“as an introvert” by Julia in her office

Monday December 2, 2019
11:33am
5 minutes
from an article in open-book.ca
Natasha Ramoutar

It’s been hard lately to smile out loud.
I am smiling on the inside but if I’m not making it loud
then everyone thinks I’m not happy.
This is a problem. My insides are not matching my outsides.
But I don’t want to twist my mouth into a shape that
hurts me, then I really won’t be happy.
But not everyone gets it.
Out loud makes me tired. It feels like I’m wearing
a mask because I have to have it on.
I think happiness looks all kinds of ways and can be
quiet and can be still and can be about the feeling
and not about the performance of the feeling.
Maybe it’s because I feel happiest when I’m by myself.
I feel like I can recharge and regroup and reset.
When I have to go out into the world I have to be
more of what people expect and that gives me a headache.
When I’m by myself I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.
Annie, my best friend, is the opposite of me.
Everyone wonders how we got to be such good friends.
Annie is different. She can smile on the outside with other people no problem and with me she can be still.
We smile together too but it’s not because we think we have to.
I wish I could be more like Annie when I’m with people.
I think having that skill would make things easier.
But I wouldn’t want to trade everything.
That’s the thing with comparing.
You have to trade your whole self for someone else’s
and you might not want to give up some of what you have.

“a dozen individuals aged” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday May 24, 2016
9:51pm
5 minutes
Harbor
John Ajvide Lindqvist


Across the street I spied a man who had been resting on a bench. He was sweating from his brow and was hunched over, defeated. He didn’t have a cane, or a walker, but looked like he could have used one. He was convincing himself he didn’t, surely. I quietly watched him from my bus stop. He didn’t know anyone was paying any attention to him. He tried to get up a few times without the help of the bench. He couldn’t seem to do it. The struggle in his face was clear even all the way over to where I sat pretending to read my novel. It looked like his body had been slowly betraying him for a while but that he had only just now started to deny it. I remember working with a man who told me once that when you get old, your body stops matching up with your mind and you can’t control yourself the way you used to. He told me that it may be frustrating for those of us who can still easily get to our destinations to have to always wait behind the ones who aren’t as mobile, but it wasn’t to be disregarded that it was far more frustrating for them.

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


Friday, April 1, 2016
11:19pm
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.

“WIN $5000” by Julia at Platform 7 Coffee Brew Bar


Thursday, March 24, 2016 at Platform 7
2:36pm
5 minutes
from a nofrills receipt

Leda sends me a photo of her vagina and asks if I have the same rose-looking ‘thing’ on mine.

I send her back an image of a desert and tell her there are no flowers blooming here. You don’t use it you lose it. Pft. Everything turns to dust.

She texts back a hands up emoji, praising my perfect timing and accurate representation of whatever my sorry situation is right now.

I text her asking why she’s asking about her rose-thingy and use many ellipses to demonstrate that I have been left hanging and my curiosity is in fact sparked.

She texts back a photo of our matching tattoos and says she wanted to know if she should be worried or if we were fine.

I text Leda saying that I’ll get back to her but if it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably fine?

She texts back asking for a picture of my vagina to confirm that our genes are fine.

I text back a photo of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

“exit only” by Julia in Piazza del Francia


Tuesday October 28, 2014
4:21pm
5 minutes
from the side of a tper bus

He entered a room filled with mirrors. The instructions said he must look within before he could exit the game. He knew how this worked. A hundred minutes ripping apart all his flaws just to realize he was fine all along and didn’t need to inflict any self harm to find that out. So instead he tried to see what features he liked about himself; starting with the outside to make it easier when he got to the inside.

Decent enough eye shape. Not an almond. But almost. Long eyelashes-like a fawn, or a prostitute. Standard cheekbones (thankfully). One big bottom lip and one almost normal looking top lip. Straight teeth. Really straight. Should smile more. Will note that.

“Fresh Bread” by Julia on her bed


Monday June 23, 2014
8:42pm
5 minutes
the menu at ideal coffee

Today I painted my toenails pink and green and they look like little tiny pudgy watermelon slices. I don’t know what spawned the urge for me to do this, I mean, I was bored, yes, but watermelons? I seriously amaze myself. I don’t even like the way they look. I feel too much like a Latina who calls herself a “freelancer” but really doesn’t have a job so she has enough time to paint her nails to look like she cares only about things like glitter, tacky chachkies, and understated power. I feel like I can say this because my best friend growing up, Selena, who, yes, was named after the Selena, was a HUGE Latina and she liked to paint black wings on her eyelids to look like a cat. And so I say it with love, because I know damn well that Selena never had a real job either. She liked to sit at home and paste butterfly decals on her walls and then with all the extra free time she had, she’d glue on tiny rhinestones on the wings. I’m not exactly like Selena. I mean, even if I’m not working, I can paint my toenails and still have time to go to the market and buy some fresh bread for Ronny when he comes home after his long day at the office. A girl can’t have pretty toenails and only sit at home all day watching her stories. It looks bad.

“saving me right now” by Sasha in her garden


Tuesday June 10, 2014
12:05pm
5 minutes
a text message

I had with breasts and awkward self-awareness and really really long hair.
I went to the Body Shop and got some cover-up, I think my Mom might’ve even taken me.
We matched it to my skin tone but… not really. Because nothing is the color of my skin, only my skin is…
Cover up what’s imperfect, what’s raised and red and angry. Accentuate what’s already there…
“Are you wearing contacts?”
“Your eyes are your best attribute…”
“Look at those eyes!”
“Like a husky…”
Line the line, spread black, curl and colour and wipe and HERE I AM! Do you love me now?
Your voice in my head is saving me right now.
Your voice (in my head) says,
“The robin in the garden doesn’t care about the redness of her chest”.

“The thing is this, Eddie,” by Julia on her couch


Monday, July 29, 2013
12:00am
5 minutes
Jack Maggs
Peter Carey


Shelly wanted to flip her hair out the way she had watched Skyla do it a million times. Sky said it was so easy and Shelly just nodded her head and waited till she was alone to practice. Skyla was better at it. She was born that way, Shelly assumed. She wasn’t one of those people that when they’re young they don’t know about shaving their legs until grade 9. Skyla knew about all the stuff a woman is supposed to know about early on. Maybe she was even the first. She had everything that Shelly wanted. Shelly tried to wear pink lipgloss and tweeze her eyebrows when she saw that Skyla’s had a more defined arch than her own. She was told specifically that she was not to wear mascara until high school, so Shelly used vaseline instead, just the way Skyla taught her, and the way just being alive taught Skyla. She wondered if people like Skyla ever had to deal with acne, or even freckles. She didn’t even want to hear the answer to that dilemma as if the response alone would kill her dead in her knobby knees. Skyla was not above giving lessons, but even her beauty sessions came at a price. Skyla always told the girls, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”