Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teal Tennis Shoes for a Great Escape

Brittany wasn't sure how she'd gotten here, but she knew that SHE had not put those shoes on. She was wearing a very cute party dress--where had this come from? She'd remember this dress. Black and sequinned with splashes of colour. Very elegant! Whose dress was this?

Anyway, she would NEVER have chosen to put teal tennis shoes on to complete this outfit. So something funny was going on.

Besides that, she was in a small round room with a very high ceiling. Wait... make that no ceiling. A well? Was she in a well? Maybe something similar, but with no water.

Designer cocktail dress. Tennis shoes. Imprisoned. And... her hand suddenly went to the back of her neck... her hair had been cut.

This was starting to add up to one thing: Timothy.


Her voice was echoey. She felt alone, but was entirely unfazed to hear a faint "Brittany..?" coming from behind a round wall.

She gritted her teeth.

"Brittany, I think I'm hurt."

"What the hell have you done?"

"I need a glass of water. And one of my pills." So feeble.


She could feel the heat building up in her midsection. She sighed. Might as well use the rage. "TIMOTHY I HATE YOU!" She cocked her fist and smashed it into the wall... and it bounced back, snapping her shoulder uncomfortably.

Rubber stone walls. Nice touch. Fuck fuck fuck.

"Timothy, tell me what happened."

"Brittany," came the whiny reply, "are you mad?"

She felt a molar crack. Deep breath.

"A little, Timothy. I'm trying not to be. Where are we?"

"I don't know. I don't knoooooowwwww. I was just saying you should dress up more and then you blinked out and I thought I'd help by trimming your mullet..."


"Well, not NOW you don't, you've got a very chic cut NOW. But it WAS a mull..."


"I'm GETTING there," he was whiny again. "So I cut your hair, and you were still out. I was SO BORED."

She remembered now, getting called to the university board to defend her thesis. She'd explained to Timothy that the call could come at any time, but she'd astrally projected without actually telling him when she did. Sigh. Her brother was a mental seven year old. He needed constant supervision.

"So then I thought we should go dancing, and so I conjured you a dress--"

"--which is very nice. Lovely, Timothy."

"--but you know you'd always want to wear uncomfortable shoes and then you never DANNNCE, so I asked Bobo what shoes were comfortable and he said tennis shoes, so I got you some..."

Bobo. The house monkey. Of course.

".. and then there was a flash and then we were here and I bumped my head and I'm THIRSTY and I never got to dance at all. Why did you bring us here?"

Hm. Why did SHE bring them there? She was pretty sure she'd had nothing to do with it. However, telling Timothy that would only make him whinier or panicked, and in either case, he would be no help.

"Timothy are you in a room? A round room?"

"Parts of it are. Round the wrong way. Why didn't you take me with you into your room? I don't LIKE being alone."

"I know, bub. I know. I'm going to try to get us out. Do you want to help?"


"Let me use your hand. Yes--" she cut off his interruption,"I know it will hurt, but only for a minute, I promise. Okay."

"I guess so." The answer was definitely pouty. She focussed, rubbed her bare neck again, looked at the tennis shoes and let the anger bubble. Then she closed her eyes and felt Timothy's arm. Slid it on like a glove. Pulled back, and... POP. His hand popped through the wall. Single-sided rubber, as she'd suspected.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


It started with the old "watched pot" saying. Jonah had been driving her nuts for days using the expression, so at supper, she stood inches from the peas, intensely staring until -- just before the bubbles burst the surface of the water, the phone by her head rang sharply.

Gasping, she leapt backwards, narrowly avoiding knocking the pot to the floor and onto her feet. As she turned to grab the phone, the pot boiled.

Damn you, Jonah.

So naturally, she snapped as she answered the phone, "Yes? What?"

And equally naturally, it was Jonah's mother who frostily asked to speak with her son. Karen didn't even bother to try and explain. She just rounded the corner into the living room and dropped the phone into his lap. He was watching a squirrel documentary, so he put his mother on speaker phone. To Jonah, this was sensible.

Rolling her eyes, Karen stepped back into the kitchen to remove the rapidly boiling peas from the heat and take the chicken out of the oven. She could hear Jonah's mother indignantly demanding why he stayed with such a harridan.

Who uses the word harridan?

On the television, the narrator spoke soothingly and indulgently about the bad habits of squirrels.  He called them "peccadilloes."

A power outage knocked out the power overnight and so, not only was Karen late waking up, but the coffee pot wasn't on. She lifted the kettle and then slammed it back down again. Might as well make lemonade from the mess: she'd treat herself to take-out coffee on the way to work.

Naturally, the drive-thru was backed up to the street, since everyone else on the block had the same thought. Finally, Karen coasted to the window. As she retrieved her coffee and slid a toonie at the server, she saw a swift movement out of the corner of her eye. She blinked and dropped the toonie beside the car. Cursing, she put the vehicle in park and opened the door to grab it. As she reached up and dropped the money on the counter, her eyes focused on the dark corner of the window above the cash register. She saw the sharp bright eyes of a squirrel looking back.

She blinked again. Closed her door. Shifted out of park and drove away. There were no squirrels in coffee shops, for the love of god.


At the office, she spilled the last half of her coffee on the notes she'd just printed for the CEO's speech. Mutter mutter. Mopped it up and hit print again. The photocopier was on the fritz more than it was working, but seemed to be doing okay today, although it was making weird chattering noises.

After dropping the speech on Mr. Panzer's desk, Karen swung by the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Clicked on the kettle. Stared. Nothing. After five minutes, Linda came into the kitchen. Looked at her oddly. Plugged in the kettle and left.

Sighing, Karen trailed back to her office. Stupid bloody pots. Stupid watching. Bloody squirrels. She looked out her window across the parking lot. There was a tidy pile of 4 or 5 pinecones on her car.

On the way home, Karen stopped at the mall to pick up eggs and chocolate chips to make cookies. Leaving, she passed a small cardboard box. "FREE KITTYS" was written on the side of it, and two mewling scraps of felinity were inside. She barely glanced down.

At home, she assembled the cookies, then as they were cooling, remembered her good cookie tins were still in the spare bedroom closet. She yelled, "JONAH". No answer. As if from a distant universe, she heard the shrill PSHING PSHING of laser fire. She sighed. Well, when the marshall of the house was in the basement fighting space crimes, a gal had to do stuff for herself. For the greater good.

She pulled herself up the dark stairs and flicked on the spare bedroom light. Only one 20 watt bulb was in the overhead fixture. She remembered swapping it now with her sewing room task lamp bulb. Hmph. Oh well. In the dusky room, she opened the closet, and a small chittering satellite sprang from an inner orbit to glance off her left shoulder and run straight up the canopy on the bed.

Karen, shocked, sat down hard on the floor. "WHAT's GOING ON?" she heard distantly from downstairs. She looked up. The squirrel stared down at her balefully.

Back at the mall, the box was still there. She grabbed the ginger cat, and then decided to take the tabby too, for good measure.

The phone was ringing when she came in. She glanced at it. Jonah's mother. In the distance, the ek-ek of interstellar machine guns sounded. She put down a dish of milk, released the wee kittens to roam and explore, and turned on a pot of water. Stood up, pulled the phone cord from the wall and sat back down, bringing a recipe book.

"Wild game," said the book. "You can fry, fricasee, broil, roast or even boil squirrels."

Karen smiled.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Taxi Driver could not be the same film with a female protagonist. A woman scarred by trauma and unable to connect with people won't turn to ammunition. She won't shave her head. She may seek out needy people to rescue, but these will be men who will absorb and deflect her need to be needed. She may experience a few rejections, but often she'll find a man willing to be her object. He will soak up and manipulate her attentions to make himself feel better, eventually discarding her, but not as a ticking time bomb. She will be a husk, an empty vessel. Not enough self left to produce a psychotic break.

I writing this, and the wander to the sink. I have a razorblade in my hand. Last week, I had the word "Sorry" tattooed across my chest. The tattoo artist paused with a short look of concern, but I look haggard, mean, hard. I am not a middle-class woman having a mid-life crisis. He shrugged and carefully applied the tattoo. Sorry.

I use the razorblade to carefully trim away the dark hairs on my upper lin. 

I closely examine my face. Find a few blackheads on my chin, and lose myself in squeezing them, pushing out the dirt and pus, making the pore empty and clean. In five minutes my chin is red, inflamed, with a few spots of blood, but purified. I squint at my eyebrows. A memory pushes forward, Tom's hand on my cheek, his thumb tracing the line between my eyes, smoothing it upwards, like I am a cat. His pussy.

I reach for the tweezers, plucking the stray hairs from between my brows, the hairs growing under my browline, as if ignorant of the fact that this is not their place. Stupid hairs. Squint again at my chin. Whiskers. Those hard hairs, the bristly ones, the hairs that say I'm over forty. Pluck them too.

I open my shirt, check my nipples for stray hairs. Pluck them too. Someone inserts a rogue slide into my mental presentation: Amber's perfect rounded cleavage. I take the razorblade, underline the Sorry.

Trance-like. I idly apply the razor to my hair. I shave a patch around my right ear. It's harder than I imagined. Not much wonder deNiro's mohawk wasn't straight.

I fill the tub with water, hot hot water. Put in a capful of bleach, and a bath bomb one of Tom's cousins had given me two Christmases ago. Remember the overheard kitchen conversation: God, I never know what to get her. I know, right? She's so.... weird. I got bath bombs from Liquidation World. Some for the kid's teachers, some for the lady who does our cleaning, and one for her. What else are you gonna give her? Right?

I put the razorblade in reach, pour a glass of wine. Cheap red, tastes like cardboard and vinegar. Whatever. I slide into the tub. Now? No, not yet. Sip the wine. The wine & hot water are relaxing. Masturbate one last time first. My hand cups my right breast. Imagine a man behind me. Not Tom. Someone with a big dick and a hard need. My eyes close. I knead, pinch the nipple, press my thighs together tightly. I feel the blood pounding in my clit. Soaped, I glide my hand over my belly, down to my thighs, fingers in position, dip between my legs.

I watched Transsiberian last night. Now I imagine sex on a train, in one of those tight bunks. So public. So naughty. I rub around my clit, moaning, feeling everything becoming lubricated. Sip more wine.  Imagine for a moment that it's Amber's cunt. That appeals to my humour. What if Amber left Tom for another woman? Yeah, fuck, feel that bitch? Feels good, doesn't it? I moan more, picture her big round titties floating in the water. The man I imagined into being is still behind me. Likes seeing me fingering Amber. His dick is rubbing against my ass. I feel my orgasm bearing down on me, bursting out like sunlight from the clouds. I ride the waves for nearly 30 seconds. Lay still, panting. Eyes closed. Maybe I can drown.

Open my eyes to see a wee pair of paws on the tub side. A little pink nose and two green eyes. A loud MREOWR. Jinx wants to be part of everything. Or maybe she's just hungry. I  sigh. Look again at the razorblade.

Travis Binkle should have bought a cat. I wonder if I can find the screenwriter's email address and send him this message. I rise from the tub and wipe the blood from my chest. Go find polysporin. Pour another half-glass of wine. And then wait.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


In the light of the half moon the forest had crisp edges. Everything seemed more real, more three dimensional than it had in the flat light of midday.

Helena drew in a quiet breath, let her toes explore the roots under her feet. The thin pliant leather of her forest boots were designed for this, quiet movement. She crept forward, so smooth and silent that a mouse blinked sleepily at her and didn't even twitch his whiskers when she stepped over him.

The silence was key for at least fifty more yards. In the trees around she could hear the small coos and rustles that signalled the filbains were sleeping yet. If one of these spy system birds awoke and began calling, all would be lost. She'd be back at the school, locked away for five more years, wasting time on religious studies while at home, her family fought and were slaughtered.

No more.

Twenty five more yards. The clearing was ahead, and then the wall, and then freedom where she could run like the wind, reclaim her bow and sword, and fly home.

The clearing was the most dangerous part. Here she could not melt into the shadows, and the ground was seeded with concussive devices. She could be an hour getting past and she must not be seen. Must not make a false move.

Before heading to the clearing, she paused to drink from her canteen, eat a piece of lamb jerky and prepare herself.

The clearing. Over the wall. Home.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One Eye Blind

My eyes do this weird thing sometimes when I wake in the night. One eye won't dilate. Or is it undilate? Whatever, one eye won't adjust to the lack of light. So sometimes when I wake up, one eye is blind and I lay in bed, panicking and listening to every small sound.

Tonight I don't know what woke me, but my heart's a pounding triphammer. I'm not exactly scared, but I'm the opposite of calm. The heater is pinging as the cold shakes it to life. It's early November, so the weather has only just gotten cold enough to warrant turning on the thermostat. Usually I turn it down before bed, but tonight I forgot.

Ping. Creak.

My blind eye won't allow in even the moonlight streaming onto my bed from the crack in the curtains. The moon is nearly full, and my right eye tells me it's almost like daylight, or at least one-hour-after-dawn light. My lazy left eye says, there's nothing there. Go back to sleep.

Tap. T-t-tap.

It sounds like something at the window, making my heart leap alarmingly. Don't be ridiculous. It's just my stupid eye making me jittery. There's nothing there.

I force my breathing to still: plug left nostril, deep breath in right side. Plug both. Hold. Unplug left, exhale. Repeat. Repeat.

Then I deliberately make myself get up. Go to the window. Stop at the thermostat to turn it down. Peek through the curtains. A flutter in the air catches my eye. Looks like a plastic bag but it's black. A bat? I close my lazy eye to focus. Hard to focus. It really looks like cloth, but the air is almost hazy. Seems to be flying away from the window. Blowing. Blowing away from the window. That's no animal... I don't think. I stare at it, fascinated by its undulating movements. It looks like a dance.

I want more than anything to fly out this window.

I have a sudden feeling of utter desolation. I can't fly. Why is that so tragic right now? I couldn't fly this morning, and it didn't occur to me to be heartbroken then. Part of my brain is suspended, watching my emotional centre react to some unnoticed stimuli. I want to cry. The black fluttering object is nearly out of sight. I raise my hand toward it, and the window is cold as a December flagpole.

As I turn to go back to bed, I allow my blind eye to re-open, and miraculously, this time it recovers. Focuses. Zeroes in on a handprint on the window. A small handprint. On the outside of the window.

This really only registers in the distant reaches of my mind as I crawl back into bed, overcome with sleep once more.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blueberry Hill

It was a bright afternoon. The warm gold of the sun settled on the hills like a wool blanket. Arial plopped down with her bucket next to a particularly full mound of blueberries. One handful for pies... one for the mouth.

She had been on Blueberry Hill for a few hours now, poking along, picking berries, snacking, looking for snakes and mice. The hill was called Warrensfield to everyone else, but Arial just called it Blueberry Hill because that's where the blueberries grew. It was ten minutes from the dead end of her street to be up the hill and over the first hummock so that the town was out of sight.

She loved it here, had felt draw to the hill as soon as her family had moved to Prosper. She was only seven, but the town was small and isolated and in 1977, no one questioned a seven year old roaming the hills alone.
Today her mom had let her watch the end of Scooby Doo, then had handed her the big Crisco pail and sent her to get enough berries for a couple of pies.

She heard a whiffling behind her and lazily reached back. "C'mere Goldie. Good girl. Don't you go scarin' them snakes now. I want to see a snake."

Arial often talked to her dog. There weren't many kids in Prosper, and cartoons had taught her that dogs were great friends, and good at solving mysteries.

"Goldie, let's pretend. That hill there is going to start having trees appear on it. They'll be big walkin', talkin' trees, like on the wizard movie. And there will be naiads. Or are the tree ones dryads?"

She frowned but Goldie didn't answer, so she went on. "Dryads I think. Dryads among the trees, and nymphs. And those goat-feet guys."

She paused and cocked her head to one side.

"Goldie, didjoo hear that? Somebody said my name."

Goldie looked at her quizzically. Arial popped another two handfuls of berries into the bucket and jumped to her feet.

"I DID heared that. I'm gonna go see. C'mon Goldie."

She headed back up the hill, cresting it and going down the far side, out of sight of even the tall water tower. Far down the hill, there was a dark line, near the horizon. There WERE trees.

"I never walked this far before, Goldie, but I think I still hear my name. Do you?"

Goldie barked once.

Arial closed her eyes to concentrate. There were a few lazy flies buzzing around her, and a fat bumblebee whose bum was twitching as he focussed on his flower. Far off in the distance, she again heard, "a r i a l."

As she moved forward she felt as though the heat was making the air shimmer. Through the shimmer, it looked like the distant horizon was twitching. Like the trees from her fantasy were indeed marching.

"'S'funny, Goldie, lookit the trees! I think it's elves calling me!" She forgot that dryads had been her earlier pronouncement, because through the heat shimmers she thought she saw short figures, frolicking on the field, between her and the dark moving line of trees.

Goldie began a low growl.

Arial continued to walk forward, feeling caught in a trance. Goldie caught hold of her tshirt and pulled. Goldie was a mutt, and not a big one, but Arial was a fairly small child. The unexpected resistance caused her to lose her footing and drop the Crisco bucket.

Her head snapped down to see her berries rolling away.

"GOOOOLLLLDDIIIIEEE!! NOOOOO!" The horizon forgotten, she scrambled to collect as many of the berries as she could rescue and then turned and chased the gambolling dog back over the hill.

Ignored, in the distance, a low sound carried on the breeze... "a r i a l..."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stay in the Now

"Stay in the now, dear."

Annoyed she had paid a palm-reader (what was she thinking?) only to receive magazine advice, Liz nonetheless found the words resonating.

She had a habit of getting up and spending her first half hour (after stretches, lunges and crunches of course) making to-do lists for the day ahead. This was Saturday, so her lists should also include the upcoming week's menu and a shopping list.

Today she found herself drawn to the balcony. A little brown bird with shiny eyes landed on the railing as she stood outside. Was it a nuthatch? Sparrow? She'd have to look it up. They eyed each other for almost five minutes. Liz was captivated by the bird's quick, intelligent movements, his tidy economical, hops on the rail, and the way his feathers (her feathers?) fluffed out over his feet to warm them.

Warm them. She realized she had grown chilly, and moved inside. The bird paused a moment longer and then flew away.

Wandering to the kitchen, Liz filled the kettle and placed it on the stove, and rummaged in her cupboard for a tea bag. She was a coffee person. It was a rare day when she made tea, usually only when one of her board sub-committees was meeting here.

Lemon Zinger? Cinnamon Toadie? Zen Stretch Green? WHERE did all these teas come from?

She knew, of course, that every few months she would be inspired by some article about a new cleanse or detoxifying diet, and run out and buy a new mystical tea to gather dust in the cupboard.

Ah, finally! King Cole. The kettle whistled and she poured the bubbling water over the teabag, admiring the way the red-brown colour slowly rose like fog off the harbour. She poured in a bit of milk, again admired the swirling pattern. Chemistry in action. Poetry.

The phone rang as she was completing her menu. This morning she had decided to pull out some of her seldom-used recipe books, and try a few new dishes this week. The recipe books were hiding the phone.

"Liz! I knew you'd be up. Betcha already have a spreadsheet open."

Liz eyed her teacup and doodled-upon menu. Doodles!

"Not quite yet.What are YOU doing out of bed, sister?"

Even Mabel's laugh sounded honey-golden. "I am feeling domestic. I'm making a big turkey supper for Jack and his band, I thought I'd see if you might perhaps like to join us."

Habit forced a 'no' to her lips, but she bit it off, glancing at her short 'to-do' list for the day: "Gym. Groceries. Work on budget."

"You know what? Yeah. That'd be fun. Oh, but my car's still in the shop... hm... do the commuter trains run on Saturday? Hold on...," she was already fumbling with her smart phone.

"Don't even bother, Peter's coming and he's right down your street. He can drive you."


WHY. Why hadn't she asked Mabel what Peter, the bass player for the AlmondDeadlies, would be driving? She eyed the bike.

"Here's my spare helmet, it should fit okay. You're wearing good boots. You should get a warmer jacket and gloves though. Do you have a thick leather jacket?"

Of course she didn't have a thick leather jacket. She had running jackets and trenchcoats and stylish woolen coats. Sigh. She thumped back upstairs and rooted in her closet, finally finding a sleek leather jacket that was the opposite of thick and sturdy. She pulled on a wool turtleneck and then the jacket, glanced in the mirror to wish the skin she knew and loved farewell, and headed out, to her certain demise.

The ride was no more than forty minutes in total, but the first 15 felt like hours as she hung on to Peter and the bike with arms and knees and the sheer clinging power of terror. The wind rushing past felt like hands pulling her off. Bumps in the road felt like the bike was bucking, trying to throw her off. The stopping and starting and sharp turns made her think she was going to vomit. Finally, they crossed the Winslow bridge out of the city, and trees rose around her. As the countryside got greener, she marginally began to feel more relaxed. Twenty minutes in, she eased back in the seat enough to peek over Peter's shoulder and see the countryside whisking by.

When they crested the next hill and the sun cast its late afternoon red gold eyes onto them, she realized she had never felt more present.

How can you live in the now when you are hurtling forward so fast? And she closed her eyes and let the rhythm of the bike guide her.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The answer is sleeping, buried, under Glace Bay. Of all places.

The cigar protruded out of his thick lips, covered in fine white hair. His teeth clenched it in a Jonah Jamieson smoke-ringed grimace.

Everyone was watching the smoke ring in front of him as the air gathered tension.

Finally, he sighed. "What do you want me to say? Are you breaking my balls here?"

Andre, the de facto leader of the small band of teens stepped up belligerently. "You could explain where the fuck you've been while the world was going to hell, for one thing."

"Look, kid, I to--"

"Don't bullshit me, I got it, you guys all fucking decided to have a short little nap a few thousand years ago, and then when you woke up you weren't sure how to approach us. I got it. So our climate is fuckered, and you KNEW this. And STILL you chose to take a few decades to watch us, and catch up on Simpsons reruns before you decided to bust in. And now--,"

The unicorn spit the cigar out and made as if to interrupt.

"AND NOW," Andre went on, "now you come waltzing out and think everyone's going to bow down and listen."

"I LOST GOOD PEOPLE OUT THERE. Your shithead army just blew up FIVE centaurs. There are only SEVENTEEN in the world! Twelve, now! What the hell is wrong with you humans? We left you a decent planet!"

"Don't you 'you humans' me, asshole! I'm not one of them!"

Darlene stepped forward at the same time as a young dwarf girl did, both holding up their hands and steering their champions away from the heated debate.

"Andre, Horace," she said, "Dorcas and I have been talking while you two have been butting heads. I think we have a solution."

"But," added Dorcas, "Not only are we going to have to work together, you two are going to have to shut up and get out of the way."

The silence spread out into the Glace Bay mining hall. Finally, from the crowd, a man spoke. Darlene thought it was Mr. Jacobs, the pharmacist.

"Can we stop this, girls? Tell us it's not too late."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ogres need Bifocals

Although she'd spied the ogre, she didn't rush.

“I said, this prescription is not correct. The glasses make my eyes blurrier.” She patiently waited as the counter attendant continued to try to bluster her into disappearing.

“No. No, I'm not leaving. I want glasses that correct my vision. I need them ASAP. I have tried these for three days. There is no improvement.”

The ogre was moving toward the designer frames, browsing casually.

“I want to see Dr. Kimball again. I understand he has a patient with him. I'll wait... but I want to see him by four.”

The ogre had gotten much closer, and Lil was startled to hear it grunting a whiffling behind her. She turned and caught it glancing at the clock. 3:30.

It caught her eye and gave her a nod that could have meant, “yo, sistah, I got yer back”, or possibly, “eff you, twerp, that 4 o'clock slot is mine”, or even potentially, “my, you look like quite a yummy morsel.”

She sat down in the waiting area and watched the ogre glare at the service bell. The squirrelly attendant had disappeared into the office. The ogre tapped the bell once, waited a beat and then popped the whole thing in its mouth and roared.

Squirrelly reappeared. “Ms. Lil Watson? Lil?”

Sigh. “I'm RIGHT HERE.”

“You can go right in.”

Lil headed into the office, avoiding the ogre, who was now stomping on the Guess frame selection.