by Matt Cahill
A father, left to raise his troubled young son alone in their secluded country home, must work through his own deep-seated fears and resentments when the boy's ongoing night terrors lead to a confrontation with the inescapable.
“A great piece of writing.”
— Christen Thomas, Executive Director of the Literary Press Group
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As implicitly embedded as his voice is in my awareness of things — police sirens, women's screams, Daniel's voice in the night — I can't tell if I've fallen asleep.
For the longest time, I used to wait for Mina to stir beside me, hear what I was hearing, and tend to Daniel begrudgingly while I pretended to sleep. But these last two years have been just kiddo and me. Sometimes I'll wait, hoping he'll become convinced I won't go to his room to hear his ramblings — that I’m not going to listen to him tell me about the things in his room that scare him, sounds he thinks he heard, or did hear but which are in reality not things to be scared of. I don’t always get up.
But tonight there's something in his voice: a pleading tone I can’t recall hearing before. It worries me.
The wind picks up outside. Here, in the middle of the sticks, winter nights are quiet. Always quiet. That’s one of the reasons we moved out here, to keep Mina from going nuts in the city. In the end, the lack of anyone but me and Daniel did it anyways.
I wish she hadn't left us — that I'd found a way to bend time and circumstance to please her, to convince her that moving out here from the city was a good idea. Convince her with more than just made-up stuff to keep her here.
I lie there some more and wonder how much sleep I'll get tonight. Even if I do The Good Dad Thing and go to Daniel, I am probably looking at only four hours until I have to get up and chase him around like a Rhode Island Red to get dressed, fed, and on the bus to school. Then I, the zombie, will go to the office and pretend I have the power and competency to work within logistically impossible project schedules. The only thing in my favour is that I don't make the schedules, so it’s only a matter of senseless due diligence until it becomes clear to the powers-that-be that whatever I’m being asked to do bears no resemblance to anything achievable in reality.
Every time I find myself thinking about this, I recall one of the promises I made to Mina: that I would get a raise, that I would get promoted out of the slacker-slave veal pen I'd been toiling in for years.
Daniel's voice in the dark, pleading. That shy kid. Never gets in trouble. I wish he did. He doesn't have a lot of friends, it seems. It takes every bit of my patience to get him to tell me what goes on in his life. When I ask whether he has friends he'll turn away and look at something else. One time, when I asked Mina if we should be concerned, she did the same thing.
I love him. Don't understand him.
about the author
MATT CAHILL is a Toronto writer. He writes novels, short fiction, and essays. He's contributed work to Ryeberg, BlogTO, and Torontoist. His short story, Snowshoe, appeared in September 2014 with Found Press. His debut novel, The Society of Experience was released in 2015 with Buckrider Books, a new imprint of Wolsak & Wynn. Matt worked for 20 years in the film and television industry before coming to his senses and training to become a psychotherapist. He now has a private practice and is a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Matt reads high-falutin’ books of all sorts, plays intermediate soccer, and occasionally drums. His website is mattcahill.ca
by this author
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.
from the library
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.
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.
Deep in the heart of Ontario cottage country, Izza Ingram’s biological family disintegrates when her parents become trapped in a moment Izza can barely remember. Lost to their parents, she and her sister Paulie form an unlikely family unit under the guidance of their parents’ friend Doug. In this trio of their own making, Izza, Paulie, and Doug try to navigate the differences between the families we are born into versus the families we choose.
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
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
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.
A woman wakes up in bed beside her ex-boyfriend and is at loss to explain how she got there. Inexplicably drawn to stay, she scours every square inch of the apartment they used to share, noting the traces of her presence that linger on, as well as the empty spots that conspicuously mark her absence. The deeper she digs, the more she understands how imperfect her relationship was – and the less willing she is to come up for air.