“Preach” by Julia on the 99

Thursday May 26, 2016
5 minutes
Overheard on the 99

Mickey and I were laying in her bedroom listening to Eminem and painting our nails. Her mother had called us once to come down for breakfast but we weren’t hungry because we had just finished a pack of Oreos and a pack of cigarettes. Mickey’s mother always smelled of canned ham but she worshiped on Sundays and Mickey wasn’t supposed to miss it. Mickey told me it didn’t matter, let her keep calling until that woman strains her voice and has nothing left for Jesus. Mickey’s mom had 3 other kids to get ready before service so she didn’t call on us as much as I thought she would. Mickey was already putting on her plaid vest with the fur and opening her window so we could bust out the heavy Sunday green. Mickey glanced at me from over her shoulder, a cigarette stuck to the dry part of her lower lip. She said “you’re lucky your mother doesn’t bug you when you’re just trying to have a good time.” I laughed for a second. Then I told her, “you’re lucky your mother is alive!”

“Did you send the message?” by Julia on her couch

Friday, April 1, 2016
5 minutes
Overheard at Kits Beach

Connie has her overnight bag packed. She laughs every time she thinks of Alison calling it her “satchel”. Alison’s mom always teaches her to use the correct word for things, which is good because Connie can learn from that too. She thinks about her own mother falling asleep with a cigarette in her mouth while watching Wheel of Fortune every night after work. Once she solved a puzzle with only two letters revealed and Connie thought she was faking. She never hears words like “satchel” or “rotunda” or “enigmatic” so Connie didn’t think her mom was even fully watching her word shows. Connie goes into the living room to kiss her mother goodbye. She’s already asleep. Connie covers her in the red afghan and turns off the TV.

“from bridges to clouds” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday, June 22, 2015
5 minutes

Mitch drove a green Ford pick-up that summer and he felt proud to be so high off the ground. When he filled up the tank he wondered about how manly he looked and whether or not his shoulders were filling out his T-shirt well. He made a left onto Lexington and saw Jennie and Angel on her front porch. He slowed down. They were passing a litre bottle of Ginger ale back and forth. Jennie clocked him and his whole body reacted – a ripple of want and lust and longing. “HEY!” Called Angel, “Mitch Porter!” He pulled over and took a deep breath before hopping out of the truck. He slowly walked up to the house, not waiting to come across as too eager. The girls watched him. “Haven’t seen you since school got out, hey?” Jennie drank. He sat on the third step. “What’re you up to this summer?” Angel lit a cigarette. “Can I bum one off you?” Mitch asked. She extended the pack. He took one and lit it, hoping neither of them would be able to tell it was his first.

“Smoking seriously harms you” by Julia on the Coren’s country couch

Wednesday December 24, 2014
5 minutes
A pack of Marlboro

I never smoked a day in my life until I met Andie from Soho. Andie from Soho made it seem so cool to light one up, smoke a bit, throw it on the ground, not care that half of it was left untouched, then go ahead and light another one up in the same breath. So I started bumming off her, just a few puffs every few nights and always after drinking. Then she started giving me full ones and I’d smoke them like Andie did just more of the cigarette because I couldn’t wrap my head around why you’d ever want to waste something that costs so much. Then one day I bought a pack, all on my own, and I remember feeling like, yeah. This might be the end for me.

“Smoking seriously harms you” by Sasha on Nadeem’s bed in Mississauga

Wednesday December 24, 2014
5 minutes
A pack of Marlboro

We’re not sure he’ll make it
We hope you can take it
We don’t want to give you a start

We’re sorry to say it
We don’t want to relay it
We hope that we’re doing our part

He shouldn’t have done it
His lungs just couldn’t bare it
He wasn’t the smartest of smart

The nicotine sticks aren’t the worst of it
The drugs and the alcohol are it
Here’s a lemony tart

“cinnamon coffee” by Sasha at Lansdowne Station

Tuesday February 18, 2014
5 minutes
A sign at the Dosa Restaurant

“I’m feeling like there’s a big change comin’,” Margie says. “I’m feeling like the only change is that all the damn TV plays is bullshit about the shitty shitter Olympics!” Rona swigs back her coffee, forgetting it’s hot. “Shit!” She cries, spitting coffee everywhere. Margie rushes over with a sponge. Rona blows in the mug and sips again. She’s the type to get right back up on that horse. Margie learned about putting cinnamon in her coffee when she went down to Montreal when she was younger. It’s all fancy like. “I’m just sayin’…” She says, “for me, somethin’ is changin’… Somethin’ big!” Rona rolls her eyes and lights a du Maurier. “You hear about how much those Russian shits drink vodka?” Rona blows smoke out real slow. “Five times anyone else, that’s how much!” She laughs like she just made a joke. Margie and me roll our eyes.

“Variations may also occur” by Sasha at The Holy Oak from McDonald’s Ingredient Facts

Friday August 2, 2013
5 minutes
McDonald’s Ingredient Facts

That intimate moment when one stranger, a man, tall and tanned, in a white turban and a red Tommy T-shirt, lights the cigarette of another, a man, short, with a leather page-boy cap and a denim knapsack, Ray Bans and a sleeve of rainbow coloured tattoos. One man leans into the other in this shared moment of physical intimacy, brought together by need, by fire – ancient aspects of humanity. Driftwood meets on the shore of the lake, one side rubbing another, smoothing like sandpaper. For a hundred days, the water-logged pieces come to know one another with a quiet calm, with the sunrises and the loon calls, these stubborn bits of birch and pine, find sameness, find common ground, find connection. Skin to skin. One man’s finger brushes the others’. Turban cups Leather, makes sure the wind can’t work her wiles. The cigarette burns. And the moment is over before it’s even started. “Got a light?”