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
by Lana Storey
Some time after the incomprehensible death of his son, Joan Miró has settled into his new job working the overnight shift at a Hasty Market in Toronto. He has plenty of time to think beneath the fluorescent lights of the convenience store: of ghosts and late nights, of downtown living and dying, of customer service and self-preservation, of the beauty of the night sky, and of the attempts people make to connect with one another despite seemingly insurmountable distances. These fragments of life prove as difficult to make sense of as any code—until one night, when an extraordinary series of events suddenly teases a pattern from the dark.
“In this graceful, dark, and nuanced piece, Lana Storey reveals a private man unhinged by grief. These are events—and this a narrative—that will stay in my mind for a long time. Never one to shirk from difficult truths, Lana Storey writes in the tradition of George Saunders: an original, at times disturbing, but ultimately transformative worldview.”
— Carolyn Smart, author of Hooked: Seven Poems and At the End of the Day
“Cross Yourself is Lana Storey’s gorgeous swirling image constellation, a story about a man becoming unhinged from the universe and finding redemption in a downtown Hasty Market convenience store. A vibrant, beating heart of a short fiction, Cross Yourself is a vortex worth being pulled into.”
— Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of the 2005 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award finalist The Nettle Spinner
by Kayt Burgess
When Blanche first began singing, she was humble, eager, willing to work, willing to learn. Now she is headstrong, condescending, unprofessional, and just a tiny bit full of herself. She is also the closest to genius that Antoinette, her accompanist, may ever have a chance to work with.
by Kirsty Logan
The anarchic relationships holding together a group of teen girls - whose lines between love and hate, jealousy and loyalty, are not so much drawn as they are furiously scribbled - are put to the test at an unforgettable birthday party. This story captures all the angst and uncertainty of adolescence, with prose as sharp and jarring as a smashed kaleidoscope.
“Rarely an author comes along whose work hits you with the impact of a slap. I have had this experience with the work of Jayne Anne Phillips, with Lorrie Moore and Mary Gaitskill; most recently I have felt this on discovering the writing of Kirsty Logan. Her work is elegant, minimal, and innovative, but underlying it all is a great passion. If the world is a place where talent is recognised—in time, I believe, we may come to say her name alongside the aforementioned.”
— Ewan Morrison, author of Swung
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.
Mike Mike Mike Mike
by Grace O'Connell
After twenty years of running, Betty quietly returns to her hometown of Arbford, thinking it a solid place to finally put down some roots. But the adage 'you can't go home again' proves true, as Betty finds that her mere presence is more than enough to disrupt the stagnant lives of everyone around her.
“In this cautionary suburban fairy tale, a big-city refugee searching for home finds herself in a nest of multiple Mikes and Pyrex-wielding vipers. With enchanting style and snort-causing wit, Grace O’Connell does casserole-studded claustrophobia like nobody’s business.”
— Jessica Westhead, author of And Also Sharks and Pulpy & Midge
by Caroline Adderson
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
Trigger Finger Blues
by Chad Pelley
Marcel, a sensitive sniper, knew his life was missing something. But he didn't know what until he set his crosshairs on it: Violet Caine. A ginger-headed lover of Thai food, wanted dead simply because her brother messed with the wrong bike gang. It's a story of redemption coming too late, and the ways happenstance can turn a warm man cold. Then warm again. Whether fate wrote his troubled life, or he wrote it himself, he wants Violet Caine to be the end of it - be it figuratively or literally.
by Jack Bootle
On an isolated English beach a man looks back on his school days, recalling the joy and torment of a secret love affair with a boy full of strange ideas, a boy obsessed with the language of the King James Bible. Moments from their relationship return to him: the hidden meetings on the beach, the first attempts at sex, the boredom of a school assembly in summertime, the cruelty of a young English teacher. But most of all he remembers the boy’s words. They’re words that, years later, will haunt him as he tries to come to terms with the person he has become.
“Psalm 77 is the type of story that one wants to read over and over, searching for meanings previously unseen. It is laced with the hidden, the secret, the sacred. From the sand dunes and their private longings in school to the verses, the imagery, and the final paragraphs, there is so much to uncover . . ." (Read full review)
— Amanda Miller from shortsundone.ca