“I imagine him alive.” By Sasha at her desk

Monday January 21, 2019
1:55pm
5 minutes
Stories We Keep To Ourselves
Bill Glose

He’s running along the beach
He doesn’t leave footprints in the sand
He floats above like the sand flies
Leaving no trace
Making no impression

I’m watching him from a nearby
piece of driftwood
Back and forth he goes
One end becoming the other
Horizon becoming sky

He doesn’t see me there
Lost in the movement of his muscles
Found in the meditation of waves
Lost in the between-world wonder
Found in the bits of seaweed and shell

I call out to him
He doesn’t hear me
The ocean thundering before us
Dusk wraps around our shoulders
Takes us back to the center
Takes us back in time

“There is no rule that is true under the circumstances” by Julia at her desk

Sunday January 6, 2019
8:40pm
5 minutes
Synchronicity
C.G. Jung

We have to shift every time
it is not something we’ve done once
and always know now
We are reminding each other often
Today there were tears and maybe
that’s the only thing we can
expect after all these days

Walking along the beach today
you say that no matter what
you think it’s going to be in
your head, the only certainty
you can rely on, is that it won’t

I believe people can change and
retract their previous opinions
That’s what learning is all about
Knowing a thing you didn’t know
before and seeing through a different
perspective

We have to shift every time
We know nothing will be as
we think it will even if we want
it to be it with all of our heart’s
deep and steady longing

I suppose we have to get good at
believing in the great presence
of love unconditional
When it is there it is always there
and there is no need to question it

Walking along the beach today I do
not even think to question it
I have it in my skin
and I know it

“earth, sky, water, fire and wood” by Sasha at her desk

Friday May 4, 2018
1:34pm
5 minutes
From a Caitlin Press newsletter

You walk by the water when you need the noise of the waves
Volleyball further down the beach
That’s okay
Those people are having fun and that’s okay

You walk the same stretch of beach and it knows
The cadence of your footsteps
That’s okay
It’s come to know when you’re alone and when you’re firing

Today was the same as most other days
People pissed you off and it had nothing to do with you
Why are there so many assholes?
You whisper it under your breath and wonder if it’s possible

That the sand smiled knowingly back
She understands assholes
Cigarette butts and glass bottles
She understands

“Show them yourself, your highness” by Sasha at the beach

Monday October 16, 2017
3:32pm
5 minutes
From a dream

A girl, maybe seven or eight, Moana bathing suit, high bun. She crouches in the water, making pancakes with white sand. Her mother sits nearby on the beach, a carbon copy older version, metallic silver bathing suit, high bun. She plays on her phone. A stray dog approaches, mangy, skinny, the colour of caramel. The girl’s back is to the dog. She doesn’t know he’s coming. He jumps on her back and she screams, glass shattering, bone breaking, primal fear. Mother jumps and runs before we can and kicks the dog off. Daughter cries. Mother holds her. Calms her. In three minutes she’s okay, back to making pancakes, back to play.

“Stanley stepped carefully” by Sasha at work


Friday July 14, 2017
2:17pm
5 minutes
Holes
Louis Sacher


Stanley carefully stepped into the water. He wasn’t sure about any of this. When Uncle Jim had asked if he would like to come with them to the beach that weekend, instead of staying in the city, he hadn’t said yes. Babs, Stanley’s mother, had quickly chimed in, “He would love to!” Stanley knew that Babs wanted some time to herself, to take a bath, eat some salt and vinegar chips, maybe watch a rom com. He didn’t blame her. Moreover, Stanley knew that Jim was a good influence on him. Stanley had never swum in the ocean before, despite living four hours away. Babs was once violently stung by a jellyfish, so she had no interest in a beach vacation.

“Songs Of Protest” by Julia at her desk


Sunday July 2, 2017
9:30pm
5 minutes
Singing in Dark Times-a Manual for Encoding Dissent
Bhaswati Ghosh


The group of people and all their bikes taking up 3 logs at the beach
sitting in front of us and to the left
playing their casual yet persistant tunes
entitled to so much sand and sky
and then a duo of cropped halter
bikes, a bike radio, elevator soft and poisonous
scoff at the group of people and their volume
One of us says
You snooze you lose
The first assholes are always the best assholes
They get priority, first to breach the code
None of us move our sandied feet
roll our eyes at the middle place we find ourselves in
too caught up with space and how much we take in public
wishing we could all untie our tongues from the backs of our heads

“with one hundred hands each” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday March 16, 2017
10:30pm
5 minutes
Age Of Bronze Betrayal
Eric Shanower


Stepping into the water
you aren’t sure if you’ve been
here before
Your twenties are a blur
One hundred hands reach out
to touch you and you close
your eyes because you aren’t
sure if this is ecstasy
or hell
Vic stands on the shore
cheering you on
even though you never
asked them to
There’s a sand bar that
stretches out really far
and when you turn back
to see Vic
they are smaller than a
lego man
Eventually there’s a drop off
and you dive under water
and you are flooded with
all the times you were
afraid

“our minds drift to the beach” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday May 17, 2016
11:08pm
5 minutes
health.amhosp.org

I didn’t have my swimsuit. I purposely didn’t pack it because I didn’t want to be forced to wear it. Dale said that she wouldn’t swim either in solidarity but I didn’t want her pity as much as she was trying to be a good friend. I told her to go ahead, enjoy herself. I sat on the beach in light billowy pants and a white camisole. I could hear everyone laughing in the night, splashing in the ocean. Suddenly my head felt wet. I looked up and Terrence was standing there, dripping his salty midnight water all over me.

“Yes?” I looked up expectantly.
“Come in with us.”
“Nah, I don’t have my suit.” I said, shrugging my misfortune of an absent bikini.
“Come on, Leigh, that’s a sorry excuse. Didn’t you know that skin is waterproof?”

“My head is so horrible” by Julia on her couch


Sunday April 17, 2016
11:44pm
5 minutes
From a text

Remember when you wore your pink thong to the beach and greased yourself up in olive oil to go play Frisbee in front of all our friends? You put glitter in your beard and people were taking photos of you the whole afternoon. I searched the hashtag “manthong” and your photo was all over Instagram. I spent that day laughing my ass off at your ass in the sand and your boyish charm. When people asked you why you were wearing your “thing” you said “it’s 34 degrees my brother” and then you’d do a cartwheel. I admit at first I was annoyed, maybe slightly even embarrassed. But I’m glad you didn’t care about one single bit of that.

“She was in a pure state,” by Julia at Jess and Rick’s kitchen table


Saturday, April 17, 2015
9:11pm
5 minutes
100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write
Sarah Ruhl


she stared out the window regretting all the missed moments
the missed targets
the missed connections
where did they all go?
did they find a home inside someone else’s heart?
she watched as the water swooshed up onto the beach
washing away the seconds that were there before
purifying the spot where sadness and helplessness like to procreate
she stared out the window
thankful for all of nature’s help
cleansing the pallet and offering up a blank space
for her to scrawl the initials of a life painting worthy of a name
I’m sorry
she hummed to the nothingness
I’m finished with that one
she whispered to the nobodys
I’m better now
she believed to the quiet
I’m making room for the good
she promised to the sunset

“Welcome to the playground of the future” by Sasha in her bed


Sunday March 29, 2015
2:13pm
5 minutes
A TIFF kids TTC ad

When you care for me it’s like a wave crashing
Salt on my cheeks
Hair a little bit wet and a little bit greasy
The sound is gentler though
Water in the morning
A bit more still
I say “sorry” because you don’t want me to say “thank you”
because I need to say something
because it’s hard to just accept this unconditional love
Gulls circle
Tempting me towards awkward paranoia
Leading me down sand dunes that are riddled with
photographs
mixed tapes
black socks with holes in the toes
I want to cling to you like a barnacle
my desire calcifying on your chest
I want to swim next to your freedom like a dolphin
My fingers grazing the possibility of your soft wet skin

“How is one to know—with strangers?” by Julia at the Dufferin/St. Clair Public Library


Saturday March 14, 2015 at the Dufferin/St. Clair Public Library
3:10pm
5 minutes
The Midwich Cuckoos
John Wyndham


Caught her staring at me from underneath her sunhat. She was trying to catch glimpses of me incognito but I could see her there, plain as day, paying all her attention to me, avoiding everything about herself. In her slight defense, I would be sneaking glances at me too if I were her. From an objective perspective, I was talking about some fascinating things. People always seem to perk up when they hear the words “wild” “unbelievable” “mind-blowing” “freedom” “sensual” and “magic”. I didn’t want to shame her for watching. After all, it was my choice to leave my house and interact with other human beings. You can’t really blame someone for wanting to see how another person lives, talks, eats, breathes, shares, listens, reacts, lies, sinks, falls, achieves, succeeds. I was curious about her too; sad girl hiding behind her over-sized beach hat.

“2 hours or longer” by Sasha in lecture


Tuesday January 27, 2015
12:30pm
5 minutes
the Air Canada cafe booklet

How to hold a stranger’s hand

Sitting on the bus
Minding your own headphones
You watch the rain make caterpillars
on the window.

A woman sits beside you
A purple poncho dripping droplets
on your leg

Disgruntled
you look
Sideways
You wonder if she’s crying or if she’s just your age
You cross the divide of leg touching

You take her hand

She pulls away but not
completely
She looks like a damp version of you
only a little in the future

Friend

The water’s calm
Or
Maybe it’s just the Bay
You sit on one of twelve big logs
You wonder if they’ve been here tripe the time
that you have

A man
walking a small dog
who barks at the gulls
He sits
Not near enough to reach
But near enough for you to know

You go to him
Five
Six steps

You take his hand

He smiles
He calls the name of his dog
loud enough for only you to hear

“32 million tonnes” by Sasha in the Kiva


Saturday December 20, 2014
10:18pm
5 minutes
from a pamphlet about the pipeline

There are 32 million tonnes of ideas in her head
She weaves them together when she’s sleeping
Or
Rather
In those moments between waking and sleep
Sleep and waking
In those times when things are watercolour and soft
She finds one about empathy and she attaches it to another about betrayal
She uses red wool
Spun in a time before time
Spun by fingers that know things minds cannot
She finds an idea about her family
And she casts it out into the water
She sits
Beach bound
Digging her toes into the sand
Waiting for it to come back to her
She’s ready now

“a rebirth or maybe a leap” by Julia on the beach in Levanto


Monday September 22, 2014
12:20pm
5 minutes
from Jess’ email to her family

I wanted you to know (ocean air)
That I’m doing some growing
That I’m doing some growing but not away from you
In the distance of Here to There I have laid down tiny cut outs
Of my heart for you to follow
Trace back to me when you need
Or when you can’t sleep
If the letter written in my hand
The one I write for you (mountain springs)
Never reaches you
There will be another route
For you to find your way
Back to me
And this space has a fullness
Because I am making sure I water it
Swelling with the blood that pumps my joy to yours (sky eternal)
A tiny river that you can swim through
If the road around it gets too rough

“That really hurted!” by Julia at Gimli beach


Sunday, July 27, 2014
4:00pm
5 minutes
overheard at Gimli Beach


Well, I told him not to go into the water but he insisted. He was afraid of it for years so I guess I didn’t think I’d have to worry about it, then one day, or one instant, really, he got up the nerve, ran into the waves, and a big one came and smacked him in the belly.
Not life threatening stuff. He was fine in minutes, really. But he was shaken up for a bit, that’s for sure. He wouldn’t stop talking about how big it all felt. How he wasn’t sure if he could do it again today, but maybe the next time we came. I don’t know what changed his mind. Could have been just the ways of growing up-or it could have been that cute little thing who was playing with her dinosaur floaty. She might have lured him in with all her joy if I had to hazard a guess. I told him, Bobby, those waves are choppy do you see? Might not be the best for your first time so you have to be real careful. He said, Gramma, I know! I have two eyes in my head just like you do! Then he ran off and within seconds he was right back on the blanket with me rubbing his tummy.

“mostly tiny sungrazing comets” by Sasha at her desk


Wednesday, July 16, 2014
11:48pm
5 minutes
from the Sun Wikipedia page


When we barbecue on the porch in the rain, it reminds me of being ten on the Island. My grandmother would send my sister and I bus tickets. They’d come the week before we were set to leave. There’d be handdrawn postcard with the three of us and her husky, Farley. She’d meet us at the ferry dock, raspberries and dark chocolate in her hands. She’d kiss us on the mouth and hold us at arms length to take in each of the changes. “Nadine, you’ve got an extra freckle on your cheek!” “Odessa, you’re one eighth of an inch taller!” Farley would lick our toes as we giggled and shook our heads. She’d leave her old station wagon on the other side, and when we piled into the back there’d always be a fresh beach towel and a peach for each of us. We’d drive, windows down, Bruce Cockburn on the tape deck, until we arrived at her cottage by the sea.

“founded in Cuba” by Sasha on the streetcar going East


Friday June 20, 2014
11:20am
5 minutes
from a sign at Queen and Abell St.

The ocean sounds like the sky, if you know what I mean… It looks like Bonita’s eyes, all bright and full. As soon as the sun rises, the waves catch her and hot damn it’s a beautiful sight, it’s a right overwhelming sight. Go down to the beach for that sunrise some time… Some time when you’ve been here long enough to feel settled in, settled in your heart. It’ll just be you and maybe Jose, the fish guy. You don’t even have to say anything to him, you can nod, or not nod, he won’t be offended. Find a spot on the sand and sink your toes in, bury them, that’s the real stuff right there, that’s the real stuff. You can actually see the sun moving. Did you know that? Yup. You close your eyes and it’s in a different place, it’s further up, it’s more awake.

“founded in Cuba” by Julia on her couch


Friday June 20, 2014
10:36pm
5 minutes
from a sign at Queen and Abell St.

met a lovely woman and a lovely man
they were married
they met us there in the sand
came bringing mangos
gifts of the beach for us and for friendship
and we gave them all our soaps, our gum, our sandals
we could get more at home and they couldn’t get more in their home
and it was sad
but that’s the way it was
they met us there in the sand
showed pictures of their babies in braids beaching topless with bikini bottoms
young and free and didn’t know
and so we walked with them
hand in hand
and ate the mangos while the sun set
peeling back the skin with our teeth
taking photos of the moments like these
with people like those
and we held hands
met a lovely woman and a lovely man
I don’t know where they live now
I sent letters
I sent money
I sent the necklace she said she loved but felt bad taking when I offered it then
I sent love
I sent photos of my babies, straight, curly, straight
naked in the pool
splashing tiny drops and making big waves
and we haven’t heard a word
and we don’t know if they’re allowed to get the mail
or to see the mail
or to open the mail
and so maybe someone else has the money
and maybe someone else has the necklace
and maybe someone else has the photos of my babies
and maybe someone else has the love
we think of them often
the day there in the hot hot heat
we met a lovely woman
and we met a lovely man
they were married
they were the ones we hold

“The heat is bad, the water’s bad” by Julia on Sullivan’s Island Beach


Sunday April 27, 2014 at Sullivan’s Island Beach
4:12pm
5 minutes
Knocked Up
Henry Lawson


Ellis looked down at her foot encrusted in tiny sand sparkles. She decided then and there that she would stop caring about how fat she looked in her new summer dress and focus solely on her new endeavour: feed decals. Ellis wanted to design a foot stencil that would cover all the toes, and then come down the middle of the foot like a hanging chain. She would make the “non-sandal-sandal” and it would look a lot like a foot bracelet that glimmered in the light. She could hear the skinny girls behind her laughing as she took photos of her elegant looking feet. They might have been laughing about her muffin top—and they might have been laughing about the dog behind her that was burrowing himself into the sand each time one of their boyfriends threw a potato chip into a tiny hole of sand.
Ellis would be famous for her foot decorations. She’d try to sell them at farmer’s markets by wearing an example decal on one foot, and a completely different design on her other.
People don’t care about your muffin top. They’re only worried about their muffin tops.
Ellis could hear the voice of her mother in her head-she also heard her saying, If you hate it so much, you could start exercising or stop eating entire bags of Dorritos for breakfast.
Ellis tilted her feet into the sunlight-she wondered if she’d be able to source local sand particles for her first peel on overlay.
She vowed to ask Uncle Lars as soon as she got home.

“once” by Sasha at her desk


Wednesday December 11, 2013
7:56pm
5 minutes
from a poster for Once The Musical

Once, when I was standing on the edge of a volcano I was struck by my own significant insignificance. Then, two months later I looked at a man that I thought I loved and realized that what I really felt was pity. That was the same year that I saw Picasso. That was the same year I tried rambutan.

Lying on the black sand beach and feeling the water ebb over my toe-tips, I knew that I was on the right track. I’d gotten myself into the middle of the ocean, after all. I’d sprinted through the Vancouver airport after a snowstorm had threatened to kibosh my plan. Nothing could. It was impossible. I sat beside a man who was ready in shorts and a sunhat.

(an image from National Geographic) by Julia at the CSI Coffee Pub


Wednesday October 23, 2013
10:41am
5 minutes
National Geographic Photo Issue
October 2013


Oh dear, I seem to have misplaced my board. It has all the things I’m supposed to do on it on one side and on the other there’s a really cute picture of a boy with a helmet on, standing in the middle of the beach. My to do list: I like to rotate it off my board so I can keep that picture constant. I made a slip for the paper to slide in and it’s protected by a thin plastic layer–much like you’d see during an overhead presentation at school, when one of the classmates was responsible for teaching the others something about grammar that week. I can’t start my day without writing the list–and then also looking at that picture.

I don’t like to tell many people, but it’s not just the image that’s important to me, it’s the boy.
He is mine, actually.
I really don’t let on that he is, but it’s true. He has his front two teeth missing and that’s the last day I ever saw him because I left him there, at the beach. It was an accident. He was supposed to be in the car with his Aunt Roe.

“1951-2013” by Sasha on her couch


Sunday, October 6, 2013
11:21pm
5 minutes
from Haroon Rahim Bakhsh’s memorial card

“I’m going out!” I call. Mom’s in her bedroom watching The Price Is Right. She guesses before the contestants on the show, out loud, and if she’s right she rewards herself with a spritz of perfume. The smell is making me nauseous. “Mom!” She can’t hear me. “I’m going to the beach!” “Fine,” she says, and I hear her shuffling. “No need to get up,” I poke my head into her room, holding my breath, “I’ll be back in an hour or so.” “Can you do an errand for me?” She asks. She either wants Rum or BBQ Chicken. “I’m just going to the beach, I wasn’t going to go to the store,” I’m irritated but I hide it, or I try to. A mother always knows. “Fine,” she says. When I’m out of the apartment, I cough and take huge gulps of the Florida air. My cell phone beeps. It’s Vee. She’s been checking in on me every few hours. I think she thinks I’m suicidal. She doesn’t want me to go before Mom.

“a dirty joke” by Sasha at her desk


Saturday, September 7, 2013
11:23pm
5 minutes
Sometimes I Forget Completely
Rumi


You got that look on your face, because you caught me, guilty, stealing bits of you.
Your over-used razor, your rusty flask with an “M’ carved on the bottom, your green paisley teacup and mis-matched saucer, your shopping list, your James Blake record.
I learned it from you.
The tiptoeing, quick, barely disturbing the dust on the windowsill, the sunbeam making dirty jokes on the wall.
We all make mistakes.
I’ve packed those things into my backpack and I’m going to bring them all the way to the beach.
I’ll take the streetcar, screeching and calling all the pigeons, a gathering place.
When I get to the beach, I’ll wait til it’s dark, til the sun sets.
I’ll sip on your flask, unsure what’s in there, what was in there.
Don’t leave me room for the doubt and the thirst.
When it’s dark, when the kids with their pails have left, I’ll make a small pile of driftwood.
I’ll throw your bits on top. Except the record. I’ll keep that.
I’ll dump the rest of the flask contents on.
I’ll take the lighter from my back pocket.
I’ll set you on fire.

“Maps of the sea floor” by Julia at Nova Era Bakery


Monday June 3, 2013
11:18am at Nova Era Bakery
5 minutes
National Geographic May 2013

A million seashells collecting light.
They dance and dance and dance.
With the whisper of tomorrow in each crevice-the hope that yesterday stays in its place-what do we hear when we listen? A lullaby? Some say the ocean but what is that really? Mother Crustacean looking for her babies? A verbal diagram of where to find pearls and other buried treasure? A map of the sea floor and who lives where and for how long?
They dance and dance and dance in the light-reflecting off the water top and into the sun like a pre-meditated thank you. They exist both here and now, there and here, then and there. They keep their mouths shut tight-so the poetry stays safe, so the magic doesn’t escape, so they can wait for an unsuspecting ear to hear the magnitude of where they came from. And they dance and dance and dance. They don’t apologize for taking up the morning with their beauty, they take their time and let the light absorb the way it should.

“Physically he had changed” by Sasha at her desk


Friday May 10, 2013
4:10pm
5 minutes
The Boys Of Summer
Roger Kahn


I got a head start. This infuriated you, I knew from the sound of your angry feet on the sand. I could hear you curse in Spanish, under your breath. I remember when you taught me how to ride a bike, up and down our half acre driveway. We were living in Santa Fe then, Oli had just left for the Army. You lost your temper only once, during those hours, back and forth from the house to the state road. It was when I said that I was afraid. You told me I should never tell anyone if I was scared, that I should keep that kind of thing to myself. I imagined your father, telling you that, and how you’d really done your best to stick to it. Mom said you waited outside when Oli was born and then again with me. You must’ve been terrified. You must’ve wanted no one to know. Easier to stay at arms length. No wonder she decided you weren’t for her.

I get to the other side of the beach. You’re only a few strides behind. You curse again, but this time with a smile on your face. You grab me and wrestle me to the ground.

“the Devil who touched my body” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Friday May 3, 2013
3:53pm
5 minutes
Aleph
Paulo Coelho


I saw the polar bear swim the most beautiful breast-stroke
Eyelashes with gold sparkles
Purple high heels on his front paws
Flippers on his back
I decided to jump on his back
Velveteen
He laughed
I had to hold on
I gripped
I wasn’t afraid
I saw the red oak tree stretching
Trying to be taller
Unsatisfied
By Summer she’ll smile
I saw the dolphins doing Stand-up
They all bombed
But no one cared
The polar bear asked my name
I lied
I said it was ZOE
I wish it was ZOE
He believed me though
Why shouldn’t he
He called me by that simple angel name
He called me over and over until I remembered to answer
He asked where I’m from
“The ravine” I said
He looked unimpressed
He looked tired
“Let’s rest” I said
He swam us to shore
We dried ourselves in the sun
The sun like the moon but more outrageous
I hadn’t seen the polar bears guitar
It must’ve been borrowed
Or stolen
We sang Dylan, Springsteen and Joan Baez
Until the stars joined the sun
The sun said goodnight
The stars clapped along

“name the sand” by Julia at her kitchen table


Thursday, March 21, 2013
12:43am
5 minutes
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul


Think I wrote your name on my heart once, left it there, stamped it there, tried not to expose it to direct sunlight, didn’t want it to fade, waited till it was healed enough, the scarring, then pierced a hole through it, attached a string and a promise, and then took it out for walks with me. Think that’s what happened. Wasn’t trying to be poetic, it just ended up that way. Wasn’t trying to keep you forever, but the thought of my heart being so naked? It just needed a name blanket to keep it warm. It needed an anecdote or a sweet inspirational quote otherwise it wasn’t feeling good. It wasn’t happy. Your name made it happy, rock a baby to sleep by humming You Are My Sunshine into her ear, doesn’t know how sad that song really is and just falls into dreamland as if it were the best thing in the world happy. That kind doesn’t even exist in everyday life. I’m sure of that.
Think I used and HB pencil to write your name, knew that my heart wouldn’t be a good surface for an eraser so it would be safe, saw it scrawled in the sand one summer on Conrad’s beach near Dartmouth and knew I had to have it for me too, knew that it should be hidden away, tucked neatly into bed with the sheets all pressed with care, silent most of the time so it wouldn’t distract.

‘estate-bottled Italian wine’ by Sasha at her desk


Saturday, December 15, 2012
8:23pm
5 minutes
La Storia (Italian Wine Then and Now)

It didn’t matter that she and he don’t speak the same language language. They both spoke wine and pasta, they both spoke kisses and gnocchi, they both spoke rain and skinny-dipping off the edge of the pier. They’d met at the beach in Manarola, she reading a book in English (ashamedly a trashy bargain bin find that she’d actually spend way to much on) and he, hoping to learn her… language. “Where you from?” He’d asked. She’d been used to it. She’d also been used to keeping Italian men at bay by brushing off the question and returning to her espresso, or her pizza, or, in this case, her Poor Little Bitch Girl. He’d persisted. Then she’d realized that he had a scar going across his stomach that she wished to learn about. Scars had been a life-long interest for her, maybe because she had a fifteen inch one of her own on her back from a scoliosis operation when she was fourteen. They’d gone for wine and fish that night, at his uncle’s small trattoria. Now it was twelve days later. She’d cancelled three hostel reservations and four train tickets. His mother called her, “Bella”.