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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“pillar of fire” by Sasha at the kitchen table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Naturalists are generalists.” By Sasha on the plane

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanks to electricity” by Sasha in her living room

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

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

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

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

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

“Sit comfortably” by Sasha at her kitchen table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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 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.

“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.

“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 Julia on the 4

Friday November 8, 2019
11:25am
5 minutes
Because These Failures Are My Job
Alison Luterman

later I found the fork in my bag next to the bloodied napkin. two big splotches. culprit? not the fork, nope, although you’d like to believe it so. “Professor Plum, in the backpack with the fork!” but nope, not so. no so. did you think to inspect the collection of decorative pins on the backpack, inspect for blood or a motive at least? nope, didn’t think so, could be the fork but it’s not so, already ruled out the clue. the clue is in the wound. always check the wound. ahh yes, the hole in the fingertip is the same size as the pin tip. which pin? the one that looks safe, yes, look again, always verify with evidence. Always verify. the blood splotch? ah yes, inconsistent with a small wound. but nope, think of the napkin. the way blood spreads on porous materials.

“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. 

“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.

“found the conversation a burden to listen to” by Sasha in the car

Wednesday July 24, 2019
5:11pm
5 minutes
Lonesome Dove
Larry McMurtry

On the bus home from therapy. Why did I choose a therapist across the city? I’m sure there are good people close to where I live, but nope, I had to find the dude with the little round glasses and the greying beard two bus rides away. And now I love him and I trust him, and I know about his three sons and his dying mother, and that’s the most personal information I’ve ever gotten out of a therapist before so I’ll see him until one of us croaks.

These two people are talking like you talk in your kitchen after a few glasses of wine. They are riling each other up. One keeps saying, “YOLO, Cheryl! YO-LO!” and Cheryl keeps saying, “I know, but I’m scared!” and in a very quiet voice I whisper, “We all are, but we go about our business anyway.”

“The vast majority of people don’t want to do anything physical” by Sasha in her bed

Wednesday July 17, 2019
10:36pm
5 minutes
Overhead on the 4

The vast majority of people don’t want to do anything physical. They just want to talk, or bitch, or cry, or… you get the picture. It’s nothing like I thought it would be, when I first got into it. I mean, I’ve given my fair share of hand jobs, don’t get me wrong, but, it really isn’t about that. It’s about connection, being heard, knowing that someone is there for you and only for you, and isn’t going to ask for anything in return. It’s cheaper than therapy! Ha ha ha… Am I doing this right? Is this the kind of thing you’re after? I’m trying to be myself but with the camera and everything… I don’t know. It’s hard to relax. I’ve only fallen in love once on the job and that was with Rufus, who died last November.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” By Sasha at her desk

Sunday July 7, 2019
12:15pm
5 minutes
Philippians 4:13

Oh my God! Hey! How’s it going?!

I’m glad that you’re happy. Really I am. I mean, that’s what I always wanted for you, I guess I’m just not really happy about what you being happy means for me. Does that even make sense? Shit, I’m rambling… how are you? I guess I should ask that, right? It’s been like, almost a year, right? Wow. TIME. Haha.

Good. Good. I’m glad to hear that. I guess.

Yeah, it’s been a weird time, to be honest. I finally got a dog! Her name is Carp. She’s a mutt. You’d love her. I love her. I mean…

I’m in therapy. How fucking typical… “I finally got a dog and I’m finally in therapy!” It’s good though. My therapist wears these glasses with different shapes, like, the left one is round and the right one is square. She’s a badass.

“A federal statutory holiday” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday July 6, 2019
7:51pm
5 minutes
From a Wikipedia page re: Canada day

Mona is grateful for Canada Day because it means time and a half. She doesn’t know about colonization or the traumatizing effects of fireworks on refugees from countries where there’s war. She’s ignorant to the questionable politics. She doesn’t even know how much she likes it like that. Mona stocks tampons and pads, adult diapers and lube. She wishes she could listen to music, her own music not the bullshit they play in the store, but she makes due.

“Hey Mona, how’s it goin’?” Says Jeremiah. Jeremi-ahhhh.

“Hey…” She’s holding a box of ribbed Trojans.

“Are you going down to the lake for fireworks tonight?” He looks at his high tops.

“I don’t know…” She touches her braid.

“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.