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
As a boy, Timmy (Sir Timothy Brian F. the Fantabulous) tells tall, tragic tales to get attention from the adults in his life - particular his busy mother and Dr. Bass, his nerdy-cool neighbour. As a young man, his escalating lies destroy his relationships, alienate his loved ones, and land him in hot water with police; but that doesn’t stop him from crying wolf again and again.
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.
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.
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
Portraits of people marooned within themselves, trapped by their past experiences, by uncertainty and anxiety — individuals for whom each new situation is a grueling journey towards the present, a place where action and choice are possible. In Second World, Matt Cahill illustrates, with honesty and empathy, how the most important breakthroughs are not the life-altering revelations, but rather the minor miracles that get us through each day.
In the rugged Nepisiguit River region of northern New Brunswick, two hunters face off. One is local sports lodge employee Danny Knockwood, a Mi’gmaw guide with a withered hand. The other is Mui’n, a one-eared black bear battling his inexorable hunger. When Danny is charged by the lodge owner to hunt down the bear that is frightening guests at the salmon pools, his personal values come into sharp conflict with his commitment to the task. The resulting confrontation tests both his physical strength and his beliefs, as Danny begins to recognize a kindred spirit within the fiercely determined bear.
Polly knows what she wants: to be in the greatest band in the world. Oliver knows what he wants: Polly. Together they are The Oughts, a duo trying to attain the unattainable, one basic chord at a time.
“Richard Rosenbaum’s The Oughts jabs its sticky little fingers right into your heart and swirls them around in there for a long, long time. Its characters unfold in pitch-perfect awkwardness and tender apathy, and readers will be struck by the surreal hinges and twitching imagery that Rosenbaum flawlessly weaves in. Writers in the audience should take note: Rosenbaum has created a writhing work of fiction that any scribe would aspire to be capable of pulling off.”
— Liz Worth, author of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond and Eleven: Eleven