“I pretty much forgot my birthday even happened.” by Julia on her bed

Thursday April 9, 2020
5 minutes
from a text

It was a long time ago now
since March trudged along
mud in the eyes where the
clear lines were supposed
to meet

Our last great gathering
in our first great home
was on a leap year and
we huddled mostly in two
rotating circles leaping
from one normal to another

there is no real rule about
the leap year except that it
is a bonus day and one we
like to remember, no matter
how much leaping takes place

The wine flowed, the beer
chilled, the conversations
hovered over the baked brie
stuffed high with mushrooms
and dates and red onions

The friends toasted to my
new age, this year of me
that would always be mine
especially if celebrated
and cemented in time on
the boundless month that
every four years spills
over into the next

“the political danger” by Julia at her desk

Saturday February 29, 2020
5 minutes
Against the Current
Barry Lopez

Friend number one brings up the Coronavirus and friends two and three go silent.
Nobody wants to be talking about this right now but it comes up, here at the party to celebrate life and living and being born.
The political danger of bringing up the Coronavirus at a birthday party is, right now, the same degree as not bringing it up at a birthday party.
Here we are cheersing, toasting, clinking glasses, kissing each other’s cheeks.
In places where the people touch bodies to greet one another, or get in close to the skin of someone else are at higher risk. Being punished, it seems for being sweet and welcoming.
Friend number three is trying to change the subject now. He is too stoned to enjoy himself as it is, let alone try and push past the inevitable paranoia that is spreading almost as fast as the virus. Friend number one shows the photo of the type of mask her father is wearing in China. Just a regular surgical one, she says.

“occupational hazard” by Julia at her desk

Saturday December 7, 2019
5 minutes
from a quote by Tracee Ellis Ross

It’s going to be hard to forget your birthday tomorrow. When
for the last eighteen years I’ve wished you a happy one.
I’ve thought of you. I’ve hoped you were well. And now this.
It’s maybe easier for you, I don’t know. I say maybe because
anything is possible. Not being in each other’s lives is
possible, as we’ve already established. Maybe you don’t think
of me at all. That would also be possible, as anything is.
I dream about you still. You’re angry in my dreams, at me, and
you’re trying to make sure the whole world knows how shitty I am.
I am avoiding you in my dreams for the most part but sometimes
I yell. Sometimes I tell you just where to shove your misguided
notions about me or in general. I don’t usually feel good when I
wake up, but I do feel alive. And like I’m processing this massive
shift that you and I both know will take as long as it takes.
Or maybe you don’t consider it at all. I’m not underestimating you.
I know how awful that can feel. If you’re reading this, which is
possible, know that you didn’t get erased from my memory. I still
consider you.

“it is the revelation of the god-like” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday August 21, 2019
5 minutes
Quote by Nicholas Berdyaev

So i double booked myself on Wednesday.
You said you could meet me after i could
meet you and then i realized that i had said
yes too quickly again and i’m sorry

i think i didn’t want to see you more than
the other thing but that’s because you
forgot my birthday last year and i guess
i still haven’t forgotten that

now you’re telling me it’s your birthday
the next time i’m free to meet you and
i don’t know why but i don’t care and i
don’t want to make it my problem

It’s not just that you forgot my birthday
last year, it’s that you invited me over
to your place to celebrate and then when
i got there you didn’t even mention it

So i was excited to be doing something
sweet like being celebrated on my
birthday and i could have stayed home
and smoked weed and danced by myself

I could have made plans with any of my
other friends but I chose you and the
realization never even came to you, not
late but never and that’s the weirdest part

As far as you know I’m the only one in the
world who doesn’t get older every year.

“a moment of time” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday April 23, 2019
5 minutes
Don Shewey

This, my love, is for you: I want to acknowledge your life. What a great gift. Isn’t that funny, that even on your birthday, you are still the one giving? I love you. I want to say that first in case I run out of time. I LOVE YOU! I wanted to yell that once so you could hear it all the way where you are. Where are you now? Taking a moment out of time and stringing it on a long chain to wear around your neck? You could do that. I think you could do anything. If I were there I’d say this to you, but hearing it so many times would get old. Here’s a good place to make a joke about age but I actually don’t find that funny at all. I find it inspiring. I’m so glad you are growing and knowing and finding yourself inside. What’s to laugh at about that? I’m not saying no laughter, cause let’s be real, your perspective is never boring. It’s perfectly dark. Perfectly edgy. Perfectly you. Happy birthday! I love you. Ah see, I would never run out.

“He was young and handsome” by Julia at the table

Saturday January 5, 2019
5 minutes
The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami

This year we didn’t look at old photos of you
and Mom wearing your brilliant sweaters at Niagara Falls.
I think there was too much going on, but I missed it anyway.
Tracing the outline of your fro,
curls I know intimately since they landed on my head too.
Thank you for those, by the way.
When I was little and everyone said I looked more like you
it used to break my heart.
I don’t know why I thought it was anything but a compliment.
You were young and handsome.
You are still young and handsome.
I am in awe of how big your heart has grown in these sixty-two years of living.
Sixty-two years today.
You have gotten so soft and there is all this room for me now.
Thank you for that too, by the way.
I am looking at the photo of you holding me for the first time
a month and a couple weeks after your thirty-second birthday,
and the look in your eyes as you look down at me
is turning me into something sweet.
Thank you for that.
That is how I see you too.

“He was young and handsome” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday January 5, 2019
5 minutes
The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami

It’s your birthday today
You’re young and handsome
bird-like and dying
empty and full
at the same time
“This too”
I whisper
“This too”
I wail

I saw the most wondrous thing
was there for the birth
of a star child on the first
day of the new year
this year of mystery

I don’t know if I’ll
see you again in the flesh
in the bone

It’s your birthday today
the same week cancer took
both A. and D.
the same week a star child
was born
the same week
the same life
a birthday
a deathday
a new day
a new day

“If not dead, dying.” by Julia on the 99

Friday September 21, 2018
5 minutes
Nothing Like It Was
Mark Wagstaff

today you are the farthest from dying that you will ever be. you have more life in the wiggle of your brow than you even know. so far the room is changed by you. the building. the women. the men.
you are the farthest from unloved. the farthest from unwanted. you are the closest thing to god and even god knows it.
today you are born on the cusp of beauty. you’re already causing poetry and melting heart ache.
though we are on opposite ends of the country, you are the farthest from being far away from me. you are right here in this pocket of joy pushing through my chest. you are right where you belong.

“Wild Birds Unlimited” by Julia on her couch

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

On the T-shirts that Zia Nancy brought back
from Atlantic City were birds wearing sunglasses
Nothing is cooler than a bird wearing sunglasses
We were grateful for the oversized and bright
we did not know then how to ask for something better
How to wish we could be lucky enough for more
We were lucky enough then with two kisses and
a chili pepper
thrust into our hands like the lesson was in the
small bravery of turning our tongues on fire
The picture says a thousand things
Not including all of the comments made by
all the cool birds wearing sunglasses
on our T-shirts brought back from Atlantic City
We were built by each other’s dedication to being there
A wall of neon cousins smiling while
Michael cries into his birthday cake

“then laid bare.” By Julia in her bed

Thursday November 9, 2017
5 minutes
The Task
Jane Hirschfield

Across the bed she laid herself bare
Gloves to invite play
Boots to indicate business
Okay to invite play
Her hair curled into a jungle cat
That’s what he asked for
He called her his lion
She wanted to make his birthday a special one
Remember when she had those
Sexy photographs taken when she
was twenty-five and newly off the hormones
She kept it a surprise for him
and then one day decorated the entire house with her in lacy underwear, his plaid shirt, her
Sam Edelman knee highs
She thought it was for him
Years later she knows that it
was always for her

“The great task in life” by Sasha on her couch

Sunday October 29, 2017
5 minutes
From a quote by Iris Murdoch

Iris stops smoking on her eighty-second birthday because it’s never too late to change a bad habit. It’s wild to out-live almost everyone you know, Iris says to anyone that will listen – the Wheel-Trans driver, the teller at CIBC, her grandson’s boyfriend. She has everyone over for Nanaimo Bars and sherry, and insists that she does not need eight-two candles. Grey kisses her on the nose and says, “I love you Gran.” She scoffs and says,

“I’m not dead yet, boy.”

“street cake!” By Julia on her bed

Friday August 25, 2017
5 minutes
from a text

I asked your what you wanted and you said street cake. I walked around the city knocking on doors, begging bakeries. Nobody made what you were looking for. I didn’t want your birthday to be memorable in the wrong way so I decided to try making one from scratch. I didn’t know what to do so I asked all the good people of the Internet. They didn’t know either. Finally, I deduced I had the choice of a few things: stick some toy cars on the cake and sprinkle Oreo crumbs for the drive way, or vanilla cream frosting with the word “street” written in icing. I was running out of ideas. Then you called and it all made sense. “Sheet cake!” you said, “I said sheet cake!”

“if everyone else forgets” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday August 24, 2017
5 minutes
From a greeting card

In 1976 it’s the coldest birthday you’ve ever had
February brings hail and relentless freezing
Marg and Bob forget too
and that makes everything colder
Brittle and bone-chilling

You get home from your job
as a teller at the bank
and Bob is in his chair
CBC is on the radio
Marg is hacking at a frozen slab
of pork or at least it looks like pork

“Hey hon,” Marg says not looking up
You feel
tears behind your eyes
at least something’s hot
Your cheeks burn

You go upstairs and close your door
and lament still living with these two
who you’ve sworn to no longer call
You roll a joint and hang your head out the window
like you’re fourteen again

“Life Lessons From 100-Year-Olds” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday July 30, 2017
5 minutes

Fiona turns one hundred on a Sunday. She’s outlived most of the friends of her generation, but her three grandchildren come over for waffles and bacon. Fiona asks Sam to make her a stiff drink. He obliges. Fiona doesn’t dole out advice, or even speak about the good old days. She listens to her brood speaking words she has no idea the meaning of, and she adds more whipped cream to her waffle, a small smile on her lips.

“The only thing we lack” by Sasha on her couch

Sunday May 28, 2017
5 minutes
A program from the Cultch

Today I rise from bed groggy
heart full of last night’s baring
dreams of children and quartz
eyes wide
rushing water
my sister’s hair
a walk in the woods
I sit on the balcony
cradling tea and my thirty-first
cradling all that I have built
on this borrowed plot
I call my father
and he sings in a voice
that lands somewhere
before time
A hummingbird
lands on the tree with
the yellow blooms

“he can sound like the rain” by Sasha on her couch

Friday May 26, 2017
5 minutes
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
Dr. Seuss

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Gemma-ma-ma, happy birthday to you!”

Mom’s made strawberry shortcake. I don’t have to request it, she knows it’s what I want. Calvin is a vegan so she even whipped up some tofu thing for him to have. What a woman. Her face has changed over the last nine months. She’s looking more and more like Gran. It’s the first birthday in our family since Dad died, and I know that Cal just sang the “ma-ma” because that’s what Dad would’ve done. While we eat our cake, the rain starts. It gets quiet.

“Maybe that’s him,” Mom says.

“ungratefulness” by Sasha on her balcony

Wednesday May 24, 2017
5 minutes
Amber O’Reilly

On Sunday I’ll be thirty one
When I look at my hands
they are the hands I’ve
always had
Piano playing
squash cutting
keyboard typing
back tickling
finger knitting
busy small child hands

Swimming in the lake
as a girl
toes touching seaweed
and lake trout
diving down so deep
the temperature changed
popping back up
sunlight and gasp
laughing and falling
into dead man’s float

On Sunday I’ll be full
I’ll be lonely
I’ll be grateful
this is everything
this is nothing
this is

“super slinky.” by Julia at her desk

Sunday May 14, 2017
5 minutes
from the pack of guitar strings

Keaton brings home a box under his arm, covered by his coat,
he hopes for the sound of running
Daddy’s home, the moment they’ve all be waiting for
Dawn usually hears the car door and knows
Delia sometimes comes outside if Iris lets her
there is a silence where the noise should be
there is a box for the girls but there are no girls
for the box
Keaton calls out, Daddy’s home!
no one responds
He sets down the box next to the broken floor lamp
Iris says if we don’t trip over it every
day we’ll never think to take it out
He walks slowly, the house creaking with empty
a wash of dread pulls him under
he doesn’t know what to do
Suddenly the peep peep of a toddler unable to keep
a secret
another laugh, then
Happy Birthday Daddy!

“trying to teach them technology” By Julia in her cabin

Monday February 27, 2017
5 minutes
from a text

my sister turns 32 and the entire family eats
stuffed lobster tail and shrimp
they gather around the table and tell
each other some of the same stories
after hearing some temporary new ones
my siblings make my parents use cell-phones
I am the only one missing
I am the only one on an island
I am the only one in a different time zone
my mother calls me on my birthday 4 days earlier
proud that she finally got the day right
she doesn’t forget my birthday
she just doesn’t know which day it is anymore because
she isn’t forced to look at a calendar all day
she asks what I am planning and I say nothing really
then my father gets on the phone
he asks me what I’m planning and I say I’m going to the island
he asks me if it feels different being 30
when yesterday I was only 29
I tell him sort of because sort of but not more
because my eggs are getting cold
he sighs and says that at the end of the day
it’s all just soup anyway
I laugh because he is so Italian
but he has a point
he says the first bite tastes like soup
and the last bite still tastes like soup

“No mere goldfish, these.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday February 3, 2017
5 minutes
From the Windows display

Got Ellie a shiny goldfish for her twelfth birthday and I never heard her say so many thank you’s! We got dizzy with all them t’s and y’s! She asked if for Easter we could get one of them snails to clean the bowl and I said I’d think about it. Couldn’t be too expensive.

I ever tell you how small Ellie was when she’s was born? Two pounds, one ounce. That’s smaller than a half a Sunday chicken! I’ll never forget the feelin’ of holding her in my hand, like the whole world was there, right in my palm. My whole world.

“No mere goldfish, these.” By Julia at her dining table

Friday February 3, 2017
5 minutes
from the Windows display

I don’t think I ever cared about the fish we had when we were growing up. I think I wanted to, and I meant to, but it never hit. My sister seemed to care about them. She gave them names, she put tiny pellets into their water, she sometimes made up songs about them. But then she also kept killing them and had to flush them down the toilet and then get three more replacement fish. And then she did it again. I can see how one would think they’d be an unfit mother if they never figured out just how hard it is for goldfish to actually live in the first place. I realize now that I also couldn’t care about them because when my sister got them for her birthday that year, I also got a pair of white Barbie running shoes with sparkly pink laces. I was very busy.

“People will say,” by Julia in her childhood room

Friday January 6, 2017
5 minutes
from The Province

I didn’t wish you a happy birthday and people will say-probably-that I am avoiding you or doing it on purpose or trying to play games. I’m not doing any of those things-though it’s your prerogative to think that I am. To believe everyone else but me. I didn’t do it this year because I was busy and because I don’t think you’re a good person. I should clarify that I still love you somewhere deep down as the person who first showed me what borrowing my parents’ car was really for; who laughed easy to build someone else up when you knew how much that would matter. I can’t condone the rest of you these days. Maybe not for the last few years. I tried to trick myself but it didn’t work. I’m not a very good liar. Not nearly as good as you.

“Can you take that out of the oven?” by Sasha at the kitchen table at Bowmore

Thursday December 15, 2016
5 minutes
Overheard in my mother’s kitchen

“Can you take that out of the oven?”

Betty calls from upstairs. June is sitting at the kitchen table, the new one from Sears. She wonders how Betty and Earl afford new things every year, what with Earl getting laid off last summer.

“Of course!” June puts on oven mitts and takes the cake out. It’s Earl’s fortieth birthday and Betty is throwing him a surprise party tonight. June offered to help. It’s what neighbours do. She curses herself for not having arranged to have a conflict.

Betty comes downstairs and she’s wearing a lavender dress.

Happy Birthday To Us!

Today these five minutes is celebrating 5 YEARS of dipping, 5-minute writes, process over product, and of course, a daily writing practice that strengthens us and keeps us showing up.
Thank you for reading and sharing and writing alongside us. We are grateful for this community.
To many, many more!

To celebrate, these five minutes will be hosting their first Vancouver writer’s workout this Saturday, November 5, 2016. Details below! A few spots still available! 

Sasha and Julia

“for a fun birthday” by Julia at her dining table

Thursday August 25, 2016
5 minutes
from a TMZ video


I am not celebrating my birthday this year.


So. You can all go back to what you were doing. WHAT wERe YoU DOinG AnyWAY?? Celebrating something else?? Probably anything else??

I am very upset.
UPset. UPset. because. BECAUSE: I WAS Set Up. That is the truth. TO FAIL. set up to fail and to deal with the repercussions on my oWN. Which is painful. I mISs My Sister.
I miss her laugh. I miss her handssssssss.

And they want me to KEEP PUSHING?

How far before I am edging off the face of this planet? How FAR BEFORE I AM JUST Another NEWs STORy. This Just In: Everything is wrong and nothing is right and someone who needs those things to be switched is feeling the sadness of losing someone close and needs to be held but people are afraid and needs to be told IT IS GOING TO BE OKAY by someone WHO KNOWS and by someone who Won’t Turn It Into A Media Scandal.

I am not celebrating my birthday this year. I have disappointed everyone and nobody will come and everyone is mad and nobody can fix broken with cake.

“the new thing in us” By Julia at Bean Around The World

Thursday July 28, 2016 at BATW
5 minutes
Letters To A Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

She hopped to her seat at the back of the aircraft and chuckled to herself as she heard the voice in her head refer to it as an aircraft. A craft that belongs in the air, she thought, how magical. Someone thought this thing up and then built a bunch of Popsicle stick models out of it before building the real thing.
She was anxious to get home for her brother’s surprise 30th that her whole family was apparently gathering for. He was the one who invited her to it in the first place, but they were close and couldn’t keep secrets from each other. Her brother had found an envelope in the garbage that had the details on it. She was excited to get back to her life as she knew it best for a little while. Familiar streets and faces, going strawberry picking with the family, spending quality time with her dog.

“#BESTOFVAN” by Sasha at Home Baking Co.

Wednesday July 13, 2016 at Home Baking Co.
5 minutes
From a sign on a newspaper box

Kim got a Lamborghini Aventador for her seventeenth birthday. I got a box of strawberry pop-tarts and a Graduation card. I wasn’t graduating until next year. Pam doesn’t remember how old I’m turning, or what I like, or that I’m allergic to wheat. Kim texts and asks if I want to go for dinner in Gastown and I tell her that I have to work. I don’t, but I spent my thirty dollars a month allotted for eating out three weeks ago. Kim texts and asks why I always have to work. I tell her that my Mom had to take some time off work because of her leg and I’m chipping in with rent. I see those little bubbles that show that Kim’s typing. They start and then they stop and then they start and then they stop. “#BUMMER”, she finally responds.

“Anytime, night or day” by Sasha on her living room floor

Saturday May 28, 2016
5 minutes
All I Have To Do Is Dream
The Everly Brothers

You never imagined that someone would say, “anytime, night or day, you can call me,” breaking their rule of keeping a cellphone on their bedside table, you never imagined that someone might love you like buttered bagels and a slender moon.

You never imagined that someone might press on your hip bones and remind you that you’re as ancient as stardust as new as the dawn as changing as the late may sky all aglow with a tempest like a thirtieth birthday.

You never imagined that someone would write you love poems and lick the tears from your face as you read them.

“We say our work” by Sasha on her porch

Thursday May 28, 2015
5 minutes
Overheard at Lansdowne Station

We say our work is nothing more than what it is
Be here now
Bask in the sunlight
When the mud’s in season
Don’t runaway
Quartz on the soles of our shoes
We sing
Calypso on the radio
Deep in work
We still get up and dance
The mint is taking over the whole garden
We add it to breakfast, lunch and dinner
You make the bed this morning
Tucking a wish under my pillow
We finally start to plan our wedding
Peonies and bare feet
Stretching together
Offering howls of love and future
to the August moon

“I made this cake” by Julia on her bed

Sunday May 17, 2015
5 minutes

I uhh…I made this cake for you. I’ve never made a cake before but I made this. Or like, I tried to, I guess? I mean. Yeah. A cake! For your birthday. And I know your birthday was like, a month ago. But I wasn’t confident enough to try making a cake then so, I didn’t give you anything and I wanted to, but I was embarrassed so I just pretended that you didn’t have a birthday at all so that you wouldn’t..uhh.. not get a cake from me. I also pretended that not even wishing you a happy birthday alongside not making you a cake was an okay thing to do. It wasn’t. It’s weird, it was just what I decided to do. Uhh…You don’t have to eat this even. The cake, obviously. It might not be edible, actually, because I didn’t taste it and I didn’t know how to taste it without wrecking it so I just took a chance and thought, maybe I’ll taste it first when we’re together so in case it’s bad there will be someone there to warn you. So if you want we can do it that way, or I can just stop talking now so you can stop wishing this was a different moment in your life and not the one you have to be in.

“gals give some sneaky hints” by Julia on the 47 going north

Tuesday February 24, 2015
5 minutes

Don’t want to give you any false raised hope, but there will be a surprise tonight that is going to blow your mind. I promised Angela I wouldn’t say what was going down, but it’s your freaking birthday, dude, it’s not like you don’t expect some wicked cool event to happen in your complete and perfect honour. I pinky swore your girlfriend that I would keep all details of this extravagant celebratory secret to myself. But I thought about it, and I was like, dude needs to know what to wear, you know, how is he supposed to dress himself without a dress code! What is this, New Years? No. Not even close. That phrase doesn’t really work here, cause I actually stole it from my ex-boyfriend who used to say it all the time, and the way he did it was so funny, so I was trying to be funny. Anyway, he also hated surprises. Or, no, he hated when surprises got ruined. And, yeah, the reaction to the “SURPRISE!!!!!” Is really only as good as the secret kept, but I still maintain that you would be happier walking into your favourite place, with all your favourite people, knowing that it was happening, so you could fill your face with honest gratitude and appreciation. You’re welcome, dude!

“on which the blues would have sounded” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday November 18, 2014
5 minutes
A write up on the photograph “Interior”
Peter Sakaer

Magda was one of those people that cracks her knuckles. She loves pugs. Or, she used to love pugs. You know when people find out that you love something and then all of a sudden it’s that one thing, all the time, all the places? Pug soap, pug tea-towels, pug T-shirts, pug posters, pug blankets. And then, on her twenty seventh birthday, her mother, bless her heart, shows up with a pug puppy. Eight weeks old, cross eyed, velvet and wheezy. Magda starts to laugh and then, cry. She feels misunderstood. She feels silly for not speaking up sooner. She holds the puppy, falling asleep on her lap. Her mother, bless her heart, does not know what to do, so she pours them both a glass of wine. The puppy pees on Magda.

“Then we’d better be jolly, jolly sure” by Julia in Piazza del Francia

Thursday October 30, 2014
5 minutes
On Directing Film
David Mamet

Oh it had better be the best damn cake this side of the Atlantic has ever freaking seen! I don’t care if you have to call in that favour from your aunt Vanda that you said you never wanted to do. I get it. I don’t want you to either. But if you don’t find some way to make sure our son has the best damn cake in 1 year old birthday party history, I will make sure you never see the end of aunt Vanda and her favours! Am I making myself clear?! It needs the secret layer with the prize inside and it needs to be a surprise so we all can have a magical photo moment. Do not ruin this for me. I mean for him. You think he won’t even remember this but you’re dead wrong. Haven’t you ever heard of post traumatic stress??? He’ll get that if you fuck this up!

“study and travel” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday October 5,2014
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

She chose her own name and she chose “Alibi”. She heard her father say it, something about his work, something about people with scars on their wrists and tired tongues. She chose her birthday and she chose today. Crisp, like a Gala apple. Blue sky like the birds soaring. She sang only in the forest because she found the trees to be the most receptive audience. She found the trees to listen with their whole being, not like people, not like us, arms crossed, teeth gripped like we’re afraid our own voice might escape.

“a few pieces of furniture” by Sasha at La Merceria

Thursday, July 3, 2014
11:11am at La Merceria
5 minutes
Design UK
Max Fraser

He sent me a money tree for my nineteenth birthday. There was a note, scrawled on the back of a receipt:

Happy Birthday, Sara.
Love, Your Old Man.

It wasn’t in the best shape, the money tree. Who knows how long it had travelled, how thirty it was. I was mad at him for sending me something that was living and needed care and attention. Those things didn’t come easily to him.

I put it in the window of my room. The corner of its leaves started to turn brown so I moved it out of the bright light.

“I’d known better” by Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub

Monday May 12, 2014 at the CSI Coffee Pub
5 minutes
A short story by Ben Mauk

I’d known better than to suggest a visit to the gallery. I was the one that appreciated art. “It’s your birthday,” Jane said, “It’s your choice!” She never said what she meant. Women were so strange like this. I’ve never met a woman that says what she really means. It’s like everything is a puzzle, needing an expert mind to solve it. “Let’s get take-out Smoked Meat Sandwiches,” I said and Jane grimaced. “Really? That’s what you wanna do for your birthday?!” I paused. I breathed deep. “Let’s go the Coney Island!” She furrowed her brows. “I heard that it’s really creepy there now. Like super duper creepy…” “Let’s go to the MoMa?” She smiled. “Yes. That sounds exactly right. You could live in that place and never tire of it’s pretentious beauty.”

“Cinnamon coffee” by Julia on the subway going east

Tuesday February 18, 2014
5 minutes

I was waiting outside your back gate with a cinnamon coffee for you and a batch of failed cookies. It was your favourite kind of day: the one with the light snow and the zero regrets policy. You did that for yourself once a year, you said, and this day just happened to be your birthday. The reject cookies I ultimately brought over were burnt on the bottoms and much too salty every second bite. I tried a couple rounds but there was a lot of pressure to get them right because they were supposed to be your favourite. Not that they were difficult or challenging due to their obscure nature. You never cared for fancy things. For things that looked like they were trying too hard. Chocolate chip. You liked the simplistic, classic, easy to make chocolate chip ones. The ones you can’t even really mess up. I brought them for you anyway hoping you secretly liked the underdog cookies: the ones that needed a bit more love and understanding.

“The Psychology of Colour” by Sasha at her desk

Monday December 30, 2013
5 minutes

Red wants me to bake him a chocolate cake for his birthday but I’m trying to cut down. On chocolate. Not on cake. “Let them (me) eat cake!” I say. “What about lemon? Citrus is so fresh…” I try to entice him. He rolls his eyes. “Citrus is so nice this time of year!” Red stands up and makes for the fridge. This guy can eat an entire frozen lasagne. He can eat a whole crate of those clementines. “I want a chocolate cake, okay?!” “Fine!” I say, “I just won’t be able to have any!” “Oh Jesus, Ramona,” he says, “it’s a special occasion every Thursday night when the girls come over but you won’t celebrate with me on my damn birthday?” I think he’s upset because he’s turning twenty. He isn’t ready to have the responsibility of no longer being a teenager. “I’ll make you a chocolate cake,” I say. “I’ll make it, I’ll eat it, and then I will be very upset. And you know who is going to have to deal with me like that?! YOU.” After standing there, door open, gazing in like he might find the secret to life, Red takes a jar of pickles from the fridge and goes upstairs to his room.

“Where are you going?” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Tuesday November 12, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
Overheard by Sasha on the Lansdowne bus

He was waiting in his underwear for her on the couch when she got home. She hadn’t given him a key yet, so he had to charm her neighbour into believing she had and he had just misplaced it while helping another old lady cross the street. It seemed like a likely story. When he let himself into her apartment, he washed all her dishes, then washed between his legs, put back on his underwear, a bow tie, and some coconut body lotion, and sat himself on the couch to surprise her. He was planning a big night. One that would start out as a joke and end up as a proposal. He wanted to “open her mouth with laughter and then shove the truth down” as he had heard his acting teacher say in second year. He agreed with that sentiment, and knew she would be disappointed with any other display of something that meaningful. He had heard her say millions of times that if anyone ever proposed to her with her family around, or in a public space, she would have no problem breaking up with him right then and there, on his knee or not. He knew that he would have to stand out and showcase that he had heard her all those times. He also wanted to make sure she wasn’t even slightly suspecting a ring, because that, he was sure, would ruin things. He had been waiting for a long time. She had failed to mention that she was flying to Montreal to visit her grandmother for her birthday that weekend.


On November 1, 2011, these five minutes was created. Since then, we have released a curated collection of our writes, facilitated Writer’s Workouts, held two readings, hosted a weekly resident writing group, and we now have over 1450 posts on our site! Thank you to all who have supported our pocket-sized stories, who read our writes, and who write alongside us. We are celebrating 2 years of devotion to our craft, posting even when we wish we could erase and start over, and telling tiny stories every day, five minutes at a time.

WOOOOO! Here’s to two years!
t5m reading

“Led Zeppelin” by Julia at her desk

Thursday, October 10, 2013
5 minutes
Overheard at Columbia University

You asked me if I was going to your birthday party. I didn’t want you to think that I was judging your idea or your theme. But I said no. Cause I didn’t have anything to wear. And I said no. Cause I didn’t want to show up wearing the wrong thing. You said everyone knows Led Zeppelin and it shouldn’t be hard. Well I don’t but I didn’t want you to know. I just nodded my head and said I’ll do my best. Then I went through my closet and I started to cry. Not cause I had nothing, but because I thought that if you knew it you would not want me at all. Just on the grander scheme of things. I’m good at faking other interests but sometimes I feel I’m being failed by my own inadequacy. And someone should have taught me all of life’s good party themes sooner. So I could get prepared and just at least own a jacket or a bandana or something. I could have bought it but it would have looked too much that way.

“photo or canvas prints” by Julia on her couch

Thursday, September 12, 2013
5 minutes
from a photography brochure

I think because I bought them for him for his birthday, Al thought he needed to use all the canvases up in one week just to show me that he was appreciative of the gift. Truth is, I didn’t know what else to get him. Everyone else, it seemed, was giving in to all his childhood desires and making sure he was spoiled rotten. Video games, and movies, a couple baseball hats. I didn’t even buy one thing for the kid, just showed up to Amy’s house on Saturday afternoon, early enough that there were still pork sliders left, and watched what he was getting. Then I slipped out of the party kind of sneakily I suppose, and I went back home to my garage. I was thinking about giving him some of my old ones, but when I saw how discoloured they were, I thought, no, I can’t give those to my nephew for his birthday, it wouldn’t be right. So I took myself to the art supply shop and bought him some brand spanking new canvases, two brushes, and a variety paint set. Hell, I didn’t even know if the kid was artistic or not, but I sure as hell didn’t want to be like everyone else keeping him inside and cooped up just so he wouldn’t bother any body. Turns out he likes to paint.

The wall at Ezra’s Pound (photo dip) by Sasha at Ezra’s Pound on Dundas by Julia at her kitchen table

Thursday, August 22, 2013
5 minutes
Ezra’s Pound on Dundas

I asked for a mixer on my tenth birthday because I was convinced I was going to be the “cupcake girl” and that everyone would invite me to their birthday parties because they knew that I’d be bringing the best dessert. And even if they didn’t like me, they would never exclude me. I thought this. I guess I figured it would be like Alicia who gave twenty dollar bills in fancy singing cards to anyone who invited her to come. Her parents owned a vineyard in Italy or something. I was good at baking.

Then I turned ten, and I got the mixer, and I planned every person in my grade’s cupcakes, and I even prepared some things preemptively depending on the month and the theme I assumed they’d be using. I wasn’t invited to a single party. I was confused about how my fail proof plan to cater my peers’ birthday parties could go so awry. It was a sad year. I gained 19 pounds the first month.

“Flowers for Mama” by Julia at Second Cup

Wednesday June 5, 2013 at Second Cup
5 minutes
from the Public Sketchbook Project at Cafe Novo

She was sick, Mama was. On her birthday…so me and Angela decided to throw her a casual house party. Bedroom party, actually. Bedroom brunch. Mama didn’t want anything crazy or expensive, so Angela and I wrote her a silly song and sang it to her with her eyes closed while she clutched each of our hands. Mama loved when Angela and I got along long enough to make things like funny songs, and eggs by accident, which she coined when we were small. These eggs were half scrambled, half nobody knows. But Mama was excited by the fact that we didn’t chew each others’ eyes out while we did it. Angela and I have never really been close. Close enough that we fight, close enough that we know each other better than anyone, but we bicker. Probably because we’re the same, Mama says. It was Angela’s idea to get flowers for Mama. I wish I could take credit but she was always better at that stuff than me. She just knew when things would matter and when they wouldn’t. Mama loved the flowers, maybe most of all. Maybe more than the eggs and that’s what I was in charge of. Angela told me later, it was my rhyming that got Mama smiling the biggest. I didn’t correct her when she said that.

“If asked a question; meander” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday, May 16, 2013
5 minutes
T.P White

It’s funny how the questions just keep coming and all I do is smile. “Where did you leave the keys?” “What time is the neurologist appointment?” “What’s for dinner?” “What are we getting Jenny for her birthday?” Smile, smile, smile. It’s the easiest answer. You can take whatever meaning you’d like – yes, or, no.

One time, you asked me what I thought about grapefruits. This was a long time ago. I had a contrived, long-winded, intellectual answer. I indeed gave you what I “thought”. Now, now that I’ve packed away the file-folders and recipe cards, the address book and the alarm clock, now? I would say, “wait here!” I would walk to the fruit stand. I would find the most beautiful, ripe, succulent grapefruit. I would buy it, and only it. I would arrive home and you wouldn’t have moved, you’d have waited, patiently. I’d peel the whole thing, while you watched. I’d break every section apart, making a sun on the table. I’d feed you each piece, you, licking the juice from my fingers.

“will rest my head.” By Julia at her desk

Saturday May 4, 2013
5 minutes
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I guess I was mad at him, that’s why I didn’t calm him on his birthday? I debated it, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I forgot the day or anything. I’m good with dates and people’s faces so that’s not usually my style to, you know, to do something like that. It just felt a bit outside myself to really hold back from it. But he was being kind of unmanageable so I was trying to teach him a lesson about life maybe, or about me. He wished me one even though he hated me that year. But I guess I was too mad to even let myself do it.
I should have now. I’m feeling nothing but guilt about the whole thing. I was fine the first two minutes of my decision but…I’m afraid you don’t just come back from that…when your only living family member doesn’t even wish you a happy birthday. Wow. You know? You just stop to think, is it all worth it, do I really want to die on this hill? That’s what my friend Redding always says, and he’s right. You have to pick your battles, don’t you? Why would I have to go ahead and pick that to do to him. I guess I’m proud, or stubborn. I got that from my father. He got the whole forgiveness thing from my mother so I’m hoping he still has that.

‘$1.79’ by Sasha at her desk

Thursday, March 14, 2013
5 minutes
Second Nature Natural Foods

“One seventy nine.”
“I got… One seventy five… Four pennies short.”
“Then I guess you ain’t gettin’ that candy bar, are ya?”
“Can’t I bring you the four cents tomorrow?”
“I’m good for my word. I mean, I keep my promises…”
“How old are you?”
“Seven – ”
“You’re not old enough to know about promises!”
“I’m hungry.”
“I don’t give a hamster’s tail – ”
“I said, pleasssse?”
“Take the damn Oh, Henry for the love of all things holy n’ get outta my store!”

Felix runs. He runs til he gets to Hannah’s house. He spits in his hands and pats down his cowlick. He knocks on the door. Hannah’s mom answers. Her face looks more grey than usual. “Hello, Mrs. Hunter, is Hannah home?” “Yes, Felix, hold on a sec…” She slams the screen door and calls. Hannah comes down the stairs.
“Hi Felix!”
“Hi Hannah!”
“Do you wanna come in?”
“No. I just -”
Felix hands Hannah the chocolate bar.
“Happy birthday, Hannah…”
“I’m… Not allowed to have chocolate…”
“Oh – ”
“And my baby brother is allergic to nuts!”
Felix turns to run run away.

“as long as there’s a laugh in it.” by Sasha in her bed

Monday February 18, 2013
5 minutes
Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery

The tallest tree in the world is in California. You’d cut a picture of it out of National Geographic and had tacked it to the wall in the bathroom. I would trY to count it’s boughs as I plucked my eyebrows or took my before-bed pee. We made plans to climb it, a long time ago, when my hair was still long and you still called Heather every Sunday night at seven our time, ten her time. You’re gone now, but that plan still lives somewhere inside of me, below my sternum, nestled near the strawberry shortcake birthday. I book my ticket for my sixy seventh birthday. I’m landing in San Francisco. My nephew will pick me up from the airport. I haven’t seen him since he was fifteen, and had hands bigger than my head, a basketball gripped for dear life. I’m so nervous I can’t sleep, the night before I’m set to leave. My suitcase is packed with a few T-shirts, cotton underwear, well-worn jeans, new hiking pants, running shoes, one bra, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, moisturizer, my old Minolta. I find myself thinking about where you are now, wondering if I’ll see you there, climbing our tree.

“On those grey days” by Sasha in her bed

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
5 minutes
Running With Scissors
Augusten Burroughs

On those grey days, on those sad, lonely, sniffle-sniffle days, on those days when you don’t care if it’s oatmeal or granola as they’re both made of oats; on those long days, on those drab days, on those puddle-puddle sore days, I think about the time I almost got a surprise party.

I’d been engaged to Hugh for seven months. I was turning twenty-nine. My birthday is in February… He was still living with his father up in Collingwood, helping him with the cabinet-making. I was working overtime as a Law Clerk. It was a job that I loathed more than anything, more than the smell of bleach, more than cauliflower, more than hangnails. I’d tried to get the day off but, alas, my Grade-A-Asshole boss had said, “Nope!” As I watched the clock go from five fifty-nine to six, Hugh walked into the office. I hated it when he did this but I tried to excuse it, given the circumstance.

“So let’s wipe the slate clean.” by Julia at her desk

Saturday, January 5, 2013
5 minutes
Bossy Pants
Tina Fey

Happy birthday papa. I say this to myself as I double loop my new shoelaces. The other ones broke and you got angry. not because I broke the shoelaces, but because I pull too hard all the time and this is my third pair already this year. I told you I would pull gentler. I would be gentle for everything else too. You shook your head and used the new rag hanging off the stove to wipe your glasses. It’s your birthday today, Papa. I wanted to bake you a cake but you won’t be here to eat it. You said you had business to attend to and you left before I could finish buttoning up my big coat with the fur that you made Mama buy me. The door is left open just a crack because you know I’ll lock it behind me when I leave, but you don’t want to wait for me. You don’t want to watch me tie my new laces, let me follow you to your car, and give you the present I made you. Mama told me to use gold, not green for the wrapping, but your favourite colour is green and I know this. It’s something silly. Maybe I’ll just leave it on your pillow for when you come back from business today. Maybe you’ll open it in silence, Papa, and look down at the little tie clip that sits so elegantly in it’s little box, and you’ll know that I was thinking of you today.

“The scent of perfume” by Julia at R Squared

Monday, December 3, 2012 at R Squared Espresso Bar
5 minutes
The contained scent of perfume

Hillie and I are going to the opera tonight. She’s bringing me there as a birthday present. Hillie loves the opera. I, on the other hand, do not. Hillie bakes me zucchini bread every year because she’s convinced it’s my favourite. I try to tell her gently that I’m off sweets but Hillie is stubborn and crass at times. She tends to make spectacles and I’m not really interested in that kind of thing. I was told earlier to wear my best suit and I told her I only had one anyway. She laughed the way a muffin would laugh if it could. She said I was silly. It’s 6:06pm and Hillie is never late. She made sure I was ready by 5:59 just in case. I think about calling her to make sure she’s okay. I don’t. I enjoy the silence of the cool knowing that I’m ready before Hillie and that maybe the opera will be an afterthought instead of the only thought.
I look down at the silver watch Hillie bought me for Christmas last year and I look again to make sure. The opera begins at 7:00. It is now 6:48. How did the time pass: me in my silence?

“cupcakes” by Sasha in High Park

Thursday, November 29, 2012 in High Park
5 minutes
The Lawblaws ad
on the back of NOW Magazine

He doesn’t lick the spoon because Grandpa Finnegan used to smack his hand and this trained him well. He sets the oven to three hundred and fifty degrees and pours the melted chocolate into the batter that waits, patiently, on the granite countertop.

Even in the fifties and sixties, baking was a man’s job. His grandmother and mother, aunts and female cousins played Crazy Eights and Gin Rummy while the boys learned about kneading dough and the science of baking soda. Grandpa Finnegan would visit and bring with him Maldon Salt and thick British molasses. He would smuggle these goods and others in his carry-on luggage and lie to the airport security about health and special needs and about manners regarding ones elders.

Today, Finnegan long gone, he makes cupcakes for his daughter’s ninth birthday. Recently divorced he is over the moon that he got to host the birthday. Ten third graders will be arriving in the late afternoon for manicures and Earl Grey tea… and cupcakes, devil’s chocolate cupcakes. Finnegan’s recipe.

“created a tradition” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Tuesday November 13, 2012 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
from the back of the Calypso record
Harry Belafonte

She was crying because her mother lost her birth chart. Somehow she had the other three brothers and their friends’ charts. But not hers. She had it at one point, didn’t put it in the cabinet with all the others. Now she wanted it. Wanted to see it because her birthday was coming up. She was turning 21 and she wanted to make observations. She yelled at her mother, told her she couldn’t have done anything worse. Her mother felt bad, but told her that everything happens for a reason. She didn’t like that answer. She looked up the man. The man who reads birth charts and draws them up as long as he has the right information. Date of birth, time of birth. What else was there? Anyone could do it, but the man, the man had to be the one.
He told her he would draw it up for her tomorrow. Then days passed. Then weeks. He told her he’d draw it up for her in six months, then seven, then nine. She was getting anxious. Why was it taking so long? But the man didn’t give her any excuses. Only that he wouldn’t do it now, but maybe in a year from now.

Maybe she wasn’t supposed to see that birth chart in the first place. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to know that in her 21st year, she was going to die. The man wanted her to live in the moment. The man wanted her to forget everything but right now.