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Obituary: a very short story

Karen loved the rain.

He saw her smile — felt it, really — somewhere between him and the raindrops that fell into the puddles beyond the protection of his umbrella. The memory of her smile reminded him that he he had lived, had a history, had been.

He saw her smile and remembered how she would turn her pretty beautiful shining face up into the rain. She would smile, shutting her eyes into anime-tight semicircles, her face glowing from the pleasure of the rain falling on it, and she would coo — in that sweet, hyper-girlish, and soft voice that she used only to express happiness and joy and delight, that voice that was wholly out of tune with her deep and passionate interest in economics — “I love the rain.”

It occurred to him that she might have taught herself to love the rain only to go against the grain, to push back against the herd mentality presumption that the rain is always a signifier of sadness. It was the sort of thing she would have done.

The whole thing had been doomed…
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The Geography of Living

The geography of living is bordered by memory.

Timothy was born in the bedroom, lived in the sitting room, vacationed in the kitchen, and died in the bathroom.

These are his dimensions.

In the bedroom, he was conceived. He was reconceived, when he first loved there and every time thereafter.

The kitchen was his adventure, nourishing possibility with each meal. He foraged and found, cleaned and cut, measured and mixed, cooked and assembled and, at last, ate.

The sitting room was his occupation. He paced. He measured. He counted.

The bathroom was the beginning and the ending of his days. He abluted and expurgated the space between time.

Each dimension of living had its place. Each rhythm jointed smoothy. They cornered into the walls, leaving rooms and the doors between them.

The windows he loved most of all. By the windows, within each room’s unique dimensions and rhythms, he imagined he saw into, through, and past time.

By the living room’s window, he imagined that he lived w…

Lifeboat: a very short story

To starboard, there was only sea: calm and reflective. To port, more of the same.

“How did we get here?” I asked.

“Best not to think about it, mate,” came the cheerful reply.

At the bow of the boat, three men were playing cards, gambling on a game of War. The man who had cheerily replied to my question reached for a mound of poker chips at the center of their makeshift table. Another man collected the cards. Another sipped coffee.

Beyond them, I saw only more sea.

It was hard to think, but my mouth carried on instinctively. “But, wouldn’t it help, help to get us out of here, if we knew how we got here?”

“Don’t worry about it, mate,” replied the cheerful man. He placed a large bet. Each player was dealt a card face down. “Things will take care of themselves. Join the game. There’s a place for you at the table.”

I looked aft instead.

Over the stern of the boat, the sea lay flat, still, and almost endless. At the horizon, directly behind us, dark clouds marked the space between sea a…

Two very long paragraphs: a very short story

Stephen felt a stumble of movement and looked up from his book.

A girl. Cute. Young woman. For the past twenty years, during my service on the boards of directors or advisory boards of most of the major global conservation organizations and in my research in this field, there has been...

Stephen sat at the very back of the bus. The bus pulled away from the station, turned right onto Laurier, and then turned sharply left onto Nicholas. The girl sat near him, at the other window, three seats away.

Wearing strange pants. Jogging? Fuzzy pink. She’s cute. Not fuzzy. Like little balls. She’s taking her coat off. Sneakers. Yellow socks. Greasy hair in face. In fact, to push for one means to push for the other, and to let the one go means that you let a lot of the other go. What?

He concentrated.

And in my research in this field, there has been. Now her sweater too? Tank top.

He concentrated.

And in my research in this field, there has been...

Wordless concern moved through Stephen's…

On the flight to Vancouver: a very short story

A flat, black, and grey shapelessness: it shifts, and Paul is awake.

I must have been sleeping. I was dreaming. Can’t remember. And singing. Like a bird on a wire. Like a drunk in a midnight choir. I have tried in my way. Over and over again. How did that get into my head? Didn’t feel asleep, but must have been. Off and on.

The engines of the plane droned. Cool air blew down on his face from above. He stretched in the cramped space between the window and the stranger next to him, pushing and pulling his shoulders and spine and hips and legs in opposite directions. His body responded with a sharp return of alertness. He blinked at the dryness in his eyes. He shook his head: almost a performance.

I must have slept for a couple of hours. I never do that. I don’t nap. Wow. I feel great. I wonder how long I slept? I feel so awake. More awake than I have felt in ages. Have I not been sleeping well? Maybe. To feel so awake? Maybe I haven’t been sleeping well and didn’t notice. Man, I d…

Chase: a very short story

It was Josh’s idea. He spotted the rabbit first. We were playing chase in the trails and trees above Fairmont Park.
“We can’t hurt it,” I insisted, challenging his authority. “I won’t let you hurt it.”

Josh deftly avoided the challenge with swift and fierce agreement. His eyes betrayed his annoyance. “Don’t be stupid. I want to catch it. I have a cage at home.”

The other boys acquiesced to our apparently easy agreement. They are shadows in my memory of it.

We hunted the rabbit for two days. We flushed it out, over and over again, until it was tired enough to be trapped underneath the cardboard box that we flung at it, over and over again. We hooted and hollered, when we captured it. All of us.

I held the box. I could almost feel the rabbit’s heartbeat, racing and throbbing through the thin cardboard. I held the box, as we walked down Fairmont, back to the other side of the tracks marked by the Queensway.

I was also the first to see the rabbit’s corpse.

I lived across the street fro…

Nmishoomis (My Grandfather)

I
I don’t know this place. I don’t like it.

My parents sent me here. They said, you’ll learn new things. Important things. For the future. A new language. New skills. It will be useful for us, your family. I told my parents, I want to learn from you and the old people like my brothers did. They shook their heads. The land is changing because of these people. Too quickly. We must adapt for the future. You’re our future. I don’t want to be the future, I said. I want to stay with you, my family. They shook their heads. The food will be better there, they said. You’ll see. My parents must not love me as much as my brothers.

It’s strange. I don’t know anyone here. At home, I knew everyone and everyone knew me. It’s strange to be a stranger in so many strangers’ eyes. We all look alike now too. They have cut our hair and dressed us in the same unfamiliar and uncomfortable clothes. We wouldn’t look alike, if we were on our own land and with our own families. I don’t understand why they wan…