by Daniel Karasik
People grow in dimensions other than those we perceive. The teenage narrator of award-winning author Daniel Karasik’s latest story must deal with the fact that his older sister is now a grown woman, and Lucy, his crush-next-door, has become a mystery, with depths beyond his comprehension. Has he been coasting all this time, school and television his life’s only sources of momentum?
LUCY, WHOM I HAVE known for ages and with whom I’d like to have sex, says to me in our grade twelve civics class: “There’s a party in the woods on Friday. Michael Opperich and Shira Coffler found this secret spot.”
“Near the train tracks.”
WHEN I GET HOME from school, the phone is ringing. It’s Lucy.
“What are you doing right now?” she says.
“Talking to you.”
“What were you doing when I called?”
“Nothing. Drinking a glass of chocolate milk. Taking off my shoes. I just got home.”
“So what are you doing next?”
“Hanging up the phone.”
Lucy and I have known each other since we were four, when my house was two doors down from hers and our parents used our pre-pre-pubescent love affair—she was my girlfriend, and I liked to kick her, apparently—as a means of arranging some reciprocal babysitting. When my parents wanted to go to the movies on a Saturday night, they’d leave me with Lucy and the Friedmans; when Mr. and Mrs. Friedman wanted to spend some time with their mistress or mistress, respectively, they’d deposit Lucy on our front stoop. We know each other too well. Lucy knows, for example, that I don’t like talking on the phone, while I know, for example, that Lucy will call me after school every day, without fail, until the end of time.
I wind up in front of the TV with potato chips. After fifteen minutes I feel like I’m wasting my life and should be discovering a new energy source or writing a scathing exposé on modern waste-removal methods instead of lying on the couch. At four-thirty Tania comes into the house and calls out, “Hello?”
“You’re not supposed to be home,” I say, because my sister lives downtown now and this is my house, not hers.
“That’s interesting,” she says, and goes into the washroom to primp. My sister makes pit stops at home—my home—when she’s meeting Rod, the thirty-two-year-old software designer whom she, my twenty-one-year-old sister, insists she loves, Rod who still lives in his parents’ basement on Oakland Drive, two blocks over, where his collection of much-signed Pink Floyd paraphernalia is apparently unsurpassed.
She comes into the family room, where the TV flickers against my closed eyelids. “I’m going out for the night,” she says, and I open my eyes to see that she’s tucked her shoulder-length red hair into a pair of bobbing pigtails, creating the impression that she’s approximately eleven years old. My eleven-year-old sister will have sex tonight with a big man in his parents’ basement. I feel dirty.
As she pulls away in Rod’s Camaro, I stumble out to the living room window and watch them go. I wonder if she’s happy. She claims she is, what with the alleged love, the apartment in the Annex subsidized by my dad, the approaching end to her biology degree at U of T. I’d like to ask her: Is there life beyond the wire? Does life get bigger than this? Realer?
about the author
DANIEL KARASIK is a writer, director, and actor. A recent grand prize winner of the CBC Literary Award for Fiction and the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Award, he is the author of a book of plays, The Crossing Guard & In Full Light (Playwrights Canada Press), with two more books fresh off the presses: a play for children, The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee (Playwrights Canada Press), and a debut poetry collection, Hungry (Cormorant Books). He also helms the Toronto-based theatre company Tango Co., through which he has developed many of his plays, subsequently produced across Canada, in the United States, and regularly in translation in Germany.
from the library
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 Dave Margoshes
Decades ago, when bands like the Everly Brothers rode the airwaves and vacancy signs shone like beacons in the night, a young man gets his first taste of love, loss, and the ethereal satisfaction that comes with knowing that the world is turning and life is being lived.
by Nancy Branch
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.
by Andrew Forbes
In a suburb that is nowhere and everywhere, Jorgen deals with the feelings of alienation and frustration from his collapsing relationship by getting into his car, putting on Patti Smith, and searching for meaning and belonging anywhere he can — regardless of whether he is welcome or wanted.
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 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
The Last Judgment
by Maria Meindl
Charlotte is on the cusp of adolescence, and her world is being turned upside down. Unable to turn to her distant mother or absent father, she searches for guidance on the streets of downtown Toronto—and discovers God (or some version of Him) in the gutter.
“The Last Judgment is a story that penetrates into the heart of childhood sadness. Charlotte is without tools to fix what is broken, except for the incredible force of her will. The connections she makes between religion, parental failure, sexuality, and love make perfect sense because they are told in her bell-clear voice. This story is warm and tragic and, at moments, grimly funny.”
— Rebecca Rosenblum, author of Once and Road Trips