“The courage that my mother had” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday September 10, 2019
8:53pm
5 minutes
The courage that my mother had
Edna St. Vincent Millay

They all bet on her, did you know that?
She was the quietest one and they all
put down their twenty-dollar bills with
confidence. “She’s going to be last.”

When my mother was in labour with my
brother, nobody saw it coming. She is
not the kind of person to screech or
claw, but she will sit softly on the
edge of her heart being thrust into
outer space, into another dimension.

She has always been this way,
underestimated, as though physical
size were an indication of anything.
She did not complain. Not when her
head was throbbing, or her knee
threatened to make her sorry she
ever tried to walk. Not when her
knuckles furled in on themselves,
not when she was giving birth to
all three of us.

She simply did it. Quietly.
And I did not inherit that
from her.

When the nurses found out that my
mother was the first of all the
labouring mothers to deliver,
they yelled at her.
“You just lost me twenty bucks,
lady.”

“she would rub her clit to her bed post,” by Julia on her couch

Saturday September 1, 2018
11:14pm
5 minutes
Nocturne v: c
Marie Segolène

Kinny would think of being pushed up against the wall in the basement of the hospital. She pictured finally having that blonde woman all to herself. People would be around, but they’d both be turned on by that. She thought about her until her clit begged. That blonde hair made her want to tug. And that sexy fitted button down. With her eyes closed she saw herself undoing each one until her black bra pulsed. A little lace. A little bow. She wondered if the blonde woman ever knew she was into her.

“eat all of our food? Rude.” By Julia in N’s kitchen

Friday February 16, 2018
8:03pm
5 minutes
Flushed
David Delisca

When Harley stays with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays cause it’s closer to the hospital
he buys us hot dogs and
orders pizza
He doesn’t want us to make him anything special simply
because he’s dying
He’d rather eat out of the garbage
can than put us out any more
than he thinks he is already
On Mondays and Wednesdays
Mitch goes out to pick up
the groceries he thinks Harley
might like to snack on when
he thinks the rest of us aren’t
paying attention
Fruit by the foot and Reese’s
Peanut butter Puffs
Organic strawberries and Oreos
We stock the cupboards just
in case

“We assumed he did.” By Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday August 22, 2017
9:44pm
5 minutes
Equus
Peter Shaffer


We assumed that he’d be okay. We thought that he was invincible. He thought he was invincible. After a month of sitting beside him in the hospital, we start to lose sense of time. Days blur to hours and minutes slam weeks. Grief is thick in these buildings. We make bad, morose jokes. Toby starts smoking again. Ivy texts from Delaware but we can’t loop her, it’s impossible. You have to be here, I say, finally, on the phone in the gift shop. I pick up a stuffed bear and hug it.

“winners are allowed acceptance speeches” By Julia at her desk


Friday March 3, 2017
9:11pm
5 minutes
http://www.filmfreeway.com

I can’t believe this is happening. I really, truly didn’t think I would ever live to see this day. I am touched and honoured and humbled by this moment. Truly. I am in shock. I have a lot of people I need to thank: my sister for bringing me my own clothes every week and for reading to me while I couldn’t do much else but lay there. I want to thank my brother for driving into town instead of going on his honey moon. Thank you, that was very meaningful to me and I will never forget it. I want to thank my doctors. Without you, I would still be thinking this was all in vain. I owe you much more than gratitude. Thank you for enstilling a faith in me I thought had been snuffed out. I want to thank my friends for writing to me. Your letters kept me lifted and I will respond to every last one down to the line, I can promise you that. I’m sorry, I’m just-this is inconceivable. It feels like moments ago…and also like a dream.

“the nervous towns of Mars” by Julia on her couch


Monday June 13, 2016
10:22pm
5 minutes
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury


I don’t have words right now
not for the pain
not
for the other stuff
I have alien feelings
not happiness
not fear
something is in me breaking
as we speak
I would ask for
permission
to go home early
from all of this
try my lungs out
call to the wild but
there’s a scientist
waiting to take
my blood out
and I think
she owns me or something
Because my thoughts don’t feel
like mine anymore
they feel
like nothings floating
deep
and bobbing up for air
every
now and again
she tells me
stop trying
and I assume she means
everything
everything
everything
My arm is her best friend
my vein
is her guilty pleasure
she looks at my dancing
blue fluids
my
inside life
with fluorescent sparks shooting out
of her eyes
getting ready to keep me
from jumping out of
my skin
and into the world
beside this one
I tell her
They have much more
star-dust because it’s a destination
Not a curse
She says
and I know now
stop
which means
shuffling around while this
thing is in me
which means
talking
because I use
my hands
too much

“I do and I don’t” by Julia on the 250


Sunday May 8, 2016
3:59pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 2 bus

By the time I have to decide whether I’ll go and visit Tracey in the hospital, I’ll probably know if Tracey is even still there. Last time I heard from Tanya that Tracey was fighting with her tubes and didn’t want anything “touching her blood”. I told Tanya I would come and relieve her but I didn’t end up going because I am actively avoiding the hospital. Tanya told me not to come if I don’t want to be there but Tina thinks I’m not pulling my weight. She says if I’m not going to come relieve them I should at least give 24 hours notice. Tanya had someone just in case I decided not to so everything was fine and Tina doesn’t scare me. Tina calls me everyday and so I make sure it goes to voicemail. She likes to give all the gory details like “Tracey only has a few good days left” and “you better show up for her” or “Tracey vomited in her sleep because her intubation wasn’t done right”.

“the window is open” by Julia at her dining table


Monday February 8, 2016
9:44Pm
5 minutes
from the song playing on the radio

I can hear them singing my sweet song, Alina! Those little chickadees outside my window are humming me a get well song. Can you hear them? Hear them sing my name? Loiiiiiisssss. Ha ha! They’re singing me back to good health. Oh now, listen close, you hear that thumping? The knock knock knocking? Woodpeckers! Rattling out their best wishes for me too! I feel so loved, Alina! When your brother calls tell him the forest is taking good care of me and not to rush over here.

I don’t think he’s coming, ma.

Of course he is! He hasn’t been to see me yet because of all his work, you told me that, but he’s still going to come!

Ma, he’s not. He’s not coming. I’m sorry.

Well did you speak to him? Did you?

No.

Well then I’m sorry but how on earth could you know what he is or isn’t doing?

“slow motion fireball” by Julia on her couch


Sunday February 7, 2016
12:02am
5 minutes
from a thank you card

Kirby started playing basketball in the 6th grade. Mrs. Trenton told her she had something only the greats have and she mentored her all throughout junior high. Kirby won a lot of awards, most sportsmanlike, most valuable. She was a shoe in for her high school team, someone well rounded, talented, driven. When tryouts for the junior team rolled around Kirby felt like she’d have no problem, picturing herself making all kinds of new basketball friends and becoming a part of a real team that grew together on and off the court. She could see herself belonging in a place that held such fear and unpredictability. The night before the tryouts Kirby’s mom told her that Mrs. Trenton was in the hospital and suggested she go see her. Kirby agreed, not knowing what was wrong. She assumed it was something small like a broken ankle or a fractured toe.

“Like when I need plumbing done” by Sasha on the couch at Bowmore


Friday, December 25, 2015
1:43pm
5 minutes
Revolution
Russell Brand


I’m waiting for the nurse to call my name and I swear to God if I wasn’t wearing a hospital gown I would’ve bolted. I’m looking at a woman with an IV drip and then I’m looking at the guy coughing up a lung and then I’m looking at all the vacant faces who mirror mine. Waiting. “Franny Vince?” It’s a question like a roll call, like, when the teacher would take attendance before we sang the anthem. “Oh Canada, our home and native land!” I’m not trying to be funny, even, I’m just, like, I’m scared shitless. I’m scared shitless.

“Here!”

“Right this way.”

“Nice Santa Claus brooch.”

“My grandson made it.”

“He’s really good.”

“Thanks.”

“You dye your hair?”

“Yes…”

“What brand?”

“My sister does it.”

“believe it or not” by Sasha at the kitchen table in Horseshoe Bay


Tuesday May 19, 2015
10:49pm
5 minutes
A Ripley’s bus ad

A machine beeps. It attaches to your arm. You’re sleeping, snoring softly. One hand rests on your belly. Up and down, up and down. May, the nurse on shift comes in and checks your vitals. I’m halfway through my book. Every few minutes someone new is wheeled in, or out. Some have their eyes half closed, in between this world and another one. Some crank their heads around, talking with the orderlies. Most look like baby squirrels – new, ruffled hair, vulnerable. You tell me to kiss you and I do. You taste like anesthetic and sleep.

“I think his wife is pregnant. Or, she’s really heavy…” by Julia at her desk


Wednesday April 29, 2015
7:13pm
5 minutes
Overheard at Higher Grounds Coffee House

We had been waiting impatiently at Connie and D’s place, running out of things to keep us busy while they proceeded at the hospital. Aunt Laura told us that Connie appreciated our concern and was touched by us all wanting to be there for her. She said as soon as there was news we would hear from her. It had been 5 hours already. We had cleaned the house by that point, watered all the tomato plants, played two whole rounds of Monopoly, and still we hadn’t heard from Aunt Laura. When Michael called me in a panic about his sister, I was out on a run. I was training for the marathon coming up in May. So instead of running home, I ran to Connie and D’s so I could sit with her brother and try to keep him from freaking out.

“Weren’t you sorry” by Julia at her desk


Sunday March 15, 2015
10:32pm
5 minutes
from Sputnik Sweetheart
Haruki Murakami


Like a ton of bricks falling from the ceiling, right over your bed while you’re in the middle of a good dream. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from the moment of feeling like nothing else was even happening or existing around me. Just hazy, stabbing light, hacking into my every skin cell.
It was shocking to say the least. The motherfucking shock of my motherfucking life. I didn’t see it coming. Maybe I never wanted to see something like that, and in my head I couldn’t even think it was possible. And then all of a sudden I was sitting at my best friend’s hospital bed, holding her hand and keeping her eyelids cool with my fingertips. I don’t know if I said it out loud, but I know for a fact my heart was singing it. Over and over again like a broken, desperate record: Please don’t die. Please don’t die. Please don’t die.

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


Wednesday December 24, 2014
1:16am
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

“Our human lives seem to unravel” by Julia at Pigneto 41


Friday September 12, 2014 at Pigneto 41
1:22pm
5 minutes
from Thunder and Lightening by Natalie Goldberg

In any given moment Talia will be coming home. Talia likes butter on toast, then orange marmalade. When Talia’s dad isn’t looking, she sneaks the spicy nduja spread that he likes so much. She sticks her finger in the jar to lick it quickly in case he emerges from the TV room and sees her taking his favourite snack without asking. Talia will be coming home soon and she will tell us the news of Sofia–she will remind us of what we already know and that’s not to get our hopes up about her memory. Talia always tells us the same thing about Sofia but we wait for her the same, with bated breath and fingers crossed that today Sofia will remember something new. Talia isn’t even Talia to Sofia but she gets to see her because Sofia thinks she is her imaginary friend from childhood. Sofia called her Naya and used to say Naya was a trouble maker with a beautiful singing voice. Talia doesn’t sing at all but she hums to Sofia and Sofia believes. Talia hasn’t been the same since she started pretending to be Naya. But she does it so she can see her sister every day.

“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

“nearly killed him.” by Sasha at her desk


Thursday November 14, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
10:02pm
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.

“one morning in late July” by Sasha on the Megabus


Thursday August 1,2013
5:36pm
5 minutes
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald


She moves one hand over the other, like a grasshopper. She’s listening to the cello in the apartment beside her, how is carves into her gut and reminds her of her sister. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror near the entrance way earlier and thought, “What’s my mother doing here?” It took a blink of her eyes, long and deliberate, for her to jog that sliver of memory. My mother has been dead for twenty-two years. She went to the bedroom then, to see if her african violet was blooming. It wasn’t. She is waiting. She wonders if she should go for a manicure, what with the wedding on Saturday. She realizes that Saturday is a whole week away, because today is Saturday and not the Saturday when Lilly and Charles will get married. She should wait to get a manicure until Thursday. She wonders what she’ll do with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sunday is taken care of, she’ll go to the Basilica and then have lunch with the ladies. She isn’t sure how she feels about Midge’s new hair colour. She is sure, but she won’t admit that even to herself. She hates it worse than dirty toilet bowls and the smell of the hospital.

“An enormous explosive crescendo” by Sasha at The Sydenham Public Library


Tuesday, July 30, 2013
5:55pm
5 minutes
from The American Book of the Dead
E.J. Gold


When you were talking about your mother, you never once mentioned how you have the same hands. It might seem odd, given that she’s a sixty-seven year old woman and you’re a thirty year-old man, but, in actual fact, it’s not odd. It’s wonderful.

When you were talking about driving your asshole motorcycle across the country, from Atlantic to Pacific, you never once mentioned that you’d get stuck in Winnipeg, where you’d meet a new friend named Crowfeather, or that you’d call me from the hospital in Calgary with half your face ripped off.

When you were talking about the re-occurring dream of the enormous explosive crescendo, I laughed only because I’d never had a dream where there was only sound. That’s something that’s just yours. You never mentioned that it was every night, usually followed by flying. I had to find that out via your journal. That felt really shitty.

“my side of the bed.” By Sasha at her desk


Saturday, June 15, 2013
8:12pm
5 minutes
www. bleubirdvintage.typepad.com/

At the beginning, they were strangers.
They knew the “hello” and the “how are you?” but that was about it.
At the beginning, they stole glances like candybars, over the cubicle wall that separated them.
“Were you on vacation, Vicky?” Don asked, after she’d been gone for two whole weeks, after he’d looked for her, asked about her, wondered where she might have disappeared to.
“No, Don…” She replied, “I was in the hospital.”
“Oh dear!” Said Don, feeling terrible that he’d even asked, feeling shy, feeling hot in the cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Vicky…” He returned his eyes to his computer screen.
A few minutes later, there she was, kneeling beside him, so close that he could feel her breath on his ear, smelling of the yogurt cup she’d had for lunch.
“I wanted to tell you what was going on, to be in touch, but I realized, when I was away, I don’t even have your phone number! I don’t even know your last name! I see you more than I see my own husband…” She paused, for just a second, “and I don’t even know your last name!”
“Webster,” said Don, quietly. “My last name is Webster.”
Vicky leaned in, their foreheads touching. “I was in the hospital. I had a miscarriage.” Don didn’t know what to say. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

“scarcity into prosperity” by Sasha on her couch


Sunday, May 20, 2013
11:24pm
5 minutes
From the cover of a book on the table

It was cold in the hospital, artificial air-conditioning air, and bright, too bright, the kind of bright light that illuminates every too-open pore and every yet-to-be tweezed hair. She imagines what it would be like if all the fixtures were on their own dimming switches. Perhaps not practical, but she never claimed to be. “Polly?” She rolled over. She opened her eyes. She hadn’t expected Tom to come. They’d only e-mail to arrange drop-off and pick-up of their shared custody Yorkie, West. They each had keys to the others apartment and they’d make a point of not being home for that, there was no need for them to cross paths. He hadn’t sent a note when he’d heard, he hadn’t even added a “P.S.” He hadn’t dialed her number, which she was sure he still knew by heart, and said… even, nothing. He hadn’t called her and said nothing at all but her name. Tom had shaved his head and she thought it made him look intimidating and severe. She’d liked him better with more hair. “I’m sorry I didn’t… I just couldn’t… I didn’t know what to…” He was crying, or, rather, tears were falling out of his eyes. His face didn’t contort the way hers did when she wept. She used the strength from the Codine and raised her fingers up. He walked closer and touched them, with his own fingertips. It was the intimacy of a brother and sister. Funny that they’d been married once, that they’d lain naked together so many nights, that they had thought they’d be buried side-by-side in Mount Pleasant Cemetery one day.