by Amanda Leduc
In the face of the unspeakable, a family find their relationships irrevocably altered. How can one trust, when even the blameless can be blamed? How can one forgive, when what one needs to hear will never be spoken?
JEFFREY IS IN CHARGE of the dog now. Karen used to be in charge of the dog but she can’t do it anymore because the dog talks too much. So Jeffrey’s the one who calls Owen, and the day before he and Karen are supposed to leave for their week at the bed and breakfast, Jeffrey’s little brother drives up to the house in his new Toyota and loads Tusker into the back.
“Hey buddy,” Owen says. He muscles a hand across Tusker’s cold nose; the dog barks, lunges his face forward into Owen’s shoulder. The dog loves Owen. The dog loves everybody.
“I’ll put the food in the truck,” Jeffrey says. They’re in the driveway, talking. The air is cold and crisp. “One scoop in the morning. Half a scoop at dinnertime.”
“I remember,” Owen says.
“He might not eat much the first day,” Jeffrey continues. “He doesn’t like it when we’re gone. He should be fine by the second day, though.”
“We’ll be okay,” Owen kneads another hand around the golden’s jaw. The dog growls happily in response. “Max and Ellie can’t wait to see him.”
“What about Tina?”
Owen shrugs. “Tina doesn’t mind the dog. You know that.”
Jeffrey thumps a half-full bag of food up onto the truck bed. “I know. But it means a lot.”
“Jeff, it’s not a problem. Really.” Owen claps him hard on the shoulder. “If you keep saying that I’m going to get annoyed.”
“How’s Tina?” Jeff asks. Tusker has left Owen and is standing back by Jeff now, subdued, quiet. He knows the truck. He knows what’s coming.
“She’s fine. Worried about you.”
“We’re okay,” Jeff says automatically. “Karen’s booked a suite. It’ll be fun. Relaxing.”
“Sounds like it.” Owen claps him on the shoulder again, and then whistles. Tusker looks from Jeffrey to Owen, cocks his head.
“It’s okay, buddy,” Jeffrey says. He bends down—his knee cracks loud enough that you can hear it on the driveway—and scratches the skin beneath Tusker’s collar. “We won’t be long. And you’ll see Max and Ellie! Lots of fun.”
Tusker puts a paw up against Jeffrey’s heart, looks at him. The throb of Jeffrey’s guilty blood strong under his paw. He doesn’t say anything, not to Jeffrey. Then he turns and jumps into the truck.
“Jesus,” Owen says. “You’re not dying.”
“He’s a soulful dog,” Jeffrey says. They close the truck cover together. “He believes the best in people.”
about the author
AMANDA LEDUC's stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, The Puritan, Found Press, Big Truths, PRISM International, Prairie Fire, Crossed Genres, ELLE Canada, Tincture Journal, Little Fiction, and other publications across Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. She was longlisted in both Fiction and Non-Fiction categories for the 2014 edition of CBC's Canada Writes. Her novel, THE MIRACLES OF ORDINARY MEN, was published in 2013 by Toronto's ECW Press. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she is at work on her next book.
from the library
Marta is a human resources employee at a grocery store chain. She moves through the days passively, always taking the path of least resistance, until a case at work - that of a hijab-wearing woman, in defiance of a strict no-hats policy - awakens her to the injustices of her own life.
“This Is a Love Crime by Lee Kvern is a cunning and intensely human look at one of the central issues of our time. It negotiates the space between belief, racism, liberty, and sexuality with curiosity and compassion.”
— Todd Babiak, bestselling author of Toby: A Man and The Garneau Block
“Lee Kvern paints with a scalpel. With characteristic unflinching honesty, she peels the relationship between Marta and Corbin back to quivering nerves in This Is a Love Crime and juxtaposes it against veiled assumptions about cultural oppression. The narrative leaps crackle with energy and empathy. When I read Kvern’s stories, I’m seduced by exquisite detail and—love or loathe them—left with the scent of her characters long after the last page.”
— Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Delivery and The Boy
“In This Is a Love Crime, Lee Kvern uses the intricately drawn characters of Corbin and Marta to explore the charged topics of ethnicity and Western modes of submission and control. Written in Kvern’s distinctive, poetic, and multi-layered style, the story leaves us with warm insight into all the characters—and challenges our hearts and preconceptions.”
— Barb Howard, author of Whipstock, Notes for Monday, and The Dewpoint Show
People grow in dimensions other than those we perceive. The teenage narrator of award-winning author Daniel Karasik’s latest story must deal with the fact that his older sister is now a grown woman, and Lucy, his crush-next-door, has become a mystery, with depths beyond his comprehension. Has he been coasting all this time, school and television his life’s only sources of momentum?
If You Waited Here, You Would
See Almost Everything
by Danny Goodman
After Ray collapses on the sidewalk outside a New York coffee shop, the bittersweet vagaries of his long marriage come into focus, one heartbeat at a time. From his new vantage point, flat on his back, all their conflicts are laid out against a canvas of sky, contrasting miscommunications and infidelities against something slower, steadier, and ultimately much vaster than he ever realized.
Coming out of an unhappy relationship and a stint at an artist colony, Charlotte, a writer, takes a job teaching at a private ESL college. There she befriends Renata—audacious, sexy, and as changeable as Proteus. “I have a story for you,” Renata says to her one day over lunch. She doesn’t elaborate further, but Charlotte soon discovers that she has found in Renata an unexpectedly passionate and compelling subject.
“Caroline Adderson is such a graceful and intelligent writer that the work that must surely go into creating her hilarious, prismatic stories is never betrayed in the language. There is no strain on the page, not a bead of sweat. I think of her as a writer’s writer. I envy her talent and learn from her sentences. The short story, Obscure Objects, is, I’m happy to report, Adderson at her glorious best.”
— Barbara Gowdy, author of Helpless and The White Bone
“Obscure Objects, Caroline Adderson’s fierce and affecting workplace comedy, is a deadpan gem: droll, moving, snapping-smart.”
— Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Position
A small-time internet scammer is shaken from her somewhat safe new life when an investigator arrives with questions to do with her erstwhile "period of moral decline" — specifically, the whereabouts of a young woman whose brief, bright friendship nearly steered her from the stability she now craves.
After an unexpected malfunction, the technology which enables humanity to cross vast distances has separated an interstellar traveler from the love of her life — not in space, but in time. Now, while her companions remain in stasis, she must endure the loneliness of the journey until the moment her lover wakes.
Winner of the 2015 Friends of Merril Short Story Contest, When I'm Old, When I'm Grey imagines the strange — and strangely familiar — forms that fear and longing can take, as we venture forth into the unknown of the future.
In New York City, Ben smokes too much and sleeps with women as a way to deaden his insecurities. With every indiscretion, he fights off adulthood for one more day, until the return of an ex-lover leaves him unsure of everything. Ben’s best friend, Josh, struggles to find the good in his marriage to Maddie, even as he searches for a way to keep from losing her. Ben’s neighbor, Mrs. Aguilera, looks to make peace with those she has already lost. Gripping tightly to one another like the oddest of families, Ben and his friends embody the place in which they live: a city where everything combines, with a touch of perfect madness, into something more than the sum of its parts.
“I love this story because it’s just plain good. The characters are broken and unsure, but the love they have for each other and the humor that carries them along is genuine and lovely to behold. This story made me laugh even while it was hitting me in the gut, and I’d like nothing more than to sit down and drink a beer with everyone in it. Mr. Goodman, thank you for rocking my literary waffle.”
— Lish McBride, author of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
Father Michael, in his final assignment, has been asked by his Order to help facilitate recovery of an Asian country blighted by war. On the long odyssey into the interior, his driver and translator Trang tells him a story set in a once-famed traveller’s refuge known as the Inn of Tender Embraces. What starts as a simple tale of ill-fated lovers becomes, for Father Michael, a familiar beacon that guides him through the mists of an exotic landscape.
“Don McLellan is the kind of wise, well-travelled writer we don’t see much of these days. With Angels Passing he earns the right to be included in the exotic tradition of Hemingway, Maugham, and Graham Greene. Like all memorable writing, his story takes us to another world and holds us there. As spare and subtle as it is powerful, Angels Passing will linger in your mind long after the last page.”
— John Lekich, Governor General’s Award Finalist for The Losers’ Club