“I was supposed to have the afternoon off” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday April 13, 2019
8:02am
5 minutes
Truckin’
Ken Mitchell

Bill is rolling a cigarette out behind the dumpster and I’m pissed because I’m trying to quit but he’s there tempting me every time I want to take a break.

“WTF Bill!” I say, and he doesn’t look up. He licks his lips. “You know I’m tryin’ to quit! Least you could do is pull that milk cart outta sight, or somethin’!”

I go for a walk around the block. This guy is not going to get to me. This guy is not going to get to me. I’ve smoked for six years and I don’t even want to think about how many days this has chopped off my life. How Bill’s heart is still beating is a question that remains unanswered. The guy must be at least sixty now, but he has that ageless wrinkle thing goin’. Hard life, I guess.

“under his dark eye-lids” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday April 11, 2019
8:09pm
5 minutes
Faces Of The Sun-Man
Rienzi Crusz

Didn’t trust him the moment I met him, something about those deep sunken eyes. He’d seen things, you know? But, we had to work together so I did what I had to do. You spend enough hours in a car with someone and you find a redeeming quality or two… Didn’t like him smoking all the time. Didn’t like how he liked to make rude jokes about women, about how needy they are, or stupid… “Cut it out, Smithers,” I’d always say. Every single time.

“Shoot, right, you got daughters,” he’d roll his eyes, light up a cigarette.

“It’s not about that. You can’t talk like that.”

Smoke rings.

“imbalance and improperly-tuned segments” by Sasha in her bed

Wednesday April 10, 2019
8:18pm
5 minutes
Later, When I Am Carried Forward This Far
Parm Mayer

Gladys segments the grapefruit for Penny. She likes Wednesdays, but it hasn’t always been that way. She likes Wednesdays now that Hank drops Penny off on his way to work and she gets to spend the day with her granddaughter. A first grandchild is always something extra special, Doreen said. Gladys scoffed. But it’s true. Penny is the cutest kid Gladys has ever seen. She patiently waits in her highchair, watching as Gladys adds small pieces of apple and a few almonds to the plate. “You’re being very patient, Pen,” Gladys says and Penny smiles.

“The room is dingy” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday April 7, 2019
9:35pm
5 minutes
When She Leaves Me
James Wyatt, JR.

The room isn’t exactly dingy, but it’s nothing fancy. You starfish on the bed and sigh. I check out the bathroom. I start running a bath. I don’t have tub in my studio apartment. It almost deterred me but then I remembered my budget and how I promised myself I’d finish my novel this year and the more I paid in rent the less I could write because I’d have to work at the bar and good grief am I really forty two years old and pouring pitchers of beer…

“Shall I join you?” You call from the bed.

“If you’d like!” I call back.

“What would you like?” You say, appearing in the doorway.

“Maria’s self-view was that she was inadequate” by Sasha at her desk

Friday April 5, 2019
10:02pm
5 minutes
Spirituality in Clinical Practice
Len Sperry

Maria secretly smokes menthol cigarettes. She doesn’t eat after seven o’clock. She starts the day with a jog around the block (“Good morning, Ron!” “Good morning, Mrs. Feldman…”) and makes sure the roses don’t need trimming. Maria eats cottage cheese and cantaloupe for breakfast, and a cup of black coffee in her travel mug to go. She’s got to drive to the other side of town today to prep an open house. Maria worked at a daycare before she started in real estate. Dwayne is on night shifts so he’ll sleep until two or so. She gives him a kiss when the alarm goes off at six thirty and then there’s no looking back. She used to go in to say goodbye before she left but that often resulted in him trying to pull her back into bed and she doesn’t have time for that.

“Eat bread and understand comfort.” By Sasha at her desk

Saturday March 30, 2019
6:21pm
5 minutes
To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
Mary Oliver

She isn’t sure what to make of the fact that Jed is making bread again. It’s been three years since there was yeast germinating on the counter. She forgot what it was like to wake up to the smell of a fresh loaf of sourdough on the counter. She forgot about cutting into the crusty exterior and dripping pieces into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. She doesn’t ask Jed what’s changed, or why he decided to start up again. She doesn’t want to disturb the stillness of the flour, the bubble of the fermentation.

“Is it the beginning of a poem?” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday March 28, 2019
10:02am
5 minutes
The Poet Always Carries A Notebook
Mary Oliver

Forest walk. Billy runs ahead. His back legs are starting to go. Happens to German Shepherds. He still runs like he means it. Runs like he’ll live forever. Ferns are shooting out in every direction. I forgot for awhile that it’s spring. Stream under the second bridge is rushing. Stop and close my eyes and breathe in the damp sweetness. Feel Billy’s nose at my fingertips. Start a poem today. Just start. Haven’t written in too long. Fixing the leaky roof. Volunteering at the shelter. Banality. Bathes. Cuddles with Billy and falling asleep.

“tired, bearded men” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday March 24, 2019
9:02pm
5 minutes
Ways To Take Your Coffee
Leath Tonino

I pour another pitcher of beer and bring it to another table of tired, bearded men. These men don’t have manners. One might grunt and I might interpret it as a “thank you” but who really knows. One might look me up and down, lingering on my breasts, and I might narrow my eyes a little before walking away. Back behind the bar I look out at the full room, all these tired, bearded men drinking their beer and talking and stinking. Mari comes and stands beside me and says something in Spanish that I don’t fully understand.

“Everyone deals with breakups” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday March 23, 2019
7:15am
5 minutes
Love Running
Joseph Holt

Keri gets her heartbroken again and we roll our eyes because it happens so often, and it always looks the same. Doesn’t feel the same, I’m sure, but from the outside it looks it. She falls in love with some schlub (man posing with fishing rod! Man posing with woman who has been cropped out of photo! Man holding a bow and arrow!) she met on OK Cupid. It’s all, “Ohmygosh, Glenn is the one!” It’s all, “Sorry I can’t hang out tonight, Chris and I do Wing Wednesdays…” We roll our eyes. Okay, Keri. Whatever. When this one breaks your heart we’ll still be here. We’ll take you our for white hot chocolate, we’ll listen as you sob, we’ll let you sleepover and hog the covers.

“as the cells of his scalp” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday March 21, 2019
7:36am
5 minutes
Candlelight
Tony Hoagland

Take out the trash to the bin in the garage. Wheel the bin to the curb. The neighbourhood is still sleeping. Mandy and the boys are still sleeping, too. Jacob was up in the night crying. Mandy went to him, and then came and got me. He was dreaming about monsters again. “No more scary movies,” Mandy whispered as we climbed back into bed forty minutes later. Thank God for the coffee maker, wooing me towards the kitchen when the alarm goes off. Thank God for coffee. Mrs. Henderson across the street in her quilted housecoat and winter boots. She waves.

“How are you holding up?” I say, and then regret breaking the silence, fracturing the stillness of this Wednesday morning.

“exhale passively” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday March 19, 2019
4:21pm
5 minutes
Physiotherapy Instructions

You always learn things the hard way, Patricia, and that’s just not how it has to be! When I was your age I was cautious, I was careful, I was paying attention to what was happening around me! I see you, all a mess all the time, running around like a chicken with your head cut off and, frankly, I feel bad for you. Why don’t you take a page out of Gin’s book? She’s really got her life together, and she’s three years younger than you! Virginia knows what she wants and she isn’t afraid to go for it, but not at the expense of her pride or self worth… or reputation.

“apartment door was closed and triple-locked” by Sasha on her couch

Monday March 18, 2019
9:42pm
5 minutes
The Langoliers
Stephen King

Paul doesn’t know when he started checking. He can’t answer Shauna when she asks. He sits quietly, top button of his green shirt buttoned, hands folded in his lap.

“I’m not mad,” Shauna mutters, which is a strange thing to say.

“Is it getting worse?” Paul keeps his eyes on his sneaker laces.

“I would say so…” Shauna takes her hair out of a ponytail. She needs a haircut.

“I guess it has,” Paul blinks ten times.

“I just wish you’d come to me before all of this,” Shauna gestures to the apartment door, closed and triple locked.

“staring into the eyes of a giant wasp” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday March 14, 2019
6:20pm
5 minutes
Micro
Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Man gets on my bus and he smells like piss and oil. “Morning,” I say and he leans in close and shows me his teeth.

“Gotta get to the teeth doc!” Looks like it’s been awhile.

“Take a seat, and we’ll be on our way,” I say. The old lady sitting close moves a few seats back, bringing a handkerchief to her nose. In the rearview mirror I see several people scowl.

“Gotta get to the teeth doc!” My man says again.

I drive because it’s an honourable job. People are always gonna have places to get to. I like my current route. I’m thinking to ask about staying on it for awhile.

End of the line. Man’s still there. He’s fallen asleep.

“**NEW CLIENT TO DAZZLE!**” by Sasha on her couch

Friday March 8, 2019
5:02pm
5 minutes
From Nannies On Call

Hi Rebecca. Good morning. How are you? Nice cardigan. That’s your colour. You must be a True Winter… Are you? Those colour wheels? Do you want Miranda to get you a matcha or something? Okay… okay, so… Okay Rebecca, there’s a new client coming in today and it’s your moment. Stan brought them in, but he’s swamped and we talked and we think that it’s your moment. I know you’ve been here six months and we haven’t really given you the responsibility that you were hoping for. I heard a bit from Janice that you were worried? We like to take our time and really hand select the first big pitch someone does, right? And… the time has come, Rebecca. Are you ready to dazzle?

“He thumped his chest” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday March 3, 2019
4:12pm
5 minutes
Casual Vacancy
J.K Rowling

Bruno thumps his chest and runs around the dining room like he’s high on something. I hate this family. Who has three kids under the age of six and then pawns them off on babysitters ten hours a day? Who expects said babysitters to potty-train their little vermin? Who thinks it’s okay to leave housekeeping duties to a babysitter who is making sixteen dollars an hour and being punched, puked on and screamed at?! Why do I do this to myself! Milo sticks his hand in his diaper, pulls out some shit, and tries to eat it. I’m leaving.

“It’s comfy and cozy.” By Sasha on her couch

Wednesday February 13, 2019
11:02pm
5 minutes
From a text

Those wouldn’t be words that I’d use to describe Max… More like gruff… and, and kind. He isn’t the touchy-feely type, right, like, he is a good guy but he keeps people at arm’s length. Might be because he was orphaned when he was young, betcha didn’t know that. Yup, his folks’ died in a train accident and he went to live with his uncle who didn’t have any idea how to raise a child. Poor guy. He’s a dreamer, like, he’s the kind of man that can wander around a city and not care where he’s going. Maybe he’ll end up in a bookstore or a sandwich shop or sitting on a park bench. Max likes days like that. If you ask him how’s he’s doing he’ll always answer the same, have you noticed that? He’ll say, “I’m still here…”

“live life well” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday February 12, 2019
10:10pm
5 minutes
From a mural

All she wants is to “live life well.” Those are her words. She chooses them carefully, her words, like her handbags, like her cantaloupes. She doesn’t think that she’s done this up until now, not the “well” part at least. She’s done the living and the life. Turning fifty was a big deal for her. She re-assessed in a way that she never had before – not when she went to graduate school, not when she had her son, not when she divorced her first love, not when she lost her second. What does it mean, to “live life well”? For her, it means a few days a week of waking up without an alarm; a walk in the forest with a close friend; eating the five dollar chocolate.

“How about just one email a week or month?” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday February 7, 2019
7:42am
5 minutes
from swimoutlet.com

I don’t want to cramp your style, that’s for sure. But… You know me. I’m going to worry! I’m sorry it’s true, but it is. What about a text everyday, we don’t even have to decide on the time or anything, just when you see fit, sometime between when you wake up and when you go to bed? No? Too much? What about an email, then… You’ll obviously be checking your email… Right? What about one email every other day? Come on! Work with me here! I’m your mother! What do you – … You’re seventeen, Chloe. You’re seventeen. What was I thinking letting you – … An email a week. An email a week… An email a week? No. What will I do those whole six other days?! How will I sleep?!

“the two men ceased exchanging words” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday February 2, 2019
2:02pm
5 minutes
Marlarky
Anakana Schofield

I don’t talk to him anymore and I’ve found peace with that. It took time. I’m patient. I’ve learned how to be patient. I don’t talk to him because what’ the point. It doesn’t matter that he’s my brother. The only thing we have in common is blood, and even that’s debatable. We have the same mother, but I’ve always had a theory that his curly hair and jawline aren’t Dad’s, they aren’t anywhere, they are from – … Nevermind. I digress. I haven’t spoken to Tom since Christmas 2003. Mom insisted that Cheryl and I bring the kids to Saratoga Springs and eventually I caved. Cheryl was ambivalent, to say the least. We got there and had a nice meal. Everyone was getting along. Stella was starting to talk and Mom was losing it over how cute she was. Then there’s a knock at the door and my stomach felt like it was bottoming out. I knew it was him. Mom looked all pretend surprised and, “Who could that be?!” and of course it was Tom.

“The coach was bullshit.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday January 30, 2019
11:56pm
5 minutes
Created By
Richard Christian Matheson

It wasn’t my fault. Coach was bullshit. I tried telling Stevie and Jay from the get-go that Coach was a turd, didn’t know what she was talking about, didn’t know her ass from the ball… Nobody listened to me! We had a good reputation, man, I mean, we weren’t seven time champions but we gave Crescent Hill a run for their money every year! When Coach Peterson retired I knew we were effed. I’d seen Coach Jenkins sniffing around the court, trying to butter up the team, trying to use her jokes to make everyone like her. I’m not gonna fall for that shit!

“law of human psychology” by Sasha at her coffee table

Thursday January 24, 2019
10:01pm
5 minutes
A quote by William Pickens

“Shit, it’s uh, it’s um… It’s – …”

Mika forgets her new phone number. She’d started to rattle off her old one and then stopped part way through. “I had to change my number because… You don’t need to know that, um – …”

After twelve years of the same ten digits it takes a while to update. Mika thinks about the brain and plasticity and how memory works.

She sees a flash of Kyle sledding. She blinks. She sees Izzy there, too, eating snow off to the side.

“Miss?”

Mika digs out her notebook. She knows she wrote her new number down in there.

“my Swahili instructor” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday January 23, 2019
1:41pm
5 minutes
Archipelagoes
Rochelle Smith

All the other women in this class are at least fifteen years older than I am. All of them are recently divorced. All of them. There are twelve of us. I won’t make assumptions about divorce rates rising, but wow oh wow, it is a bit… alarming. There must be something about taking up a new language in a popular book or something. I’m going to Tanzania so I really need to get this, it isn’t a whim or a therapy tactic or something. I like Rebecca best. Out of all the Divorcees. She’s down to earth and talks about stuff other than child support and Brene Brown.

“What Jesus was doing” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday January 22, 2019
6:52am
5 minutes
Love Thy Neighbour
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Sit still. Don’t fidget. Don’t pick your nose. Sit still. Sit stiller. Pay attention. Sister Judith is falling asleep. Don’t laugh. Don’t giggle. Don’t kick the pew in front. Jesus is watching. Mother is watching. Don’t elbow Russell. Don’t look at Russell. Russell is picking his nose. Ew, Russell! Sit still. Sit still. Hands to yourself. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Stand up. Sing. Don’t sing too loud. Mother is watching.

“the host raised his glass” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday January 15, 2019
8:41am
5 minutes
Notes on Surrender
Krista Bremer

Adam raised his glass and I thought, ‘I don’t know this man.’

I do know this man. He’s my husband of thirteen years, but in these moments, in some moments, he’s a stranger.

That’s the weird part. No matter how well you think you know someone, there are still moments when –

“Thank you all for being here. I used to try to imagine what forty would feel like, what it would look like – ”

Bert chortles.

” – … I am so fortunate to be blessed by a beautiful family,” Adam looked at me, I smiled. “Mimi, you have done it again, this meal is stunning. Thank you.” People clap. Henrietta rubs my back. I felt like I was floating above these sixteen people, gathered in our dining room, at the table I set, finishing the meal that I chose, sipping wine that I bought.

“grateful to be where we are now.” By Sasha at her desk

Friday January 11, 2019
5:03pm
5 minutes
From a Christmas card

You’re grateful I’m here. I can see it in the release of the line on your forehead, an inch above your eyebrows. It’s been disappearing slowly, and now it’s gone. Three days in to my visit. We haven’t even had sex. I have my period. We’ve kissed a lot. Made tuna sandwiches. Watched Seinfeld.

“Why don’t you move here,” you say, casually folding laundry on your bed. I’m knitting a sweater for Cassidy. James Taylor plays on Spotify.

“You know I can’t.” I look up.

You are grateful I’m here. You usually come to me because it’s hard to get away. My kids. The cat. It’s easy for you to travel. You have less baggage.

“A master-beggar art thou.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday January 8, 2019
10:04pm
5 minutes
Kim
Rudyard Kipling

I make you cinnamon buns. I let the dough double rise and listen to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I make the filling (butter, cinnamon, sugar, salt). I make the cream cheese frosting. I whisper that you’re my little darling, and these buns are my little darlings, and in the quiet of this Saturday night, the world is my little darling. I’ll bring you the buns tomorrow morning, after I bake them, while they are still warm. You’ll be surprised to see me, but I’ll be holding a tray of the best damn thing you’ve ever smelled so you won’t be able to send me away, to refuse me, to ask me to go. You’ll invite me in. Coffee will already be brewing on the counter, in your red french press.

“heaven is great, earth is great, people are great” by Sasha on the 99

Wednesday January 2, 2019
2:13pm
5 minutes
Living the Wisdom of the Tao
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

It’s okay, I mean, I’m okay. Things are okay, Brad, I don’t know what you want me to say… Everyone is happy sometimes and sad sometimes, right?! It’s not even about the balance of being happy and sad I don’t think… It’s about the quality of the feelings. Like, when you’re happy, are you really free? Is there still a little balloon in your chest slowly deflating? Don’t lie to yourself about it. No point in lying about that little balloon, she probably just needs acknowledgement! When you’re sad are you really letting yourself, like, go there? Are you crying and stuff? I don’t know how to take how you’re looking at me… We haven’t seen each other in, like, three years, and now you’re acting all concerned? Sometimes I’m really happy. Sometimes I’m really sad. That’s it.

“I can be courageous enough to feel” by Sasha on the 9

Tuesday January 1, 2019
1:23pm
5 minutes
Comfortable With Uncertainty
Pema Chödrön

She didn’t want to go. It was freezing old outside and the thought of putting on all those layers only to take them off when she got there was almost too much to handle. She thinks about her therapist saying that sometimes self care looks like staying in, having a bath, reading a book, and sometimes self care looks like getting out, being with people, having a slice of cake. Liam had said that it would mean a lot to him if she came, this being his first gig back with the band after surgery. She didn’t want to go. Sometimes being a good friend means showing up. She knows this. She knows.

“perhaps he really knew nothing” by Sasha in the Kiva

Tuesday December 25, 2018
12:20am
5 minutes
The Trial
Franz Kafka

Perhaps he knew everything and perhaps he knew nothing and that’s just how things were now. When he made his bed in the morning (bottom sheet smoothed, top sheet folded in and under, comforter, quilt, pillows) he felt he knew nothing. The whole day stretched before him. A canyon of unknown. He went downstairs and turned on the coffee maker. He got the paper from the front porch. He fed Harriet her wet food, as she mewed and meowed and rubbed against his legs.

“Day after day we worked” by Sasha in Mississauga

Monday December 24, 2018
12:12pm
5 minutes
The Swiss Family Robinson
J.D. Wyss

Jeremy puts on his father’s coat and his mother’s fake fur hat and goes to smoke a joint in the garage. It’s the first Christmas without Sara and everyone is on their best/worst behaviour. Since moving away from Kingston, Jeremy has learned how what we think is our best is sometimes our worst because it’s not necessarily honest. Jeremy tries to be honest.

“Are you high?” His mother asked last night, as she washed and he dried. Joan Baez’s Christmas album on the stereo.

“Yup,” he said, carefully wiping the platter that used to be his grandmother’s, the one with little raised cranberries on it.

“Jeremy… Is it necessary that you – “

“You do you, Mom. Drink a little too much Pinot Grigio, eat a little too much baked brie. I’m gonna do me, and smoke a bit of weed.”

She raised her eyebrows, unsure about this man in front of her who resembled the little boy gripping her hand til her knuckles turned white on the first day of school.

“She shook her head helplessly.” By Sasha in the Kiva

Thursday December 20, 2018
12:31pm
5 minutes
Solaris
Stanislaw Lem

She shook her head helplessly becuase she couldn’t figure out how to get her words in order, how to get a word in, what to do with words. Her mother knew words better than anyone, or so she thought, better than her own face. Her mother knew how to shape words into cinnamon buns, into machetes, into room sized pillows. Sat around the table with the family, her family, that’s a word she knows. Bev sticks her tongue out at Larry and he gets up and grabs her cheeks.

“In case you think that all of this” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday, November 25, 2018
8:30am
5 minutes
Come Of Age
Stephen Jenkinson

“This isn’t about you!” Gary shouts. I can hear him through the wall. His office is his favourite place in the world. He loves it in there so much that whenever I forward him a seat sale he writes back, “I’d rather be at home.” Our bedroom is on the other side of the wall, and because I don’t work from home didn’t imagine that I’d need an office. When we bought this house, it was perfect in every way and a space to call only my own wasn’t all that necessary. But now that Gary’s dear old Dad has finally died, and he’s sorting things our with his sister Becky, all I hear in the evenings, while I try to read in bed, is him shouting at her. Shouting that this “isn’t what Dad would’ve wanted!” Shouting “you are so narcissistic, Rebecca, I don’t know how you’ve made it thus far!” Gary isn’t usually a shouter, actually I can maybe count the times he’s yelled at me on one hand.

“Party in the house” by Sasha on the couch at Bowmore

Sunday November 18, 2018
9:43am
5 minutes
Overheard at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

When Pawpaw gets home Gramma makes a big party and we even get to have pop! Sprite and Pepsi. Clyde mixes them together and then laughs and some comes out his nose. I try not to pee when I laugh at him with that brown stuff coming out, but I think I do a little bit, but not enough that anyone would know. Pawpaw hasn’t been home in TWENTY SIX years, since right before Daddy was born. Before Daddy went to prison he would take me to visit Pawpaw and we’d even sometimes get touch, like once or twice that really happened.

“10-year anniversary” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday November 10, 2018
8:34am
5 minutes
Into the Raven’s Nest
Curranne Labercane

I can still hear my heart beating in my ears and the rush of blood to my scalp. He pulled his chair back and came around in front of his desk.

“What do you think your punishment should be for this bad behaviour, Miss Bennett?” He’s so close to me I can smell his musky aftershave.

“Um… I don’t know?” I’m fifteen. I have never been sent out of the classroom, let alone in a principle’s office.

He leans down close to my face. The heart beat in my ears. Rush of blood. It feels like every hair on my body is standing straight up.

I’d heard rumours about him. This kind of thing.

“for young students who can’t sit still” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday November 8, 2018
6:11pm
5 minutes
From the Beginning
Chelsey Burnside

Mickey makes the sign of the cross and rolls his eyes back into his head so that only the whites are showing. Sister Helen waddles to the front of the class and we all try not to laugh. We don’t want to get our knuckles smacked with her big protractor. She whips her head around and Mickey is still going, crossing himself faster and faster, tongue hanging out of his mouth. No one moves. Sister Helen narrows her eyes.

“Mr. Fitzgerald, do you need to visit the nurse?” Her voice could cut ice.

“No, ma’am…” Mickey says, quietly.

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!”

“No, Sister Helen.”

“The biggest personality among this trio” by Sasha at her counter

Wednesday November 7, 2018
6:52pm
5 minutes
High Living
Jacqueline Ranit

Becca has the biggest personality of the three of us, I would say. Then comes Miranda and then comes me. I’m the quiet one. I’m not a wallflower, I mean I’ve french kissed a few people and puffed on a couple of joints even, I’m not, like, a nerd or anything. We’re semis. Not popular and not not popular. Semi popular. People in the caf don’t totally ignore us and if Miranda gets a new mini-backpack or something then someone might say something, might give her a compliment and then give Becca a compliment on her gold hoops and then maybe give me a compliment on my haircut. I didn’t get a haircut exactly, but I’ve stopped straightening my hair which means that it does look shorter.

“the woman’s anonymous appearance” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 4, 2018
10:21pm
5 minutes
Beauty Beheld
Sara Harowitz

She shivers from her shoulders down to her thighs
crossed tightly feeling a little tremble forcing its way in
He hasn’t noticed how cold the house had gotten
hot blooded, covered in thick skin built for winter
It was bad enough that her whole body was prone to shaking
but she didn’t know how to fix the heat
Chalk it up to co-dependency
She’d rather that than have you think she is just too afraid
to learn how to do it on her own
He tells her he’ll be home for dinner, remarks something about
chicken thighs
She thinks about walking into the oven chest first
but having it on would at least warm up the kitchen
When he leans in to kiss her, he misses her mouth by an almost inch

“the woman’s anonymous appearance” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday November 4, 2018
8:21am
5 minutes
Beauty Beheld
Sara Harowitz

The woman appears in what she always knew she’d be wearing in this moment, an outfit she’s thought about more than any other thing in her life, though she’s loathed to admit that, she’d never admit that.

Horowitz calls the woman into his office. She’s ready – cheek’s flushed, breath deep, hands shaking only slightly. Horowitz recently died his hair black and the woman isn’t used to it yet. It looks severe, menacing even.

“How are you, Katrina?” Horowitz doesn’t stand up when she enters, even though he should, and he knows it. He takes her in, toes to scalp. The woman bristles. This isn’t going as she’d planned.

“Thanks for meeting with me, Henry. I appreciate your time.” She sits down in one of the red leather chairs opposite his desk. He leans back.

“What’s up?” He pulls a file from the top drawer and files his left thumb nail.

“I have worked here for three and a half years. I have managed every account you’ve given me to the best of my ability, and received only glowing praise from clients. I know it. You know it.” She uncrosses her legs, feels her feet firmly planted on the floor.

“the hell days” by Sasha at Olive & Ruby

Saturday November 3, 2018
12:02pm at Olive & Ruby
5 minutes
Soil, Sun, and Soon
Daenna Van Mulligen

“Mom?” Mimi is braiding Felicity’s long red hair, the doll that Oma made for her when she was just a baby.

“Mmmm?” Mom is looking at her phone.

“Mom?” Mimi holds up Felicity so that Mom can see how good she is at braiding now, how much she’s been practising.

“What Mimi? I’m busy, can’t you see that?” Mom rolls her eyes, but unfortunately they don’t make it down to Felicity’s level.

“Never mind.” Mimi goes into the living room where Dad is reading the newspaper.

“Dad?”

“Mmhmm?”

“Look at Felicity’s beaaaautiful hair!” She punches the doll through the newspaper, and her father gasps.

“Monika?! Could you please come and deal with your daughter?!” Dad shouts very loud.

“the hell days” by Julia on the 99

Saturday November 3, 2018
9:52am
5 minutes
Soil, Sun, and Soon
Daenna Van Mulligen

I thought daylight savings was yesterday. I was worried I missed out on that one feeling a year you get when you realize you had an extra hour of sleep. When I woke up I still felt tired. These are the hell days. When 7am looks like 4am and there seems to be no real good reason to leave the bed. Except for all the reasons that catch up before noon. The ones you should have written down the night before. The ones you should have already internalized.
Some of this grey has seeped into my good intentions. It’s like a drop of water landing perfectly in the dry speaker of your phone. Everything sounds blurry. You want to throw the whole thing away and start over. But the hell days don’t let you start over. They make you travel to the bottom of the bottom to show you just how deep this sadness lives. They want you to look it in the face and apologize or something. For what, I’m still not sure. It wants you to see what you’re getting good at avoiding.

“Hard as it may be to believe” by Sasha on her bed

Tuesday October 2, 2018
8:46pm
5 minutes
Beneath Our Feet
Redfern Jon Barrett

Frida sings me a lullaby and I toss and turn and hope that someone – anyone – might save me from myself.

It doesn’t have to be you, although that would be ideal.

You, fresh from the shower and smelling of sand and amber. You, seeming to have grown a few inches overnight – how do you do that? You, sweet mermaid man, good to the bone, knowing the perfect amount of honey for tea and exactly how to light a room a dusk.

“what day she was born,” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday September 29, 2018
6:01pm
5 minutes
The World’s Oldest Person
Elizabeth Onusko

when mama forgets the day that daisy was born everyone knows that’s it. probably any day now. uncle bert hid the vodka, the whiskey and the gin. mama was drinking everything in sight, and that makes her worse, that makes things worse for everyone. chloe sings to her, “rock-a-by-baby” and all the songs mama used to sing to us when we had nightmares. daisy, poor thing it’s her birthday, makes a sponge cake with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. we bring mama a slice in bed and she chokes and coughs but says that it’s delicious. she’s right. it is. “good job, daisy,” chloe says and I play with her hair the way she likes.

“The first time you park your car” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday September 26, 2018
5:21pm
5 minutes
The Cure for Racism is Cancer
Tony Hoagland

The first time you park your car outside the bungalow where Marv and I are staying, I know you’re there before I hear the engine shut off or the door slam. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. You’re probably doing the same.

Three knocks on the front door and I’m there, face pressed against the foggy glass. You can’t see me, but I’m sure as hell you know I’m there.

“Betsy?” Your voice. I haven’t heard your voice in three years, seven months, three days. “Betsy… I know you’re there.”

“you should have asked me nicely” by Sasha on her couch

Monday September 24, 2018
10:04pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the 4 bus

I stand up and I feel his eyes on me. I walk towards the bathroom and then turn around. I’m not going to take this shit.

“Do you have something that you need to say to me?”

“Uh,” he looks at his buddies like I’m the creep.

“You’ve been staring at me for over an hour. I’m trying to enjoy my book and my beverage, and all I feel is your eyes baring a whole in every vulnerable part of my body. Have some respect. Stop fucking looking at me.”

“Is it that time of the month?” Buddy A winks.

“My menstrual cycle is far too important to enter this conversation.”

“They must have math class” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday September 19, 2018
7:48am
5 minutes
Wakaranai
Hanako Masutani

“Math class give me the sweats!” Ramona shouts from the top of the stairs.

“This homework isn’t going to do itself!” Pho stands in the kitchen, almost raising her voice. “What will your Mom say when she gets home?” Pho listens. She waits. She hears the door slam upstairs, and then slow, heavy footsteps across the hall. At a snail’s pace, Ramona descends.

“I hate integers…” Ramona plops into a stool at the kitchen island, her knapsack beside her filled with books. Pho loads the dishwasher.

“I know, sweetie, try your best.”

Ramona takes out her textbook and her spiral bound notebook. She sharpens a pencil.

“The longer you procrastinate, the later it’s going to be and then you’ll be more tired and your brain will – ”

“I’m DOING IT!” Ramona huffs her way through the first few practise problems.

“a multitude of mouths” by Sasha at her desk

Friday September 14, 2018
8:58pm
5 minutes
SWITCH/CHASE
Ben Rawluk

“I don’t believe in that,” Kelsey shakes her head and picks a lemon seed out of her water glass. Jem has been talking about orgies and polyamory and how as descendants of apes we are meant to have many mates – “Many, many mates!”

“It’s not a matter of belief,” Jem says, leaning in across the candle-lit table.

“Everything’s a matter of belief, my love,” Kelsey looks Jem right in the eye and they both laugh.

Their food arrives – Kelsey’s pesto pasta and garlic bread, Jem’s burger with caesar salad.

“Do you ever just want to say fuck it and move to the country and keep bees and make preserves and sing in a choir?” Kelsey steals a crouton from Jem’s plate.

“Of course! But will I do such a thing before I’m all wrinkled and grey and surrounded by dogs and cats and parakeets?! NO WAY!”

“and a quiet evening sipping whiskey” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday September 12, 2018
7:02am
5 minutes
Mr. Bright Eyes
John Barton

He calls and tells me that he misses me. I want to hear it from the one who hasn’t been drinking whiskey, the one who wakes up and washes the dishes, the one who plays basketball with the lanky teenagers in the courts by the community centre. I always said that I’d wait for you. I always said that I’d be able to. Now, though, it feels as though time moves faster and people are dying, and being born, and how are we wasting time on things that aren’t true? He calls and tells me that he misses me and I pull the phone away from my ear so that he can’t hear the catch in my throat, the tiny “me too,” the deep breath, the tear rolling down towards my upper lip.

“and all the sheets drift jazz” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday September 2, 2018
8:10pm
5 minutes
Bad Boy’s Slut Song
Nick Comilla

Raymond plays jazz at the Rex on Sunday afternoons. I’m there because Nicola likes to go, not because I really care about jazz. But Raymond does something to a trumpet that I can’t quite articulate. He shows us how music can be, who we can be, what a wild heart actually looks like. The rest of us are fakers. I used to play, but I got tired of staying out late and having the schmooze and kiss ass and all the rest of it. Raymond doesn’t play those games. He plays his set, drinks a cranberry soda at the bar, chats a bit with the regulars, and then walks home. He doesn’t make a big deal about it. He’s just living his life.

“And we created a hybrid,” by Sasha at her desk

Monday August 27, 2018
7:15am
5 minutes
Poetry Is The Song Of The People
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Finally they are laughing again. It happens without them knowing. Sat around the table, eating homemade caesar salad and garlic bread and baked zucchini. Who knows what was even said, or what was even funny, but they are laughing and they haven’t in a long time, not all of them. When you lose a child, or a sibling, when you lose someone young, you forget how to laugh, or they did. We can’t speak in generalizations, but it’s easy to imagine that this is what happens, that this is what the grip of grief does, that this is what it’s like now. Finally they are laughing again, on this Monday at the end of August, as summer wanes and traffic buzzes and a fruit fly lands on the pineapple on the counter.

“Bible under his arm,” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday August 18, 2018
7:40am
5 minutes
The Unbreakable Thread
David James Duncan

Things got weird when Malcolm started carrying his Bible under his arm. People didn’t take a lot of notice in the first week, thinking it was just some new strange thing he was up to. But a month in, Betty sat her son down.

“Malcolm, why are you carrying around that Lord book all the dang time?!”

Malcolm thought for a moment before answering. Not his usual.

“I’m a Christian now, Mom,” he took the Bible out from under his arm and put it on the kitchen table. “And I suggest that you start reading the Holy Book before your soul is too tarnished to save.”

“What the he – heck, Malcolm! When did this – …?”

Just at that moment Tammy came in the door hollering about lasagna. She was still in her volleyball uniform.

“What’s the matter with you two?” Tammy opened the fridge and drank milk from the carton.

“slow puffs of steam” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday August 16, 2018
6:02pm
5 minutes
What Happened During The Ice Storm
Jim Heynen

She bakes because her favourite thing is the smell of bread rising, butter browning, cookies crisping. She bakes because her mother bakes, and her grandmother baked, and so on and so forth.

She limits her baking to Saturday, and brings the treats to her meditation group on Sunday afternoon.

“These are the best lemon squares I have ever had, Rachel,” says Glenn, who lead today and accidentally hit the gong with his foot when he was readjusting his seated position.

“Aw, thanks,” she says, and she knows he’s telling the truth. Her lemon squares are the best.

“You should open a bakery,” says Carol.

“I’ve thought of it, but I worry that if it’s my job I won’t love it as much anymore.”

“Maybe you’ll come to love it even more,” Glenn smiles. “That’s just as much of an option…”

“the splendid ugliness of this disguise.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday August 12, 2018
7:36pm
5 minutes
Ode to Invisibility
Ellen Bass

I buy another black pair of jeans, another white T-shirt, a blue blazer, a grey pair of leggings. $364.99. I buy a coffee at Starbucks. $6.21. I buy food from the hot bar at Whole Foods. $14.10. I Car2Go home. $6.45. I sit on my $2,475 couch and I go on Facebook and I see that fucking Cathy is in the Dominican Republic again. Who is that disgusting hottie she’s holding onto is that her new boyfriend SHOOT ME?! HOW DOES SHE DO IT. Onto Expedia. I text Jacquie, “What are you doing next week?” I see that she’s typing back, and then she stops, and then she types, and then she stops. “What the fuck?!” I throw my phone across the room and luckily it lands on the footstool. $220.

“Hear splash blue” by Sasha on her balcony

Saturday August 4, 2018
2:42pm
5 minutes
Here Room Sleeps
Dale Smith

“Do you hear that?” Mimi tilts her head up, and cocks it a little to the right.

“No…” This happens often, but I play along. I got a good sleep last night so I’m feeling game.

“It’s it’s it’s it’s BLUE!” Mimi laughs.

“You’re hearing the blue?”

“M-hmm.”

“Mimi, how are you hearing a colour?”

“It’s easy! You just feel in your tummy and your tongue and some other places like maybe the liver or the kidney! And it’s clear that it’s BLUE.”

I haven’t heard her explain something like this before, about her experience of the world.

“Mama, are you crying?” She touches my face.

“he had this reputation because” by Sasha on her balcony

Sunday July 22, 2018
10:21pm
5 minutes
Under The Skin
Michel Faber

He deserves this reputation like he deserves the calluses on his feet and the chapped lips. He deserves the ridicule and the rundown. He deserves everything that’s happening to him. Forgiveness is a hoax. Compassion is a joke. He deserves to rot in the bottom of a well, like the fairy tales always say. He deserves sunburns, cancer, ulcers, dementia. Don’t look at me like I’m being a bitch. I am not being a bitch. I am being real, I am being powerful, I am being truthful and articulate and I am on fucking fire.

“I need my medicine” by Sasha on her balcony

Saturday July 14, 2018
7:55pm
5 minutes
overheard at Genavie’s house 

I need my medicine, Charlie! I need it right now! If you don’t bring me my medicine, I’m gonna divorce you, Charlie! CHARLIE! Oh. There you are. Thank you. Thank you so much. You know that I can’t make it down the stairs on bad days and today is a bad bad day! Charlie? Are you upset? Why do you look irritated? Are you – … Are you angry? Doctor said that you’d need to pay extra close attention during healing and that means medicine every three hours. You know that. How could you possibly be irritated?! Shit. It’s almost three thirty. Bella and Jeffrey need to be picked up because Hennie is at chemo! You have to go. The drugs haven’t kicked in yet!

“Where every member is a minister” by Sasha at her desk

Monday July 9, 2018
10:03am
5 minutes
from a business card

She dreams of parliament. She dreams of platforms. She dreams of knowing how to articulate all the change that she wants to make and that everyone listens. She dreams she’s speaking to a cabinet of women. Some are stretching. Some are breastfeeding. Some are rolling their eyes. Some are interrupting. She dreams that they find their way. She dreams of a world where she might prioritize childcare, elder care, health care. CARE. She dreams of being allowed to fail and that failure won’t haunt her. She dreams of risk. She dreams of loss. She dreams of calling another leader and deciding she will unleash the tidal wave of wrong-doings.

“gros bisous!” by Sasha on her balcony

Monday June 25, 2018
9:36pm
5 minutes
​from an e-mail​

Mike makes eyes at me across the bar and my stomach drops. Am I going to shit my pants?! FUCK. I go to the bathroom. Pull down my shorts. All good. All safe.

“Why are you so weird around him?” Bec asks and I just hit her on the arm a bit harder than usual.

“Hey Alison, how’s it goin’?” Why does he come here? Why does he do this? Why is he here? Take. Me. Away. I vacate my body and I fly above us and I see how I’m sweating in every crevice and he’s salivating and we’re both remembering.

“When do you go back to London?”

“Not until August… We still got time…”

“You never had my time – “

“I beg to differ – “

“Fuck you.”

“Woah…”

Bec comes over and all she heard was the “fuck” part she didn’t hear the rest she didn’t hear the thunder.

“I have two more weeks to pack” by Sasha on her balcony

Saturday June 23, 2018
9:10pm
5 minutes
From a text

I have two more weeks to pack. I have TWO WEEKS! STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT! fucking hate packing, truth be told, and anyone who says that they enjoy it is a liar. Really! I mean what is there to like? You’re faced with all of your shit that is haunted with all the bad choices that you’ve made, and you always find a photo you wish you didn’t still have or a card or something… Every time I move, I get rid of tons of stuff but then by the time I move again I’ve accumulated an equally hideous amount of shit. I hate it! UGH! Wanna help me do it?! I’ll get boxes from the wine store and I’ll order pizza and I’ll love you forever?!

“Jesus do I have to even get out of bed” by Sasha at her desk

Monday June 4, 2018
11:32pm
5 minutes
From an interview by Devin Friedman

Ben calls to me from upstairs, “Jesus, do I have to even get out of bed?!” It’s the third morning in a row that he hasn’t wanted to crawl out from under the covers. It’s the third morning that I’ve wooed him with bacon, extra coffee, pancakes, sex in the kitchen. These tactics don’t always work, but they sometimes do, so I try.

“It’s almost ten, babe!” I call back. I hope he smells the brewing french press. I hope he hears the love in my voice, and not just the impatience.

“literally naked, mopping, and crying ‪at midnight‬” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday June 3, 2018
10:55pm
5 minutes
Quoted by Sienna Miller

Mopping the floors at the end of the night is my favourite part of running a bar. I used to like the conversations that I’d have with customers – giving advice about unruly preteens, counselling on break-ups, weighing in on the best marinara recipe. That used to be my favourite part. But things change, we change. Now, after two, once everyone has left, I turn the music up loud. Maybe Sade or Tina Turner. Whitney if I’m feeling extra. I fill the bucket with water and a few drops of soap. It gets really sudsy. I’ve already put all the stools and chairs on top of tables. I dance with the mop and sing and take my time. I take my time.

“I’m not sure” by Sasha at her desk

Monday May 28, 2018
10:56pm
5 minutes
From an email

I’m not sure what you mean when you say that you’re going to “quit life”. I know you don’t mean off yourself, that wouldn’t be your style. I know that I stopped going to see you after a few weeks – I hate hospitals! I’m sorry! I made it so many times in those first weeks and… I’m sorry. I really am. You need to get it together and recognize the progress that you’ve made, Eileen. One day at a time, you know?! You can’t expect yourself to recover overnight. You need to be patient. Look. I’ll come and see you a few times a week, I’ll bring a DVD, or some takeout, and we’ll hang out, okay? Maybe you’re lonely. That’s probably it.

“Why though” by Sasha on the walk to Granville Island

Saturday May 26, 2018
11:43am
5 minutes
From a text

Marina asks a million questions and it isn’t even seven. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I mean we wanted her so bad, right, like we tried for three years and I was beside myself, I was so sad… We wanted her so bad. But the questions, man, I can’t fucking take it! I don’t know why the sky is blue?! I don’t know why grass grows up?! I don’t know how tree root systems work! Good grief, I barely know how to solve a fraction! She’s only three! What am I going to do when she’s seven… or nine… or fifteen!? Like, I’m freakin’ out! Why why why why why why – like, I’m losing my mind, I tell ya!

“The job wasn’t that bad.” By Sasha at her desk

Tuesday May 8, 2018
8:15pm
5 minutes
Dirty Work
Nancy Matson

The job wasn’t that bad. It was the people. It wasn’t even the people. It was the person. She’d never met anyone like Mel, so angry, so vile, so bitter, so angry, so two-faced, so angry. She’d never met anyone like her.

“You’re a real asset here, Beth,” Mel said back in October.

“Aw, that’s kind of you to say. Thank you.”

“Any chance you’ve got the time to proof my pitch for the Silverstein’s?”

“Uh, I mean, I have an appointment at five thirty, but – …”

“Reschedule?”

“I… I can’t.”

“But I need your help.”

“When is the meeting?”

“Tomorrow morning!” Her voice started to get louder.

“Why are you just asking me – “

“Never mind. I’ll stay up all night. Whatever.”

“I, I’ll… I’ll help you. I just have to leave by five…”

“Whatever.”

“It works excellent!” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday May 3, 2018
11:11pm
5 minutes
From BUNZ trading zone

I want a really nice blender. One of those high-powered bad boys that will make nut butter, salad dressing, and grind fresh flour. So sue me! I want a really nice six hundred dollar blender. Please don’t lecture me about my privilege. I know all about it. My privilege chokes me half the time so that I’m voiceless and like, I might be white but my Mom was a single mother and she raised my two brothers and I in a trailer park on three hundred dollars a month in child support payments so please don’t lecture me on privilege. I just want a goddamn blender that really works.

“I can’t get rid of useful things” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday May 1, 2018
9:19pm
Carpet Bomb
Kenyatta Rogers

“Never get rid of useful things,” Homer says, leafing through a Chinese food take-out menu from 1993. The restaurant’s closed. He’s comparing prices of spring rolls and proving his point about inflation. I wouldn’t call Homer a pack rat, or a hoarder, but I would call him a bonafeid collector. They say that our greatest gift, is also our greatest challenge, and that definitely applies to Homer.

“Come prepared with questions” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday April 27, 2018
7:33pm
5 minutes
From the Verses Festival of Words 2018 program

He got there first. I’m early. He’s got a beard. He didn’t have a beard when I googled him, none of the photos did. His beard has grey in it. His hair is dark, almost-black but not quite. He has dark eyes, too. Very white, very straight teeth.

“You must be Lucy?” He reaches out a hand, he stands up, he reaches out a hand and it’s warm.

“Hi, it’s so nice to meet you. Thank you for agreeing to do this…” I’m shaking. We sit. I order a sparkling water. He says something about needing to eat. I can’t imagine eating, so I say I already did, even though I didn’t. “I have some questions prepared,” I pull my notebook out of my backpack.

“Response rate: 100%” by Sasha on the 17

Thursday April 26, 2018
9:52pm
5 minutes
poparide.com

Our third Thanksgiving all together, Babs teaches Simon and me how to make a mirepoix – two parts onion, to one part celery, and one part carrot. Babs peels her carrots, but when Simon and I make it later, and she isn’t around, we don’t, almost like we’re honouring Mom.

Mom was a lover of peasant food, or at least that’s what she’d call it. Nothing fancy. As few pots as possible. She made a great Dahl. She used to pack it in our lunches and the other kids would wrinkle their noses when we opened our thermoses, steaming lentils and curry. We weren’t embarrassed. Maybe it’s because we always had eachother, Simon and I. Being a twin is weird. But you do always have someone, and that’s nice.

Babs never asks us to call her anything but “Babs”, not like Dad’s second wife who insisted we call her “Maman”.

“I found an opossum” by Sasha at Jamjar

Monday April 23, 2018
2:39pm at Jamjar
5 minutes
Dirty Work
Nancy Matson

I found an opossum in the garden and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one but they are strange looking little things. Marsupials, I think.

Fran used to have a book on all the wild critters that might be on the land and sometimes, and I remember once, when she was reading this book in her orange chair, she called to me in my study,

“George! The female opossum’s reproductive system includes a bifurcated vagina, and a divided uterus! Can you believe it!?!”

I laughed then, and I do again now, thinking of her wonder and curiosity about all of God’s strange creatures.

“When I came down from the attic” by Julia at her desk

Monday April 16, 2018
1:17am
5 minutes
The Portrait
Stanley Kunitz

we never had things in our attic
mom was more of basement type
as in hit the bottom of the rung
type sit on the unfinished concrete
floor in the dark type
the attic was much too high up
too close to God
filled with insulation and spider
webs but not memories of us in
picture form or moth eaten sweater
reminders of our carelessness
of hers
she didn’t like to hide our things
away in a place that might collapse
wanted to be closer to the earth
just in case the apocolypse hit
she made herself a home down there
and on Sundays we were allowed to
visit if we brough her the yogurt
in the tubes and the frozen thyme
in the ice trays

“You could get lost there.” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday April 17, 2017
12:02am
Up
Margaret Atwood

“Claire?” A gentle, but assured knock. “Are you alright?”

How long have I been here? How long have I been hosting a Moon Circle for one?

“Um, yes, yes, I am. Be right out.” I pull up my underwear (threadbare and elastic a bit stretched out), my jeans, and then realize I forgot to wipe. GET IT TOGETHER, CLAIRE. Back down, wipe, up, wash hands, holy eff, here we go.

“Come on in,” Noreen opens the door to her office and I go first. She is the perfect gentlewoman.

A lavender couch underneath a window. Spider plants, succulents and African Violets line the sill. Not one dry leaf. Of course she has a green thumb. She sits in a caramel leather chair, perhaps Moroccan. Paintings on the walls, all in blues, greens, purples.

“When I came down from the attic” by Sasha on her couch

Monday, April 16, 2018
10:03pm
5 minutes
The Portrait
Stanley Kunitz

When I came down from the attic Elizabeth was crying. Mama was in her room with the door locked. Jimmy wasn’t home from his job at the gas station.

“Elizabeth,” I said, “Let’s go have a slice of pie.” Snotty-nosed, and tear stained, I picked her up and we went downstairs.

Because the kitchen is right below Mama’s room, we could hear her clamouring around, slamming drawers, and slurring words.

“Why’s Mama shouting?” Elizabeth asked, lower lip quivering.

“She’s just tired, sweetheart,” I said, trying to forget the photographs I’d seen, trying to forget the feeling of the silk of the wedding dress against my skin.

“Why were you up there for so long?” Elizabeth was eating the pie now, right out of the pie plate, and so was a bit calmer.

“Jon came home” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday, April 13, 2018
5:22pm
5 minutes
Modern Grief
Nancy Westaway

Jon comes home and he’s angry and shivering.

“What’s for dinner?” He says, like I know, or I’m keeping it a secret.

“I just got home too, Jon,” I say, and he doesn’t like that. He opens and closes the fridge a few times. Same with the pantry cupboards.

“Can ya make something hot? It was all icy on the rig today.” Jon fills the kettle, which I can’t say I’ve ever seen him do.

“How about spaghetti?” I lean back in my chair.

“Spaghetti?” A small smile curls over his lips, like fog.

“No?” I watch him turn on the wrong burner, and then realize and move the kettle.

“Spaghetti sounds good.”

“Wild Birds Unlimited” by Sasha on the plane

Tuesday April 3, 2018
5:24pm
5 minutes
From a storefront on West Broadway

When Kimbra takes the podium, we listen. We stop chewing bubblegum, and picking knee scabs, and looking at cutie-pie Hammy MacDonald with the freckles and the swimmer’s shoulders. Today’s debate is about Saddam Hussein and I don’t even know which side Kimbra’s on but she’s winning, she’s always winning.

“Look at her eyebrows,” Jimmy says and I am, and I do again, fresh slate, eyes blink, there they are the most perfect caterpillars.

“Do you think she waxes or plucks?” I say, not looking away.

“Neither,” whispers Jimmy, and goshdarnit, I think he’s right.

“And made of no special wood.” By Julia at her desk

Sunday April 1, 2018
10:40pm
5 minutes
Afterward
Mark Rudman

And maybe I should have turned around then, when he was pressing himself into me. Bending me over at the crease of my dress, his hands roaming in and out and around. Maybe I should have kissed him then, when he was busy wanting me. I didn’t do anything. I moaned a little. I liked how hard he got at the curve of me. In that moment, his desire was enough. I should have closed my eyes sooner, out of respect for him and for me. He couldn’t see my eyes, but they were scanning the backyard and the pigeon shit on the barbeque. He didn’t know that I was moaning a little on cue at the same time as deciding to change the tarp. Things take longer when the mind is wandering on the deck outside the window of romance. He told me he liked my dress and I told him I liked pretending to be his secretary. He let it slip that Joan’s hugged her hips a little tighter.

“And made of no special wood.” By Sasha at the Airbnb in Saskatoon

Sunday April 1, 2018
8:13am
5 minutes
Afterward
Mark Rudman

I have something that I need to tell you and I’ve been putting it off because I’m a scared scared person, but it’s all getting too much and so I need to – … Because you are more well-read and educated on all of this, and have spent so much more time in the world of climate change education, I notice that I often feel like I am being educated and explained to when we’re discussing the upcoming re-writing of Bill 1305. On the one hand, I love getting the education and so appreciate all of your knowledge and expertise! On the other hand, it can be disempowering and I leave these sessions feeling like I don’t know anything and don’t have a doctorate and can’t articulate half of what I want to say… Does that make sense? Am I even making any sense?