“The year was 1969” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday October 29, 2018
5 minutes
Suite Dreams
Eve Thomas

Woodstock. The Vietnam War. The Manson murders. The year is 1969. Come Together and Honky Tonk Woman top the charts. A year that defines a generation. My brother Arthur is drafted to go to Nam and flees to Canada. He ends up in Winnipeg and falls in love with a man named Bob. Arthur and Bob fly me in for Canadian Thanksgiving. They make the most elaborate meal I’ve ever eaten. We listen to The Temptations and smoke dope and dance around their living room. Arthur cries when I leave. He says,

“You’re my lil’ penguin and I don’t like being so far away from you.” I know what he means. We saved each other’s lives throughout our childhoods and not being geographically close anymore wears on me in a quiet and dangerous way.

“It seems to me an awfully silly thing” by Sasha at the casita

Tuesday October 17, 2017
5 minutes
The Mystery of the Blue Train
Agatha Christie

It seems to Elizabeth an awfully silly thing that Benjamin was allowed to go to the store on his own and she could not. Mother even said that she had better sense of direction than Ben, and that she was better with her allowance money. Elizabeth sulked on the couch, watching Ben walk down the street. She waited for him to turn around and stick his tongue out at her, or make a face, but he did no such thing and merrily rounded the corner onto Harrison Street.

“Have you cleaned your room, darling?” Mother asked, wiping her hands on her purple apron. Mother recently started dying her hair and Elizabeth isn’t used to it yet. Every time she sees her, she gasps. It is three shades darker than her natural colour, Mother reminds her, and hardly something to get dramatic about.

“create and manage an expense” by Sasha at 49th Parallel

Saturday October 3, 2015 at 49th Parallel
5 minutes
A financial website

When I get to your bachelor apartment on the fourth floor it will smell like cat pee and Axe Body Spray. The windows will be fogged. You’ll have just gotten out of the shower and your grey towel will be around your waist. I’ll ask if you’d like a coffee, I’ll offer to get you one from the shop a few blocks away. You’ll refuse twice. You’ll accept. I’ll suggest that we walk there together, that it might do you some good to get out. You will sniffle and pretend that you have a cold. I will know that you’re using again, but I won’t let on. I’ll remind you about Leila’s birthday party on Saturday before I tell you that Dad’s back in the hospital. You’ll be eating handfuls of Shredded Wheat from the box. You’ll act as though you didn’t hear me. You’ll tell me your rent is due and your account is in overdraft.

“in the passenger seat” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday October 26, 2014
5 minutes
from the early draft of a screenplay

He’s in the passenger and he adjusts the radio and you snap. “What the fuck?” He retracts his hand. He leaves it. He turns to you and starts to say something and then turns back, eyes on the dusty road. It’s Cat Stevens. Anyone who changes the station when it’s Cat Stevens isn’t invited. “I need to pee,” he says, twelve kilometres later. You sigh and he looks at his hands. He’s been biting his nails again. “No problem,” you soften. You need a Diet Coke, anyway. “Sorry, I’m just nervous,” you say. “Me too,” he says and then you feel worse than you felt when you heard the news.

“not liable for any consequential damages” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday June 25, 2014
5 minutes
the Canon Camera User Guide

When Sally and I were small, we’d forget to brush our teeth after eating popsicles and wake up with fuzzies. “Sweaters”, she’d call them. “Patty’s wearing sweaters on his teeth!” She’d say.

When Sally and I were small, we’d go on hikes in the woods behind Grandpa’s cabin (our parents would dump us there for ten days in August while they went camping in Algonquin Park). We’d get lost and Sally would have to use the compass clipped to her belt loop to find our way back.

When Sally and I were small, she would kiss me on the lips, counting to ten in her head, opening them ever so slightly. She would pull away and say, “Did you feel anything?”

When Sally and I were small we would open Mom’s mail before she got home from work and try to understand the bills, the curly handwriting of Aunty Odessa.

“Defeating death, embracing love” by Sasha in her garden

Sunday May 11, 2014
5 minutes
Reader’s Digest
March 2014

That Sunday, we all rode the streetcar to the end of the line and then we rode back again. It was Olivia’s turn. We each got a Sunday a month to choose what we would do. Leo chose the Science Centre to frequently that Eddie and I contemplated putting a monetary cap on the activities the kids chose. But seeing him so inspired, so electrified by learning, we dolled out the cash and beamed at our bright and curious boy. Olivia never chose the same thing twice. Once, we went to the park with notebooks and pencil crayons and drew flowers we didn’t know the name of. That was what she wanted – “you must not know what the flower is called!” she proclaimed. Once, she and Leo made us crepes with a multitude of fillings, both savoury and sweet. But that Sunday, in May, we all rode the streetcar. We didn’t get off once. We’d packed smoothies and almonds, and the kids had finished theirs before we even got to Pape. “It’s a long way back…” Eddie warned. At the end of the line we all high-fived. I produced fruit leathers from deep in my backpack. Leo and Olivia lost their minds. On our westward journey home, the sun was beginning to sink, and I was telling everyone about visiting Lisbon as a teenager. The kids loved my travel stories.

“Heavy duty” by Sasha on her couch

Friday May 2, 2014
5 minutes
from the sponge wrapper

Morgan and Molly ride their bicycles. They got the first weekend in May, every year. That’s what they’ve always done. They used to go with Grandma, but she died last winter. She was one hundred and two. It was her time to go. When they get to the hill, before the left turn, Morgan looks over his shoulder at Molly, struggling with each push of the pedal. He smiles. “You can do it!” He calls. She glares. At the top, they celebrate with Gatorade and high fives. The cemetery is is quiet. A Buick is parked in the lot, beside two hearses and a red pick up. They don’t lock their bikes. They never do. They walk, Molly a bit out of breath, Morgan turning his cellphone to silent, until they arrive at “W”, which is quite a ways. There they are, all of them – twelve Whittakers. “Hey Aunt Olive,” says Molly, wiping leaves from the gravestone. “Michael, what’s up?” Says Morgan. Molly sprinkles wildflower seeds along the whole row of them.

“nearly killed him.” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday November 14, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
5 minutes
creative writing MFA handbook
Tom Kealey

Sitting at my brother, Ian’s, bedside, I listen to his breath. It wasn’t his breath anymore, really, it was through the machine that makes an eerie, almost-human inhale and exhale. His husband, Michael, is getting gelato with their four-year-old daughter, Margaret. “What flavour do you think she’s having?” Ian asks, eyes half open. “You’re awake!” I say. The morning nurse, Shanique, comes in. She’s Ian’s favourite. He watches her huge gold hoop earrings move back and forth, back and forth. “Where’s Margaret?” She asks. Ian motions for me to explain. “They’re getting ice cream.” I massage Ian’s feet. They’ve been achey since Sunday. “Lucky!” Shanique says, checking the pump, the IV, taking Ian’s temperature. “They better bring us back some!” She winks at me and I smile. She leaves in a bustle of light pink scrubs with small bouquets of flowers on them, singing a gospel song that Ian sometimes hums when Michael bathes him. “Would you trade places with me? If things worked like that?” Ian asks, his blue eyes piercing right into the place where love lives, where devotion sprouts wings.

“Would you trust a mouse” by Sasha on the streetcar going East

Sunday November 10, 2013
5 minutes
alive magazine October 2013

“Would you trust a mouse?” Jack asks Alice. His glasses have spaghetti sauce on them. “No way!” Alice says. “Would you trust a camel?” Jack slurps a noodle. “Nope!” Alice says. She’s picking off clumps of parmesan cheese and putting them on her extended tongue. “Would you trust… a… tiger?” Jack looks very pleased with himself. Annie thinks for a second. She takes a noodles and stretches it between two fingers. “Yes.” “Why?!” Jack looks shocked. “Because of their stripes,” Annie says, matter-of-fact. That’s enough logic for Jack.

“Harmony Organic Dairy” by Sasha at Cafe Novo

Monday, August 26, 2013 at Cafe Novo
5 minutes
from the milk jar holding the purple flower

When you’re brother tells you, over coffee on the front porch, that he’s enlisted and starts Basic Training next month, you choke back a sob. You choke it back and you transform it into a “Congratulations”, just like your Granny taught you, just like you’ve been practising since you first said “Yes” instead of “No”. Your brother is seventeen months younger than you, which means there was only an eight month gap between your home, her womb, and his home, her womb. Which means, there’s the ghostly feeling of twin-hood between you and he. Him and you. There’s a fleeting desire to ask him why, to ask for a reason, to stand up and dump the potted daisies onto his lap and bury him here, on the porch, so that he might not ever go. You remember finding the glossy pamphlet in his room and laughing out loud, bringing it to her, your mother, and her laughing too. “Yeah right!” She’d said. Yeah. Right. It’s been quiet for awhile. He stares at you. “Tell me how you really feel, Emma.” He says, but he doesn’t mean it. He goes inside, the screen door slamming behind him.

“rigidity out of it” by Sasha at her desk

Monday, April 15, 2013
5 minutes
From a quote by Mark Twain

You slid down, back pressed against the wall. You didn’t know that Sondre was watching. You didn’t know that I was there, too, behind him, my breath on his shoulder, a premonition. The front door had just closed. Two men in uniform, spoke, muffled, we were supposed to be sleeping. Sondre was surprised that you answered. You usually didn’t, even in the daylight hours. Maybe you’d peeked through the curtains in the living room, that you’d got for a wedding present from an aunt on his side. I don’t remember her name. We hadn’t seen family in a long time. You slid down, back pressed against the wall. You didn’t let out a sound, but your face showed something I hadn’t seen before. And I knew your face so well, putting me to sleep, waking me up, scolding me for stealing an Oh, Henry! bar, singing me “Happy Birthday.”

“Any siblings?” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
5 minutes
Margaret Edson

Tal was born four minutes after May. She screamed bloody murder, awaking the children asleep next door. He, on the other hand, gazed into his father’s eyes, silently, a faint smile curling his small lips. This wasn’t some sort of prediction of what was to come – in all of their years they would both rebel, they would both be insolent, and lovely, and indignant, they would both love, and lose, and succeed, and dream. Tal would bite the ends of many pencils, May would drink a few too many tallboys of beer. Believe what you hear about twins, how they’re inexplicably connected, how one feels one thing and the other does, too. It’s truer than the fog, coating the park outside May’s window this morning. She lifts the purple receiver of the phone she’s had since she was a teenager. Her fingers know the map of Tal’s phone number without her brain having the kick in. “Yup?” says a voice more familiar than the sunset. “Tal?” says May, “I forget how many eggs go into Mom’s pancakes… Three or four?” “Three.” Tal is a man of few words. “K…” May doesn’t want to let him go. Portland is too far away. “Have you decided about Easter?” “What?” “If you’re coming back?” “I can’t get away. They need me at the paper.” “But..” “May, I gotta go.” “K…” “May?” “Yeah?” “Love you.” “Love you, too.” They pause for a second. “You hang up first, idiot.” “No, you…”