by Darren Greer
An imaginative and resonant work of speculative literature from ReLit Award-winning author Darren Greer. Twin brothers, born on an oppressive family farm, discover a miraculous way to escape the dreariness of their lives, charting a course that promises equal measures of wonder and heartbreak.
DALTON LIKED TO GO when there was no moon. I, on the other hand, would have liked to fly across the face of the moon — to turn and plummet through the moonlight down to the river, to catch myself just before I tumbled in, to will myself to hover. I would have tried it, but Dalton wouldn't let me.
He was older, but only by seven minutes.
The number seven is important, he said.
There are seven spots on a ladybug's back.
Seven days in a week.
A mammal's neck has seven bones.
Dalton was smart. His teachers said he had the highest scores they’d ever seen.
We often wondered what it was in the seven minutes that made such a difference. What happened to him while he was out? What happened to me while I was in? Because we discussed it so much, I could see myself inside my mother. Feel myself there, enveloped in her, floating, flying even then, as Dalton — bawling and flecked with gore — was being born, being laid on a table, being sterilized and swabbed clean for this new world.
“I remember it,” he said.
Our parents were scared of us.
My father spent all his time in the fields and the barn, and my mother yelled at us when she heard us talking about black holes and non¬linear equations and growing pumpkins the size of houses by tinkering with their genes. “It's not normal,” she said, “and it's not right.”
Dalton said they were superstitious. “They believe in God,” he said, as if that was all the proof he needed.
WHEN WE FLEW WE had to get comfortable.
That was the trick of it, the key.
We would lie on our backs in bed and just breathe.
Dalton said we could do it because of something in our brains.
“More of them is turned on than other peoples’,” he said. “The way that we know more and see more — that’s part of it too.”
Dalton first told me he could do it when we were nine. I didn't believe him. I thought he was making it up. Morning after morning he'd wake up and tell me where he'd been the night before, how far he flew, and he was puzzled because I couldn't do it too. He got me to lie in bed and reach out and hold his hand when we fell asleep so that he could take me with him. But I just slept.
One night, I suddenly awoke and Dalton was standing above me. He was smiling.
“Get up,” he said.
“Why?” I said.
“Because we're going to do it.”
“It's dumb,” I said. “I can't do it.”
“Get up,” he said. When I did, he told me to look back at my bed.
I saw myself lying there. And even though Dalton was standing in front of me, I could also see him lying on his bed.
“You see?” he said.
about the author
DARREN GREER grew up in several towns in Nova Scotia, including Greenfield and Liverpool. He studied literature at the University of King¹s College, Halifax, as well as Carleton University, Ottawa. His first novel, Tyler’s Cape, was published in March 2001 to critical acclaim and was on the bestseller list of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Still Life with June was nominated for the Pearson Readers’ Choice Award at The Word On The Street, Toronto, in 2003 and is the Winner of the 2004 ReLit Award. His latest novel is Just Beneath My Skin, published by Cormorant Books.
from the library
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
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
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
A hybrid travelogue and memoir that pieces together the fragmented recollections of one woman’s rocky journey toward vegetarianism. From her rural upbringing in francophone Northeastern Ontario to exotic locations, outlandish adventures, and bizarre meals, Julie relives her struggle to make the right food choices for herself and examines the consequences of her decisions.
Catherine wants what Richard has: a richly decorated house, and a perfect, lavished-upon baby. Catherine also wants Richard: a disaffected diplomat whose true passion is for cinema. But Catherine is only the babysitter, and her envy—and its fallout—come to the fore when Richard is accused of a crime, and she must decide whether to help exonerate him.
“Laure Baudot’s prose is exquisite, patient, and sophisticated. In the Afternoon immerses you in the fascinating and complicated mind of a babysitter who is wise beyond her years, yet dangerously impulsive at the same time. This story is irresistible and heartbreaking.”
— Sarah Selecky, author of the 2010 Giller Prize–shortlisted collection This Cake Is for the Party
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.