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"The Frenchie is back at it," Claudia yells at me from somewhere in the house. My eyes snap open and I sigh. No gentle prods or snuggles ever from that woman. I hate how she wakes me up. "It's my day off, Claudia," I yell back in a cracked and whining voice. I just wanted to sleep in. "I know," she trumpets back, "but you would be a lot more annoyed to be waking up to him in a few minutes here. Am I right about that?" Displeasure seeps into my belly. Claudia is always right about everything. I let out a few incoherent grumbles and give my balding head a good morning scratch, before stretching myself out of bed. She hears the creak of the mattress, my feet thump to the floor. "I'll put on the eggs," she is yelling again, this time I know she is at the bottom of the stairs. "I have another hour before I have to be out of here."

I don't want eggs. I don't want to be awake. I splash aftershave on my unshaven face…
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Below One Eye

It's just a phase, the Moon says to her, when she tells him she can't sleep. Up again, at 6 a.m., tossing and turning through fitful dreams. The sort of dreams that say, You can still have this, if you want this. Weeks of them again now. They are not unpleasant, especially if she can wake herself up fast when she realises where she is. Before she sees his face. She has taken to arming herself with protection. She conjures up her older brother's face and he brings along his wife. They stand beside her and help wake her up. "But if you don't want to," her brother says, leaves the offer on the plate, "I can kill him instead." But I disagree. He doesn't want to die. And that's such a shame.

It is the end of winter now. It holds on like the cat who doesn't want to be picked up. The hateful sort of cat; the kind who would spit at you instead of nuzzle. And that makes it hard. Not to want This. She has said nothing to him, that she hasn't …

Good to Go Away

I don't know the date any more. I know when the weekend is, because you do not leave this room on weekends, but I've lost the weeks, not many, but more than a few. It's because I have stopped writing, stopped marking down the days. You are irritable about this. You think I have stopped on purpose. To goad you in some way. To punish you. "What do I have to punish you for?" I ask of you, looking you in the eyes, so the question is really known. You always look away first. "Are you doing this for a laugh?" you reply, like it is me holding all of the control. I want to tell you, no yell at you, that I no longer want to voice my existence, that I do not have one with you, that even the one on the slips of paper that no one will ever see, beyond you and I, is pure bullshit. I'm tired of trying to see anything in you, other than what you are. I have no words left for you. You know what you are doing, but you won't say it out loud. I feel safe to have s…

Unending Paper Chase

You check in on me when you get your break for lunchtime now. You never used to. You ask me, "Are you all right?" You breath in and out hard once through your nose, like it is a chore to even ask. It seems to me that for you everything is an obligation, even holding my hand.
Everything you do doesn't feel like anything more than surveillance now.

I don't want the days to end and it is getting harder to sleep at night. I am starting to feel sick, like I have the flu. I'm always cold. But I haven't eaten much lately. My stomach is filled with acid. I smile at you anyway.

I write two letters a day. One to keep you smiling and one that tells of the truth, but they both look the same. You do not know that I form certain words and sentences in a way that triggers me, in a way that reminds me of what is real. It is something that I started doing in grade school for tests, so that I could easily remember the answers, and then later, so my mother would not understand …

Comin' Down Rocks

I have been here with you now for four weeks and you you still haven't said my name. And now the only person who knows it here is gone. Not that we knew that much about each other. Michelle and I. I never even asked her what country she was from. She never asked me either though. Some of the Stranded use fake names. For all I know, Michelle could have been doing that. My own name is so common that I can't imagine what I would change it to. Everyone would know it was a lie anyway, if I tried to pass myself off as a Paula or Deborah. I look like who I am. Even when we left the building for a drink, something we started to do everyday, Michelle and I mostly talked about the books. Seldom personal, but then again, our favourite books maybe say more about who we are than anything else does. The books are more important than ever. The Library is about the only place where I'm allowed to make my own choices. But it is only for books. Since I'm not a registered member of your …

A Good Time Killing

Put down these words. I think this in my head, but what I put down is a book filled with words. Something old with a green cover. Something that I cannot concentrate on any longer, though it made me laugh a short while ago. I'm on page 164. I repeat that to myself a few times, so I won't forget and then I lean back more fully against your pillows, which are propped up behind my back. I close my eyes to think about you instead. That is all I really want to do right now. Think of you. Though I know that you will be here soon and I will really have to pay attention to you. Not that I mind that either, I want to, but usually my thoughts are more compelling.
I think I know everything and nothing about you.
I do not mind waiting for you here. In this strange place of yours. Your home. Three floors up from the ground, just one large room with big windows facing inward, instead of to the outside. The indoor windows let in the false daylight, dimmed to a dark green for the night. I wo…
Please, don't put me in
the corner. That black space that turns



It wipes me out, the cliché chalkboard. Until I do the last of it for myself.
I'll cover my face, I'll cover my eyes.

And neither of us will exist.


"Tell her you hate her."
"I won't," says the child.
"You know you want to."
"I don't. I love her."
"She doesn't love anyone."
"Grandma loves everyone. You just want me to cry. I can see it on your face."
The woman sticks out her tongue.

"I love you best when you look like this," he said, his mouth and eyes smiling, perhaps with a bit too much smugness to make love seem real. But she could see the fondness for her, just around the outside of his eyes, the kind reserved for a favourite toy. Like a doll.
Her best is on her knees, her face running and her throat bruised.
She lets the hate and contempt rise into her eyes. She lets him see it. Fuck you.
He laughs at her then and when he stops, he contemplates her. "Yes. Like this. You're beautiful."

"I screamed for 50 hours, didn't I, Mommy?"
"At least 50 minutes. I'm sure our neighbours enjoyed it." Finally unpackaged…
Catch it...!
The sound of distant rocket ships
That pushing out of air,
tastes like the fresh spring dew,
the rainbowed bubbles float across
my line of vision and into the sunshine.
My nose wrinkles up until
I close my eyes, the pure and simple of it all,
I dance on air. It's joy, I shout,
You must come along too.
For you see, it is the light in your eyes,
The lines around your smile,
which enrapture me so.
I like you, my friend
my love,
my lost one.
I flirt with my eyes
so that you may allow me to kiss the hollows
of your cheeks with my fingertips,
like I am blind, unhesitating,
and bewitched by what I have always known.

Too many nights, not enough days

Before she can return home for the day , Ella must return her book to the library and pick out a new one. It is a weekly requirement for this semester's Literature Class, a book a week, reports due no later than 16:00 on Fridays. She is tired and just wants to go home, curl up in her bed and put on some mindless show and forget that today ever was. It has not been a good day. Too many hours spent with classmates she did not like, preparing their final presentation on recent advancements to the Heim theory. A terrible test return of 57% percent in her algorithms class. The people she worked for giving her notice, they would be moving at the end of the month, at the end of her shift. Nevermind waking up from that whole weekend spent with Matt. Again.
The library, for the most part, is still the domain of the university student, though it reamins open for those who like to read real books, newspapers and magazines from past times. As she waits her clearance to enter the building, she…

Call it the blues

All the pens in my house suck. All the ones I like have run out of ink and I tore a page out of my current notebook and it ruined the binding and it can no longer be written well in, so I decided to make a trip to the Dollar Store. The place has a wide selection of pens, but finding ones with blue ink is a chore, even there. I settled for a pack of mostly rainbow coloured ones because it had two with the ink I prefer. I wanted to find a notebook with a hard cover and this is the first notebook I saw. It laid upside down and I smiled when I turned it over and read the words. I stopped smiling when I grabbed the next book and the next book and the next book in the same pile to see what other song quotes I might find. But while they were all the same colour, the rest had blank covers. Nothing at all written on them.
Go ahead.
Explain that one.

cookies, coincidences and confirmation bias

A Few Days Before

The vehicle is going 80 kilometres the road, when the song comes on. She hasn't heard it in awhile. It was downloaded into her old phone, but she had broke that one last summer when she tried that horrible Training for a 5K Run experiment that she found in some health app that came installed on the phone. At least she walks a kilometre faster than 95% of others who used the app, it tells her, but she thinks maybe she should just wait a summer or two before trying the whole running thing again. She also suspects that the fun fact is a lie to make her feel good. Regardless, when the new phone was delivered, she thought "None of him. Not right now. Not today" and she downloaded the other stuff.
Today she is happy to hear the song. Happier to sing along with the man; his voice isn't so good either. Okay. Hers is worse. She probably shouldn't sing. Ever. But it is a nice song to sing. A perfect song to sing. It is exactly the song to sing.
She leans …


She read somewhere that most people dream in black and white, but no one she knows has ever agreed with this. She dreams in colour too, just like they all say they do, but now, after that night, she wonders if she really does. Maybe she is the one who applies colour to the screen in her head without her mind really having anything to do with it. Maybe something everyone now does simply because of television. Sometimes she wishes she could slip into the body of someone from a hundred years ago just for the night to find out.
When she was seven years old, she read some silly book; long since disintegrated in some garbage dump she assumes, about dreams. She remembers the cover was blue, but not much else beyond the vague lessons, so she cannot really help anyone else out when they ask her how to do some of the things that she can do, but that they cannot. "I guess mostly you have to believe you can," she shrugs.
Most everyone she speaks with says they see themselves though, j…


When I was in Ottawa, abandoned and enthralled,
breathing in the
heat waves shimmering off the people
and the cats
and that lazy raccoon that I later named Mondrian in my mind
after I saw my first one,
I did not look for you.
Nor in the malls, the halls,
the magazines, in the new towns,
or down the old roads,
on silver screens, between the book shelves, down on my knees
hands in the clover.
I took you for granted.
Oh hey.
There you are.

I know myself
Far, far, far more than I let on
I know what I am doing.

Love is such an easy word.
Besides, it's a given,
We can keep it there, easy, big, broad like the straight black painted lines, it's nice.
Effortless. Quiet. Assured.
So then, I guess that it is not the word.

Quiet Company

I've been sold, I've been sold, I've been sold, I'm being sold-out
It is torture but
I don't even care
Except to love you more, to love myself more
Those hot-burned tears for you as I rally to save my skin
wind down me and leave behind gold and green
and I don't stop looking
until I look upon you
What on earth...
I've been sold, I've been sold, I've been sold.
I'm being sold-out.

Sunlight filtering through cracks
in the sky
in the walls
fall across your skin
I fingerpaint across your chest
Every word
known to man
and found in you

Fresh snow
Our footprints mark us
You are here!
I am here!
We are here!
Turn your face upwards
Let falling snow rest on your eyelashes
(dream of me)
Let the white melt on your outstretched tongue

It's spring.
Just one word.

I'd sit across the hall
looking upwards until I saw the flicker; light on
Sit with you while your busy hands rolled over these plains, these fields
The stretches of nothing
(Look at…
Remember him now.
Those burgundy pants that seemed to clash so hard against his hair.
The easy smiles. The effortlessness of air.
Remember the one and only time his lips touched you.
A brush on your neck and you both knew
in that broken pocket, that open crack
that you would be forever one
and you never laughed.
And your hands, they found each other.
When the glass shatters
you do not go.
You do not say good-bye.
You know he has left you for you to find another.
More broken glass to step through.
But you will.

Slow Burning, Part Two

We're such good friends. We're kind of lucky, you and I. You say it all the time. Like remember that time when I finally decided there had to be changes in my home and I said nothing to Dougie for about four days after I kicked him out because I was serious? The shit had to stop. Remember? Well, he ended being gone for forty days. Remember that time when he stopped in to see the kids and half the neighbourhood, a few of your friends and family were hanging out on my front lawn? Yeah, you remember, don't you? I do. You said, "Hey, hey, Dougie. I just want you to know I am not going to treat you any different now that you two are getting a divorce." Wait. What? No one cares about your opinion. On my front lawn. Least of all Dougie. But what? You're still going. You won't shut-up. You actually hold your finger up to me, you know with your free hand and tell me, "No, Dougie needs to hear this." Your superman husband stepping in and shutting you up.…

Slow Burning, part one

Tell me a story?
Of who? Of who? It’s all we really do. Tell stories…
About you. About you.
Oh, there’s nothing to me. I’m boring really.

It is just summertime, mid-day, when I watched them gallop by, the climbing sun starting to glow on a blonde mop and two brown-haired little boys. The brothers are wearing matching rubber boots that are loud on the sidewalk, stomp-stomp-stomp, and their whoops and hollers match the beat of the sound. They make me laugh, hand covering my mouth, when I hear them, “School’s out for summer, School’s been blown to pieces…” The blonde throws her black backpack as high as he can in the air.
They notice me there, on my front lawn, and slow to a respectful walk. Hi, say the brothers and I smile and say, Alice Cooper sang the song you were singing. Whoever that is, says the oldest brother. That’gay, Cody, says the youngest brother. You taught me a girl’s song? No, Cody says, scowling angrily, don’t be stupid. Let’s go. And they started galloping away, stomp-…

Sitting at the Table

What was it we were listening to? Do you remember now? As we made our eyes and lips up in your bathroom mirror, kissing our reflections, then throwing ourselves down on your sister's bed, flattening our stomachs until it felt like they were touching the mattress, to get our bubble jeans zipped up? I always envied your purple ones, even though I knew I looked better in the blue. Sometimes I wonder if we caused damage, that some of our internal organs have never sat in the right spot again. Sometimes I think I get more stomach aches and that are more painful than the average person. But I am still the kind of person who wonders what she might be dying from. Not that I really want to know. I really hope when it is my time to go that I go in my sleep; no clue beforehand, just good night and good bye. But let’s get back to this: what were we listening to? The usual? Guns 'n' Roses? Dr. Hook? April Wine? Or maybe we were on our Kenny Rogers kick? Our friends teased us and our m…

Chasing Wind Two Hours Too Long

She picks up the phone and she hears his voice again and it says, Hey, Lill. Let's have a drink and a laugh. She answers back, Yes, Sir Stranger, let's do, choking back that small, laugh that she has when she is laughing at herself, trying to force itself out between her words. Where and when? He hears it. Hey, now. C'mon, I'm sorry. You know how it is. But we both miss each other right? I was dumb. I mean, I'm always dumb, but this time I was off the charts dumb.
No, no, Robbie, you're not dumb, she reassures him with a sigh directed more at herself than him. Defeat. She isn't even mad at herself that she has agreed to see him so quickly. They are over-played arguments in her head (You fucking bastard), enough-so, she doesn't want to make them real. And yes. Very much so, yes. She misses him.
No, I am. I really am dumb. You have no idea, Lill, he tells her. Can we get together like right now? I can tell you why I have finally reached this conclusion …

Ellen-Funeral Pyres

At one point or another, and maybe even still. It was something they all could say. Some did. Some didn't.


He moved to town in the third grade. He was short and had glasses and brown hair that never stayed slicked down. Ellen had to be his 'special friend' for the first week and had to show and tell him everything about the school. Ellen was very nice to him, so Dean thought to sneak her a kiss behind one of the bookshelves during library time. But instead of being in love with him now, Ellen got mad. "You shouldn't have done that! Now I might have a baby! Do you want a baby with me?" Yes, ma’am, he would, if that's what she wanted. "I don't want a fucking baby,Stupid" she said, slamming her foot down onto his. "Don't ever talk to me again!"
So he didn't. But he looked at her an awful lot. Like even still.


He had her as a girlfriend for about three months. He’s pretty sure she only agreed to date him so he woul…