“The Witch” by Bohdan Enko

At night, Misha dreamt of being a witch – a witch with hair so long, it never ended, but would spread out, its trails spiralling throughout the forest; in cobwebs and birches, into abandoned wells and rivers, under mounds of dry leaves and soil. It sunk deep beneath the roots, through the thickening layers of decay, past hordes of bones and fossils. Sometimes, it would even reach as far down as the molten belly of the earth; so that when she moved, and pulled at her strands, everything twisted and churned around her.

During the day, he thought of love. He had love, but he wished that he cared, that he really cared. Her name was Andrea. Beautiful and smart, he thought, but could own it more. Principled, even if words trip her up. Most importantly, she was passionate about her work, and he respected that. She was a schoolteacher. He tried. He was present, he would cook at his apartment and clean at hers, and they’d both think of fun things to do together. They’d go on drives, or kayaking, they ate out and snuck into the movies. They had a treasure trove of nicknames and inside jokes. She was Stitch, and he Abu.

One spring evening, they’d driven out to the river, for a picnic. They brought sandwiches and watermelon. The sunset reflected off the rippling waves.

“Look at the fish,” he said, “jumping out the water. It’s cause they wanna take a look at you.”

He kissed her neck, and bit into a melon slice. She stared on ahead.

“You ever think of moving?”

He blinked. “What, like move in together?”

“No,” she said, “I mean leaving Montreal, going someplace else. If you could, where would you wanna go?”

He gave it a moment. “I don’t know. Nice here, isn’t it?”

“That’s just it, though,” she sighed. “We’re too comfortable.”

“You think so?” He sat up, and mulled it over a bit more. “I wouldn’t mind visiting Machu Pichu, save up.”

Andrea shook her head. “It’s different for you. You came over from Alberta, but not me. I’ve been here my whole life. What I want is not to visit. I want to move, to change everything. I’ve been talking about it with Mom.”

She brushed bits of dirt from her jeans.

“Change everything, huh. Don’t you like what we’ve made so far?”

“No baby,” she touched his face, “I do. You come with me. Nothing too crazy. Maybe the west coast, or the US. Not so far that we wouldn’t know what the people are like.”

“What about the kids,” he said, “at your school?”

“Oh, they’re fine. It’s not like we’d up and leave in the middle of the year. And you could bartend anywhere.”

He nodded. “So, it would be next year?”

“Actually, I was thinking sooner than that.”

“What,” he whispered, “this summer?”

She nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“The idea’s stirred up in me just recently. We have a few months left. If I talked to administration in the next couple weeks, they’d find someone by September, and I’d at least substitute somewhere else.”

He snorted. “So you’re dead serious?”

“I know it’s a lot,” she said.

They went over the specifics – the timeline of the move, friends and family, their apartments and furniture, where they might go, whether they preferred city or town, town or country. They talked into the night, and through the mists of the city, the stars shone dimly above them. Misha suddenly felt hungry and, remembering they had half a melon left, he devoured two pieces.

She had some too. “Anyway, give it some thought,” she said.

They slept at Andrea’s, that night. But before that, he stepped out for groceries. He wanted to walk and think. He meditated on their relationship, and questioned himself about whether his intentions were genuine. And if he wasn’t sure, wouldn’t it be wrong to go with her?

He sat down at a park swing, dropped his head in his hands. He thought it was unexpected of her to suggest this change, and he liked that she’d done it. Weren’t emotions made up, anyways? What did it matter if he loved or not, if she was everything he could want, if she surprised him, and if he put in the work, in turn? Wouldn’t the feeling realize itself, as a result of the action? But then, he also wondered grimly, whether he risked hurting her, and derailing her life over something that wasn’t yet real.

The streetlight flickered over the park. He got up and wiped his eyes.


BOHDAN ENKO is a student, idler, and dog mom in Tio’tià:ke. He has no prior publications. Connect with him on instagram @forumanarchiste.

“Under Neon Light” by Daniel Harrison

In a bar where a flickering cocktail sign lends respite to weary travellers, a man sits and he watches his world burn. His fingers are calloused and lead into taut, scarred forearms. Decades of barbed hooks and fishing lines have made his skin a battlefield rubbed raw by saltwater. He wears heavy rubber boots and a woolen sweater. His thick hair tumbles out from beneath a beanie that once might have been red. An anchor’s voice drones from a staticky TV, mounted high on the wall. The man’s hollow eyes settle on long, panning shots of a coastline: grey seawater, thin waves, the shadows of a harbour. Now the camera zooms in on a column of billowing smoke. Behind that, a boat sinking as flames tear its metal and wooden flesh. The man’s chapped lips and pockmarked cheeks do not move, even as the anchor says that there is a person inside. His mouth is dry, but he is not drinking. Not yet. He wants sober regret, before searching for his reason at the bottom of a glass. Or maybe he will find his reason in the glowing sign above the bar, where men like him have sought answers to the ghosts that chase them inside. But the man knows his reason will soon be at the bottom of the harbour, entombed in the boat where he spent his life. Where his father showed him the world, one he can no longer leave, and passed on his scars for the man to hide, as travellers hide in the neon light of cocktail signs.


DANIEL HARRISON is a young writer and poet from Calgary, Canada. His work has been published in Blank Spaces magazine, and he has self-published a short chapbook of poetry. Daniel is currently enrolled in the English program at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

“Labyrinths” by Sophie Gazarian

Lily builds mazes in her dreams. When she’s awake, she draws them with colouring pencils on sheets of loose-leaf paper.

Her parents pay little attention to their child’s strange hobby until they notice rooms and passageways appearing in their house that weren’t there before. Her mother finds a door behind the washing machine that leads to a dark, never-ending corridor. When Lily’s father goes down to the basement, there are twice as many steps as usual and they lead into the back garden.

Her father finds a sheaf of drawings tucked in one of Lily’s colouring books and connects the dots. He’s unnerved, but Lily is a well-mannered girl otherwise, so he gently asks her to keep her mazes to paper only and leave real buildings alone. She’s going to hurt someone, he warns. Lily agrees and continues to draw her labyrinths in private, creating new rooms with trapdoors and hidden entrances.

When Lily is thirteen, a middle-aged man sees her walk home from school from the doorway of a run-down pizza parlour. He follows several paces behind her, watching with delight at the way her body sways with every step. 

Lily takes a left into an alleyway the man’s never seen before. She then takes a right through a door that materializes in the brickwork. She jogs down a flight of stairs that appear before her and lead into an underground tunnel. The man pays no attention to these anomalies, so absorbed is he in his pursuit. He follows Lily as closely as he can but he’s soon out of breath as it becomes harder to keep up with her. Lily turns another corner and disappears from view.

“What on earth…?” the man says as he comes face to face with a dead end and no one else in sight.

And then the walls close in on him.


SOPHIE GAZARIAN is an emerging writer from Montreal. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Concordia University and an MA in Library and Information Science from McGill. She is a member of the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

“My Frankenstein” by Melanie Proulx

I watched her fall the first time. The Earth shook when her spine hit the pavement. Pieces of flesh and bone scattered everywhere. I picked them up one by one and began to sew. She wanted to live. But there were so many pieces missing. I wondered if she would survive. 

She began by crawling. People walked by. She was slow but got where she needed to be. Day by day the stitches healed. She crawled. She limped. She walked. All the pieces grew back. All the stitches gone. But a scar remained on her arms. The mark of death. 

I watched her climb. I was worried but had to trust her. Maybe this time she would succeed. She jumped. She flew. For a while. She fell. A second time. 

The Earth did not shake. Pieces of flesh and bone did not scatter. There was only goo. Oozing. Throbbing. I scooped up as much as I could into a jar. I waited. The scar from her arm started to take shape. I wait. I hope. I’ll see. 


MELANIE PROULX is a Montreal-based children’s book author and doctoral candidate at Queen’s University. Her first picture book, “The Bum Drum Conundrum” was released in July, 2019 by Tiny Tree Press. In addition to her creative work, Melanie has also has academic and professional publications including an article published in the journal Comedy Studies and an op-ed published by The Montreal Gazette.

“Omar” by Reda Sounni

The soccer ball bounced on the clay field and rose into the air, fragments of yellow-red earth booming and dispersing before dissolving under the fading orange light projected by a cheerless bulb. Through nebulous vision, the young man watched the ball spiral down to his feet – a perfectly executed cross – and with a lack of agility customary of the washed-up athlete, fumbled the first touch and watched the ball cruise out of bounds, far from any other player, teammate or otherwise. The young man looked up to the dripping, grey ceiling in mock disbelief, mouth open, before looking at the avatars populating the field, both known and unknown, extracted from an admirably hidden well. He smiled and chuckled. Two bronzed juniors were laughing in derision, naked besides their dirt-smeared underwear. He could not recall if they were fellow players or perhaps opponents. Well-intentioned, he ignored the children and play commenced again inside the dreary cage. The young man stopped moving his worthless feet and cast his eyes unto the middle of the field. He watched Omar welcome a poor cross with established grace, rotating to his right with a supple movement of the torso and placing his right foot at the optimal angle to receive the errant pass with his outside foot. One touch and stocky Omar was off, a determined tiger, dribbling across the field, shifting his muscular legs and running towards a purple distance where the young man lost track of the thoroughbred, unable to discern a shape beyond the divergent, twirling shades defining his landscape.

They met again, after the match. It had been many years, some of which the young man could hardly remember, their recollection composed with the same distorted ache present during the fashioning of Omar’s juvenile face. And here, Omar, resting against the asphalt enclosure, laughed with his trademark, dubious smile; all clear, glistening white teeth showing, eyes questioning, waving the strain of a thick, dark lock away from his tanned forehead. The two companions walked around the patch of green grass which separated the clay field for the asphalt pen, their arms loosely around the other’s shoulders. They only laughed, never exchanging a word, until he felt an exterior presence: a woman’s touch, circling around his arms and the oppressive soft skin of lips harassing him. The young man kept his eyes closed, desiring to hold onto every envisioned detail, at last seeing his friend with the transparency his youth had never allowed him. He stood with a maroon-coloured spectre, the imagining of a friend whose characteristics childish eyes could not remark. The dim, brown blotches present on his facial skin, the beginning of acne struggles. Large hazel eyes which expanded when amused or when participating in a clever farce. A slightly chipped front tooth, bunny-sized. The distortion of jaw and lips when he spat the water he had just drank, squirting it all out of the side of his mouth like a sweltering jet. Then, between alertness and stupor, the young man and Omar were approached by the same two junior denizens of their spectacle, rudely asking for the result of El Clasico. Before receiving a response, the boys scurried away into the unattainable light of a locker-room, laughing like maniacal, miniature pests. The friends looked at each other and still laughing, scribbled down identical two-to-one scores (the young man picking Madrid, Omar going with Barcelona). They blew their crumbled papers into the room and waited for a reaction. Excited cries soon emerged, a set of eyes opened, then came a sob or a laugh, before the same eyes shut again, ready for a new departure, a fantasy trailing behind, to which there would be no return. 


REDA SOUNNI is a 27 year-old writer. He has previously published two short stories for the online platform Lecteur en série.

‘Midnight Inferno’ by Suzanne Johnston

The last time I struck a match, I lit the sky on fire. Up, up, up galloped the pillows of smoke, stacked on top of each other like scorched marshmallows. The flames slithered up the barn walls and nicked the rafters. Embers rained down like shooting stars, feeding the fire that ripened as it borrowed oxygen from the crisp midnight air.

I opened the milk house door to get a closer view of the inferno in the barn’s belly. Two mice scampered out like adulterers, clutching their fur against their naked bodies, choosing the cold rather than risk perishing in this firestorm I’d ignited.

My pores began to unbutton from the heat. I stood back, watching the blaze from the bend in the driveway. I shoved my hands in my fleece-lined pockets, felt my heart chop in two as flames etched yellow streaks into the cracked windows that heaved like winded lungs.

I hadn’t wanted to burn the barn. But it was coming down, with or without my help. Over the years, strong winds had blown boards and shingles across the yard in a mystifying and deadly swirl of debris. I worried a fire in the summer, with the grass daring to light just from the sun’s heat, would eventually toast the barn and take the homestead with it. So, I picked the coldest night in January and doused my childhood barn in kerosene.

A giant ball of flame erupted through the roof, pummeling the night with its fist. The gas cans I’d sculpted into a funeral pyre had triggered the blast. One last big bang ripped through the barn’s innards and flung them out its empty window frames. Its crippled walls kneeled to the earth like captured fathers at war.

Close to dawn, the barn drew its last breath and folded inward.

A smoldering heap reduced to charred limbs.

The heavy, grey clouds snowed ash that morning while I dug through the rubble with my shovel, pounding down glowing embers peeking out from their funeral shrouds of white.

 


SUZANNE JOHNSTON is a writer and marketing professional from Calgary, Alberta. She writes risk-taking short and novel-length fiction for adults, drawing inspiration from her prairie roots. She is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Broken Pencil and FreeFall.

Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Johnston. All rights reserved.

‘Like a Spore’ by Larissa Andrusyshyn

Marisol scrolls through the appointment list and marks the scheduled patients who have checked in. The waiting room is already full. On Thursdays, the doctors have both appointments and walk-in hours. Doctor Lamarche is twenty minutes late, and all the wait times will be pushed back even more than usual. She knows there will be grumbling, and breaths let out in front of her in long, angry hisses. Doctor Lamarche is a man of shiny teeth and strong cologne who expects that the ‘front of house business’ be kept from him. He has no idea what Marisol faces every day while he prods their wounds and presses his stethoscope to their chests. How people cough open-mouthed right into her face, that meth heads trying to score painkillers sit in the waiting room picking their sores, that she must handle, label, and package for transfer all the samples the doctor takes: urine, blood, cyst and every manner of removable flesh that awaits the news as to whether it is malignant or benign. That people line up despite the sign that says, “The reception staff cannot estimate the wait time” and demand to know how long the wait will be. How she sits, desperate for a minute of silence between phone calls, and patients who complain about the wait, complain about the walk-in hours, complain about the fact that the next available appointment with a specialist is months away. How the germs, diseases and rat sightings seem to grow more frequent and proximate. How she googles air purifiers and pandemics on her lunch break, sure that she’s seen patient zero hunched in the waiting room shaking. How she rubs hand sanitizer into her palms over and over like a salve. How she feels like a membrane, see-through like a snailfish she saw once in a documentary about life in the deepest part of the ocean. How every day she is becoming something translucent, shell-less and drifting.

Larissa … poetry has been shortlisted for ARC Magazine’s Poem-of-the-Year, the 3 Macs Carte Blanche Award and the CBC Poetry Prize. Larissa’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Feathertale Review and Maisonneuve Magazine. Currently, Larissa is working on a new manuscript of poems but taking breaks to write fiction. Larissa facilitates creative writing workshops in Montreal.

 


LARISSA ANDRUSYSHYN‘s poetry has been shortlisted for ARC Magazine’s Poem-of-the-Year, the 3 Macs Carte Blanche Award, and the CBC Poetry Prize. Larissa’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Feathertale Review and Maisonneuve Magazine. Currently, Larissa is working on a new manuscript of poems but taking breaks to write fiction. Larissa facilitates creative writing workshops in Montreal.

Copyright © 2020 by Larissa Andrusyshyn. All rights reserved.

 

‘Lucky Black Boy’ by P.T. Russell

Shrieking wails, carried by the churning wind above, deafens me as the darkness steals my sight.

The ocean water is warm and murky. Its salty froth burns my nostrils and stings my eyes. I am surrounded by haunting voices inside and outside of my throbbing head. It’s too loud. I can’t think. All of my waning energy is spent on breathing in the briny air and swimming for my life. My arms claw through debris and foam while my battered body moves with the surging waves, protesting against the shifting current. The evil tempest wants to pull me out to sea, out to my death. My legs are numb—one must be broken but they kick with a fury I cannot explain.

I will live and not die. Not tonight.

“Swim! Swim!”

Desperate shouts behind urge me to keep going, not to look back, that I’m going the right way. But the further I swim the sadder I become. My home is gone, so is my mother and baby brother. The black water rushed in and took them away.

My throat burns because I swallowed some of the wicked water. Someone like me pushed my head down into it. I struggled to keep them off but they were screaming for help and they couldn’t swim. I saw the hood of a car, maybe white or grey, that swayed back and forth under the water. The floods had gobbled it too.

My uncle beats them off with a piece of plywood and tells me again to keep going. For a moment, I use their limp body to rest but they start sinking and the painful fight against the water is back on.

The storm is fierce and mean: it strips away your spirit, soul and self-respect.

It’s getting harder to breathe and swim and live… My muscles are giving up but my mind wills them to move. The rope tied around my waist connects me to my uncle. He is all I have now. Another big gust of wind rips out of the night sky and hurles us over the steepled rooftop of a weeping church.

Where is God?

My whole town is buried underwater.

Will there ever be other children and games of marbles in the sand?

My friends have probably sunk to the bottom by now.

Can they see me?

Are they proud?

I’m swimming for them too.

Uncle is wheezing, he is swimming slower and slower; his growling shouts have become sputtering whispers. He’s coughing up the black water. I know he is tired, his head must be aching. Our ceiling fell on top of him and burst it open, while I hid beneath his belly.

He can’t keep up anymore and I need to check on him. But before I can turn to him, he tells me to keep going, that he’s ok…

I can go faster now, I have a second wind; there’s a light bleaching the darkness up ahead. I believe they can help me and my uncle.

I can’t hear him anymore and most of the screams around me have also stopped. My body glides ahead easily through the bouncy waves. My good uncle untied the rope. I guess he is finally free.

I should give up too, so I can be with my family. I can hug my mother and kiss my brother and run barefoot on the hot dirt roads, racing with my friends. I always won. They always said my legs used to spin like a bicycle wheel. But my uncle’s voice is pounding in my head. It speaks louder in death than it did in life. It scolds me like a warning and I have to listen.

The light is closer but I am still afraid. There are so many bodies floating around me and I will have to crawl over them. Everyone looks like me, blackened by the shadows of the ugly night. They are faceless but we are all the same. We are all dead.

I swallow more water and choke. I fight to keep my head up but it’s impossible because the wind is beating down hard. An angry tornado swoops in, whipping over the water. Bodies, including mine, are snatched up and thrown through the air…

The booming winds bring a scary silence as it spins me like a wooden top. Dizziness, then the blackness takes me whole.

My back and side hurt.

Does this mean that I’m alive?

I land on top of a capsized boat; it drifts in the wasteland of what used to be a marina. I jump off the boat and catch the metal railing of the building it slams into; just before the broken vessel washes out into the ocean. I hold onto the railing with jelly arms and a strong leg. The wet rail turns into melting lard—I lose my grip and my wrinkled fingers open as I fall.

“I have come for you,” the water declares with its greedy mouth.

I close my eyes because my strength has long gone. It is my turn to leave this world. Time was short for me and the storm takes young and old.

Mother’s sweet brown face smiles down on me. My hands reach up for her.

We finally meet again…

The woman who catches me before I die is not my mother— she was a strict teacher from primary school. She pulls me up into her arms and brings my head to rest on her warm bosom.

She whispers in my clogged ear, “You are one lucky black boy.”

 


P.T. RUSSELL is a Canadian resident from The Bahamas, who has recently resumed the gratifying art form of storytelling. She is currently working on short stories, flash fiction, screenplays and also hopes to shoot a short film in the near future.

Copyright © 2020 by P.T. Russell. All rights reserved.

 

‘Highly Evolved Creatures Talk to Me’ by James Finost

Stepping off the blurry edge of town, first through the corn-filled meadows, then an untouched wilderness, twisted maple forests, pristine rivers—where do they run to?—shallow canyons, shores of salt lakes—half a continent of scenery at least, all passes in a matter of hours and then—sand. And then that’s all there is. Hundreds of years of walking sand. Wandering endless bleached earth. You could drown in it. Wherever the other side is, only the creatures can say.

What do they say? “I know a place you can go.”

Water burns, though it isn’t water, from the canteen to my lips down my throat through my arteries, unrelenting poison, memories of being able to black anything out by numbing the hours with the next round and the next. Where is the darkness now? A day that never relents to night, allows decades to crawl on by.

I take desperate sleep under a sun that doesn’t move, doesn’t blister my skin. This heat could peel the shell off a tortoise, but no burns come to my arms or feet or face, it only shrivels my insides.

The flash of a scorpion out of the earth stops to consider something a moment. I bring a stick down on its back and cleave it in two, squash the stinger under the sole of my sandal, squeeze its insides into my mouth. Its blood burns my tongue, though it isn’t blood. Gulp it down, whatever I can get, and toss the carcass away.

Asking them: “How do you live?”

The voices come—where do they come from?—“We don’t drink.”

Feverish walking through immeasurable nothing. Not another soul to be found. No bodies rising from the earth, like nothing ever died out here because nothing lived out here. The steady incline up a rapid, moving, shifting hill, a blistering promise of some view. But more nothing all around. The opposite of being trapped in a confined space. Trapped in the bright abyss.

At times I find the canteen dry. And other times when I wake—was I asleep or passed out?—it’s filled with the substance again. Oldest affection, sweet and refined it used to be. Like the blood of someone you used to love, or who used to love you.

Another carcass tossed away—my own—in the ever-expanding wasteland, the void of nature. In a place like this, you start to wonder if you’ve fallen entirely into some place eldritch, a blight on a map in the centre of nowhere at all. Black ants at the sides of my vision, or are they the spots of delirium?

Whispers. The creatures whisper to me still. Where are they?

My hands search inside the sand. No, not sand, soft scrobiculate pockmarked ground. Cup both hands to my head to shut out the light and peer through tiny holes in the ground. Here they are! They gaze up from unreachable quenching darkness. What highly evolved creatures these must be with their irises so clear, rested, full of colour—I used to know them.

They say, “Don’t you know what it’s like watching you?”


JAMES FINOST is an Australian emerging writer living in Canada. Not too long ago he was a primary school teacher, and before that a facilitator of writing groups for young people. He now works in a library trying to keep his ever-growing reading list at bay.

Copyright © 2019 by James Finost. All rights reserved.

 

‘Meeting Morris’ by Laura Wang Arseneau

From the bakery, I walk down Bagot St toward the smell of the lake. I bought one bagel to share. It is still warm in the paper bag. I asked for butter so it seeps, grease staining brown paper dark. You will not mind.

I walk my bike right at corner

BANG!

It hits a post of steel, bolted down to concrete.

I upright the bike and carry on.

Across the way rattle wheels of a walker, a moving cage for a Mister; a shuffling old man, moving slow, head down.

Passing by black iron fences the front yard of a mansion.

Maple tree denuded of maple keys.

Leaves yellow veined, and fresh blood red, scuttle over and around an overturned urn, empty on the walkway.

All the pretty flowers gone.

Bark.

Gateway opening, closing.

Child’s voice.

A red wagon being wheeled over chalked, hopscotch squares, numbers smudged.

Followed by yellow dress, hop skip cartwheeling limbs and a red ribboned ponytail lassoing.

Hey, I too have a red ribbon on wheel, flap flap flap with each turn of my front bicycle tire.

I do not want to be late to meet you. So I hop on and pump pedals.

Gain speed, taxi runway, take flight.

Too soon

I reach the boardwalk and get off and wheel my bike along. It is heavy going, so off! it goes.

BANG! Wheels spinning Ferris wheel.

Now I am set free to go to our

BEACH.

No Morris. I am early. I am late. You are early. You are late.

I will wait for you just a little while longer. The planks beneath my soles are silvery, stripped down and smooth. I kick one shoe, then the other off foot

FALL.

My bare feet move one step, two steps on wind bleached boardwalk.

Step onto smooth stone.

Bend and pick stone, pocket.

Toward waves.

Break, foam, roll, repeat.

Break, foam, roll.

Plank gives over to sandy grit.

I button my sweater against wind.

Tear a milkweed pod and pocket.

Snatch a gull’s feather, caught in shrub and pocket.

I am early, so

LONG I wait for you. You will see me, here won’t you? Step off the platform. Heels sink into sand. Toes dig shovelling each step. I am looking for

FIVE, six, seven flat stones arranged in a half circle. Here it is. Eyebrow to eye of burnt out fire. I sift through charred driftwood, choose the nicest one that fits snug in the palm of my hand.

Fingers enclose.

Smudge char black markings onto my fingers.

Char

KOHL lines on my face.

I will do my makeup just how you like it Morris.

Eyes rimmed in kohl. You used to say, I like it when you put makeup

ON again off again; here there; there there, there there, don’t worry. Morris, you told me I look like Mata Hari. Dance for me? I pocket a charred stump and move with the wind. Feet spin, slip, twist too the music on the wind. I am your muse, your model, your lover, how oft.

TEN, nine, eight you remember? We promised to meet here. It is getting colder. I will leave a note. But with what?

In pocket, why this charred stump will do.

Sharp end of a blackened wood writing tool.

Big letters on silver wood.

MORRIS I WAS HERE. I write a message for you to see

HOW I kept our promise? Where were you? Where are you now?  Oh! It is getting darker.

Sun’s weak eye through clouded lids.

Time to turn back come back tomorrow is another day

TIME, night-time.

Wind at my back. Hand in pocket. Here is stone. Drop.

Here is feather, buoyed up in wind, fly away little birdie. Bye bye.

Here is milkpod with white soft inside like dog fur, opened and picked clean. Run like the wind little doggy.

Last one

In pocket charred driftwood stump in fist.

Palm and fingers black.

I keep this for you, Morris. You, artist man. You, who gestured charcoal on my body. Do you know

WHY, look here.

Someone left a bicycle, lying on the boardwalk, wheels spinning with red ribbon flapping. Beside it lies two halves of a bagel and a torn paper bag stained black.

 


LAURA WANG ARSENEAU‘s short fiction has been published in Canadian literary magazines such as The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, The Windsor Review, Hammer’d Out, and JoyPuke. She has been an arts writer and curator, now based in the Niagara region of Ontario.

Copyright © 2019 by Laura Wang Arseneau. All rights reserved.