Tag Archives: Fiction

The story of Catharine

When Catharine was a child, her parents told stories. Some were written in books, others improvised or recited from memory. Catharine’s mother would sit on the edge of the bed in lamplight, reading. “Why?” asks Catherine: for every story, Why. Sometimes her mother knows the answer, sometimes she invents. Catharine makes pictures of her mother’s words. The pictures come to life as dreams, embellished by the hopes and fears of a child.

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The last Neanderthal

Vaja has crossed the water alone after burying Tahna under darkness, debarking at sunrise below the eastern face of the limestone promontory. The windswept yellow sand of the savannah is in his beard and mouth as he makes his way up the rock, to the cave some twenty metres above. Soon the weather will change from the dry warm wind of the levant to cool and wet days on open scrubland. Everything changes, says Vaja, to no one.

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[June 21, 1975]

I am on my back a half-naked animal fever bitten with a blade of noonsun dissecting my sweaty torso and the ceiling pulses I may heave again into the blue plastic bucket at my bedside. When I feel able I turn but it’s useless for though I pitch as a ship in weather nothing brings me comfort and I fear nothing ever will and in this moment I ask myself Am I dying Yes comes the brainword Yes as if twisted from a fetid cloth like the one that has fallen from my brow. Yes I am ready to die. Reason claws at the skin of this ocean and although the churn is sucking me down down I know it is only the fever speaking and I swim. I am ready to die but not to go down into these waters.

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A brief study in time

You were a fool but then youth is wasted on the young. Suppose I could go back. I told myself if only I knew then what I know now without considering that there are always new mistakes to be made. Perhaps that’s just my way of consoling myself over what’s impossible. And anyways, what is life without mistakes? There’s just one thing I would do differently, but it’s too late now.

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The autobiography of a spoon

I am a spoon in a laminate pressboard drawer, my pitted bowl heavenward to the darkened underribs of the countertop. My back and my tip are scarred, and, yes, I have lost plating in spots. But my neck is strong, patinated yet still bearing the crisp hallmark of my pedigree. My beautiful handle is etched with neo-classical and Arabesque motifs. I feel needed and useful in this world.

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My fellow citizens of shopping

I’ve come for socks and I am leaving with a glass vase that I don’t need. The clerk dispenses my change like a backhoe grapple. A coin falls to the counter. It is flu season and I have not washed my hands since leaving the subway. The Persian woman is careless: her delicate fingers touch a man’s lips. She is tender. They will leave the mall and later they will have sex as I am wondering where to put my vase.

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Mr Chopin, are you suffering greatly?

Brahms was a perfectionist so overwhelmed by Beethoven’s influence that it took him twenty-one years to complete his Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68.

My college music professor told me this story, and soon I’d embellished it with false details, for example that Brahms had been unable to perform in public until his fifties for fear of being accused of imitation. Years later I read a book that confirmed the influence of Beethoven but also noted that the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor was performed in 1859 when Brahms was 25.

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Morrie is from Valley East in the Sudbury Basin, a long way from this west-end Toronto bench. Call me Mo, he says, shaking my hand. He tells a fishing story that begins with his wife giving him 30 dollars and ends with a store-bought salmon fillet and a night spent on the couch. In the middle of the story he is in the city, spending the money on drink. Next to him is the beer from my LCBO bag.

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The Gettysburg Address

It was a huge number of years ago. I mean, I don’t know, like a hundred years. A hundred? Yeah, say about a hundred. It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. A tremendous number of years and our fathers, folks they were the best fathers, and they brought forth a new nation on this land, a free nation. Tremendous freedom. Freedom like you have never seen, believe me. And they said, listen, all men are created equal. So true. They said men but, you know, they said we’re equal.

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