“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!

“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? 

“Get yourself a back brace” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday October 29, 2019
12:23pm
5 minutes
Me Talk Pretty One Day
David Sedaris

You let things get messy. Dishes pile up on the counters. Recycling balloons. Newspapers and flyers on the porch. Leaves collect, and then begin to decompose. You’ve always had a bad back. Started as a football injury in the tenth grade. Some elephant of a guy took you down and you felt something snap. You didn’t cry on the field, but you wanted to. You cried later, alone in your room, in your twin bed with the red flannel sheets. Your feet hung over the end. Your mother knocked on the door and brought you your favourite minestrone soup from the diner on the other side of town. Margie used to say that men have back issues because of unprocessed anger. You wonder about that now, lying on the floor, dust bunnies under everything, mess all over the place. Your eyes sting.

“everything seems to happen to music.” By Sasha in her bed

Monday October 21, 2019
1:49pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Tennessee Williams

The good stuff always happens to music, right? The first kisses. The quiet goodbyes. The waking up on your birthday. The Christmas dinners. Music is the thread that holds the beads of what life is. I truly believe that. I bought us a record player at a garage sale a few years ago and we’ve been slowly adding records to our collection. We aren’t doing it to be analogue or ironic or anything. We’re doing it because the act of placing the needle, of blowing dust off the surface, of flipping a record over… it’s sacred. It really is. Lying on the floor at the end of a shit day is made okay as soon as the volume gets turned up. I feel my body sink into the carpet and the music fills me, it fills me up.

“what power does it have?” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday October 20, 2019
5:16pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Eckhart Tolle

Police swarm the square where your grandmother used to take you to throw pennies in the fountain with the angels dancing. You’d make a wish, and she’s buy you a sweet from the bakery around the corner. You remember her smell – vanilla, amber, old photographs. Now you wear a gas mask, a black t-shirt and denim overalls. You aren’t sure what your grandmother would say about your haircut. You wish that pennies were still a thing. You long for the innocence and clarity of childhood.

“The bit about the doorbell” by Sasha in her living room

Saturday October 19, 2019
9:13am
5 minutes
Someday Is Today
Alethea Black

The doorbell rings and Ange stops in her tracks. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. Fe wasn’t supposed to arrive until this afternoon. “I’ll be right there!” She calls, running up the stairs and shutting the bedroom door.

Fe is on her phone, talking in Spanish. Ange always says she’s going to learn, but the Duolingo app on her phone goes unopened for the most part.

”What language do you dream in?” Ange asked Fe one of their first morning’s together.

Fe thought about it for awhile. “I’m not sure,” she eventually replied, picking sleep out of the corners of her eyes.

”It’s probably Spanish. I think I read once that we dream in our mother tongues.”

As she opens the door, Ange asks, “Why don’t you have your key?”

Fe cocks her head and glares at her. She’s cut her hair.

“I cried during the silent walking meditation” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday October 15, 2019
7:19pm
Reunion
Halina Larman

Alice left Jim on a Wednesday. It was a long time coming. At least that’s what everyone said. It wasn’t dramatic. It was deliberate and soft. She had packed a black suitcase, as she knew that she needed to actually leave, not just figuratively leave. The suitcase had been Alice’s mother’s. It was worn on the bottom corner, but still zipped up. Their other suitcases, stored in the basement next to the box of Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper, belonged to Jim. At least she thought they did. It was the division of things that most overwhelmed her. Not the conversation, the “leaving” conversation. The division of their items, their life, parsed out in “I’ll take the immersion blender and you take the coffee grinder?” The older Alice got the more she didn’t care for things that she could turn on, hold in her hand, or cart around. She cared for the feeling of her blood pressure lowering, the October wind bringing her closer to herself.

“sorely tested—and found wanting.” By Sasha in her bed

Wednesday October 2, 2019
11:03pm
5 minutes
Assignment To Hell
Timothy M. Gay

Mickey thinks a lot about independence, and how people end up like they are. “We’re in a real mess, Mick,” papa says. “I guess so,” she replies.

She reads a lot. Goes to the library and takes out a few books on capitalism, and then reads and reads until she might understand. She’s not sure if we ever truly understand anything, as there’s always more to learn, or  another way of looking at something.

Mickey walks her German Shepherd rescue Troy by the river most days, except when the snow rises so high that she can’t step. Troy never struggles, no matter how high the drifts get, leaping and bounding towards the water’s edge.

“A score of tiny eyes stared” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday October 1, 2019
4:43pm
5 minutes
Stardust
Neil Gaiman

Under the porch floorboards, under the house built on the side of the world, under the sky turning mauve in her changing, a mouse sings to her children a song that her mother taught her a long time ago.

Above, in the house, a woman brushes her hair after a hot bath, long strokes, like her mother taught her a long time ago. She knows of the mice in the house, the ones that live in the porch a wilder breed. She has come to see them as her tiny roommates. She no longer resents them, as she did her ex-husband, the only other roommate she’s had.

The mice children curl up into their mother and they mew and peep towards sleep.

“How could God?” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday September 26, 2019
8:02am
5 minute
God Never Blinks
Regina Brett

Snaking through the aisles of the Seven Eleven, Rory catches a familiar shape out of the corner of his eye. Steve. Shit. Steve. STEVE. He grabs a pack of gum, a bottle of orange Gatorade, a bag of Salt and Vinegar Miss Vicky’s. The man behind the cash has the eyes of someone who has seen a lot. Takes one to know one, Rory doesn’t let himself think. Steve won’t see him. Steve will get a can of Diet Pepsi, maybe a Mars bar. He’ll be lost in the forest of his thoughts, of his hangover, of his wish for love. Rory pulls his debit card from his wallet. Taps. Tap. Tap on his shoulder. Steve. Eyes of someone who shares a secret.

“As a consequence” by Sasha on the couch

Saturday September 21, 2019
9:31pm
5 minutes
quote: Ferrucci

You beg her to think about consequences and she says that she doesn’t believe in morality, or ethics, or anything like that. Okay, you say, unsure where there is to go once someone says something like that. Maybe that’s judgement. Maybe that’s difference. Who knows. You wonder what her mother would say, wrapped in pearls, her curly haired beauty a wild, hedonistic animal. Something crashes outside. Raccoons, she says. She goes to window to see. It’s dark outside. Could be cats, you say. No way, she says.

“Please, just think about cause and effect, think about consequences,” you say again. Sometimes in the saying of something a second time, it lands. Not this time.

“Is it starting to rain?” By Sasha at the dining room table on Oak Dr.

Monday September 16, 2019
5:27pm
5 minutes
Afraid So
Jeanne Marie Beaumont

”Is it raining?” Bronwen asks Doug.

Doug has no idea but he wants to tell her something true so he quickly checks the weather app on his phone. “Nope!”

Bronwen wonders about whether or not Doug has ever had a platonic relationship with a woman. He doesn’t strike her as one of those guys. He strikes her as someone who has probably fucked or at the very least kissed most of his female friends.

”I’m going to go for a run after work. Wanna join?” Bronwen can only see the top of Doug’s head over the divider that separate their cubicles. Tufts of grey and black.

“I’m not much of a runner…” Doug wishes he was, but he’s not, and it’s better she finds out while he still has his dignity.

”I’m not either, DOUG, but I’m trying to offset the fifty hours that we sit in this prison and sitting is the new smoking so come the fuck on!”

Doug chuckles.

“Four beating wings” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday September 9, 2019
10:04am
5 minutes
The Dalliance of Eagles
Walt Whitman

You drive down the long gravel road to the swamp where Mary used to walk. You feel her when you’re there and that brings something warm to the cold parts brings something soft to the hard parts.

You see a egret and remember the time that Mary made Shepherd’s Pie and set the stove on fire. You hear a crake, a waterhen, a grebe. You long for her in a way you’ve never longed for something. The usual suspects (fame, love, knowing), they pale in comparison to how badly you wish you could hold Mary’s face in your palms and tell her that you finally went to the Elora Gorge. You know what her eyes would do. They’d sparkle before they teared, they’d become pools of goodness. A waterhen lands right near you and cocks her head to the left.

“She has even lost one leg” by Sasha at her counter

Sunday August 25, 2019
10:09pm
5 minutes
Fetish
Pierre Reverdy

Pam grabs Maxine, her passport, her laptop, and a Cliff bar. Standing outside in her Rolling Stones T-shirt and underwear, Maxine meows and scratches her. They watch the building burn. “Shit,” Pam says, pulling down her T-shirt, trying to cover her bum. Rudy, from the basement apartment comes over and puts his arm around Pam. She’s not into it, but doesn’t shrug away. They are losing everything, so might as well feel “in it” together.

“Nice kitty,” says Rudy. He has bad breath.

“I’m going to go back in… My photo albums… My mother’s engagement ring… My external hard drive…” Pam keeps listing things and Rudy shakes his head and keeps his arm firmly where it is.

“we should not trust the masses” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday August 15, 2019
10:02am
5 minutes
Discourses
Epictetus

“Do not trust the masses”, Domenic says, drinking his dry white wine and scratching his chin. His beard is turning grey. I haven’t seen him since I was a teenager, and he looks the same but a bit more pickley.

“I don’t, I’m just trying to – …” Domenic puts his hand on my hand, rested on the tabletop.

“You must follow your own sense, or one day you’ll wake up and you won’t know how you got to where you got to. That is not a good feeling. Take it from me.” He finishes his wine. My mother tops him up. She’s been sitting quietly across the table, watching.

“I believe that we can have our own sense, and be contributing members of society,” I look up at the starry sky.

“A funeral” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday August 8, 2019
9:14pm
5 minutes
Sophocles
Charles Kell

We get caught behind a funeral on the way to the cemetery.

“I guess we should pull over?” You say. Everything a question. Everything in question.

“Obviously,” I say. Sour milk.

You pull over and so do the other cars on the road. Let the procession pass.

I’m back the day Steve died. Finding him. Vomiting and screaming and cupping his face in my hands. I’m back at his memorial. Nothingness into more nothingness and egg salad sandwiches.

“You okay?” You say. Everything a fucking question.

“No I’m not okay!” I say. Forgotten leftovers at the back of the fridge.

“I mean…”

“I know what you mean…” I give a one-third smile two third grimace.

“Aida drank her father’s unsugared coffee” by Sasha in her bed

Sunday August 4, 2019
10:21pm
5 minutes
A Dull Yellow Presence
Mona’a Malik

Aida reaches across the table and takes a sip of her father’s unsugared coffee. It tastes like tar.

“What are you doing?” He’s back from the washroom, hands in his pockets, crease between his eyebrows deeper than when he left.

“I just wanted to – …”

“That’s for grown-ups.” He sits down and stacks his cutlery on his plate, putting the paper napkin, folded, on top.

“I’m sorry, Papa.” Aida gets that sinking feeling in her stomach and wonders when her mother will pick her up. Saturday morning breakfasts with her father were court ordered. No one checked with her.