“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.

“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.