitch. Singing off tune took great effort. Kelly’s brows would furrow, she was trying so hard to stay off tune. Even when he was exhausted, coming off a night shift, to recovering from a flu, if my sisters and I sang off tune, it was only a matter of minutes before Gus had tears rolling down his cheeks. We could see his big old tonsils, he laughed with such a wide open mouth. Something Latin always really did him in, must’ve been the contrast to how we normally sang the songs of his childhood.

“Caley pushed her sandy brown hair” by Julia in the fishbowl

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
3:37pm
5 minutes
A Private Wild
Laurel Nakanishi

Ever since Magda told her that if she swallowed too much of her hair it would form a big ugly glob in her stomach that would start stealing the nutrients from anything that she fed herself, Caley was trying desperately to stop eating it. She sometimes heard Magda growling, or howling at night when she was supposed to be fast asleep. Caley didn’t want Magda to know she would spy on her and secretly believed her to be some wild wolf woman from another time. Or land.
She can’t remember know why she started putting her blonde braid in her mouth. Surely, Magda told her once, a handsomely paid and dressed person would one day be employed to help her with that. It was nice having someone tell Caley about the future and what to expect. Everyone knows her own mother couldn’t be bothered to give Caley the time of day. Once, Caley almost choked on her ponytail and her mother, reading a magazine, simply glanced up.

“Caley pushed her sandy brown hair” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
10:22am
5 minutes
A Private Wild
Laurel Nakanishi

Caley pushed her sandy brown hair off her forehead. She wished that she could take back getting bangs, and all the sorry’s she’s said, and how she’s always focused on the pleasure of others and not herself. Might’ve saved my marriage, she thought. Wearing the royal blue hand knit sweater that she’d ordered for herself on Etsy for Christmas, Caley glanced at the clock. Two twenty five. She’d have to leave to get Emmy at preschool in half an hour. She’d barely written three thousand words.  When did you turn into such a little procrastinator? Caley got up from her desk and stretched her arms above her head. She let out a loud sigh.

“In the moonstruck dusk” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday February 17, 2020
7:02am
5 minutes
Wolf OR-7
Natalie Diaz

We are the only souls up for miles, or at least that’s what it feels like. You are riding a very large horse named Bailey and I’m laughing because I didn’t know that you knew how to ride horses. You’d taken her from her stall with such tender conviction. I thought we were going for a walk. I know that your father had been a rancher before his accident, but I thought that happened (he fell from the roof of the barn and lost his right leg) and I thought you had left when you were little, like, before you could walk. Three crows circle high overhead in the moonstruck dusk. Who was I to think we were the only souls up for miles.

“My new bedroom was an old kitchen.” By Sasha in the living room

Saturday February 15, 2020
12:41pm
5 minutes
Waxy
Camilla Grudova

Hilary brags that her new bedroom was the old kitchen like that’s something to be proud of. She’s got one of those dumb beautiful noses that turns up a bit. I wonder if she waxes her nostrils, I mean I don’t see any hair, boogers – nothing. Hilary says she’s going to paint the walls white, what a boring choice, she says that she can’t sleep in a room with yellow walls. I don’t mean to make a joke about insomnia. That shit is real. Hilary has insomnia. Once, she didn’t sleep for thirteen days in a row. That’s when she thought about ending it all, writing a note to Fredrick and Liza, and leaving food out for Silly Anne. When she finally slept, she slept for twenty seven hours, the longest sleep she’d ever had. Then, that’s all she could talk about.

“Yep, thinks Frank,” by juli on her couch

Sunday February 9, 2020
9:39pm
5 minutes
Nothing Like It Was
Mark Wagstaff

He’s bounding around the corner without eyes, eyes squeezed shut, not seeing. it’s his favourite trick, seeing without seeing. he is running full force lime a wrecking ball, no remorse, no consideration. Frank thinks this is hilarious. He thinks it’s incredible or people will say it is after they see him do it, after they see him make a perfect turn without being able to see. Yep, thinks Frank, they’ll all wonder at me then. They’ll all come leaps and clicks to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth! Frank would tell them he could see. He could see everything that was in front of him and nothing was in the way. It would inspire millions. It would reach beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.
This is his favourite part: this reveal of perfect imperfection; showing what the inner eye looks like when it is not afraid.

“One of my friends used to work at” by Sasha in the kitchen

Saturday February 8, 2020
5:09pm
5 minutes
Candy Cap Magic
Jocelyn Kuang

Selina used to work at the Shoppers on Woodbine. She would tell us when Mr. Finklel bought laxatives, or George Haliburton’s stepmom bought Slimfast, or when Joaquin and David bought extra large condoms. Once, she even caught a shoplifter. Ironic, but that’s another story for another time. She sprayed bug spray in the thief’s eyes and screamed at the top of her lungs. The police came and everything. She said that one of the officers, the hot one, was checking out her boobs. Selina was the eyes on the ground, siphoning information to the rest of us and getting us high on the tantalizing mundanity of maxi pads and extra strength Tylenol. When Angelica thought she might be pregnant, Selina hid a pregnancy test in her winter coat and brought it her at school. She peed on the stick in the teacher’s bathroom, with all of us in there too, watching.

“picking mushrooms at the edge” by Julia in the fishbowl

Tuesday February 4, 2020
11:04am
5 minutes
What Kind Of Times Are These
Adrienne Rich

Manny and I go foraging and Rutabaga lunges ahead of us
we take hemp bags and sticky tape to seal them off

When Rutabaga parks herself along the roots of the chestnut trees
we take a small sip of our camomile tea and bend down

The earth is cool and damp and Rutabaga coats herself in it
Manny is humming under his breath and I whisper the words left out

Quando Quando Quando Quando…

We are forest people now and we sip espresso standing up
while Rutabaga makes friends with the Macellaio’s dog

Together they sing out and passersby laugh at their duet

Manny in the woods and I with our backpacks carry every
mushroom friend we make

“He could have been a rich man” by Sasha on the couch

Monday February 3, 2020
10:05pm
5 minutes
Memorial
Alice Oswald

I take myself out on a date. The kind of date I’ve always dreamed of someone else taking me out on. You can spend your whole life wishing for something… or you can give it to yourself. Look, I know that might sound pathetic to you. But it’s not. It’s not at all pathetic. It’s self actualizing. Okay… So I start by picking my favourite outfit out of the back of the closet. One that only used to get action when Ted was in town. It’s a blue dress. Nothing fancy, but it fits right. That’s what matters. I even put on lipstick. A deep red. The only person I’ll be kissing is myself so, no worries there. When you’re on a date with yourself, you don’t need a reservation. Even at the best little Italian place that has a line. There’s always a spot at the bar. I once asked Ted what his ideal day was and he said, “my mother’s chicken pot pie for dinner and you for dessert.”

“pillar of fire” by Sasha at the kitchen table

Friday January 31, 2020
10:05pm
5 minutes
Night and Moonlight
Henry David Thoreau

The first time I knew I was a different kind of normal, strange kind of weird, an odd kind of person, was when the whole class was invited to Lisbeth’s tenth birthday party. I already understood that the kids that were cool would grow up to be assholes and the kids who were weird would grow up to have quite a few dollars in their bank accounts. I already understood that cheese shouldn’t come wrapped in very thin plastic sheets, and that if you wet the bed past three you probably need therapy. Lisbeth’s mom was the registrar so she made Lisbeth invite the whole class. No one had ever done this. You invite your friends to your birthday, what kind of animal invites everyone, including Simon who smells like bums and eats his hangnails? But we were all there, all twenty one of us, imagine twenty one ten year olds gathered into the basement altogether like caged beasts?

“I’m five years old” by Sasha in the kitchen

Thursday January 30, 2020
9:51pm
5 minutes
Sailing Through the Night
John Calderazzo

I’m five years old and the I’m telling my grandfather that I’m hungry. He shoos me out of his office. I’m not sure when I last ate, but I think it was yesterday lunch. I think it was a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich that Grandma left on the counter. I go to Mrs. Henderson and she tells me that all she’s got is Slimfast. “I’ll take it,” I say. I chug it down. Strawberry flavoured. Almost makes me puke. Chalky and sweet. I go to the bathroom and wash my hands. I forgot to do it before I ate, so I do it after, scrubbing and scrubbing until my fingers turn red. “What are you doing in here?” It’s Clive, my grandfather’s business partner. He locks the door behind him.

“The day care lies at the base of an oak tree” by Julia in the fishbowl

Monday January 27, 2020
2:39pm
5 minutes
Gods at Play
Susanne Antonetta

Darling dear is playing at the base of the oak tree, the sweet light is blooming. I wait for her to tell me something is wrong. I see it in her
walk, the way she deflates every step, hunching. I watch her from the
kitchen window, taking note of her little sighs, her clenched fists, her
opinion growing stronger. Sweet light.

I don’t want to ask her because I want her to know what the sensation
feels like. I don’t want to say the words explicitly. Because maybe I’m
jumping to conclusions. Maybe this is how she inhales this life and it’s
different than what I would expect.

All I can do is hold her in the space I give and open my heart to her so
she knows that if she needs to say something she can. I can ask her how
she is without a qualifier. Without a word with connotation or implication.

She is running her fingertips around the trunk of the tree. She is slowly
circling it, her eyes closed and drawn into the bark.

“The day care lies at the base of an oak tree” By Sasha on the couch

Monday January 27, 2020
11:09am
5 minutes
Gods at Play
Susanne Antonetta
I wish I believed in God or grace or the unbearable lightness of being.
I wish I knew the twelve times table and how to build an IKEA bookshelf and how to care for an orchid.
I wish I was a Sagittarius and had a thicker head of hair and trusted more people.
I wish I wasn’t so stubborn and cranky and had less dry skin.
I wish I called my mother more when she was still alive and told her what I’d made for dinner and thanked her for teaching me how to cook for myself.
I wish I’d told Winona that I’d loved her and that I always would and that thirty five years later I’d still jerk off to the thought of her in her school uniform chewing gum.
I wish I read the newspaper and would have the guts to cancel my subscription it just becomes fire starter and who needs to pay so much for that.
I wish that I understood politics and plumbing and women.
I wish I was a homeowner and had been to the Grand Canyon and that I actually liked Kanye West’s music.
I wish that I didn’t want to keep everything sentimental and that I didn’t cry when the Leafs won and that my mother was still here to bring me her pecan granola.

“Curious, maybe, you’ll turn to books.” By Sasha at the kitchen table

Sunday January 26, 2020
5:02pm
5 minutes
When You See A Skimmer
David Gessner

When you’re in the eye of the storm, you turn to books, to education, to the belief that your grandfather instilled in you that “knowledge is power”, and, “the more you know, the less you’ll hurt”. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but, almost.) You get out every book from the library on faith. You search for poems on doubt, on loss. You set up an alter on your oak bookshelf and carefully place stones and piece of birch bark, tarot cards and affirmation stones. You read every moment you’re not working, cooking, shitting, making love. The stack of books beside your bed grows, and you grow too. Armed with knowing, you feel you can handle the crisis, weather the flames burning shingles and Cheerios, ratting windows and toenails.

“Instead, the deer step carefully” By Sasha at the Airbnb

Saturday January 25, 2020
10:48am
5 minutes
The Return

Rick Bass

The deer gather in a circle. I see them from where I’m camped under an old arbutus. This is the fifteenth morning in a row I’ve seen them like this. The fly of my tent is covered in banana slugs, and what they leave behind as they move. Blessed beings, these strange soft creatures. I unzip quietly, so as to not disturb the deer – a mix of young and old, female and male. I haven’t peed yet, and have to go. I know that if I move quickly, they’ll scatter. I don’t want to interrupt. I’m on their land, after all. I’m the guest. I bow my head, move very slowly. A buck spots me, narrows his eyes, smirks. I smile, careful not to reveal my teeth. I don’t want to appear a threat, I’m not a threat, I’m a student of their grace. I find a fern three times the size of my body, and pull down my fleecy long underwear. I relieve myself.

“Naturalists are generalists.” By Sasha on the plane

Thursday January 23, 2020
3:01pm
5 minutes
The Art of Wandering
Ann Zwinger

It’s so cold that my breath freezes on the tiny hairs of my upper lip
A boy in my fifth grade class once teased me for my little moustachio
I’ve come to love it though – the downy tenderness of very small strands
now cradling my breath like their newborns
holding on to what I could never

I’ve come for the Northern Lights and for escape from a failing career
a failing second marriage
a failing attempt at reconciliation with my addict brother
I’ve come to see the colours dance the way my heart hasn’t since
before Angela died
before Angela was born
Dead in my womb before she even had a chance to be born

God must be a fickle, discerning and PMS-ing woman 
I remember saying this to Toby
He smiled and went into the laundry room to cry
”Why aren’t you crying?” He asked me for the hundredth time
”I’m not sure,” I said, peeling another banana

I see a splash of azure across the black sky and gasp
I feel a flutter in my belly
my temple
my pinkie
I feel Angela there in the blue
stretching wide across the ice
Death and life held in the bitter
in the cold
Death and life in the colour of losing
in the hue of letting go

“Thanks to electricity” by Julia in her office

Wednesday January 22, 2020
3:55pm
5 minutes
World At Dawn
Diane Ackerman

I have been thanking inanimate objects all day. I have been thinking deeply about this and so it comes as no surprise that here it is, the ‘question’ as if it’s supposed to throw me off guard! I have come prepared, Ma’am! I have already practiced this one. The thing that I could absolutely not live without is not electricity, or Britta filter, or my car! I’m more of a reading by candle light, mason jar using, walking kind of person. I am thankful for those things, don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful. I enjoy having things plugged in when I need to and charge things, I think I’m getting off track. Yes, so the thing I couldn’t live without would be a spoon. You’d think I would say knife or fork before spoon, but knives are overrated, and spoons are gentler on the mouth, but ultimately I just can’t stand getting my hands dirty! I hate touching things, actually, anything, because you don’t know where those things have been or who has touched those, and you know how many germs are out there floating around?

“Thanks to electricity” by Sasha in her living room

Wednesday January 22, 2020
10:16am
5 minutes
World At Dawn
Diane Ackerman

Anna could move things with her mind. I didn’t believe it until I saw her do it. We were on the screened in porch. It was August. Hot into the night, we were all in bathing suits and shorts, skin sticking to the wicker chairs, wicker tattooing shapes onto the back of our thighs. It was Mary, Anna, Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s mother, Anita, Anita’s girlfriend, Frankie, and I. It was a third year we’d all gone up to the lake, but the first that Frankie was there. Anita and Frankie were together the year before, but it was too soon for her to come. Anna had told us years earlier about her “special powers” but we’d all scoffed and poked her ribs, and told her to stop being an idiot. “I could move that popsicle stick just with my thoughts,” Anna said, having just finished her creamsicle. Mary and I exchanged sceptical looks. Frankie said, “Please do!” And took a swig of her rum and Diet Coke.

“No one knows what the” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday January 21, 2020
10:11am
5 minutes
Lost Dog Creek
Brian Doyle

No one knows what the hell’s going on here, Betty, let’s just be clear about that. People pretend, oh do they ever, but no one knows what the hell they are doing! Some have you fooled (Robbie Pendrick!), some really have you fooled… but we’ve all never done what we’re doing before, each time we do something new! Now, do you want to spend your days with someone who pretends that they know (Robbie Pendrick!!) or do you want to spend your days with someone who knows full well he doesn’t know his ass from his head but tries his best regardless? It’s a question of humility maybe, or ego, or something. I know I never went to university (like a certain Mr. Pendrick!!!) but I’ve learned a lot in the school of hard knock life and let me tell you, I would choose a sense of humour and a big heart over a pompadour and a smirk any damn day!

“Sit comfortably” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday January 19, 2020
5:31pm
5 minutes
Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation
Sparrow

I lean towards the left and the right. I reach up and clasp my hands together over my head. I bend forward. There’s a snow storm in the forecast. There’s a boiled egg on the shelf in the fridge that’s been there for way to long. How long does it take for a cooked egg to go off? Is this something to Google? Something to text mother? Oh. Wait. Mother is dead. I only started meditating after the accident. I used to roll my eyes at people who meditated. Like yoga. Ridiculous. I guess the leaning to and fro is basically yoga. Who have I become? Mother is furrowing her brow, if she has one in heaven. That’s for sure. Goodness gracious. Is this meditating? Is this what it is? I squeeze my eyes shut. I remove my tongue from the roof of my mouth, like the teacher said to do, the one at the Zen Centre on East Broadway.

“Once, two women hiked a volcano,” by Julia on her bed

Saturday January 18, 2020
8:26pm
5 minutes
Lava
Danusha Lameris

Okay you’re not going to believe it but we did it.
We packed light bags, made sure everything we brought could be used for at least 3 things. I’m talking scarf=pillow=warmth=shade. We planned it out, we mapped it out. We knew every divot, every crevice, every turn. And we could do it with our eyes closed. Bobbie wasn’t as afraid as I was. It was her idea to map it out. I’ll admit, some of it, I just let her take the reigns on and didn’t ask any questions. I should mention that that’s an important aspect. It’s not always the pack, or the prep. It’s the trust. I never once doubted her. She never once doubted me. I was honest about the stuff I felt unsure of, but there were things I managed and she accepted. My dad’s a shoe-salesman. I knew exactly what kind of boots and how long we had to work them in. I knew how much food we’d realistically need. The drive, though? That was something we each had in equal measure.

“Once, two women hiked a volcano” by Sasha in her bed

Saturday January 18, 2020
7:21am
5 minutes
Lava
Danusha Lameris

Once, two women hiked a volcano.
It was before dawn. The lava rock was hot.
The air between them was hot.
They hoped no one else would be there.
Someone else was there – an older man,
blue running shoes, grey windbreaker,
bright headlamp. They smiled at him.
Didn’t resent him being there after all.
A witness.

As the sun rose over the horizon,
swollen and unassuming, one woman
turned to the other woman and told her
that she loved her, not as a friend,
as something different,
something brighter, something new.

The other woman thought
this moment would never come.
So when it did, on a volcano,
as the sun rose, as the headlamp
of the man several hundred feet away
glowed skywards, downwards, skywards
again, she fell to her knees, held her face
in her hands. “Sandra,” she said.
”Sandy…”

They drank blue Gatorade and peeled
oranges and offered a small turquoise stone
to the Goddess of the Island, to the power
of the place.

“My neighbourhood in Upstate New York” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday January 17, 2020
5:21pm
5 minutes
Waiting for the Coywolf
Devin Murphy

When I’m looking at all the faces, mewing and meowing, I’m overwhelmed. I want them all. I have to choose one. Choose one, Teri. I don’t say this out loud, at least I don’t think I do. I say it inside my mind to myself, where most of the Talking happens. Gulliver told me to get a cat several years ago. I ignored him. He told me he thought it might help with the night sweats and the sadness. I told him to go fuck himself. Aw, Gull. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. A fat tabby catches my eye, but then I see that she’s a senior and I worry about her dying weeks after loving her and I don’t think I could take that. I need someone younger. Someone more spry and resilient. No one diabetic. No one who requires medication.

“My neighbourhood in Upstate New York” by Julia in her office

Friday January 17, 2020
11:11am
5 minutes
Waiting for the Coywolf
Devin Murphy

We love living in the great state without being a part of the dense population, don’t we? We love it. We love riding our bikes. We love baking cakes. We love petting our cats, don’t we love petting our cats? We love hollering over to each other. We love dropping by for a visit or some sugar or to talk about the neighbourhood. We love talking about the neighbourhood, don’t we? A stroller was stollen right from Carrie Gingerich’s front porch. $2000 down the drain, and for what, they had a garage! We love talking about the neighbourhood. Liz Merridew’s husband caught wearing black gloves and switching them to grey before he entered the house. We love it! Kip Anderson’s dog digging a hole in Garret Fullerton’s prized begonia patch. It’s all about staying current with the daily news. And telling the others, best keep them in the loop too, never know, you just never ever know. Lots of stuff going on in this big bad world, and lots of stuff going on right here, in the neighbourhood we love talking about!

“I find the result” by Sasha in her living room

Thursday January 16, 2020
9:00 am
5 minutes
From a quote by Mark Twain

I find the results under hydro bills and newspaper clippings on your desk. I don’t know why I’m there, going through your stuff, in your office. Something keeps compelling me to go in there. Read the inscriptions of your books. Sniff your strange bottles of tinctures and brews. Today is the first time that I’ve gone through your desk drawers. More disorganized than I’d guessed, especially the third one down. So much random crap… a baseball, a fountain pen, postcards from places you’ve never been… The top of the desk is more organized, but there’s bills and stuff. And then. The results. You must’ve asked for a copy from the doctor. Make it real. Return to it again and again. Turn the paper over in your hands. Taste the trueness of it. Lick a corner. Turn it upside down.

“What about his own sex life?” By Sasha on her couch

Sunday January 12, 2020
7:42am
5 minutes
Elbowing The Seducer
T. Gertler

Beth lost her sex drive when she lost her pubic hair, sometime in 2016. Glenn has resolved himself, and no long asks via a gentle pawing at her back when they get in to bed after Friday nights at the Cineplex. Sometimes they kiss, but even that has dwindled. Beth tries not to feel badly about it – she and Glenn had a lot of sex when they first met, less sex after they got married, less sex when they had the twins, more sex when the twins started school, less sex when they left for college… you get the idea. Like everything in a twenty three year relationship, there are changing tides, ebbs and flows. When she stopped wanting to have sex, four years ago, she felt awful, wondering if there was something clinically wrong with her. She asked Dr. Reid, who said, “Completely normal. Would you like some assistance?” At first Beth thought, yes, she would.

“The insufferable arrogance of humanity” by Sasha on her couch

Friday January 10, 2020
8:01am
5 minutes
Big Picture
A. Whitney Brown

Remember when I looked you in the eye and told you you were everything? Remember when I looked you in the eye and told you you were everything I wanted?Forget about a book deal forget about a play on a big stage with lots of eyes on it forget about a bakery, a restaurant, a food truck, sharing the nourishment of my heart with the world. Forget about activism and radio shows. Forget about a yard full of chickens and kids. Forget about all of that because you, you are the pearl at the top of the mountain buried in the moss and ice found with fingers that know the way home. Remember when I looked you in the eye and told you I was leaving because you being everything isn’t enough. You being everything is only the beginning but it’s not the end and the end is here and that is it’s own pregnant beginning. Funny how things unravel when you think you know.

“But where is your life jacket” by Julia on the 9

Wednesday January 8, 2020
9:00pm
5 minutes
September 17
Amanda West Lewis 

Bev and I stopped watching the flight attendants do the safety demonstration on airplanes. I guess they lost our interest! Bev joked to me the last time we flew that she wished they wouldn’t have to interrupt our show to show us something we’ve seen before! Look at our frequent flier miles! You’ve seen the way some airlines really put a lot of thought into it, right? That’s the kind we’d be interested in. But what are the chances that something bad will even happen? You know how many times I’ve flown, and the worst thing that I encountered was a screaming baby? That’s the worst! Nothing to even worry about. Why put that negativity into our heads?

“brought their wives and children” by Julia in Baden

Wednesday January 1, 2020
12:07am
5 minutes
The Trial of Louis Riel
George R.D. Goulet

lingering behind the red door
Dottie clutches a tattered handkerchief to her mouth to keep from crying out

the demons were in there, shaking

Dottie isn’t finding the deeper cause but knows she needs them gone

like that time she was drugged at the bar, an unmarked capsule fizzing in her drink, and a tiny girl suffering, needing her

She looked herself in the mirror and said it over and over again, rebuking, encouraging-
“You must” she said, “you must. You Must.”

“Look to the notes, if you need to” by Sasha at Black River Farm

Tuesday December 31, 2019
7:41am
5 minutes
How To Read Music
Roger Evans

I don’t want to tear a strip off of anyone in particular. I don’t even want to know the details of what exactly has transpired. I know what I need to know. Some folks here are not being respectful towards others, are not giving credit where credit is due, are being dishonest… this is not the place for that kind of behaviour. If I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher I would have done just that! Look. You are all decent people, or I wouldn’t have hired you. But sometimes decent people forget their decency when they are trying to get ahead and those are not the kind of people I want to be working with… I’m guessing they are not the kind of people you want to be working with either.

“They did almost everything wrong” by Julia on Howland

Sunday December 29, 2019
12:04am
5 minutes
The Body
Bill Bryson

aunt judy waited at the foot of the driveway for the consistent mist, the blanket of wet to stop. She didn’t have an umbrella. aunt jude hated carrying around umbrellas. She didn’t get out of her car at first and then it was too long and she got self conscious. So she stood outside. And her hair plastered to her cheeks and forehead. And the tip of her nose held one single drop, hanging there, swaying in the breeze.

“They all would be knocking back a few” by Julia on Howland

Saturday December 28, 2019
11:06pm
5 minutes
The Right Stuff
Tom Wolfe

They would be on their third or fourth beer by now,
knocking them back on the hour to keep up with the clock.

I know they would be waiting for the “girls” to arrive before they started playing the game. Better to have an audience. Helps with the ego. A little friendly competition. Someone to see you win gracefully. Someone to watch you hand another guy’s ass to him without it becoming a thing.

By the 6th beer they’d be showing everyone their choreography from Ker’s wedding.

“Walk in counselling clinic” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday December 27, 2019
10:09am
5 minutes
from a sign

Xavier’s been told a million times that he should see someone. His ex-girlfriend Rebecca was the first person to tell him, when she saw that he had scars on his thighs. She kissed each one of them, before putting her underwear back on and heading to work. His aunt Carol, the Buddhist, who had a brain tumour and started to meditate, told him that she thought he should see a “skilled therapist”. “They aren’t all created equal,” she said, stroking her buzzed head. Xavier’s longtime friend Bud even told him that he thought everyone needed someone to talk to, someone who was only there to listen, not to judge or pry, or who had a relationship to any of the people you were talking about.

“walk-in counselling clinic” by Julia on the Megabus

Friday December 27, 2019
9:35am
5 minutes
from a sign

Devra puts on her new lace cardigan. New to her, hand me down from Aunt Mary’s kids. Yesterday she went through the big garbage bag of the no-longer wanted/fitting and managed to find one item. The coral cardigan was the only thing that didn’t instantly turn her into a baby doll. Aunt Mary’s kids were young. Devra could fit into the tights but she didn’t feel proud to be wearing a 12 year old’s stuff.

She pats her face dry after washing with the new rose-water cleanser she got for Christmas and looks herself in the mirror. “Today’s a good day for it.” She says to herself.

“You can do the job when you’re in town” by Julia in Amanda’s bed

Thursday December 26, 2019
11:26pm
5 minutes
Walking In A Winter Wonderland

visiting my sister in law and she’s a trip, I’ll tell you a story. She has this kid, right, who is like, I don’t know, 10 years old or something. And she makes her sleep in her bed with her still. Like, it’s not the kid who needs to sleep with her mom, but now she kind of does since her mom’s been making her all this time. She’s lonely, I guess. My brother doesn’t even want kids and there he goes finding a woman to marry who already has one. Kind of nuts if you ask me. Like how fair is it for the kid? Shouldn’t she get the kind of dad who will be able to love her? And so my sister in law texted me
before I even met her. She apparently made my brother tell her our whole family’s numbers so she could text us about an “emergency” about Kyle. So I was texting Kyle like, are you safe, can you tell me when you get this, cause I thought he broke his arm or something worse, right?

“You soda cracker!” By Julia in Baden

Wednesday December 25, 2019
11:09pm
5 minutes
Soda Cracker 
Raymond Carver

Listen, Libby, we’re not doing this again. Your brother really likes this girl and I don’t need you giving her a hard time. Now when they get here I want you on your best behaviour. No aggressive questions. No buts! I don’t want to hear it. You don’t go attacking people, I don’t care how funny you think that is. Liam’s never done that to you. I bet if you really liked a boy he wouldn’t be scheming over there trying to make it harder for you. Surely you can’t imagine it, but being newly in love for a boy like your brother is already difficult. There’s all the unwritten rules he’s got to navigate and bringing her home to meet the whole scrutinizing family, prickly older sister and all? Now come on if you think you’re a soda cracker!

“Ice on the sidewalk” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday December 24, 2019
7:02am
5 minutes
Or Death and December
George Garrett
There’s ice on the sidewalk and Melinda isn’t sure about leaving the house. She fell last winter and it really rattled her. The fall made her reconsider her daily trips to the library and the cafe, at least in the winter months. She peers out her living room window and sees Mr. Benton salting his walk across the street. She wonders if Robbie will come by to ask if she wants a shovel. There isn’t snow, at least not really, but the snow from earlier in the week is frozen solid. Melinda’s daughter Sofie is coming for lunch. She’s bringing egg salad sandwiches. Maybe Sofie can chip away at the ice. Maybe Sofie can resist the temptation to ask Melinda if she’s considered selling the house. It’s become a real topic of discussion over the last few years, especially after Bruno died. Most retirement communities don’t allow dogs and when Bruno was still alive, he was the perfect excuse to stay in the house.

“The judge sighs.” By Sasha in her living room

Monday December 23, 2019
7:41am
5 minutes
At the Arraignment
Debra Spencer

”I’m not one to judge,” I say, pulling my hat down over my ears.

“The people who say that are always the one judging!” You say, eyes wide and mouth the shape of an open door.

You’re right, and I know it, but I deny it. My boot catches on the ice and I almost fall but you catch me. Strong hands, steady feet.

”I am actually very judgemental,” I look down, kick a small ball of snow. “I wish I wasn’t, but I am…”

”Everyone is,” you are smiling, and I know this because of the sound of your voice. I’m still looking down.

”I don’t want to be, though! It’s such a waste of time!” A car speeds by and slush splashes up onto the sidewalk beside us, narrowly missing your left side. “What an asshole! Pay attention!”

You stop walking and throw your head back in laughter.

“Outside the ripe hayfields” by Julia on her couch

Saturday December 21, 2019
8:55pm
5 minutes
My Father’s Lunch
Erica Funkhouser

Daddy was smiling as he told me about taking me to work with him. You could see a little glint in his eye like he’d been thinking about it on his own. Planning, smiling. I couldn’t wait to go with him on account of that little smirk. You could tell he was excited to show off his little girl and let them all know who would be taking over the business.

When I think of him that way it brings a tear to my eye. Daddy always knew how to make me feel special. I guess when someone really believes in how special you are, it oozes out of them. I wouldn’t trade that look for anything.

“Outside the ripe hayfields” by Sasha in her living room

Saturday December 21, 2019
10:56am
5 minutes
My Father’s Lunch
Erica Funkhouser

My father calls his brother Ted on Sundays and they talk about their ailing mother, hockey, stocks. Ted lives in Tokyo with his wife Mariko and their twin five-year-old sons. Ted is older than my father, he’s almost sixty. Mariko is thirty five. Ted had never had a long term relationship before he met Mariko. He’d dated a bit, at least that’s what Dad said, but no one ever “stuck around.” A painfully shy introvert, Ted flourished only once he got to Japan. In Edmonton he couldn’t find a place for himself, couldn’t find a crowd, or a job that he liked. He was one of the smartest people anyone had ever met, but his social skills were lacking. My father, James, is the complete opposite. Gregarious, charismatic and outgoing, he was student council president and valedictorian. Ted and James were always close though, despite all odds, and when Ted moved so far away, and decided to stay, I saw my father cry for the first time.

“The plastic statue of the virgin” by Sasha in her bedroom

Friday December 20, 2019
10:46am
5 minutes
The Alter
Charles Simic 

Magda clutches the small plastic statue of the Virgin Mary. Some of the paint is worn off, there’s been that much sweat and squeezing over these years. She keeps it in her purse for moments such as this, for when she thinks she hears someone walking with a familiar rhythm, or feels the high beams on the back of her neck. The restraining order was filed in September, but it was months of adrenaline and clamminess before that, wondering when Pete was going to show up, what he was going to scream, who he was going to bring with him. Sometimes, when she’s got Mary in her left hand and her right is over her heart, she whispers, “Divorcée,” just to try it on, see how it feels against her thighs.

“There below” by Sasha on her living room floor

Wednesday December 18, 2019
10:18am
5 minutes
Somewhere I’ll Find You
Phebe Hanson

I hold Tova’s hand for the months of February and March. There’s still snow on the ground. She’s home from the hospice, set up in the living room of the house that used to belong to her father, Mort. I take time off work (unpaid, because she’s not a dependant, but my boss is kind). I leave my apartment early, and get to the small brick bungalow with the blue door and the white window shutters. The night nurse (there are a few that cycle through) tells me that she’s sleeping, or that she’s listening to Ram Das on tape. Brian, from Trinidad is my favourite. He exudes kindness and his smile is like a light bulb. Tova is covered in blankets, mostly ones that belonged to Mort. Who buys blankets anymore? Before she got sick she was a beautiful round pear, but now she’s a spaghetti noodle, her hand like a branch in mine.

“Something continues and” by Sasha in her living room

Wednesday December 11, 2019
9:14am
A Birthday
W.S. Merwin

My mother washes leeks in a filled kitchen sink
Roasts rainbow carrots in coconut oil with cumin seeds
She wipes the counter with diligence and attention
wringing out the cloth
fresh water

The kitchen is filled with winter light
the brightness of these generations gathered
My father is upstairs at his desk
crunching almonds
unsure about these two women who are so close
unsure of where he belongs in the puzzle
are there two pieces or three

I come on Sundays to be with them
their only child
they wanted me so desperately they paid thousands
to make sure I was born with their
ears and eye colour and sense of humour

My Mom was almost forty when she finally conceived
eight miscarriages over six years
“Don’t wait” she says now when I say
I think I might actually want kids after all
”Don’t wait”

My father comes down and we are laughing
I’m picking the good bits of crunchy skin off the chicken

“my friend the monkey” by Sasha in her living room

Monday December 9, 2019
9:11pm
5 minutes
My Friends
Taro Gomi

She’s shy about the way her ears stick out. Henry Kitteridge made fun of them once in second grade and to this day, forty three years later, she tries not to tuck her hair behind her ears. She doesn’t question this, just like she doesn’t question how she shaves her legs, plucks her few stray chin hairs, waxes her eyebrows, gets pedicures if she’s wearing sandals, uses mouthwash, gets a bikini wax, sucks in her stomach, and purses her lips. Her grandmother once said, “shame that you got the Collins lips.” Rings in her ears every time she puts on lipstick. Even the expensive stuff. She sees how some young women have stopped shaving their armpit hair (some even dye it!) She sees the overgrown brows, the fluidity of gender, the way that things aren’t what they used to be. They are changing.

“I step into the cold silence.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday December 4, 2019
9:15pm
5 minutes
New Planet
Misha Penton

 

I wish my back didn’t hurt so damn much. I don’t say these words out loud, but they echo as though my head is an elementary school gymnasium and it’s indoor play for the younger grades. Goddamnit, I’m not going to be able to go near a school for awhile. Dad taught Grade Seven for forty three years. Can you imagine? I step into the cold silence of the basement, down the stairs, around the wall, hear the hum of the furnace and see the boxes, piled as neatly as they could be. Dad was organized. That’s one thing he was. Was. I wonder if I’ll ever get used to that.

“he became a living legend” by Sasha in her bed

Tuesday December 3, 2019
4:29pm
5 minutes
from Elvis Presley’s gravestone

 

Billy never thought he’d learn to ride bareback. He never thought he’d be able to bake a chocolate cake. He never thought that he’d write poetry, or learn to play slide guitar, or have an old mutt named Sam Cooke. Billy was born on a farm and when you’re born on a farm you think you’ll die on a farm. At least that’s how it was for Billy. He was one of six siblings, two of them twins. He was second youngest. He faded into the background in photos, at meals, in school cafeterias. Billy never thought he’d get a motorcycle and ride through Chile. He never thought he’d learn Spanish. He never thought he’d fall in to love with Carmel.

“the deity manifest” by Sasha at the kitchen table on Nassau Street

Wednesday November 27, 2019
10:03am
Egyptian Mythology
Geraldine Pingh
I never wash my hands after I pee. I always wash my hands after I poo. I know that Mama said wash your hands whenever you do your business, but I do not see the point when peeing, cuz pee is sterile! It’s probably more sanitary to pee in the bath if the tub hasn’t been scrubbed than not pee! It’s your own pee after all! Shit. I mean… Haha! How did I get talking about this? I guess I just wanted you to know something intimate about me, something that I wouldn’t normally tell someone, especially not someone who I barely know… Do you wash your hands when you pee? I have my best ideas when on the toilet. Crap. I really want to move away from the toilet talk. But… I guess I’m just nervous. Really nervous.

“niches of great magnitude” by Sasha at the kitchen table on Nassau Street

Monday November 25, 2019
9:08pm
5 minutes
At the Mountains of Madness
H.P. Lovecraft
Cherry invites Roland over for coffee cake and Earl Grey Tea. She doesn’t know how he takes it, but she guesses sugar, no milk. When Cherry’s daughter Erin went vegan three years ago, and started sending Cherry articles and documentaries to watch, Cherry stopped buying cow’s milk. She still ate Brie cheese sometimes, and chicken if someone was serving it, or bacon with brunch at Christmas. Erin was very convincing from the time she was little. Roland arrived three minutes past one. Cherry hadn’t known what time to invite him for – late morning? Late afternoon? Early afternoon seemed like the best option, following lunch, before things got close to supper, or the sunset. Roland’s wife Augusta had died in August, and Cherry  waited the appropriate amount of time before she invited him over for tea. She had butterflies in her belly when the doorbell rang.

“Still coughing” by Julia at her desk

Friday November 22, 2019
5:04pm
5 minutes
From a text

Bitsy’s brother clears his throat over the phone and it is the worst sound he makes.
It is the worst sound to hold there in the ear, without warning, right there.
He doesn’t know how loud it is, or how frequent, and telling him now after all
these years might be hard. Might be hard to say, Listen I Love you but your throat-clearing
is aggressive. My Bro, I love you, but you just need to pull the phone a little bit away
from your mouth when you feel one coming on. Listen I love you.
He’s not coughing anymore which is good. Now he believes he has to clear it even if there’s
nothing really there. It’s a trick of the mind. The old sickness still clinging.

“Still coughing” by Sasha in the office on Nassau Street

Friday November 22, 2019
10:31am
5 minutes
From a text

Vera’s still coughing seven weeks after she first gets sick. She goes to the walk-in clinic on the corner by the bank and waits for a long long time in a waiting room with lots of sniffly children and elderly people wearing masks. Finally she sees a doctor who looks like her granddaughter (who looks like she could be her granddaughter) and says that she’s still coughing. The doctor smiles, and asks why she isn’t wearing a mask. The doctor prescribes a puffer and cough drops. Vera scoffs at the cough drops but says she’ll get the puffer from her pharmacy, not the one in the building.

“Coming today” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 17, 2019
9:31pm
5 minutes
From a note on the table

B’s coming today from Thunder Bay. She texted earlier saying she doesn’t know exactly when she’s set to arrive now on account of the highway moose.
When I asked her for details I didn’t get a response for over 2 hours and that worried me. Finally she wrote back saying, “Dead already, RIP, still coming” which from B is a miracle. I think it was blocking the road but I’ll have to wait till she gets here for the information. If she had hit the moose she would likely cancel her trip without even telling me. B is prone to last minute cancellations depending on the severity of the unexpected circumstance.
When I was last in Thunder Bay I also saw a dead highway moose and to tell you the truth I wasn’t as shocked when B told me about hers because of it. I somehow planted that in my memory as a Thunder Bay thing, which is unfair since I was only there for a few hours. I guess I could remember it for having the “Best Chinese Restaurant” as well but I ate at that restaurant and it was clear that Thunder Bay had a penchant for hyperbole. Well I don’t know about all of Thunder Bay, again, it was the only place I ate.

“Coming today” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday November 17, 2019
8:24am
5 minutes
From a note on the table

We’re awaiting the arrival of the scented candles but they should be coming today. Deliveries usually arrive in the afternoon… The ones named after the neighbourhoods, right? Which one are you after? High Park. High Park… Okay. I haven’t been to High Park in a long time. My aunt Jessica used to take me skating on Grenadier Pond. Have you ever done that? She’d force me to wear her fur hat. I would put up a valiant fight, but she always won. Aunt Jessica is dead now. She never had kids of her own. She was a very good aunt. I think she might’ve been a lesbian, but never came out to family. She had a “friend” – Ethel – who I imagine was her lover. You’ll be back later for the candle? Oh. Okay. Yes. Well… try to make it for a skate this year, yeah?

“There are moments when art attains” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday November 16, 2019
10:47am
5 minutes
From a quote by Oscar Wilde

Mina tells me and Candy that she’s writing an opera and we roll our eyes because what does someone like Mina know about op-er-a… but then, then she comes over and talks to my Dad about sheet music and baritones and other fancy things and I mean holy crap, she is writing an actual opera. I hate how impressed Dad is, like Mina is super smart or something. She’s not. She’s just regular smart. In fact, I helped her with some geometry homework just the other day! I try to tell Dad that Mina isn’t all that special, I mean, writing an opera as a seventh grader is cool, I guess, but it’s not special. Dad says that I should celebrate my friends, not feel threatened or jealous. “You have your own gifts, Jeannine,” Dad says, folding the corners of his stupid dumplings.

“I remembered a story” by Julia at her desk

Friday November 15, 2019
4:40pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Laurens van der Post

papa used to make up stories on the spot
after being begged
after we climbed him like baby baboons
after we heard one good one and knew
there had to be more where that came from

sometimes he’d do it with his eyes closed
and the telling would be the only thing
keeping him from sleeping
he’d say “I’m just resting my eyes”

mama never made up stories
but told the same ones over and over again
usually to teach us a lesson
but sometimes because she couldn’t hold
a memory any better than she could hold space
for Bastien’s learning disability

mama didn’t want any stupid kids and that’s
what she thought she got
she and Bastien were so much a like
you’d swear he had the same thing she did
although she’d never admit that she had
anything but a lack of patience

papa doesn’t remember the tales he used
to tell us, and that’s how you know he
was really in the moment and not somewhere
else wishing he wasn’t

mama doesn’t remember hating Bastien

“A flawless flagpole clinks” by Julia blow drying her hair

Thursday November 14, 2019
3:32pm
5 minutes
Small-Town Autumn
Donna Steiner

According to the other people’s house in a new life that is so far away from the city, we have to pay for the first day of the year and then we can go back into town. I’m sorry I’m late for these things but you know how much you love me.
One day it will make sense for us.
I don’t want anyone to figure it out so for now you have to try to drive the truck back to the shop..try to find out how much you owe…you see what I am trying to say? Don’t let them catch you.

“Though I had quit drinking” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday November 13, 2019
7:20am
Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel
Poe Ballantine

Quiet fell like a blanket over my head, weighty and full. I wished that I’d known what quiet would do to me earlier, before today, before Wednesday. That stroke of genius could’ve come on Monday. So be it, though, so be it. Samson keeps talking about wanting something and then when he finally gets it he doesn’t even want it anymore. Not my relationship to this quiet. A raven picks at a pile of leaves to my left and I remember when Samson told me that Gilly was pregnant and how we drank beer on the wrap around porch. I had already quit drinking, but Creemore’s on the porch was our thing. I could never refuse him. I still had a beard. We didn’t kiss that night, but we did the next time we saw each other. We did kiss that time. When did I start measuring things in kisses? When did Samson tell me that we had to stop hooking up? When did Gilly look at me like she knew about us? When did quiet begin to feel like the real escape?

“Later I found the fork” By Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Friday November 8, 2019
7:38am
5 minutes
Because These Failures Are My Job
Alison Luterman

I used to steal rice pudding from Mrs. Crasinski’s house. She paid me five dollars to feed her demented cat when she went to Sarnia to visit her sister and I justified the inconveniece (which, in hindsight, was minuscule) by stealing her delicious homemade rice pudding. She always had a big jar of it in her fridge. I think she served it to the ladies who would come over for Bridge on Tuesday afternoons, and to her granddaughter, Cassandra. I feel really badly often about a whole milieu of things, but at the top of the list is stealing rice pudding from this poor, lonely old lady. She never noticed I don’t think. I never ate enough to really put a dent in the big jar. I’d take a fork from the cutlery drawer and eat it with the fridge door still open, a rush of adrenaline and milky sweetness surfing through my veins. 

“I am a young, talented writer.” By Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Thursday November 7, 2019
8:32am
5 minutes
Citizens of the Dream
Cary Tennis

Mike thinks he’s got the best ideas. Everyone thinks theirs ideas are best, but Mike is really out there with how he thinks his are. He fights for his ideas. This goes against everything I’ve been taught about collaboration and about general good manners. And, I want to be more like Mike. His ideas are usually pretty decent, but they aren’t the best. But the fact that he is so committed to them, to getting through to the rest of us, to being clear – leads to a lot of the content we’re creating being Mike’s. I hate the guy. Let’s be clear about that. His ego is B-I-G. Seriously. But maybe I hate him because I actually wish I was a little more like him? Maybe I loathe his tenacity and self-assuredness because these are qualities that I do not, in fact, possess?

“choose return” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Sunday November 3, 2019
8:19pm
5 minutes
Google flights

Lois has never been on an airplane. She has never been through airport security. She has never purchased overpriced nuts at a kiosk near the departure gate. When she booked her trip to Nashville, Lois went on Google flights, like Dennis had recommended. “They somehow aggregate all the flights,” (Lois does not think Dennis knows the meaning of aggregate), “and then you have all the information about all the flights in the world right in one handy dandy place!” (Oh Dennis, who wears loafers and uses terms like “handy dandy”). When Lois packs her carry on suitcase, she carefully rolls each T-shirt, tank top and pair of underwear. She’ll wear one pair of black pants on the flight and bring her jeans. Who needs more than two pairs of pants over a long weekend?