by Shannon Alberta
Hannah and Gary married young, before either had a chance to figure out who they were or what they needed in life. Separation and time has given Hannah the opportunity to grow up. Gary, on the other hand, has only grown stubborn, and more desperate to keep up with his ex. By 2016 Lit POP Award winner Shannon Alberta, Operation Chairman of the Board is a twisted, yet heartfelt, story about how some people view love as a journey, and others as a competition.
purchase the ebook single
I HAVEN'T EVEN TAKEN off my work shoes when Gary calls for the third time in a row. When I finally answer, he says the toes on his left foot are numb and could I come quickly.
“I can’t,” I tell him, parting the curtains in the front window and scanning the street for Eddie’s red Yaris.
“Please, Hannah,” he says, fear coiled tight around his throat like a python.
“What colour are they?” I slide my purse off my shoulder and let it fall, the entry rug absorbing the dull thud.
“I can’t look.”
“I’m not going all the way there if you don’t at least look first.”
“Fine.” He puffs into the phone. “The edges look blue to me.”
“I’m not kidding.” There’s a shuffling sound.
All of this is a movie I’ve seen a thousand times. In this scene, his paranoia stirs him up off the couch. In the next one, he paces his living room like it’s a cage. The finale is the worst. Eddie told me the proper name for it: hypochondria-induced panic disorder. My role? He says I’m what they call an enabler.
“I’m coming now,” I tell Gary.
“I knew this was how it’d go down for me,” he says. “Eventually. I told you. Remember?”
“It’s probably nothing. Just watch TV until I get there.”
I leave a note for Eddie on the kitchen table. It says I’ve gone to Bobbi-Sue’s for wine and chit-chat, and that I love him the way a fat kid loves cake.
BLUE TOES / BLUE TOES / Whatcha gonna do? / Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? I was gonna sing that when Hannah answered the phone, but then she might’ve mistaken my parody for a lack of gravitas and stayed home cuddling with my replacement. I’ve got gravitas coming out the waz. It’s just that my brain knows shit’s about to get real and it’s trying to lighten the mood. Like the orchestra that kept playing as the Titanic went down.
I had more details prepared, in case she asked. I would have reminded her that despite it being August, despite my being under a blanket, the tips of my third and fourth piggies are the colour of those fake tombstones people stick in their front lawns at Halloween. Eskimo toes. Couldn’t have made that joke either; Hannah’s heart bruises so easy.
“It’s probably nothing,” she said. Everyone says that until the day they’re ass-over-brainpan wrong. She has a lot of reason to hope it’s nothing. Me being sick would be the shit-streak in her fancy new white undies. She’s done so much work to get to a place where she isn’t coming around much anymore.
Last time she wouldn’t even take off her shoes. I said to her, “My apologies; I was under the impression our vows still meant something.”
“They do,” she said.
“But not everything,” I said.
And what could she say to that? Nothing. Instead, she held a smile on her face, the kind of grin a five-year-old gives when you ask if they pissed the bed again.
At least she’s coming over.
I text Dennis: Operation Chairman of the Board is a go.
about the author
SHANNON ALBERTA's stories have appeared in: The New Quarterly, Matrix Magazine, and Joyland Magazine. Her story "Perv Jungle" was chosen as first prize winner in the 2016 Lit POP Awards. In 2014, she won first prize in the Eden Mills Writers' Festival literary contest. She teaches at Sarah Selecky's Story Is a State of Mind School, lives in Toronto, and once spent 24 hours with her leg in a bear trap. Visit her at shannonalberta.com.
from the library
In the late 60s, the newest member of a group of all-female pearl divers — the ama — sees her life, and the lives of those dear to her, disrupted by an unlikely force: a James Bond film that sends American men to Japan in search of their own personal 'mermaids'.
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.
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.
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
June's mother is getting married and there's nothing June can do about it. Counting down the days to the wedding while trapped with a sort-of friend and unwanted family-to-be at their lakeside cottage in the Kawarthas, June searches desperately for a way to make the world - and her life - stand still.
The depredations of a corrupt local government and the ravages of a harsh prairie winter force an ostracized but self-sufficient widow to open her home to innocents with nowhere else to turn. Journey Prize finalist Seyward Goodhand's effortless storytelling allows the humanity to shine through in this grim take on a classic tale.
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