“Twenty years ago” By Julia at her desk

Tuesday November 12, 2019
5 minutes
The Unspeakable Things Between Our Bellies
Lidia Yuknavitch

It would seem that 20 years ago
some big fundamental decisions
were being made about who I
would be.

I would be winning first place
for a poem written for the legion’s
Remembrance Day competition.

I would be practicing my comedic
timing in Mrs. Foss’ grade 6 class
storming out of the portable with
flair only to enter a proper beat later
announcing that “I forgot my pencil”.

I would be collecting my classmates’
loonies and twonies to pitch in and
buy Mrs. Foss a surprise bucket of
bubble gum for her birthday and reign
supreme as her favourite after hearing
that one of her former students was
now the godmother to her oldest son,

I would be inviting the new girl into
my friendship circle so she would never
have to feel what I felt when for the
first year I was made fun of for being
good at french and knowing my times
tables, and being tripped into the snow
for having spinach stuck in my teeth.

I would be wearing a grey sports bra,
without even realizing I had breasts
but wishing I had what the new girl
had, even though her bra was padded.

“I abandoned their plan” by Julia in her old room

Saturday July 22, 2017
5 minutes
The Chang Girls
Lan Samantha Chang

K and D start laughing uncontrollably. They don’t even try to hush their loud the way young girls seem to know better than adult ones. I keep my face focussed on the blue-lined paper, the margins, the blank space. I steal a glance at them from the corner of my eye and remind myself we aren’t friends anymore and I don’t need to care. They can be talking or laughing about whatever they want and I don’t have to buckle into myself. D snorts her signature sign of enjoyment and K wipes the tears pooling under her cheap mascara. I ignore them. I don’t need them. Suddenly K comes over to me and snatches my notebook right from under my pretending. I scramble for it. I miss.
K throws my book to D and D snorts again. K blows me a kiss.

“periodic assessment” by Julia on her couch

Sunday March 19, 2017
5 minutes
from a contract

There was a scrawny boy, from my teaching days, who used to come into my office for extra help on his map reading at recess. He was very worried that he wasn’t picking up on the navigation unit as comfortably as the other children so I worked with him as best as I could and showed him plenty of examples. He seemed to always wear that same confused face even after I felt I had made things very clear. I tried not to get frustrated that he’d come in every day to work on the unit that everyone else had figured out with relative ease. I asked him one day if he thought coming in to see me was helping him. That’s when he told me he had understood the whole time but was afraid of recess because of Tyler, who sometimes tripped him while he ran.

“Now get your ass over here!!!” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday October 18, 2014
5 minutes
Advanced Italian Grammar
Marcel Danesi

“Alan! Get your ass over here!!!” Bernie has one of those voices you hope you’ll never have to hear at seven ten in the God damn morning. “Do you have to shriek like that? It’s early…” I want to kick Leonard. Bernie takes a long pause and then rises from his desk. “What did you just say to me?” “I just, ah…” Leonard shrinks into his sweater vest like a fucking turtle. “I’ll talk however I want, Leonard, because guess what?! I’M THE FUCKING BOSS HERE! I’M THE BOSS! So, shut up, drink your orange juice and get to WORK!” Poor Lisbeth is plugging her ears. I think there’s a tear forming in her eye… If she cries, I might. It’s that bad. Alan’s made his way to Bernie’s desk and he’s waiting, shaking. Poor guy’s wife just gave birth to a stillborn. He does not look good. I try to catch his eye to wink at him or something, but his gaze is fixed on the floor.

“line ’em up and shoot ’em.” by Sasha in her bed

Thursday April 10, 2014
5 minutes
A quote by John Grisham

When my brother, Glenn, died, I didn’t mourn. That was in ’74. That was forty years ago. But today, when I was at the market buying oranges to bring to my daughter’s (they are her favourite), I saw a bottle of barbecue sauce and I broke down in tears. A very sweet stock-boy offered me a napkin. “I’m okay, I’m okay…” I said.

My brother, Glenn, was not a warm and fuzzy kind of guy. He used to pinch my breasts and my behind, my cheeks and my thighs, whenever our parents, or younger sister, weren’t looking. He would knock on my door and when I came to answer it, he would throw water in my face. At Christmas, we never expected anything from Glenn, he would rip out a crossword puzzle from the newspaper and give one to each of us. “Don’t take his behaviour personally,” our mother would say. I just wanted a regular older brother, one that would offer me a shoulder to cry on when I was screwed over by a boyfriend, or did poorly on a test.

When my brother, Glenn, died, I didn’t mourn. I was twenty-four and living in Halifax for the summer, guiding bicycle tours. I got the call from my father. “Glenn killed himself, Becky,” he said, “Shot himself in the head.” “How did he ever get a gun?” I asked.

“Like sands in my feet” by Sasha on the Bathurst streetcar

Monday, August 5, 2013
5 minutes
In My Shoe
Tee’k Aminu

Dear Penelope. No. Dear Henrietta. Crap. Nooo. Dear Beatrice, “Bea” for short, when we’re feeling cuddly. Dear Beatrice, it is with a heavy heart that I must write on your most pristine of pages. I have decided to leave school – to depart from the fluorescent lights of the cafetorium, from the obnoxious and pimpled boys who have yet to be blessed with a growth spurt. I bid “adieu” to the one ply toilet paper and the sticky pink hand-soap. Never again will I hear that most dreadful sound, that shrill scream, the recess bell. Bea, I have simply had enough. There I was, minding my own business, separating out the bits of sweet pickle from my egg salad, sitting on the bench by the gate, where that questionable student teacher usually sits and sexts on her phone. Miles McCormack, smelling, as usual of tuna and body odour, said, “Bet you can’t guess what my Dad said about your Dad?” And I could. I could guess. Of course I could. But I didn’t. I contained myself. I kept throwing those tiny pickle pieces on the ground. It became hard to ignore him, however, when he came right up in my face, crouched in front. “What are you talking about, Miles?” I asked, as though I hadn’t heard, playing dumb. “Your Daddy got sent to PRISON!” he screamed, a bit of spit flying out of his mouth and landing in my eye.