“Mom had written bad checks” by Julia at her desk

Sunday April 27, 2019
9:20pm
5 minutes
What Little She Had
Doug Crandell

“Okay so we’re back together but don’t tell Mom. She’ll flip her shit and I don’t need to see that women’s shit anywhere, do you?”
Lise was screaming on the phone to her sister, walking with pace.
“Why would I tell her when she doesn’t deserve to know? Because someone who can’t keep their hands to themselves and their opinions on a need to know basis doesn’t deserve to know.”
She was making giant circles in the lobby way, not stopping to see how her yelling was being received. Why would she? She had every right to be there, pacing, having a dramatic conversation about something important to her. So what if Lionel wasn’t the most successful car salesman. So what if he didn’t see himself working up the ladder to challenge his skills. Her mother wouldn’t know love if it slapped her upside the head. Who was she to even dare open her mouth about it.

“a conversation unfolds” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday, December 2, 2018
7:32am
5 minutes
Conversation Across Languages
Derick Mattern

When I call
the conversation between us
unfolds open
reaches break
lily-of-the-valley
Rose-of-Sharon

Oh the grief is heavy
on my tongue
stretching down
to my throat
to my belly
to my feet

Oh this grief meets
the very core and
I hold you over long distance
airways over the Prairies
I hold you like you did me
when most of what I was
was daughter

“eat all of our food? Rude.” By Sasha on the 99

Friday February 16, 2018
10:22pm
5 minutes
Flushed
David Delisca

Crumbs under the toaster again! GODDAMNIT SHARLEEN! I can’t take it anymore! Crumbs all over the counter and it’s not hard to moisten a cloth, wipe the counter, lift the toaster, wipe under the toaster! I raised you to be better than this, Sharleen! Come downstairs! I hate shouting. Sharleen?! Jesus, she’s not even here?!

Furiously dials on the cordless phone.

Hello, Sharleen. This is your mother. Please call me immediately. This is an emergency. I repeat. This is an E-M-E-R-G-E-N – Oh! You’re calling on the other line. Shit. How do I – ?

Sharleen?

GODAMNIT!

Sharleen!

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

Wednesday Novermber 1, 2017
11:34pm
5 minutes
My Father’s Hammer
John Hodgen

Emma opens the toolbox and smiles, thinking about how Jim would make a joke about how organized she keeps it. “Take after yer mother on that one, that’s for sure,” he’d say. It’s two years to the day since they last spoke. She was riding her bike home from work, and she pulled over to answer her phone because she thought it might be Zac. When she saw that it was her father, she thought about not answering and she feels so guilty about that. She did, though. That’s what Libby always reminds her of. She did answer.

“keep this info handy” by Julia at her desk


Sunday August 20, 2017
10:01pm
5 minutes
the Shaw pamphlet

Mom gives me the phone card passcode so I can call Nanna in Berlin. She lives there now. She said it’s nicer than Whitby. I tell her that I probably don’t have time to call her cause I have finals this week and she doesn’t let me finish my sentence. She doesn’t think school is a good excuse not to do anything. Probably because she only finished the 8th grade. Probably because she knows when I’m talking out of my ass. Mom tells me to keep that info handy and maybe taake a photo of it on my new fancy icamera. I tell her it’s not an icamera, it’s an iphone, and it’s not fancy, it’s a 4s, and life is not as easy as she thinks.
When I ask Mom why she cares so much if I call Nanna or not, she laughs for longer than is necessary and comfortable. “If you have kids,” she says, “and they don’t call me, I will always blame their mother first.”

“stress hormones can also cross the placenta” by Sasha on the 99


Thursday June 1, 2017
11:32pm
5 minutes
alive.com

Monica makes the sign of the cross and sits down at her desk. She wonders if she’ll have the courage to do it today. The phone rings.

“Dr. Kent’s office, how may I help you?” Her voice sounds different here than at home, when she’s talking to Bozo or singing to the radio as she makes dinner.

“I need to speak to Dr. Kent right away,” says the woman on the other end of the line.

“Dr. Kent is with a patient at present. Might I pass along a message?” Monica reaches for her green tea and sips it. It’s cold.

“I just read something online about how stress hormones can cross the placenta and reach the babies? I’m freaking out! This has been the most stressful three months of my life. It’s bad enough to give one child issues, but two?! I need to speak to – ”

“Take a deep breath. In through your nose and out through your mouth.” Monica rolls her eyes.

“I don’t know if it’s important or not, but it might be.” By Sasha at her desk


Tuesday February 7, 2017
10:55pm
5 minutes
from Gerald’s Game
Stephen King


Hi. You’ve reached – …

Shit. Donna?! Pick up the phone.

Hi. You’ve reached Donna. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you just as soon as I can.

BEEP.

Donna. It’s me. Where are you? I need to talk to you. Right now. Carlos is on to us, and it’s not looking good, Donna. It’s really not looking –

Hello?

What the fuck?

Relax.

Carlos is losing his shit over here, and I’m the one who’s probably going to get a chisel through my skull and you’re telling me to relax?

I’m waiting for Sadie to come home from school and then we’re going to come and pick you up, and we’re going to get out of town for awhile.

What am I supposed to tell Carlos?!

Tell him, tell him… tell him that your sister is sick and you’re going to help her with the kids. He never speaks to Angie.

Oh my God, Donna. I’m losing it over here.

“who’d surprise his roommates” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday June 22, 2016 at Starbucks
7:07am
5 minutes
Anthony’s Glass Eye
Billeh Nickerson


Callahan is coming home tonight. He’s been in Europe mastering the art of Instagram and showing off his cool life that his parents are paying for. He started his trip in Spain and then decided he wanted to live in Italy, then changed his mind to Berlin, then eventually just went back to Spain. The only person he told he was coming back was me and he made me promise I wouldn’t tell anyone else. “Gonna surprise everybody: The Prodigal Roommate returns! But, I tell him, I can’t pick you up, it’s not enough notice. And he tells me, don’t worry; one of the guys will be there. Except you didn’t tell any of the guys, remember? Oh yeah, he said, no, I know, all good. Bueno! Muy bueno! I casually mention the bus and Callahan “gets another call”.

“Anytime, night or day” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday May 28, 2016
10:33pm
5 minutes
All I Have To Do Is Dream
The Everly Brothers


Call me mouth filled with peach cobbler
I’ll come running
Call me curlers in, kettle on the stove screaming
I’ll be there
Call me moments before sleep
Or moments right after
Call me as my dreams play on
As my body drifts off to stillness
And I’ll throw on a pair of jeans and show up
Call me when you’re high
Call me when you’re low
When you know you’re wrong
When you need someone to tell you you’re right
When you want to laugh
When you need to cry
When you don’t have a reason at all
I’ll drop what I’m doing to make time
Call me when it’s my fault
Call me when it’s yours
Call me to tell me your crazy dream
Your biggest fear
Your funniest joke
Your most embarrassing moment
Your favourite recipe
Your new discoveries
Your life hacks
Your revelations
Your promises to me
Your promises to yourself
And I’ll come running
I’ll find a way to meet you
Because I know
Without a doubt
You would do the same for me

“Ready to rock?” by Julia at Poppy Salon


Friday May 27, 2016 at Poppy Salon
4:01pm
5 minutes
People Magazine
March 2016


Maggie tells me she doesn’t have time to pick me up from the dentist because she’s too busy cutting the sleeves off of her Van Halen t-shirt and to call someone else, like Mom, or Aunt Isabel. The thing is, Maggie already said she would pick me up and I’m supposed to be having a major mouth surgery that they specifically won’t perform on you if you can’t ensure that someone will be there to drive your drugged ass home. I call Maggie back and this time she answers with one of her character voices.
“Bonjour?”
“Maggie, don’t hang up, it’s me. I need you to put your fucking craft shears down and come get me after this appointment or they won’t let me do it. You can cut your shirt in the car. Or just be here for 3:30 and do it anytime else. Please.”
I can hear Maggie’s eyes rolling back in her head as she decides right then and there to either be a good person for once, or the dick that she usually is.

“you can work on in your backyard” by Julia at her dining table


Wednesday March 23, 2016
11:21pm
5 minutes
viralnova.com

Mom calls me from the subway and her phone keeps cutting out because she’s standing on the steps half deciding whether or not to hang up or go and catch her damn train. She calls me back every time and I can’t get any work done or any listening done because we manage to sneak in one or two conjunctions and then there’s static. She’s scared of going to the doctor because she’s convinced they’re going to tell her she’s dying. She’s afraid of cancer. She has no visible symptoms. She is just afraid so she made the appointment. She’s not saying any of this. She’s talking about aunt Rene’s cockatiel and how the Chinese garlic situation has fucked with her tomato sauce. I want to tell her to go and to listen to them tell her that she’s fine but I can’t actually promise anything of the sort. I picture her attached to the subway stairs for hours, clinging in between the knowing and the unknowing of every single thing on this planet. I picture how she feels when she decides the reason she can’t get herself to go is because her only kid is too busy not reading in between her lines to go and be there for her. I put on my shoes.

“hello, you!” by Julia at her kitchen table


Tuesday, December 15, 2015
10:31pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the bus

That’s what he says to me when I call his cell while he’s at work. He doesn’t want to let anyone know that it’s me. He refuses to use my name. I get it. I don’t want anyone to know either. It’s nice anyway, like he’s happy it’s “me” when he says it like that. Like he’s relieved. He sometimes answers the phone with just a “hello” when he picks it up in the company of others. He leaves quickly enough to go into another room, pretending always that it’s work related or family related, depending who’s nearby. I clear my throat twice, quickly, and that reminds him to adjust his volume. You never know who could be listening for key words or a flirty laugh. I can’t wait to be alone with him and when his volume is lowered I tell him this. He laughs because if he doesn’t he might do something he regrets. I laugh back.
“Were you able to rent the cottage for the weekend? Boys trip?”
“I’m working on it.”
“When will you know? I want to see you…”
“Yup! Let me get back to you, hopefully it all works out, sound good?”
“I miss you..”
“Thanks, I’ll see what I can do.”

“really only happy when working” by Julia at her desk


Tuesday November 3, 2015
10:46pm
5 minutes
chaninicholas.com

I called him from the parking lot on my lunch break.
“Hi!”
“Hi? Is everything okay?”
“Yup! It is okay. It is all okay!”
“Okay….did you need something then?”
“Why, do I need to need something to call my lover in the middle of the day?”
“No…not exactly…What’s going on, seriously?”
“I’m just so happy. I wanted to be happy in this moment with you.”
“Oh.”
“You got cynical!”
“And you’re cured now?’
I kicked a giant rock at my foot toward the fence. I debated hanging up right there on the spot, calling back, and pretending to be in pain.
“I didn’t say I was cured. I’m just trying to be positive.”
“Oh.”
“If you’d rather I didn’t try to turn my life around and try to change my opinion, just say the word.”
“You know that’s not what this..that’s not what I mean.”
“No, I know, I know what you mean.”

“I’ve got to go” by Sasha on the 16 heading West


Sunday May 24, 2015
5:13pm
5 minutes
When I’m away
The Colourist


Marg died on Wednesday. I got the phone call when I was trying to decide which olive oil to buy, in the oil aisle at the IGA. “Hello?” It was Henry. “Hi Henry.” I looked at one bottle and then another and then another. “I’m so sorry to say, but Marg passed today.” “Passed?” “Passed on…” I opened a bottle and drank and drank and drank until I was sick. “Hello? Honey? Are you there?!” “NO ONE EVEN TOLD ME SHE WAS SICK!!!” “You two were out of touch.” “I would’ve liked the opportunity to say goodbye, Henry. Jesus.” And then, I puked, all over the oil aisle, a whole bottle of the stuff, a whole bottle. I dropped the phone and it shattered. So much for the fifty dollar case. I could hear Henry still, saying, “Honey?! Honey?!” A clerk came with a mop and a bucket, a kind face, “Honey is in Aisle Seven,” he said, quietly, to the disembodied voice. I lay down and pressed my face into the cool linoleum.

“Sunday’s paper still lies flat open from earlier” by Sasha on her living room floor


Sunday January 25, 2015
10:24am
5 minutes
adult-mag.com

It’s okay if you wanna talk about the rain and where to get the best push up bra in this rainy city. It’s okay if you wanna not eat sugar (even the kind that’s like a birthday present from Mother Nature… Maple syrup, anyone?) It’s okay if you wanna leave yourself every once and a while, vis a vis bourbon or weed or MDMA. It’s okay if you bail on me, for the third time in two weeks, via a sad face and a missed call (me to you). It’s okay if you wanna purge your closet, selling your clothes for a fraction of what you paid, only to spend more on new clothes and new clothes and new clothes. It’s okay if you forget about the anniversary of my brother’s death and then ask why I’m not coming out tonight and then get awkward when I say why. It’s okay if you just wanna come over and lie on the floor with me and suck your thumb like you used to and be in the big silence.

“the volcanoes of Central Africa” by Sasha on her couch


Monday November 17, 2014
10:03pm
5 minutes
Genesis
Sebastiao Salgado


Do not bring a fucking cheese plate, Jerry! Bring, bring… I don’t know bring a bean dip or something. Bring some damn tortilla chips. He can’t eat cheese, for shit’s sake. It’s his goddamn graduation party! Oh, and did you get him a present? JERRY! Are you fucking kidding me?! This is – … No! You can’t hang up on me! I – …

Shit. Shit shit shit.

Jerry. I really don’t appreciate that you hung up on – … Okay. Look. It means a lot to Ken that you and I both be there today and if we can’t be civil then… I’m sorry. I’m sorry about snapping there but, I’m, I’m stressed out and the cleaning lady cancelled and the house is a mess and thirteen people are coming over in forty five minutes and – … Shit, shoot… Ken’s on the other line. Jerry, can I count on you for the damn bean dip? And that you’ll have a gift for him? He’s into poetry. Did you know that? Poetry. Like, Leonard Cohen. He’s reading Leonard Cohen.

“The healthiest things” by Sasha at Black River Farm


Friday July 25, 2014
9:43am
5 minutes
Food Rules
Michael Pollan


Next thing I know he’s baking me effing chocolate chip cookies! And he’s putting molasses in them. And brown butter. Like. Shut the front door, right? I know. I was losing my effing mind, Kel. Losing it. And these cookies? Better than your Mom’s. Better than those old Toll House kind. The best goddamn cookies I’m ever effing eaten. They are not the healthiest things… A whole cup of butter in there, a cup and a half of sugar. Holy shizama, but… Like, who even cares, you know? When something tastes that good? How am I supposed to leave this one? I practically proposed on the spot! I think he’s the one. Seriously. He has every Norah Jones album? Even her new one! I didn’t even know she had a new one!

“Ha parlato troppo” by Sasha at the International Plaza Hotel


Friday July 11, 2014
12:33am
5 minutes
overheard on Corydon

You call me and you’re breathless
You’re sobbing
You’re hiccuping.
I say,
“Breath Betsy, breath…”
And you try to listen
But it’s hard.
You tell me that they’ve been killed
the little girls you nanny
five and nine
brown hair in braids you tied.
I say,
“Breath Betsy…”
And you try.
“They haven’t found who did it…”
You repeat
as if it might help.
“Come over,” I say,
And you silently decline.
You’d been there five hours earlier
And then their mother had come home
had forgotten something at the grocery store
“Zucchini,” you say.
She’d gone out to get it
Leaving the girls alone.
She’d done it before.
When she got back
the house was quiet.

“a few pieces of furniture” by Julia at Cafe D’amour


Thursday, July 3, 2014
2:22pm at Cafe D’Amour
5 minutes
Design UK
Max Fraser


You know it was hard for her, cause she had to fast, but my sister was saying that the colonoscopy results showed nothing. Yes. She’s really starting to slide. We’re not sure what this is, if it’s part of her cancer condition-you know, we keep having to watch her fall a part and it’s kind of emotional for us. Okay. Well I would appreciate it if you could pass it on. Like I said, I think it’d be nice to get her a wheelchair just so she can feel like she’s–yes. Oh excellent. Thank you so much. But if you can pass on to Doctor Lowen about her physical condition. We’re just worried about–yes I know it’s not actually officially cancer. But something’s in her lung, something’s in her brain. We need to have some answers here. No, no, Yana, I appreciate you getting back to me. Thank you so much. They eliminated the lumps in her uterus, they say they’re benign, but you know, we have all those other tests to get scheduled. And you know what I’ve been hearing is that all the guys who run those tests are just out on vacation right now. Well thank you, I’m glad that you–oh sure, we will. We’ll be in touch. Thanks again for getting back to me Yana. Thank you for understanding, it’s been a bit rough for us. Okay well I’ll tell my mother you send your best, of course. Bye now, Yana.

Sorry about that. I just needed to get that call. I don’t normally answer. Anyway, what’s your timeline today?

“he had heard on the phone” by Julia on her couch


Sunday February March 2 2014
8:41pm
5 minutes
The Murder Room
P.D James


He had heard on the phone that there was a snowmobiler who had gotten shot out on the lake. Marti told him that where he was living was just not safe anymore if people are out on the lake just enjoying themselves, and minding their own business, and getting shot. He told her not to worry about him because he wasn’t a snowmobiler nor was he a targeted individual. Marti told him right then and there that the man who was shot, was not targeted either. He was the victim of a careless person, wielding a shot gun, and attempting to take a “cool” photo for the “internet”. He wasn’t happy with that news because all his life he had felt safe on that lake, felt secure in that little town knowing that the neighbours were kind, and willing to help at any chance they could. He did not see his home turning into a place for kids running around with a God complex trying to shoot things for the sheer fun of it all. Marti told him he should build a fence to help with all the shooters. He told her that there had been only one incident so far, and that it would be the very last one. Marti was not convinced and told him that if he didn’t want to listen to reason, he would be the next victim and to not come crying to her when he had a bullet lodged in his brain.

“I’m working on organizing” by Julia at Starbucks


Friday February 7, 2014 at Starbucks
3:45pm
5 minutes
An e-mail from the Playwright’s Guild of Canada

I’m working on organizing my life better. I told my mother on the phone that I couldn’t talk right then and that as soon as I got my shit together I would phone her back. I haven’t called her since December. That is not okay, and as a human being with higher education in more ways than one, I know this. I fully understand and acknowledge my position here, I really do. My mother never wants to disturb me. Even when it might be a good time to tell me that my grandmother who was in the hospital with something as small as anemia, actually died in there, and I would have gone to see her, if I had just known she was sick. So now that I haven’t called her, she hasn’t called me, and honestly, that’s a great great thing. Because she’ll ask how I am, and ask me to come visit, and ask me to come live with her, and ask if I say no to all of those things if she’d rather she just offed herself with sleeping pills, and when I say no to that, she’ll ask, even the ones that Michael Jackson was using, and I’ll say too soon mom, it’ll always be too soon.

“no matter what she wears.” By Sasha at The Common on Bloor


Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at The Common on Bloor
3:47pm
5 minutes
from a quote by Anne Roiphe

“We need to get him to start meditating, Carmen,” he hears his father say to his mother. It’s their Monday night phone call. When they’d first separated they had only communicated via e-mail. Two years later, now that he was seven, they spoke, once a week, about how he was doing. They’d even braved parent-teacher interviews. Together. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it. “He’s having trouble concentrating, Carmen,” his father said. Was he repeating himself. He imagined what his mother might be saying on the other end of the line, if she was raising her voice, if she felt vulnerable because he spent more time with her. His father was, “mmm-ing”. They were agreeing. Great. Great. His father laughed, “I know, I know. Last time I set the timer to twelve minutes and I didn’t tell him!” His father laughed again, louder this time. He had had enough. He went down to the kitchen, where there was another phone. He picked up. “Carlos?” Said his mother, “Is that you?” He couldn’t find his voice. “Carlos!” His father said, “This is a private conversation!” He held his breath. “Honey, I know you’re there…” Said his mother.

“You just banged my head on the floor!” by Julia at The Common


Friday, January 11, 2013 at The Common
2:27pm
5 minutes
The Pillowman
Martin McDonagh


Mommy I’m telling Daddy on you! You hurted my head!!
Didi, please, you’re fine. I just hit it lightly. Watch Mommy do it. See, it doesn’t hurt that much.
Mommy is a bad bad Mommy!
Didi, It was an accident. You’re still alive!
I’m alive?
Yes, alive. You can speak, you can cry, your eyes are open. That means you’re alive, and OKAY.
Oh. I’m ALIVE, MOMMY!
Yes. You are.
Are you alive?
Are my eyes open, am I talking?
Yes!
Good.
Is Daddy alive?
I sure hope so.
Why?
I was just kidding, sweetie. He’s alive, yes.
But you don’t know?
He’s just not home, so I can’t do the checks, but I have a good feeling he is. We haven’t gotten a phone call yet.
Why?
Because when you get phone calls about someone, like Daddy, but not from Daddy himself, it makes you start to worry a little bit.
But if Daddy calls, he’s okay then?
Yes. Well, mostly. If he says he’s fine, he’s fine. If he calls and says he’s not fine, then that’s when we know he’s not fine.
So we don’t want Daddy to call?
No. I mean, we do, but only to say, Hi baby, I love you, I’m coming home.
Not to say I’M NOT ALIVE!
No. Not that. But for the record, if he did say that, it would be good, because it would be a joke, and he would have to be alive to make a joke.