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
When I'm Old, When I'm Grey
by Andrew Wilmot
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.
by Naomi K Lewis
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.
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
At the Bar
by Rebecca Rosenblum
Health care workers on a night out unwind, allowing the anxieties and passions they've had to suppress on the job finally uncoil, like tendrils creeping out into the world - and into each other. Written with empathy and panache, this story is a portrait of briefly flaring humanity - of people granted a temporary reprieve from professionalism, and not quite knowing what to do with it.
“At the Bar is Rosenblum at her best - exploring the complicated nature of work and relationships with her trademark perceptiveness, humour, and compassion, and creating characters that will stay with you long after the story is over.”
— Amy Jones, author of What Boys Like and Other Stories
of My Sound
by Andrew Forbes
Saxophonist Metche Hufu and his band are the talk of Addis Ababa, filling nightclubs and packing dance floors. But the precarious existence of this golden age of culture depends on an emperor’s benevolence - and when his power begins to wane, Metche Hufu's music threatens to be silenced by the sounds of a country torn apart.
“How do you give voice to a sax player silenced by the politics of his country? If you’re a jazz singer like Kurt Elling, you take Dexter Gordon’s solo on ‘Body and Soul’ from his Homecoming album and you turn it into vocalese. If your name is Andrew Forbes and your tenor sax player is Ethiopian and it is Addis Ababa 1973 and his musical idol is King Curtis, you write The Expansiveness of My Sound and what you write is wider, more straight-ahead, stronger with political fervour, sadder than Elling but every bit as smart. Forbes is doing it solo and you have to imagine the quartet behind him. Read it with your fingers tapping and you’ll catch the beat. Read it with your ears open and you’ll hear Metche Hufu’s body and soul. Dig it!”
— T. F. Rigelhof, author of Hooked on Canadian Books: The Good, the Better, and the Best Canadian Novels Since 1984
by Michael Bryson
Toronto in the twenty-first century: At night, a beacon on a lonely ancient lake, a drainage pond from the last ice age. In the daytime, a bulwark of glass, glinting in the radiant sun. Joe, Mary, and her cat, Sam, sit in a lakeside condo, trapped by a crazed, mysterious sniper. What has become of their lives? What has become of their city? What has become of their century? As the situation begins to unravel, Mary finds herself wondering, “What would Margaret Atwood do?”
Was More Here
by Danny Goodman
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
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