“You are my real mother, aren’t you?” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday January 10, 2019
5 minutes
Life After Life
Kate Atkinson

I knew it was coming. It was like when my grandmother used to know that it was going to rain. Her bones would ache. I woke feeling agitated, restless, cold. Nelly had been out late with Rebecca, and she slept later than she usually does. Even for Sunday. I made waffles and turkey bacon. I made a second pot of tea. She came downstairs rubbing her eyes, bun askew on top of her head.

“Morning,” she yawned, but there was a coolness.

“Honey… – ” I looked at her and she held my gaze.

“Rebecca said that Barb said that you have something to tell me?”

Fuck Barb. I can’t believe I used to trust that woman. Fuck.

I knew it was coming but then when it does it still feels like a sledgehammer, like a slicing, like open-heart surgery.

“a supermoon in Taurus.” By Sasha in the bath

Sunday November 20, 2016
5 minutes
From chaninicholas.com

Thirteen in Peurto Vallarta walking
ahead my mother and sister keeping close

Men in Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts hiss and growl
first taste of the power and the burden

Fish tacos on the beach salty hair
Sunburn like a bad weather forecast

At the hotel a man who works there
teaches me how to say “How are you?” in Spanish

He blushes and looks at his Nike’s when I ask it
I take my hair out of a ponytail

“submitting this entry” by Julia on her bed

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
5 minutes
from the Standardized Patient website

I’m really upset because I shrunk my favourite yellow shorts in the dryer even though I was following the care instructions to a t. I read everything over, I made sure the temperatures we correct. And now when I wear them they don’t look like they did before. They look like the shorts you try to wear when you’re not sure of how to actually dress: you know they’re sort of right but they’re not working at all for your body type. They shouldn’t be this mangled now and I no longer have a bright pair of shorts to wear to Deanna’s birthday. She specifically requested bright bottoms and black tops and now I have to figure this out. I am always the one with the bright bottoms and black tops but tonight I’m gonna be the only idiot who doesn’t know how to do laundry! It’s so embarrassing. Deanna always look stylish and put together. I can’t show up to her themed birthday party with bottoms that don’t fit! They fit the colour criteria but the style is way off! So I am asking you, ambassadors for Forever 21, if you could do something about this ASAP. I read the instructions and followed them. Is this a manufacturers’ failure???

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

Friday, April 10, 2015 at W Caffe
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?!

“This is why you need to clean your room” by Sasha on the 99 going West

Wednesday March 4, 2015
5 minutes
overheard on the subway

this one
bursting like blueberry
folds the corners down
tucks in the edges
smoothes the bumps and
she’s out the door
i think about
the time before
when she hid behind my leg
when she clutched the fabric of my jeans
this one
she reminds me of her father
quiet but
“i’m going to join the rowing club”
she sleeps late
we tiptoe
i “shush” her father
“she needs sleep now”
she’s growing wisdom
seeds in her heart
in her toes
she’s growing possibility
reaching down
reaching up
this one
a leg out
leg in
here at home

“party town ballon time!” by Sasha in the bath

Wednesday November 12, 2014
5 minutes
From a text from Bec

Hey babe,
How’s it going? How was Jenny’s birthday? Party town balloon time?! I wish I could’ve been there. I miss you sooooooooo much. Like, you don’t even know. It sucks being here. My Dad is cool and my Mom is trying her best not to be a bitch but my brother? Oh my god. I honestly think that he’s an undiagnosed sociopath. Like, fully. He’s collecting dead bugs and archiving them on his wall. The wall of his room. My Mom says, “Leave him be…” as though there’s nothing weird going on at all. And he is totally obsessed with video games. He has a TV in his room now and sometimes he doesn’t even come out for meals. Mom leaves food outside his door like he’s in prison. It’s so weird. If I didn’t have Denny’s I would shoot myself in the head. But, I’m saving money, so that’s good. I guess. Ever since that DUI my parents aren’t helping with tuition so… I have to do what I have to do. I don’t want to be a bum my whole life so I have to finish this stupid degree.

“clearly in the context of the show” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday November 3, 2014
5 minutes
from an e-mail

He’s there. He’s there. I run up the stairs of the porch and I remember that my Mom has writing group tonight, she’s across the city in High Park. Shit shit shit shit shit. I get my key into the lock and I slam the door and he’s there, on the porch. Heart pounding, tears real, breath high. I call the police. “Um, hi, I just, I just was followed and the man came onto the porch and I’m not sure what to do because I’m home alone and…” This man is going to kill me. I know you’re there. I see you. Two officers come, ring the doorbell. I creep towards the door, wiping tears. “You called?” They circle the house with flashlight and report back that they didn’t find anyone. No one’s there. I say “thank you”. No one’s there.

“with MOSS FOLK” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday August 7, 2014
5 minutes
from the Wooden Shjips concert ticket

MOM! GUESS WHAT? WHAT? GUESS WHAT, I said! MOSSFOLK is looking for a bassist and I’m gonna apply! I’m gonna send them some mixed tapes and some photos of me with my hair both long and short! I’m gonna give them some really good examples of my work. And prove my dedication. Like, should I tell them that I used to work at Value Mart??! Or, would that work against me… Crap. MOSSFOLK is, like, my dream band. I couldn’t ask for a bigger, brighter opportunity… MOM! Are you even listening to me???

“saving me right now” by Julia at her kitchen table

Tuesday June 10, 2014
5 minutes
a text message

There’s an entire bag of Oreos in my bedroom that I’m saving for later cause they’ll be saving me from this shithole of a town I’m being kept in. I’m serious, my mother, she got this new boyfriend and he lives in bum-fuck-nowhere and this nowhere town is really getting to me. I’ve been here for three days-no internet. I can’t even keep updated with my own life cause this guy thinks that the internet is a gateway drug for procrastination and failure. I’m thinking, yeah, I’m so sure the second I check an e-mail I commit myself to a life time of serving fries at McDonalds. Please. You know, it’s all a control thing. He lays down some rules and my mother, she just goes along with all of them because she needs structure and she sees that he’s willing to give it to her, so she just lets him treat me the way he wants. He doesn’t know about the Oreos, by the way, cause if he did he’d confiscate them too and tell me they were a gateway drug for obesity and heart attacks.

“saving me right now” by Sasha in her garden

Tuesday June 10, 2014
5 minutes
a text message

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

“do not expose” by Sasha in her bed

Sunday April 6, 2014
5 minutes
from the back of a pack of gum

He found a letter from his father, to his mother, in her underwear drawer. It remained in the envelope in which it had arrived. The postmark read “August 2001”. Thirteen years ago He was looking for a bra, one with three small hooks on the back. He wanted to practise opening it. He’d put it on one of Ella’s life-sized dolls and try his best. That way, when it came time to take off Katherine’s, he’d be really good at it. But, he got distracted. he found that letter from his father, to his mother. Her line had always been, “Your father took off when you were five, and that was that.” Ella asked questions, sometimes, but it just made their mother pissed off. “That was that,” was supposed to suffice. He felt the hot rush of adrenaline, of being caught, of finding out the truth. He felt bad for his mother. He felt bad for himself. He tucked it into the pocket of his shorts and went up to his room, bra completely forgotten. He sat on his bed and read the first line. “Dear Reece, I’m sorry I’ve been such a stranger.”

“can be eaten off of paper plates” by Sasha at the CSI Annex Coffee Pub

Wednesday March 19, 2014
5 minutes
Kinfolk Issue Eleven

He orders a pizza and I’m like, “Cool. Ok. Casual…” And then it arrives and there’s pineapple and I’m like, “Who even eats Hawaiian anymore? Who even does that?” And it’s weird that he doesn’t have a couch… or a coffee table… or… Any furniture but a blow up mattress that’s, like, leaking air, so it perpetually sounds like someone is farting. But then! Then, he gets paper plates from a drawer and I’m like, “What?!” What the eff, you know? So, I pick off the pineapple and he’s like, “Sorry, I shoulda asked…” And I’m like, “No worries! It’s cool!” And then, after dinner, he starts, like, bunny-humping me, cuz’ we’re sitting on the farting bed, right, like there’s no other place to friggen sit! And I’m like, “Slow down,” and he’s like, “Yeah? You like it slow?” And I’m like, “Yeah?” And he’s like, jack-hammering me with his bony hips and he’s all, “You like that? You like that?” And I’m like, “Not really!?”

“Don’t stare at The Nude.” by Sasha her kitchen table

Wednesday January 29, 2014
5 minutes
God Loves Hair
Vivek Shraya

“What are you doing?” I ask, poking my head into her room. She’s just turned thirteen and would much rather me leave her alone. I can tell this from the way she’ll barely look me in the eye, from the way she paints black nail-polish across the batik of her name on her door, from the way she prefers earbuds tucked in than my voice telling her stories. “I’m writing a letter.” She barely looks up. I leave it at that.

We wash dishes, side-by-side. She washes and I dry. Sometimes our forearms brush up against eachother and she apologizes. “For what?” I ask. She’s turned on the radio and it’s set to the Jazz station. She doesn’t change it. I think about how her father loves Jazz and wonder if he plays it for her when she goes to see him in the Yukon every July. “Mom,” she says, draining the sink and dumping the leftover bits of broccoli and rice in the compost, just like I’ve taught her to do. “I’m writing to a guy in Texas…” I take a deep breath. “Oh?” I say, trying to be the open-hearted woman that she usually forgets I am these days. “He’s in prison… He’s…” “What?” “He’s lonely…” She looks at me and I see my own eyes, ripe and full and I sit down at the round table and she sits down too.

“Namesake” by Sasha sitting beside her Christmas Tree

Monday December 23, 2013
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.

“32 “_____” get this party started” by Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub

Wednesday November 6, 2013
5 minutes
Crossword from NOW Magazine
October 31-November 6, 2013

They’re clapping. They’re stomping. They’ve drunk enough to no longer be self-conscious. They’re too young to know less. To know better. Someone might take off their shirt soon, and then another and before you can say, “Oh my God!” everyone is half naked and sweating and moving. When she wakes up it’s morning. There’s drool on her pillow. There’s a track and field guy beside her, his freckles catching the sun. She holds her head. She sits up. She steps over five people, passed out on the floor. She makes her way to the bathroom just in time. She throws up. There’s a knock at the door, “Hurry up! I gotta piss!” She opens the cabinet and is thankful when there’s mouthwash there. She swishes and spits. She opens the door. She smiles.

“popularized in New York City” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday October 19, 2013
5 minutes
from the back of the Sourz Apple bottle

When I got there you said, “You look tired…” “I’m good,” I scoffed, thinking, “Fuck you, you pickled pear,” because you think they are the worst, those little grainy pear pieces in those trying-too-hard jars. “How was the flight?” You’re pretending we’re polite, that this is how we speak to one another. “Turbulent.” I say. I drink water from a plastic bottle that I found in the fridge and pretend it’s bourbon. “Where’s Aimee?” I ask, but I don’t really care. She’s only given me attitude and laundry for the last year and a half. “At Sam’s…” You say, as though I should ask why she’s been spending so much time there, as though I should open up the discussion about our daughter losing her virginity, her innocence, her mind. I just nod. It drives you crazy. “Wanna have sex?” It never used to be like this. You used to be handsome, you used to vacuum, you used to buy me cans of cider when you got your boxes of wine.

“Led Zeppelin” by Sasha at Joe Coffee

Thursday, October 10, 2013 at Joe Coffee
5 minutes
Overheard at Columbia University

Molly is nineteen. She wears a black leather jacket lined with sheep’s skin, light blue jeans and red Doc Martins. Remains of last night’s red lipstick stain her lips. Her blond, shoulder-length hair is messy and falls just below her shoulders. She wears many rings on her fingers, some sitting above the knuckle. Chipped white nail-polish coats her short nails.

I always think about listening to Led Zeppelin but I just never get around to it, you know?! I feel mad at my Mom for never exposing me to the cool stuff. She only listened to, like, John Denver. She was absolutely in love with him. She tells this story, over and over, to anyone that will listen, like don’t bring it up if you ever meet her because she will for sure try to launch right into it… She went to, like, fifty seven of his concerts or something. But at one, down in the East Village, she actually met him. She waited by the stage door and he finally came out and… his hand was cold when she shook it. That really surprised her, because, he was like, sweaty from playing the show or whatever.

“with/without food” by Sasha at The Big Secret Theatre

Sunday, July 7, 2013 at The Big Secret Theatre
5 minutes
From the label on the vitamin C bottle

“Don’t drink this on an empty stomach,” Nathan says, picking at a scab on his elbow. “Obviously,” I say, but it’s not obvious. He brought it back from Thailand, and it comes in a jar with the kind of lid that has to be popped off, like on a can of cocoa, or paint. I didn’t ask for a gift like this. When he called at three in the morning my time and said, “What do you want me to bring you?” I thought we were in the sarong or jewellery realm. Not this. He didn’t kiss me when I picked him up at the airport. Maybe it’s because Matt was there. When I asked him about it later, he said, “Don’t get all weird on me,” so I figured I should drop it. He got a tattoo of a lotus flower. I hadn’t gotten up the courage to ask why. It didn’t look feminine, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s one of the most beautiful tattoos I’ve ever seen. I wish that he’d let me trace it for a whole night. He says, “I should get to work,” but he doesn’t have a job yet so I don’t know what that means. “Sure…” I say, glancing down at the tin of tea and back up at him. “Maybe you should wait for me to make it. I can show you the ropes,” Nathan grabs his backpack and his bike helmet. “Yeah, good idea. Why don’t you come over tomorrow night and we can make it together?” “Deal,” says Nathan, smacking me on the upper arm and squinting his eyes.

“big red sneakers” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday February 6, 2013
5 minutes
Women of Manhattan
John Patrick Shanley

I’d had my eye on them since May. I knew that it might be a few years before I grew into them but I didn’t care. It was the best kind of investment. One with risk. The risk being that my feet may not actually grow. I’m unsure whether or not you can picture me so… I’ll help you out. I’m 4’11”. It’s an unfortunate fate. My mother was Lebanese and my father is Jamaican. Notice the “was” and “is”. It’s an unfortunate fate. I’m an “only” and if you don’t know what that means then you don’t need to and let’s leave it at that. Back to the point of this whole thing… But, I will take a moment to tell you that this won’t be the last time I get distracted. In fact, it’s a pretty common occurrence. Please remind me in a kind and yet firm way that I’ve digressed. I’ll get back on point. Sometimes I just need help. Back to the point, I saw the red high-tops in the window in May and knew that they had to be mine. Had to. Trouble is, I recently got fired from my co-op at the Library. Let’s be a bit mysterious and just say that it had to do with overdue cassette tapes and stolen barcode readers. You may be thinking, but if it was a co-op that means that there was no remuneration and therefore who gives a toot about a “firing”? I may or may not have been promoted. That may or may not have resulted in financial gain and therefore my coveted shoes. When there’s a will there’s a way, I like to say, so I set out to make money in perhaps a more questionable, but far more imaginative, way.

“Don’t you dare” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday January 30, 2013
5 minutes
What to Wear section of Fashion Magazine
Winter 2013

We walk into the bakery and my mother starts grabbing the rolls like they are fruit or something. I’m starting to freak, I mean, she isn’t going to buy them! I’m like, “Mom! What are you doing? Those are rolls not peaches!” And she’s all shocked that I’m, like, calling her on her manners. She finally decides to buy a loaf of some kind of rye bread. B-A-R-F. Did you know that the culture for Rye can sometimes be around for hundreds of years? HUNDREDS. If that’s not nasty than smack my cheek and call me Ray-Ray. Jono told me that, about the rye, because he used to work in a kitchen and he knows pretty much everything about foods. He taught me about chewing gum when you are cutting onions? You know about that? You won’t cry one tear. Not one.

“behind the kitchen” by Julia on her couch

Friday, January 18, 2013
5 minutes

I think you’re remembering a jump rope song that sounds kind of like this. No, I’m serious, this has never happened before. I’m telling you for the first time and there’s no way you’re able to actually recall any of the details because they’re new. They sound old but they’re new. What I’m trying to tell you, is I caught Liddy behind the kitchen doors, and she was propped up on what looked like a stool or something–but it actually wasn’t. She was levitating, Barry! Actually, I swear to almighty Christ, she was. She had her eyes closed, she was floating, and there was an evil feel in the air. Now don’t go calling any priests, Barry. She’s our grandbaby, there’s no way we’re letting anyone near her.
But I gotta tell you, it’s creepy when you hear a closed-eyed, levitating child, mumble out nursery rhymes.

“Words, I think, are oftenest weak.” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday, January 19, 2013
5 minutes
the poem The Confession
Horatio Alger

Taking the shortcut to Gulliver’s house, I listened to NPR and cried. I was scared that Obama wouldn’t be re-elected. I was scared that my daughter might be losing her virginity at that very moment, as I tried not to drive off the edge of the road into the swamp with the biggest toads I’d ever seen. Olivia wasn’t even precocious. She rode horses and liked reading about the EU. She’d met Gulliver at the stables, and he’d quickly seduced her. He gave me the heebie-jeebies, those light blue eyes and that long hair and those hands that seemed to wander no matter how far I stood away from him. She started telling me that she needed money for new clothes. She started plucking here eyebrows. Olivia stopped asking to be excused from the table and I know it might seem silly but it was something that Doug and I instilled in her and it just shows… disrespect. The worst is her silence. She doesn’t talk to me anymore. She barely says “Hello”, let alone, “Goodnight”.

“The sheriff nodded.” by Sasha on the subway going West

Sunday, November 25, 2012
5 minutes
A Lesson Before Dying
Ernest J. Gaines

I know that it’s illegal to skip school here but I don’t care. Those assholes don’t have anything to teach me. I learnt what I needed to know and I left, okay? You make it sound so fucking complicated… One plus one? I got it. Thanks. What’re you going to do… Arrest me? Send me to juvie? It would be a hell of a lot better than home.

I ran away because my Mom decided to redecorate. I ran away because her boyfriend Harry is a fucking misogynistic prick who thinks that women are as dumb as dogs. I ran away because I was tired of being forced to go to their stupid asshole Church. I ran away because I had saved my money that I earned by myself and I choose… Emancipation.

Don’t even get me started on my Nun sister, Carissa. She thought that she’d be pleasing them when she went to the convent. What are we? Pilgrims?! She doesn’t even know what free-thinking is, she doesn’t even get the fact that you can do what you want now, no one can control your mind. I ran away to go and save her.