“Most families” by Julia at her desk

Thursday October 11, 2018
6:10pm
5 minutes
Poor and Poorer
Jerrold Ladd

Most families are not all families. I have to tell you I’m lucky.
Lucky that I never had to prove myself anyone. Lucky that I could
move out and move far and the guilt wouldn’t be there. The guilt
wasn’t given to me. I am lucky that my father shows love in sauteed
shrimp and that my mother will talk to me on the phone for an hour
if I’m walking that far. I am lucky that my sister sees my insides.
That she thinks my growth is beautiful. That she isn’t afraid to
tell me the truth. That she never pulls me down when I’m up.
That my brother let’s me call him whatever I want. That he wears
the bracelet I got him for Christmas 6 years ago. That he will pick
me up from the airport during a blizzard. Drive me to the airport
on his only day off. Tell the story at the table that makes me look
hilarious. I am lucky that my family gives what they have and doesn’t
count favours. That they send me photos of their meals when the only
thing missing is me. I am lucky that my family holds me. That they
think I’m important enough to wait for.

“lured into my childhood home” by Julia at the studio

Tuesday October 9, 2018
1:34pm
5 minutes
The Stray
Stephen A. Waite

Matthew and Mark used to watch scary movies at their house. I used to lay with my head in Matthew’s lap and my legs in Mark’s. I felt like my older cousins were taking care of me. We weren’t allowed to watch scary movies at our house. And after seeing IT with them when I was six, I figured out why. I have always been the dreaming kind. Pisces born on land, a vivid seer of worlds beyond my own. I knew the answers were there. I knew the questions were there. I knew I was making connections and being guided. Of course when nightmares are a regular occurrence, it’s hard to think they serve a purpose other than torture, punishment, torment.
I used to pray before bed to avoid the bad. Pray to override the scary images swirling around in my tiny body. What did Matthew and Mark have? Who did they talk to about their bad dreams? Did they just learn not to remember them? Was it easier to stay quiet and keep watching scary movies? Was watching scary movies less scary than the reality they had to face?

For a while I used to associate their dad with Beetlejuice. One time he came to Mark’s room to tell us to shut up and go to sleep. In the shadows, his eyes looked sunken in. I dreamed about him that night instead.

“That’s the bottom line.” By Julia on the 2

Wednesday June 13, 2018
3:40pm
5 minutes
From a quote by James Baldwin

It’s underneath my anger and sweeps below the bitterness
The way you say I love you to your father
The way you call him your man
You take all the risks in your life when it comes to loving
You know how to lead by example and love non-stop as if you weren’t worried about it running dry
It’s in the baby picture of you smiling that same smile
So I don’t know if I can stay angry
At the day, at the weather, at the sting of you
Because you can be so good
So soon after claiming your space
I should be happy you have chosen to show me this side of you
And I am happy
That’s the bottom line

“God may have written” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

10:33pm

5 minutes

From a quote by Nancy Cartwright

Aubrey tells me that she wishes she could sing without trying. Without crying. Without opening her mouth. She asks me to ask God what can be done about that. She asks me because I’m taller than her and therefore closer to God. She’s not wrong…

When I ask her why she wants this she doesn’t answer with words but with a look of disapproval. As if I didn’t already know. As if it needs to be spelled out.

Aubrey tells me it’s important that singing be true. She says she’s heard enough people trying and she doesn’t want to be the kind who has to push put feelings; one who tries to get it right.

Would you be okay with being wrong? I ask her, a little afraid now that I’ve pushed her too far.

She smiles then and blows her bangs out of her oval face.

“Jobs for college students” by Julia on M’s front porch

Sunday March 11, 2018

7:08pm

5 minutes

Seediness

James got me a job working the phones at the writing centre after he heard me give an improvised tour of it even though I had only just walked into the place five minutes prior. He liked my spunk and I liked that he needed someone to replace him while he worked out or read a book to his kid over lunch hours on Mondays Wednesday and sometimes Fridays. His wife let him see her during the days because she didn’t want her getting used to seeing him only before bed. She was convinced that’s how you give a child nightmares. I presume she meant when he couldn’t make it at nighttime, as understandably, he sometimes would not. I used to steal pens and post its and I never felt bad about it. I guess I thought James wouldn’t care because I assumed he did the same thing. I felt like a rockstar scheduling students in for their one on one essay appointments. I wasn’t there enough to be invested, but I wanted James to feel validated by his instinct of me.

“plush and pregnant into my palm” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday, March 3, 2018
11:46pm
5 minutes
Ode to a Desiccated Olive
James Cagney

You used to make jokes about people like me. And now I’ve become one of those calorie counting, jegging wearing, decaf guzzling zombies. It wasn’t the kids. I can’t blame them. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it happens slowly, right? You used to mock the mother’s, smiling through a scream in the grocery store line-up, buying their kids Timbits in the drive thru just to shut them up for one fucking second?! Hahahaha! Ha. Joke’s on us I guess. You never wanted to be a father, or that’s what you said before Jonah started to look exactly like you and then it was all, “He’s the best little guy…” and “Jojo, say “Li-on”!”

“all these obsessions we’ve believed” by Julia at her desk

Monday, February 26, 2018
10:24pm
5 minutes
Wake The Dead
Julia Pileggi

They told me they like the way they could see the room that we were in,
the kitchen, to be exact (and isn’t it always)
I told them it was a true story and some of them nodded along, grateful

I plan to one day have a kitchen of my own that my kids will want
to write about
When they think of me, maybe they’ll place me by the toaster oven or
the built in cutting board, raw from the busy family of serated edges
I have not yet held my mother in my own kitchen
I have never cooked dinner for my father
They have no idea what I know and what I know from them

The other day my mother was surprised when she heard that
I don’t skip breakfast
I was surprised that she would think I was the type that did
In her own way, she is complimenting me, thinking me independent,
autonomous and wise enough to know
In my own way, I am insulted, thinking she thinks I am too irresponsible
to make sure that I properly feed myself
Some of these are stories that I tell myself, maybe as a reminder
to write them down later in case I happen to forget

“chimneys dress right with smoke” by Julia at Nguyen Shack homestay

Wednesday January 24, 2018
9:48pm
5 minutes
A Touch of Cynicism
Yannis Goumas

There’s a new chimney in my parents’ house. I’m glad because they use their fireplace a lot. They make decisions like this and then you never hear the end of it. I’m glad because they use their fireplace a lot. But then you have to hear them tell you about the guy who installed it. And then again. And then about the new handle on the new fireplace door. Because oh yeah, there’s a new fireplace at my parents’ house too. And people are allowed to be excited. That the first time in 20 years they are changing something in the downstairs area. Not the carpets or the windows. But the fireplace that they light every night. My dad even starts the fire for my mom before he leaves for work each morning. She can do it by herself but he still likes to make the house warm for her before he goes. If they tell me again about the fireplace, I will let them. I’ll ask about the guy who installed it. I’ll ask about the working chimney.

“She’ll use timid hand gestures,” by Julia on the 9

Friday January 19, 2018
4:48pm
5 minutes
Black Roses Bloom
Bill Gaston

She’ll calmly talk about her dad as if he were still alive. She’ll say he’s gone but her arms don’t quite believe it yet. Her jaw won’t accept it as the truth. She’ll stay up late in bed because the book is that good. Except it won’t be a book she’s reading. It’ll be hard to sleep with all those dreams of him. The ones of him showing up at her door with a basket of fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a couple dangerous Chili peppers. The ones of her getting a call from his cell phone but all he does is laugh and laugh when she picks up. The ones of him squeezing her shoulders when he hugs her tight. The ones of him calling her sweetie after a long time apart.

“when my father went crazy” by Julia at her parents’ house

Friday December 22, 2017

11:43pm

5 minutes

The Monsters Inside

By Eric Sherman

There wasn’t enough breadcrumbs to coat the chicken the way he would have liked. Mom suggested cornflakes instead but he didn’t want to hear about it. The roads were too wild to go into town. Marge begged him not to leave but dad wasn’t one for heeding warnings. He went outside to dust the snow off his Corolla, something he’d done a million times in his life. Mom watched from the kitchen window as she always did, sending him warmth or hope or speed. Then he looked up at her and started taking off all his clothes. First went the winter hat, spiking his thinning hair into a little tuft pointing upward. Then he removed his winter coat, and threw it over the windshield of the car. Mom started laughing. Dad’s face didn’t move.

“when my father went crazy” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday December 22, 2017
7:12pm
5 minutes
The Monsters Inside
Eric Sherman

We didn’t see it coming. The tantrums. The scabs. The howling. The hiding in closets, under the bed, in the subway station. He was always the breadwinner, the Dad with a capital “D”. He was quiet and stern and warm only on birthdays or Christmas or graduation. My Mum says that when they first started dating, when he was twenty-six and she was twenty-nine, that he said something about struggling with depression, but when she asked more he didn’t want to talk about it. “Let sleeping dogs, lie, hey?” That’s what he said. Mum is in Nurse Mode, meaning, she is calm and smiley on the outside. On the inside? Who knows.

“Can we burn something, babe?” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday November 23, 2017
11:29pm
5 minutes
Love On The Brain
Rihanna

Larry drinks a macchiato sitting at the bar drawing hangmen on a napkin waiting for Liz to arrive. She’s notoriously late. He’s spoken to her about it twice and each time she says that she’s sorry and that she’s trying to change. Maybe it’s because his father was in the army and if he was ever late for anything he’d get a slap on the side of the head maybe it’s because his father loathed him most of all more than his three brothers and one sister. He fumes. He checks his phone again and nothing from Liz nothing from Liz only the same old time and date and three unread emails he’s avoiding from work fucking Cathy and her meeting notes fuck fuck fuck.

“my mother gave me his toolbox” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday Novermber 1, 2017
9:07pm
5 minutes
My Father’s Hammer
John Hodgen

I had never hung a picture frame before. I didn’t like the idea of putting holes in a wall I was going to have to return. Never stayed around long enough to hold anything that wasn’t already mine. That, and each wall ruined cost one hundred dollars to fix, no matter how small. No matter how nook. Then out of nowhere my mother brings over his toolbox and leaves it on the doorstep. Like a sad nicky nicky nine doors. I couldn’t bring myself to open it until a year later. I found other ways to decorate. Most of my frames lived propped against the walls, as if forever waiting for their turn to go up. They collected dust, like they would if they were hanging, but I pretended I liked them that way. A cluster of art to acccent the floorboards and all the corners where the hundred dollar walls meet. One day it was raining and I somehow got up the nerve to open the box. Inside was a note addressed to me. It said “You can always take it down.” I don’t know how he knew.

“She insisted I make no special concession” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday October 25, 2017
5:43pm
5 minutes
from Swing Low
Miriam Toews

I told you. She expressly insisted that I make no special concession! Yes, yes, I know that she’s my daughter but she articulated in her own words that she wants me to treat her as I would any other student. Mr. Black. You must listen to me. I know that defacing school property results in two weeks of detention, and probation for the rest of the year. Elizabeth is old enough to know better. I’ve already apologized for her behaviour, as I would with any of my students, but she must take responsibility for her actions. This has gone too far! Mr. Black. Please don’t look at me like that. Please.

“how on earth an idiot like that could be trusted” by Julia at the bus stop

Friday October 6, 2017

10:19pm

5 minutes

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou

Wally took off work early again and decided to pick up Dallas and Dax from school even though they still had two periods left. Of course the school doesn’t think to notify me since one of their “guardians” is given my permission. I don’t like him going around there trying to be the hero for two teenage boys who are desperate for their father’s time. He buys them double cheeseburgers and milkshakes while I have whole chicken thawing on the counter. I told him he can keep his privileges if he keeps his drinking under control. I really didn’t want to drag my kids through court to prove to them that their daddy is a fuck up. So far he’s been okay, but I know he’s still polishing off a 24 every two days. That may seem like a small amount compared to some, but these are my kids.

“COLD PRESS BRIGHT” by Julia at the studio

Sunday October 1, 2017
6:22pm
5 minutes
from the EPSON box

Cold press bright
button baby button
we are living in pink
hues and baby blues
baby baby will you
want to watch me grow
another human inside
me and then love someone
you’ve never met
but always known
button baby button

Conversation paused
on the problem
Nobody has written down
the plan for us
the three of us
nobody knew there
would be three
unless you knew
without telling me

Bright press cold
button baby baby
witness this magic
of me carrying a
peice of us both
in my body tell
the ocean we are
ready to cross it
all three of us
rock and wave it
all the way to
the shore to save it
baby button baby

Letters written in
father to be cursive
and mamma to be
subversive
you tell the
jokes and I’ll
tell the truth
you tell the
jokes and I’ll
tell the truth
We have not
always wanted you
but you were baby
worth the change
my mind made

“What it means to have light” by Sasha in the garden

Wednesday September 20, 2017
10:52pm
5 minutes
from the LIT call for artists

My father wraps string lights around his hand, down to his elbow, around his hand, down to his elbow. He’s telling me something, but I’m only listening with my eyes. We’ve just eaten lunch – a chickpea salad – and I know what his breath smells like. Mine smells the same. I know what it means to have light between us, and to feel it, and to know it like I know the Christmas Carol. I know what it means when his eyes fall, when he laughs like only slapstick can make him laugh.

“big sister” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Sunday August 13, 2017
11:23pm
5 minutes
From Nannies On Call

Big sister takes my hand and leads me down to the river where Luna’s drinking river water. Pap says that humans can’t drink river water but Luna can. Something about her belly being strong. Something about the power of mutts. Big sister says that Pap is better pals with Luna than he is with Mama or us. Says that he understands beasts better than people. I don’t know. I think he’s okay. Big sister says watch out, when the moon’s full and Pap drinks a bit of boxed wine.

“tremendous whooshing noise” by Julia at her desk


wednesday August 9, 2017
10:35pm
5 minutes
The Enormous Crocodile
Roald Dahl


“If I can’t see you I don’t want to see anyone!”
Mitchell wept into his pillow. He talked to his Dad before bedtime.
Mitchell’s Dad wanted to do the right thing. He didn’t want to confuse him. He didn’t want to make him reliant on someone the rest of the world couldn’t see.
“You can’t leave me,” he cried, “I can’t give you away!”
Mitchell’s Dad told him he would have to let him go and help out the Angels. He didn’t want to leave either but Mitchell was getting so big. He told him he would never really leave him. He’d always be close by, watching over him.
“But how will I know that it’s you?” Mitchell squeaked.

“I abandoned their plan” by Sasha at the Diamond Centre


Saturday July 22, 2017
11:18am
5 minutes
The Chang Girls
Lan Samantha Chang


Even when we thought we were alone, we weren’t. I knew that he was there. I’ve never been one to believe in ghosts, but when the temperature changes that drastically without a gust of wind or anything? Well, there’s simply no denying it. Freema got this look in her eyes like there was something she had to tell me. I put the kettle on, because Daddy always said that tea helps when you’re spooked. Freema took my cue, and put dried peppermint leaves into the bottom of two mugs. “No honey for me please,” I said. It wasn’t a foreboding presence or anything. It was him – warm and rough, quiet and watchful.

“blackberry bushes” by Julia in her old room


Thursday July 20, 2017
2:23am
5 minutes
from an email

People have been taking care of me my whole life. I was lucky. I got a good sister. One who sees me, needs me, shows up brings her friends, laughs at my jokes, heart beat frees me. And I got lucky still. With a good brother who calls me and carries me and picks me up at the airport and takes me to and from the beginning and to and from the end. And then I didn’t have to worry. Because my mother’s skin sings olive oil and resilience. And my father fries me up an egg with a zucchini flower and tops the plate with garden tomatoes and hugs me long and tight.

“also fun” by Sasha in the basement at Bowmore Rd.


Tuesday June 6, 2017
1:02am
5 minutes
From a tweet

Lisa is serious, a squiggle in her brow most of the time, eyes focused, down on her page. She is also fun, knowing how to roll down a big grassy hill, knowing how to draw animals in 3D. On the night she was born, her father was hit by lightning. He missed her birth. She never knew the difference, but her mother did. Her mother resented that bearded, stout man until he took to the bottle and never looked back. Lisa sometimes wonders where her father might be, mid shade of an eyebrow or sketch of a lion’s mane. And just as soon as the thought arrives, it’s gone.

“super slinky.” by Julia at her desk


Sunday May 14, 2017
9:47pm
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
Iris!
nothing
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
Iris?
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
SURPRISE!!
Happy Birthday Daddy!

“it won’t matter what house I move into” by Julia on her couch


Friday May 12, 2017
12:09am
5 minutes
Love Warrior
Glennon Doyle Melton


under this roof you will
not lock the doors
under my roof you will not know something that I do not
do as I say, not as I do
do not correct my grammar
do not cry about every thing
do not forget that I would never let anything happen to you
do not raise your voicd to me
do not forget to mix vodka with orange juice
hi sweetie
Cut the garlic, fine
You’re going to be, fine
I love you

“Certified manager” by Julia on her couch


Friday April 14, 2017
10:13pm
5 minutes
from a business card

Barry is my boss and also my father. He does not let me take home extra envelopes or paper clips. Once he said I could have the left over pinapple from the staff party, but other than that he’s a pretty big stickler for the rules. He’s the middle child so I guess you could say he was a big advocate for justice. Things always needed to be fair. Barry is a good boss and a good father. He sends me letters when I travel, he walks me all the way to the baggage drop off at the airport. Barry has a picture of me in his wallet singing into a toy microphone. He tells his other emplpoyees very little about himself. I’m the only one who knows his birthday.

“I don’t ever think about death” by Julia on her couch


Monday March 13, 2017
9:31pm
5 minutes
from Glory And Gore
Lorde


I don’t ever think about death in the dying kind of way. I think I’ll be here then gone then always haunting the people who loved me. I think I’ll be able to reach them. I will try to send them messages until I know they’ve received them.
I will sleep in my sister’s bed and tell her she’s not alone.
I will ride shotgun in my brother’s Lexus and tell him that he is loved.
I will curl up on the couch with my mother and tell her how lucky I was to get her.
I will kneel in the garden with my father and tell him that he is enough.
I will live on the lips of my love and tell him that it’s okay to let me go.

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


Monday February 27, 2017
4:47pm
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

“For twenty-five years my father” by Sasha on her couch


Thursday January 26, 2017
9:32pm
5 minutes
In Recognition Of A Quarter Century Of Contribution To UMA
Curtis LeBlanc


For twenty-five years she watched her father shaking his head at people taking up too many seats on the subway. She finds herself doing it now, or purposefully sitting where a bag sits, so entitled and peppy. “I’m getting off at the next stop,” says a man wearing white sunglasses and brown boots. She doesn’t feel bad. She has a right to that subway seat, more so than the canvas duffle. The summer after her father died, she didn’t ride the subway very often. Preferred to bike or walk.

“For twenty-five years my father” by Julia on the 99


Thursday January 26, 2017
5:21pm
5 minutes
In Recognition Of A Quarter Century Of Contribution To UMA
Curtis LeBlanc


Spaghetti is his favourite dish
Doesn’t matter how many new things he’s tried, he’ll tell you, if you ask him, that it’s spaghetti
Me too, I would chime in, loving very much the idea of having the same favourite food as my father’s
Me too, I would say, when he’d crack open a chile pepper with his teeth
He cooks the way I do
My mother says I cook like him
Not sure these days if it’s Can’t Follow A Recipe or Won’t
We both like inventing
Never making the exact same thing twice
We didn’t grow up with Daddy’s Girl in my house
Maybe because there were two girls
Maybe because my older sister was Daddy’s Girl until I was born
and then there were two of us so they had to give their thing up before I could figure it out
Maybe because it took 25 years
for me to realize that
he was mine
and I was his but
in my own way and
so was she and
so was my brother after me and
so was everything everything

“ten years ago” by Sasha on her couch


Friday January 13, 2016
12:28am
5 minutes
From an Instagram post

My father asks for his muffin
warmed up with butter on the side
The harmonies of the voices in the cafe
don’t distract him or me
I watch him spread the gold
across the steaming centre
and I laugh with the memory

a finished plate of pie
crumbs and streaks of ivory
vanilla ice cream like snow
his tongue the plough
cleaning the bone china
his mother passed down

“Did I miss the theatre?” by Sasha in the Kiva


Tuesday December 20, 2016
10:29pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the 99

Simon’s been wishing for a mentor, someone who could teach him how to tie a bowtie and cook an omelette and cross country ski. Someone who would take him to the theatre. He knows that his father wishes he were that, but he isn’t. Simon doesn’t begrudge Paul, he tries his best. “You two are cut from different cloths,” his mother, Oleanna, says. Simon used to wonder if maybe Paul wasn’t actually his father. Oleanna might’ve had some tryst with a neighbour, or a bartender, or a colleague at the hotel. Once, he asked his mother, and she laughed in his face. “Honey, your father was my first and he’ll be my last,” she’d said. Simon thought that was the saddest thing he’d ever heard.

“let us communicate” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday October 18, 2016
9:00pm
5 minutes
From the back of The Sun

He never asked me what I wanted to do or what I loved or what I was thinking.
He didn’t need to know, I assumed. He didn’t think it was necessary. I don’t
know how you go your whole life as a parent not thinking it is necessary. I don’t
Know how you go your whole life talking to so many people each day and saying so
little.

The best gift he ever gave me was a necklace: black gem stone, elegant.
He brought it home for me the day after my sister gave the other half of her best
friends forever necklace to someone other than me. He said he wanted me to have one
of my very own. One that I wouldn’t need somebody else to complete.

“I’m ecstatic to announce” by Julia on the reading chair


Friday September 30, 2016
7:34am
5 minutes
a Facebook post

There’s a new woman in my father’s life. He has been hiding it from me since they started seeing each other and maybe he had good intentions and maybe he was just being a coward. Either way, I got a Save The Date in the mail for three proposed coffee occasions that the new woman in my father’s life would like me to choose between. I think it’s funny that she chose not to even bother sending a singing telegram! Who doesn’t love getting an embossed card in the mail with tiny kitties in silver dresses, asking me, not to meet her, but to pick a time that I’d like to meet her. Then what happens when I send this back? Wait two weeks to get another Save The Date for a cappuccino and a butter tart?

“We would not murmur nor complain” By Julia at The Marriott In Decatur, Georgia


Wdnesday August 3, 2016
12:17am
5 minutes
The Book Of Mormon

When you left her there blue on the bathroom tile for the first time, we knew we couldn’t love you anymore. We didn’t know how not to before but it was clear that after that, after her tooth got knocked out of her head and we couldn’t find it, after she opened her mouth to call for help and all that came out was a blood bubble popping on her lips and dripping down her chin, we knew. We were kids then and we wanted to love you both the same. You did a good job of buying that from us at the start. We got new books every week and sometimes you would read them to us in funny voices. You took us to the water park and let us pick the good ice cream or the waffle cones. You took us on secret drives when ‘mommy was having one of her episodes’ and you counted stars while we counted the dollars you slipped into our pockets. We tried to love you.
We really, really did.

“traumatic for a baby” By Julia at The Marriott In Decatur, Georgia


Monday August 1, 2016
11:59pm
5 minutes
overheard at the Marriott in Decatur

We didn’t want to put any clowns in her room just in case she wasn’t one of those kids that loved them. I’m talking nice clowns too. We didn’t want to risk it-no marionettes (gifts from our friends, sent from Mexico), no figurines (a doll my sister in law built out of a mop head and some satin), no posters, and no photographs. We made the mistake earlier with Keegan and I’m worried about him becoming a psychopath. I blame Stephen King. I blame him and whatever mother didn’t love him enough to give him such twisted ideas. I also blame Charles, who grew up with clowns all over his damn house and never once murdered anything with a heart beat. Charles told me it would be fine, but I wasn’t convinced. There are so many things in this life that pose less of a threat to psychologically damaging a child, like bunny rabbits, and flowers, and Marilyn Manson.

“it would be like not listening at all” by Sasha at Simit and Chai Co.


Friday July 8, 2016 at Simit & Chai
5:15pm
5 minutes
When I Am King, Dilly Dilly
Don Cummer


lotsa hurt
this week mornings with
bowling ball lumps in dry hot
throat mornings spent
scrolling tears
streaming feet
tingling
what can i do what can i do what can i
can i do
can i
can’t i
ally alley ally
i want to choke
the fear and
ignorance
mine
yours
i am sorry for my
race and our horrible
terrible empty
fear
fear
fear grips a gun
tight like a baby
the baby watching
in her carseat
the father reaching
for a license
for a license to drive
license to shoot
license to bleed
license to break
we are breaking
we are broken
broken down
broken up and open
broken open

“how she wants to move herself” by Julia at Starbucks


Monday June 27, 2016 at Starbucks
7:04am
5 minutes
Apartment Hunting in the East End
Don Austin


How she wants to move herself is her business! My father exclaims from behind the island in the kitchen as he emphatically chops up the rabbit he’s getting ready for dinner. Why are we all spending so much time worrying about her? His cleaver comes down hard and clean, splitting leg from torso. I don’t know, Honey, I think this is a call for help. Tanya needs us right now and we’re just watching her spiral! My mother remains at her makeshift office in the corner of the dining room that connects to the kitchen. Her glasses are balancing on the tip of her nose. She wants to pay a bunch of strangers to crack her mind open so they can fill it back up with useless garbage!
Rita, my father shakes his head. We don’t need to get involved. She’s a grown woman. We did our job already. I don’t know, I just don’t know, my mother grumbles to herself.

“then gave it to his daughter” by Julia at Starbucks


Friday June 24, 2016 at Starbucks
7:10am
5 minutes
The Govenlock Hotel
Sharon Butala

He was out in the yard gardening, tending to his beloved cherry tree
Those damn birds…
He propped the ladder up and began to climb, explaining himself each step
Then we pick the ones that are good…
And pops a dark survivor cherry right his mouth
And we keep doing that until they’re all gone…
Or until our arms get tired…
And we wait until the warmer months for the sour ones…
Those ones drive your mother crazy…
He scoops her up little into his chest big, holds her with one strong arm, searching for one perfect cherry with the other.
This is why we come out here…
He presents the cherry like a prize for his little thing to take a bite, deep red squeezing out fast, splattering onto her chin and dripping down her canary t-shirt

“Shrimp only” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday, March 29, 2016
2:43pm
5 minutes
from a recipe in Cowichan Bay

I could live off of shrimp only and maybe some garlic. I really could. I could live off of a lot of things that seem simple like that. I could live off of sunsets and matchsticks. I could live off of olive oil and crusty bread. I could live off of my mother’s laugh and my father’s silly singing. I could live off of silent walks to the beach and quiet crying by the ocean. I could live off of his kisses and his squeezes and his eyebrow scar and his banjo playing. I could live off of people watching and star gazing. I could live off of understanding and connecting. I could live off of summer’s heat and throwing a baseball. I could live off of burgundy pens and graph paper. I could live off of peaches and hot peppers. I could live off of magic and synchronicity. I could live off of curiosity and fresh basil. I could live off of truth-speaking and patio writing. I could live off of my belly soft and my lucid dreams. I could live off of the perfect yawn and the perfect hug.

“round their throats” by Julia in her bed


Friday, March 25, 2016
12:23am
5 minutes
From lyrics in a song

i remember my father teaching me how to tie a tie. he told me it would be good for me to know.
i remember telling my father i didn’t plan to ever wear a tie. i told him that i would prefer to learn how to plant things and build my own garden. he told me that someday, even if i didn’t wear the tie myself, i could help someone out who needed to but didn’t know how. i asked him again about the garden. he told me that if i learned how to tie a tie he would teach me about herbs and tomatoes and hot peppers and garlic. i asked him who would need to tie a tie. he said anyone could need to know. i asked him if he ever had to tie a tie for someone. he told me that he was once that person in need. he told me that he had a job interview, two weeks after landing in PEI. he told me how he met a woman on the subway who took him aside and showed him how to do it properly because he had done it wrong. he told me he barely spoke English but that day he realized how important gesture is. he told me that it’s better to know as much as possible in case one day someone needs to be taught but is too afraid to ask.

“In my house we never had enough” by Julia on her bed


Tuesday March 8, 2016
9:49pm
5 minutes
The Artist’s Way
Julia Cameron


In my house we never had enough moments of pure ease–we had some tensions around the dinner table–us correcting dad’s grammar, one little one getting in trouble for skipping school again, the big on getting in trouble for wanting to leave the dinner table to go work on her homework, the middle one getting in trouble for slamming the door earlier.
“Eat what’s on your plate”
“Eat this or don’t eat”
If you don’t eat what’s on your plate, you can’t leave the table”
We couldn’t say we weren’t hungry–we couldn’t say we didn’t want the risotto or the second day fried spaghetti or the chicken scallopini or the veal fettine with lemon and parsley. How could we say we don’t want to eat these good things with you when you get mad at us for BREATHING.
“You should feel so lucky you get to eat like this”
“You should see what the other kids have to eat every night: pasta from a can, tuna salad sandwiches”
“But we like tuna”
“Not for dinner we don’t”
Some moments reeked of attempted ease.
A joke here–him trying to steal a fork full of meat off our plates when weren’t looking–a question about the neighbour’s dog.

“World’s Greatest Dad” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday February 16, 2016
11:05pm
5 minutes
from a picture of Joe’s t-shirt

I liked him because he thought my name was Vanessa.
I liked him because he’d make excuses to talk to me.
Because he’d serenade me in the funniest ways and always show up in my doorway without a reason.
Because his smile hasn’t changed one bit since he was little.
Because he knows how to communicate me to me.
Because he can educate without agendas or judgments.
I liked him because he was charming.
Because he was funny.
Because he was the best looking thing I’d ever seen.
I liked him because he wore truth-manifesting, subliminal foreshadowing on his funny old t-shirts.
I liked that his favorite shirt used to be the one that read “WORLD’S GREATEST DAD”.
I liked him because I believed he believed he would be.

“Imagine having fantastic sex with him or her” by Julia in her bed


Wednesday, January 13, 2016
11:58pm
5 minutes
Instant Enlightenment
David Deida


I am giving couple’s counselling to my parents. Well to my mother. My father is in the other room and we are pretending he doesn’t hear us or know that his kid and his wife are “discussing” him. This is partially on purpose. If he thinks we think he can’t hear us he might listen harder and think to himself, “hmm, I’d like to try that so when I do, it will seem like my idea and things will be better without needing to talk about it.” It is also so it looks like the advice is being given to my mother alone, when really my father can take from it what he needs, even if he doesn’t act on it. My mother nods her head and says, “You’re right, you’re right” a lot. I am not having this conversation so I can be right, and usually when someone says that it means they just don’t like the response they were given. But she is still listening and I am still talking so either way, we’re having this conversation whether things change or not. I am inside my head and well outside my body at the same time. I am separating myself from being her daughter and talking to her like I would my patients. Or my would-be patients. I am practicing my skills on someone who is not paying me yet, because I need to get good at telling all kinds of people to “imagine having fantastic sex with him or her.” So far I have said, “love is your only objective,” which seems to be working.

“Hard to hand over the reins” by Julia at Our Town Cafe


Friday November 27, 2015 at Our Town
3:15pm
5 minutes
The Vancouver Sun
Friday, November 27, 2015


They play the kind of oldies music that I love here. I can’t help but tap my foot and sing along. It’s a crowded place. Not the best spot for open expression of who I am. If my father could see me he’d be so embarrassed at how little tact I have. He always hated when I’d check to see if I had food in my teeth in a knife while sitting at a restaurant. He thought it was classy. I thought it would be less classy if I spoke to someone with spinach hanging from my gums, but no, what I was doing was inappropriate. I couldn’t tell you how many times my dad has embarrassed me just by being narrow minded. I never told him that I didn’t want to be seen with him, even if he told a bad joke, or said that people with dreadlocks shouldn’t work at a housewares store. I even remember one time he came skating with my grade 4 class and fell on the ice in front of everyone. I was 9 and sure, it was a big deal then, but I did not act like I was even a little bit bothered because I bet he was way more embarrassed than I was. In fact now that I think about it I was really just worried that he might have hurt himself and there wouldn’t have been room for anything else…

“I love kittens!!” by Julia at Our Town Cafe


Sunday November 22, 2015 at Our Town
3:14pm
5 minutes
from a text

Dear Diary:

I love kittens!! Mom said if I finished reading my new book that she got me (it’s called: KITTENS) and ask Auntie Genie about the responsibilities around raising an animal friend as a pet, she MIGHT, maybe, will POSSIBLY consider letting me go to the shelter (where they keep the kittens from dying before they’re old enough to take care of themselves) and learn about some of my favourite ones. When I told her that I promised I would and would make sure I was very well informed about kittens and EVERYTHING they need before I asked her to get one, she said, Now, Izzie, this is not a YES or a NO it is a MAYBE, and it is ON CONDITION. I Know I know I know already. She is “non-committal”. Just like my father was. Or at least that’s what Auntie Genie tells me. She told me that FACT when I asked her once if he left because he was allergic to me. She said, Of course not, but that would have been a better reason.

“with the theme of fear” by Sasha at the table at Pascoe Rd.


Monday November 9, 2015
1:17pm
5 minutes
ionmagazine.ca

The night she dies I get a text from a bartender
I sometimes fuck
I wash my
face I get on my
bicycle and I go to
his house
On the way
Somewhere east of Dupont
My chain falls off
I can’t stop the tears
Can’t stop the oil from getting
on my dress
I arrive too close to morning
too far from my father
He lights a joint and the promise
I made to myself not to tell him
Undoes like the clasp of my bra
Naked I’m a puddle of chipped nail polish and
missing
He’s a father so he knows
how to soothe
He rubs my back until I’m hiccups and
when we fuck he’s gentle
he knows just how to look me
in the eye
I leave before I can feel grosser before
I can taste the tinniness of shame
My tongue heavy in my mouth I sing
under my breath
Up the hill on the way
home

“amazing work” by Julia on her couch


Friday, October 23, 2015
9:44pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

I had been trying to catch his attention for, if I’m counting, the last twelve years. Huh. Wow. That’s more than I thought I’d admit. Was hopeful. I mean, who wasn’t at that age. But I guess it’s not fair to take it personally. He wasn’t not loving me, he was just, not forgetting her. I don’t know if I would do it any differently than that myself. I’ve never lost a child so I don’t get to pretend to understand. But weeks bleed into months and then years, and it all just feels like the same nightmare, playing over and over or just continuing without resolve every 16 hours. This time it was a scholarship that I was awarded because of my application letter about him. I wanted to show him. He wanted to drink.

“feeds your hunger for meaning” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Sunday, October 11,2015
10:51am
5 minutes
An e-mail from The Sun

When Stephen was a baby, his father, Bill, forgot that he was in the bath. Bill liked expensive whiskey, anything over sixty five dollars and he was as golden as a sunbeam. Stephen’s mother, Martha, was at her Women’s Group. Bill didn’t support Martha’s leaving then house on a Monday Night. He didn’t support her leaving the house on any night. She’d leave something in the oven, “All you have to do is turn it on to three hundred and fifty degrees, Bill,” she’d say. Bill put Stephen in the bath and poured himself an expensive whiskey. He turned on the television. Two and a half hours later, Martha got home. “How’s Stephen?” She whispered. Bill ran upstairs.

“Then the chicken to fry” by Julia on her couch


Saturday, August 15, 2015
4:17pm
5 minutes
Women Work
Maya Angelou


Hi Dad,
How’ve you been? I already hate that I’ve started this letter with a pleasantry, but I didn’t even know if I should write this in the first place and now I’m doing it so let’s just see how it goes. I actually don’t need to know how you’ve been. Sorry for asking that. I saw a chicken and waffles place on 5th and Carmichael last Friday and haven’t been able to concentrate on my life because it’s something you are somehow attached to now and forever and I’m a bit fucked up about that for some reason. I went in, I ordered a huge plate of the stuff and then cried into my fried lunch for about 12 minutes straight. I wasn’t planning on telling you that but here I am writing you a letter I didn’t plan on writing to you either.

“I still want to think about safety” By Julia on the Greyhound to Kitchener


Sunday, August 9, 2015
9:44am
5 minutes
Said by Julia’s Uber driver

Colleen you can’t be lifting that shit anymore, you’re gonna hurt the baby for Christ’s sakes.

Forget it, Richie, it’s not even heavy. I don’t like you watching over me and micromanaging my pregnancy every single minute. Give it a rest, she’s gonna hear you and decide she doesn’t want to come out!

Colleen I told you, I want to be here for this baby, I want to help you name this baby, I want to help you love this baby. You can’t be stubborn now! You’re making choices that affect all three of us! How many times do I have to hear myself tell you this?

Richie didn’t you listen to one word I said? I said she, didn’t I? You only hear what you want to hear or what?

Colleen. You said she!! She said she!!

“chemical or thermal irritation” by Sasha on her couch


Wednesday May 6, 2015
8:17pm
5 minutes
http://www.webmd.com

I, Seraphina Tallula Roryson, born on the twelfth of May, nineteen eighty two, am the fourth wife of George Fredrick Roryson, polygamist father of sixteen children (and two on the way, not twins, I’m pregnant and so is His second wife, Marybeth), and ruler of the Winter Church of New Placemonton. New Placemonton is on the border of the New World and the Old World. We wear bonnets, with jeans and V-necks. I make date squares for every bake sale between here and Kittaback, and I do Crossfit. I will be George’s last wife, he proclaimed this over baked salmon and tater tots, made by the third wife, Trina. Each one of us has our… “Thing”. Katherine, the first wife, is the “Quiet One”. Marybeth is the “Political One”. Trina is the “Born Mother”. And I? I’m the “Wild Card”. Most polygamist men have a wild card but few are as wild as I. George says I keep him “on his toes”. He says he wouldn’t live a day past seventy if it weren’t for me. “You keep me young, Seraphina. You keep me spry.”

“Watch your belongings” by Sasha at the library


Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Kitsilano Public Library
6:20pm
5 minutes
A sign in the Kitsilano Public Library

Val wrote an e-mail to her parents because she could sense that they were worrying, even though she was thousands of miles away. “Hi guys!” she wrote, between sips of a mango smoothie. The cafe was crowded with mostly men, and she wished she’d brought a shawl. “I’m alive!” she smiled, thinking of them smiling, her father bent over her mother’s shoulder, the iPad on the kitchen table in front of them. “It’s crazy here. Delhi isn’t what anyone says it’s going to be…” She finished her smoothie and glared at a man staring at her breasts. “It’s beautiful, loud, smelly, closed, open, strange, inviting…” Val left in the Winter and hadn’t said when she’d planned to be back. They wondered, but didn’t ask. “I’m going to travel to Kerala. I want to visit that ashram. We’ll see how long I last.” A man beside her started smacking another man, the one who’d been staring. She saw that her bag was gone, that it was caught between them, that they were pulling it. Val swore at both of them and called to the teenager behind the till for help. The staring man was smaller, but he was determined.

“I was just, like, wondering” by Sasha at W Caffe


Friday, April 10, 2015 at W Caffe
1:24pm
5 minutes
Overheard at W Caffe

I was just, like, wondering if maybe I could go out tonight? Papa? I’m just gonna turn down your program for a minute because I need your permission, or, I’m wondering if I could – … So there’s a, a, friend, a new friend that I made in my Chess Club and h – … they invited me out to a, a place… I’ll ride my bike and maybe take a taxi home? May I? Papa?

There’s nothing I can do to convince you? I don’t really think it’s fair because I’m seventeen and other girls are allowed to go out on a Friday and I’m already done my homework for the whole weekend… I did practice the violin.

COME ON! I do well in school! I come straight home every day! How many times have I asked you for something like this? Do you want me to start sneaking around like every other teenager?!

“Their smiling faces touched” by Sasha at Higher Grounds


Monday March 16, 2015
4:47pm
5 minutes
Still Alice
Lisa Genova


Make no promises you can’t keep, Lizzy. That’s the one rule of them. “Do not covet thy neighbour’s wife.” “Thou shalt not steal.” Make no promises thou cannot keep. Might as well be in the Holy Book, Lizzy. You’ll go straight down to H-E-L-L if you break a promise, double H-E-L-L if you break a promise you made to me or Mama.

I did once, Lizzy. An’, well, you see my limp! You know what God did to my leg! He maimed me! He reached down from High Heaven and he struck me with his force. I never saw it coming, Lizzy, because I didn’t have a Papa to sit me down and tell me how life works.

Any questions?

“nothing has ever summed me up so succinctly” by Sasha on the number 3 bus


Saturday March 7, 2015
6:24pm
5 minutes
from a caitlinjstasey Instagram post

Nothing has ever summed me up so succinctly
The tickle tickle throat of the morning after
The flowers out of their water
On the floor
Beside the table

When I found my father’s secrets
I decided that I’d rather
eat a bag of chips
and make eyes at tall men in bars

It’s lonely here in the biggest city
in the biggest world
Bread rots but not the way that you think it might
The bus lurches and sputters like a drunk frat boy
Forget-me-knot
tied around a waist of the one I was before I became
before I became

“The question of honour here” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday January 8, 2015 on the overground
7:15pm
5 minutes
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
Wednesday January 7, 2015


He decided to open the menswear store because it was what he’d always wanted but been afraid to admit, especially to Liz. When they’d gotten married he’d just started at the bank and he thought it was the honourable thing to do – provide for his wife, pregnant with their first baby. It was a secret then, that she was expecting. Now that Jim and Rebecca were at school and Liz was back at work part-time he sat her down on a Tuesday evening. Jim and Rebecca were at the neighbours working on a puzzle before bedtime. “Liz, there’s something I’d like to talk about…” She looked up from her book, a novel. She read faster than anyone he’d ever met and despite nine years of living together it still made him marvel. “I want to open a store. A menswear boutique. A space has come available on Karthey’s Road. This has been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a boy and I think if I work another year in that bank I’m going to wish I’d blown my brains out.” Liz put the book down on the couch and moved closer to him.

“I never have before” by Sasha on her couch


Monday January 5, 2015
11:01pm
5 minutes
from a tweet by Anne Lamott

It was better than it used to be but it wasn’t the best. This is part of it. This is the ache before the growth spurt, at least that’s what you tell yourself. When you crawl to the kitchen, lips dry, eyes only partly open, you wonder when the sun might reach a ray out from under the cloud cover. It’s hard to find the light when there isn’t any. The doctor says: no more booze, no more pills, no more smokes, no more chocolate. What’s the point then? You mother would laugh and pour herself a double scotch. Who knows what your father would do. You drink a diet cola and wish it had something deeper, grungier, skunkier in it. You smile at the photo of your nephew on the fridge. You’ve never met him, but you will.

“with my name on it” by Sasha at the kitchen table at Bowmore


Monday December 29, 2014
10:12pm
5 minutes
Little Lord Love
Mary Oliver


“Marla! Come downstairs! Your Papa wants a kiss before goin’ to work!” She stretches like a starfish and thinks about how many days are left until camp. She goes downstairs and kisses her Papa on the cheek. “Have a good day, baby.” He starts the car and Johnny Cash blares. She pushes her face against the window and watches as he drives away. “What’s the matter with you? Haven’t you got a soccer game in half an hour?” Mama makes a face like she’s smelled something foul. “I’m not going. I have a stomach ache.” Mama rolls her eyes. “Suit yourself…” She goes back to the kitchen, where she’s pretending to do the dishes but really watching All My Children. Marla. Marla is eleven. Marla loves cheddar cheese and June Carter. Marla hates soccer but she’s good at it so everyone assumes she likes it. “Did you call Coach?!” Mama says, from the other room. “Can you do it?” Marla lies on the floor, her stomach pressing into the wood, her left cheek down. “Marla, what’s the matter with you?” “I told you, I’m SICK!”

“He moved in an uneasy trance” by Sasha in the Kiva


Thursday December 25, 2014
12:48am
5 minutes
Vile Bodies
Evelyn Waugh


When he moved (and that was rare) it was in an uneasy trance. Once, you pressed your cheek to the floor in the kitchen in order to see if there was indeed space between the bottoms of his feet and the white tiles. Mostly he sat in his chair by the fire, reading and re-reading the Newspapers. The New York Times from before he left that grey hulk of a city. His favourite is July 25th, 1994. Nothing particularly incredible happened that day, but it was hot and he remembered that he went for a long walk in Central Park and fed birds. He reads and re-reads and you watch him and you tell him a joke and he laughs, but his eyes stay on the page.

“Now get your ass over here!!!” By Julia at her desk


Saturday October 18, 2014
1:09am
5 minutes
from a comment on a photo on Facebook

I was tired from running around the house from my deranged mother. Turns out you tell her to shut up one time and it’s… I don’t know, over, I guess. I should have known better than to run from her. Should have just let her hit me right then and there. The more she runs the angrier she gets, which, makes sense, so it’s my fault. But she chased me up and down stairs, everywhere, everywhere. Finally, I thought, no, I cannot do this anymore, so I surrender. I just threw myself on the floor underneath the dining room table, and I gave up. I think she needed to catch me more than I needed to escape. So I let her hit me a couple times with her wooden spoon. It hurt. A lot. But I guess it was sort of a release for the both of us. Dad had only been gone for 3 days, but those three days without him really felt like more than enough. We both cried while she was whacking me. There was a moment before it ended where it actually felt okay. It felt like something was real again.

“Sure thing sugarsnap” by Julia at Nicole’s table


Thursday, September 4, 2014
11:22pm
5 minutes
a text message

daddy used to call me sweetie and it used to make me laugh
daddy used to call me sweetie and now it makes me cry
he stayed with me on the night my monsters kept me
he stayed with me there when i got lost in the sheets
he stayed with me just outside the bathroom while I counted the tiles
daddy used to call me sweetie and it used to make me laugh
daddy used to call me sweetie and now it makes me cry
he stayed with me on the day i spent 4 hours in the hospital
he stayed with me there when my face blew up like a balloon
he stayed with me until morning so i wouldn’t wake up in the middle wondering
daddy used to call me sweetie

“I’ve breathed the mountain air” by Sasha on her couch


Tuesday, July 22, 2014
11:42pm
5 minutes
I’ve Been Everywhere
Hank Snow



Let me start by saying, I’m terrible at this kind of thing. I’m terrible at saying what I mean and meaning what I say and… You’re the one that’s good with words. You’re the one who knows how to put thoughts together like a… shopping list. No – … I mean… When your mother left I wasn’t sure where my own damn bellybutton was. I wasn’t sure how to brush my teeth, or make a salami sandwich. I let you down, Tilly. I know I did. I’m – … I’m sorry.

“Accountants, Tax Consultants” by Sasha on her couch


Tuesday, July 8, 2014
11:12pm
5 minutes
from a Monahan and Associates sign


“You’re gonna inherit this hellhole you know,” my sister says. She’s sipping on a coffee, so her breath reeks. “Thanks for that. That’s really helpful right now,” I hiss. It’s tax season. We’re there, at the family business, helping our mother and father with filing and sorting. Simple. We’ve taken the day off of school. We’ve done this since we were able to read. My mother would call the office early in the morning, “Bobby and Imogen Fernandes are unwell today,” we’d roll our eyes and eat our Cheerios. My father calls to me from his desk, “Bobby! Bring me the stapler!” I do and I notice, for the first time, that he’s an old man. It seems to have happened in a blink – one moment he was the strong man lifting me from the cradle of the tree branches when I was too afraid to jump and the next he’s wrinkled and bald, smelling of mothballs and pipe smoke.

“Who names herself “Samantha”” by Julia at Assiniboine Park


Saturday, July 5, 2014
5:33pm
5 minutes
vulture.com


It was a gift from her father, naming all the pretty things he loved. Didn’t give her the name specifically, but didn’t take it away either. His name was Sam and he was a soul you couldn’t help but love. A lot of sweetness in that man. And then when his baby girl was born, we knew. We all knew: She would be an extension. She would be a reminder. He didn’t live long into her life. We all thought he’d have more time. One day he mentioned that he could feel pain in his bones; that they felt hollow. It was a sign, and we knew to listen, but we didn’t want to stop him from living. She, the little pretty thing, was a spitting image. Close ones called her Sam when they were feeling his presence in the room. She’d respond with a lightness in her face. She was lifted. And we made sure to tell her everyday that Daddy would have been so happy to know you and thank you for reminding us that he’s still here.
It was hard at first hearing the name and not seeing his face. But somehow over time, we managed to look past it without looking through her.

“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.

“Anytime. Anywhere. Anything” by Sasha on her couch


Friday May 16, 2014
9:13pm
5 minutes
from the side of a van

“Anytime! Anywhere! You need him? Hank is THERE!” My father was a lawyer in our small town. One of two. He and Thomas Vanderhoof went to Law School together. My father was a year ahead. He handled what he referred to as the “little people”. Vanderhoof took the big fish. “Anytime! Anywhere! You need him? Hank is THERE!” Was a fifteen second TV spot that he had on the local station from 1982-1990. It haunted my grade school years and my middle school years. The cracking voice of a pre-pubescent boy, “Hank is THERE!”

“Heavy duty” by Julia at the Marriott in Providence RI


Friday May 2, 2014
11:45pm
5 minutes
from the sponge wrapper

Papa used to get so mad at me when I’d track mud through the house–told me, Deirdre, could you for once stop playing like a little piggy? And I’d say, Papa, I’ll just take them off, it’s easier. He’d smile and say, Sure, sure, Dee Dee, and I’d smile back and say, You’ll miss me to the moon when I’m gone.
I didn’t quite know what that meant but I had heard Lucy-Bell say it to her boyfriend when they were having a big fight out on the veranda. She’d run in screaming just to scream and told me to stay out of her way or she’d yank every blonde hair out of my head one by one. I’d sit by the front window and watch her boyfriend, Dillon, with his hands in his jean pockets and his eyes closed, just sighing at the night and all its bigness. Probably at Lucy-Bell in all her bigness. I didn’t want Papa to think I wasn’t good at listening, I just always forgot to do what he told me cause I’d get so caught up in the fun of it all.

“Health and Beauty Aids” by Julia at the Sheraton in Philadelphia


Monday April 21, 2014
12:07am
5 minutes
A sign in Parkdale

Haven’t considered Oshawa? Wow! You’re gonna be in for a treat! One of those places you really oughtta see before you die, eh Margie?
Oh exactly, you just have to visit. Great for your health and one of a kind landscape! And the people! Don’t get me started on them!
You guys, stop it. I’m not going to die! And even if I were I don’t think I’d put Oshawa on my top destination list.
You’re being a bit rude, Liam! It’s a beautiful place. Your mother and I wouldn’t talk about a city like that without anything to back it up, huh Marge?
Oh honey, your father’s right. He’s always right. But if I can be candid, he did have to convince me too!
I wasn’t always aboard the Oshawa train, but now I’m on it and it’s full steam ahead!
Choo chooo!
Oh Peter, I love it when you do that! Chugga chugga chugga chugga.
Chugga chugga Choo choo!
Okay, okay, stop.
What, honey, is it too much? We just get a real kick out of it.
I know.
And I don’t think it would kill you to visit us every now and again, that’s all.

“Health & Beauty Aids” by Sasha on the Queen streetcar


Monday April 21, 2014
11:46pm
5 minutes
A sign in Parkdale

You ever seen one of those cadavers all dressed up like they be ready for prom or something? So, like, that’s what she looked like. All made up, all plastic. She didn’t look like herself, nope. Mostly around the mouth. Above the lower quarter of her face, she looked like herself but not above it… Above it she looked like a different… woman. It’s strange to call her a… woman because I think of “woman” as, older than twenty and she was… twenty. God damn, it’s sad, isn’t it? God damn. She was a real “Belle”, you know. She lived up to her name. You know what I mean? She was a pretty thing, right. She was a natural beauty though… None of that schlop that them other gals like to put on their face. Belle and her Old Man came to town when she was about eight… or nine… And she came to pick up her Old Man’s order every Friday. They’d do up a big Sunday Roast, you know? Every week. Her Old Man would… Aw, man, I feel so bad for him, you know? Can’t imagine he’ll stay here when every damn thing reminds him of her? Can’t imagine. She invited me to come to one of those dinners and I did… I went… Lived in the tiniest little cottage. The smallest little spot you ever did see, right? Almost bumped by head walking through the door… Like the place was built for midgets or something.

“Don’t make the same mistake twice” by Sasha on her couch


Friday April 18, 2014
11:21pm
5 minutes
Overheard on Queen St.

“Don’t make the same mistake twice, Shirley,” my sister, Emma, said, as she squeezed a slice of lemon onto her salmon. We sat in our parent’s backyard. We were both home for Easter, our stepmother Veronica’s favourite holiday. “I don’t plan to – ” I heard the Finn barking, our father pulling into the driveway. “If you move again, who is to say that the same things won’t happen?” Emma lined up the tiny bones along the edge of her plate. “”Wherever you go, there you are…”” It’s like she thought that suddenly she was wiser, now that she was a property owner and was even leasing-to-own a Jetta. Shit. “There are opportunities in Halifax,” I said, hearing our father baby-talk Finn in the kitchen. “Hey girls!” He called, “I’m going to take a shower and be right out to join you!” “Okay!” We called, at the same time.

“used to make them” by Sasha at her desk


Saturday April 5, 2014
11:02pm
5 minutes
from the box of envelopes

When the truck hit, my spine broke on impact, but I didn’t feel pain. Blood gushed from the side of my body, and I thought about my son, Louie, at daycare, playing with play-dough, mixing all the colours together. He’d be waiting for me. I’d never been late for him. This would be the first of many times I broke his heart. I break. I broke. I woke up in the hospital, machines whirring, my boyfriend, AJ, kissing my fingers. Louie slept in his stroller at the foot of the bed. AJ cried. I’d only seen him do it once before, when Louie was born. A doctor came quickly and smiled blue eyes at me. I closed my own. It was too much, too bright, to achey, too broken. “Lilly,” Blue Eyes said, “You’ve been in a coma for three months.” I tried to sit up, to see Louie. I missed too much. Shit. “Please don’t try to move. You suffered exceptional injuries – ” and AJ stands up. He kisses me on the forehead. And I can’t feel his lips there, and I can’t smell the fear on his breath.

“I loved my father” by Julia at her kitchen table


Friday March 7, 2014
10:38pm
5 minutes
Black Elk Speaks
John G. Neihardt


Once he held me in the palm of his hand, said shh shh little sweetie, shh shh my little one, and he sang to me when no one was listening, the songs his father used to sing to him, and he held me there just gazing at the top of my sleeping head, dreaming of the future angel fuzz that he hoped I would get from him, and he stayed in one spot scared to move even an inch, because the smell of my skin made him happy, and he knew if I woke I would want to go to someone else instead.
Once he held me in his lap while I wept crocodile tears, told me he wouldn’t touch the splinter dug deep into my heel, promised he wouldn’t because he knew it would hurt very deeply, and because he knew when he promised I would trust him with no strings attached, then when no one was around, he hummed our favourite song, and pulled the splinter out, saying shh shh little sweetie, shh shh my little one, no more pain for you tonight, no more pain if I’m around.

“I loved my father” by Sasha on her couch


Friday March 7, 2014
10:07pm
5 minutes
Black Elk Speaks
John G. Neihardt


I loved my father like a raincloud – occasionally, usually when I needed a good rinse of my own self-worth. He was twenty-three when I was born, he was awkward and self deprecating and wonderful only in his embracing of his strangeness. He was also a writer. I refer to him in the past tense because he’s dead. People that refer to dead people in the present tense skeeve me out. Don’t do that. “The only sure thing is death,” my father used to say. He’d even practise his, lying in corpse pose for fifteen minutes each evening on the rug in the hall. It was the only yoga he did. He played basketball with a bunch of punk-ass teenagers at the Community Centre every Sunday. “Keeps me grounded,” he said, but that was debatable. I won’t easily forget when I got the phone call from my Aunt Veronica that he hadn’t made it through his brain surgery. They’d found a tumour the size of a clementine on his left cortex. That’s what the doctor said, “the size of a clementine.” Why he didn’t say “golf ball” like every other medical professional turned me on. I smiled. “Miss Stevenson, I’m concerned you aren’t grasping the gravity of the situation,” the doctor said.

“The second level” by Sasha at Capital Espresso


Monday January 20, 2014 at Capital Espresso
2:50pm
5 minutes
Radical Honesty
Brad Blanton


Glad you got Toby an ant farm. Really really glad. You’re not going to have to deal with sand everywhere, and his crazy outburst when he forgets about them and they all die. Thanks for that. Really. You’re twelve months behind on child support payments, Ron. DO you know what twelve months makes? A YEAR. I could send you to jail. But I wouldn’t want to do that to Toby. I want his Daddy to be around for him. God forbid he end up like you. Next time you get him a goddamn birthday present that requires a living thing, can you just, like, okay it with me first? Please? You know that I’m going to be the one that has to clean it. Does it require cleaning? If it does, I’m going to be the one… He’s four, Ron. He just learned how to wipe his ass. Oh, and your mother can’t bring him to Florida. No way. No effing way.

“Namesake” by Sasha sitting beside her Christmas Tree


Monday December 23, 2013
11:04pm
5 minutes
the album Love Takes No Prisoners
Anthony Wilson

Fox has his pinstripe suit on, the one you bought him at the Sally Ann in Peterborough. He’s finally grown into it. The sleeves are still a bit long, but he’s rolled them up with effortless style. Like you. He shot up this year. He’s almost as tall as you. He’s saying words like, “radical”, “crazy”, and “stellar”. You’d be proud of his widening shoulders and his deepening voice. You’d smile and raise your eyebrows at his intelligent and spunky sense of humour. His room is a mess but I forgive him that because he knows how to cry in movies and shovel the walk in under five minutes.