“how are you feeling?” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday January 12, 2019
10:42pm
5 minutes
From a text

A: How are you feeling?
B: Today. Shitty.
A: How shitty? What kind of shitty?
B: I saw someone who is too afraid to face me, who can’t meet me how I need to be met, and I was tired and sad and I saw someone, and it was –
A: Take a deep breath?
B: I’m fine. I’m breathing fine.
A: Okay…

B: How are you?
A: I’m good. I’m great!
B: That’s nice.
A: When you’re shitty, I can still be great. It’s not a competition.
B: I know. I’m glad you’re great.
A: Why can’t you just be happy for me?
B: I am!

A: Dad said that Ming is off dairy so we can’t do rice pudding on Sunday.
B: Good for Ming.
A: Ha!
B: She always feels sick. It’s good she’s doing some investigating. I’ll bring something else. I’m sick of rice pudding anyway.
A: But we always have rice pudding for dessert –
B: Yeah, and sometimes things have to change. Sometimes change is healthy.

“a family house can remain empty” by Julia on the couch

Wednesday August 1, 2018
11:15pm
5 minutes
The Highest Bidder
Kerry Gold

My sister answers the phone when I call even if she is with her friends. My brother did the same a few days ago when I called him on his birthday. He was at Montana’s eating a burger before going to the Falls. I felt bad for calling but it felt like he would have chatted all day. That’s the home I’m going back to. The house emptied of the three of us years ago. I was the first to leave and stay gone. I keep boots and books and pictures there. I like going back if we watch the old home videos. We all keep saying we should turn those VHS tapes into DVDs so we can keep our memories longer but no one ever does. If I can find my old glove in the garage I suspect we’ll hit the field behind the house and go long.

“Remember that time” by Julia on her couch


Wednesday June 14, 2017
8:18pm
5 minutes
from an Instagram post

Remember that time our landlords tried to bribe us with blueberries and yogurt from the Korean grocery store in Richmond Hill? You think it’s weird that I’m friends with them
on facebook but I just think it’s funny. They always wanted us to be friends for real. We weren’t exactly into that when we lived below them because friendship then meant them coming into our unit on saturday mornings to use the laundry room without giving us 24 hrs notice. One night we listened to them argue upstairs, the smell of prawns wafting through the vents. We looked at each other, worried, as if we were hearing our own parents threaten divorce. But that would have made us siblings, and now we see each other naked, so.

“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

“the new thing in us” By Julia at Bean Around The World


Thursday July 28, 2016 at BATW
7:10am
5 minutes
Letters To A Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke


She hopped to her seat at the back of the aircraft and chuckled to herself as she heard the voice in her head refer to it as an aircraft. A craft that belongs in the air, she thought, how magical. Someone thought this thing up and then built a bunch of Popsicle stick models out of it before building the real thing.
She was anxious to get home for her brother’s surprise 30th that her whole family was apparently gathering for. He was the one who invited her to it in the first place, but they were close and couldn’t keep secrets from each other. Her brother had found an envelope in the garbage that had the details on it. She was excited to get back to her life as she knew it best for a little while. Familiar streets and faces, going strawberry picking with the family, spending quality time with her dog.

“Professional photography” by Julia at her dining table


Sunday, March 27, 2016
9:13pm
5 minutes
from a flyer

Abigail got my parents a professional photo session for their anniversary. I told her not to waste her money on something like that cause it would be more of a gift for her and not them. She told me that everybody likes having nice photos of themselves and that was literally the end of that. Abi can be so stubborn sometimes. She once hired a clown to entertain at her own kid’s birthday even though he’s scared to death of clowns and spent the whole afternoon crying in the bathtub. She doesn’t want to listen, she just wants to do what ever she thinks will be best. I have stopped questioning if she ever thinks past herself and considers putting somebody before her. I know the answer. She doesn’t. My parents did the photo shoot to appease her because her temper is as unpredictably violent as you can imagine, and they are the most awkward and cringe worthy photos you’ve ever seen, let alone that my parents have ever been in. I want to take her into a sound proof room sometimes and shake the living shit out of her while just screaming NO to her over and over.

“participate in all activities” by Julia at Platform Vancouver


Wednesday November 25, 2015 at Platform Vancouver
2:50pm
5 minutes
from http://www.playwrights.ca

We hear laboured breath, thumping, pausing, groaning, then more thumping, some light twinkling, then a thud.
Mom’s got the Christmas box out and she’s ready to go.
We hear a lot of rustling, then a small shriek, a giggle, and the crash of a thousand holiday CDs hitting the floor.
She’s going to turn this house into a merry one if it kills her. And it might. All that stuff is heavy and mom has always had a terrible back.
My brother looks at me.
“Should we go and help her?”
I don’t respond.
I don’t want to.
“You can go if you want,” I tell him.
“Well why don’t you want to help, too?”
“Because I hate Christmas,” I tell him.
“You hate everything.” He says back, resuming his video game.
Suddenly we hear Rosie O’Donnell’s Christmas album blaring.
“If we help maybe we won’t have to listen to this garbage that Mom likes.” My brother tries again.

“Canada’s Indigenous communities” by Julia at her desk


Tuesday, October 20, 2015
3:34pm
5 minutes
An email from The David Suzuki Foundation

If you felt around the little one’s head, you’d notice it has bumps ranging in sizez all over. You’d have to finger deep beneath the hair to get to the source. Gracie showed me how she liked to pick at the scabs on her scalp and pull little pieces of it through the hair one at a time. It was a long process. It usually involved many tries, and a little blood. The more she did it, the longer they lasted. Grace wasn’t the only one. Seth also had little scabs on his scalp. He was better at leaving them put than Gracie cause he was always out running around and getting dirty, occupying his head with ant hills, or the migration patterns of the hawks up above. Gracie was afraid of the outdoors. She didn’t like to the leave the house at all, but she liked watching Seth play in the fields behind her new house. Gracie would sit for hours, picking each scab through her long matted hair, fighting the knots, and the temptation to leave the bits resting in her curls.

“Don’t judge” by Julia at her desk


Tuesday September 22, 2015
9:58pm
5 minutes
from a calendar

Halle and I walk hand in hand down to the end of the driveway. Kristina is on her bike and she looks stupid in her pink helmet. Not because she’s wearing a helmet. But because her helmet has tassels like her bike handles do and it just looks like a the kind of bike a circus monkey would ride. Too many ribbons and too many balloons. Or so it seems. Kristina tries to stop her bike but she hasn’t learned that yet. She’s really struggling. She wants to come talk to Halle and me. Kristina finally gets off her bike and lets it rest on the ground. She also hasn’t learned to use her kick stand yet. Her face is round and rosy and the snot bubble she’s blowing never seems to pop.
“Hi Nathan, Hi Halle. What are you doing today? Want to talk about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ?”
Halle squeezes my hand. She’s 4 and she already knows that this girl is a quack job.

“Can you see anything?” by Julia on Amanda’s couch


Saturday February 28, 2015
3:05am
5 minutes
overheard at Amanda’s house

I begged Birdie to let me have a look but she told me I was being impatient and to show some courtesy. When I asked her what courtesy meant she shushed me so fast it sounded like a bullet was zooming right past my face. It was my idea in the first place to “borrow” uncle Ray’s ladder and creep up the side of the fence. Birdie didn’t trust me with being the first set of eyes on Old Annabel Winkler because she was convinced I wouldn’t be able to
control my laughter and I’d give away our hiding spot in seconds. Then she got up there and all she was saying was “ooh” “woah” “oh my gosh” and “no way!”

“we thought we’d play a little trick” by Julia at the Perth/Dupont Library


Wednesday February 25, 2015 at the Perth/Dupont Library
1:51pm
5 minutes
Betty and Veronica Double Digest
The Archie Library 215


We had a ton of little games we used to play when we were kids: See how many fingers you could fit in your mouth, how far you could shove a twisted piece of facial tissue up your nose before sneezing, see who could sneeze the most in a row after that twisted piece of facial tissue was stuck up there, how many times you could belt out the national anthem while you did a number two. We’d come up with the weirdest shit and we would be so willing to complete every single thing. How many bubbles could you blow with your gum in the nude while you got wrapped up in a towel, how many bubbles could you blow with your gum before you got unwrapped from your towel? How many spoons of cinnamon could you keep in your mouth without spitting it everywhere. You’d think we didn’t have one single toy, one single book. Where we came up with these crazy ideas, I will never know.

“Fresh Bread” by Sasha at ideal coffee


Monday June 23, 2014
12:58pm at ideal coffee
5 minutes
the menu at ideal coffee

God, it makes me think about the air mattress that we used to use in the pool at Gramma’s place. Larry and I would take turns, each getting to play on it for fifteen minutes. Gramma would time on her gold watch. “SWITCH!” She’d call, and he’d roll off and I’d climb on, my polka dot bathing suit with the cut-out tummy giving me a wedgie. And then, when it was time to go in for supper, Larry would always get cold and Gramma would say, “Alex, deflate that air mattress, wouldya?” So I’d drag it out of the pool and I’d pull out the little plastic tab that kept all the air in. I’d lay, like a starfish, and close my eyes and listen to the whistle of the emptying… After a few minutes, I’d be on the tile, but there’d still be air in the corners, so I’d hop around until I could fold the thing up, until there was nothing left but rubber. “Careful not to drip in the foyer!” Gramma would call, so I’d wrap the mattress in my beach towel, a British flag.

“Important Numbers:” by Julia at Amanda’s house


Saturday May 10, 2014
2:19am
5 minutes
A 2013 calendar

These are the important numbers in my life:
1) 13-good luck and baseball jersey number
2) 20-birthdate and baseball jersey number
3) 1-the easiest, loneliest, and baseball jersey number
4) 0-the number of bones I have broken
5) 5-the number of minutes it takes to write a pocket-sized story
6) 2-the number of siblings I have and care about
7) 1270-the number of unread e-mails in my inbox
8) 2-the number of couches I own and hate
9) 33-the number of pairs of shoes I own
10) 16-the date we decided to try again
11) 12:34-the time I always seem to look at the clock

“line ’em up and shoot ’em.” by Julia on the couch


Thursday April 10, 2014
12:23am
5 minutes
From a quote by John Grisham

Franky used to be a real prick. He’d line up my Barbie dolls and shoot the heads and the tits off each one. One by one by Barbie dolls would undergo their painful transformation as my brother Franky (who obviously didn’t believe women existed as human beings), would ruin their bodies and their faces satisfying his cruel desire for violence and nudity. He grew up one day and I told him that he should really try to make sure his own kids didn’t do that to their sister because it was actually pretty traumatizing for a 6 year old to witness her precious little dolls experience such a travesty without an explanation that it’s because some men just hate women.

“line ’em up and shoot ’em.” by Sasha in her bed


Thursday April 10, 2014
9:43pm
5 minutes
A quote by John Grisham

When my brother, Glenn, died, I didn’t mourn. That was in ’74. That was forty years ago. But today, when I was at the market buying oranges to bring to my daughter’s (they are her favourite), I saw a bottle of barbecue sauce and I broke down in tears. A very sweet stock-boy offered me a napkin. “I’m okay, I’m okay…” I said.

My brother, Glenn, was not a warm and fuzzy kind of guy. He used to pinch my breasts and my behind, my cheeks and my thighs, whenever our parents, or younger sister, weren’t looking. He would knock on my door and when I came to answer it, he would throw water in my face. At Christmas, we never expected anything from Glenn, he would rip out a crossword puzzle from the newspaper and give one to each of us. “Don’t take his behaviour personally,” our mother would say. I just wanted a regular older brother, one that would offer me a shoulder to cry on when I was screwed over by a boyfriend, or did poorly on a test.

When my brother, Glenn, died, I didn’t mourn. I was twenty-four and living in Halifax for the summer, guiding bicycle tours. I got the call from my father. “Glenn killed himself, Becky,” he said, “Shot himself in the head.” “How did he ever get a gun?” I asked.

“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.

“Any siblings?” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at Starbucks
5:04pm
5 minutes
Wit
Margaret Edson


She asked me, as she scribbled something into her notebook. Probably something judgmental like, “Patient does not respond well to authority.” Or “Patient refuses to give her real name because she is paranoid that the “people” are after her.” or “Patient is not very interesting as a result of all her hardship. Hmmm.” I bet they write things like that all the time. The “Hmmm” part is the one I’m most concerned about. It’s neither here nor there and I never did well with the in betweens. Or the seeing someone who is vaguely familiar on the street and being able to ignore them. I’ve always given people a second glance, a second opportunity for us to make eye-contact and have an exchange of some kind. I don’t know where this inappropriate and extreme, because I can admit it, loyalty came from. I’m fairly certain I don’t owe the girl I used to know in university, that I just saw on the street(and with whom I happened to share one or two interests/ mutual friends)a single nod or smile, let alone a hello. And yet I give her it all. I smile with my heart like I’ve just seen one of my long lost siblings for the first time in 20 years. Ohhhhhh siblings.
This bitch really knows what she’s doing.