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
This Is a Love Crime
by Lee Kvern
Marta is a human resources employee at a grocery store chain. She moves through the days passively, always taking the path of least resistance, until a case at work - that of a hijab-wearing woman, in defiance of a strict no-hats policy - awakens her to the injustices of her own life.
“This Is a Love Crime by Lee Kvern is a cunning and intensely human look at one of the central issues of our time. It negotiates the space between belief, racism, liberty, and sexuality with curiosity and compassion.”
— Todd Babiak, bestselling author of Toby: A Man and The Garneau Block
“Lee Kvern paints with a scalpel. With characteristic unflinching honesty, she peels the relationship between Marta and Corbin back to quivering nerves in This Is a Love Crime and juxtaposes it against veiled assumptions about cultural oppression. The narrative leaps crackle with energy and empathy. When I read Kvern’s stories, I’m seduced by exquisite detail and—love or loathe them—left with the scent of her characters long after the last page.”
— Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Delivery and The Boy
“In This Is a Love Crime, Lee Kvern uses the intricately drawn characters of Corbin and Marta to explore the charged topics of ethnicity and Western modes of submission and control. Written in Kvern’s distinctive, poetic, and multi-layered style, the story leaves us with warm insight into all the characters—and challenges our hearts and preconceptions.”
— Barb Howard, author of Whipstock, Notes for Monday, and The Dewpoint Show
The Psychology of Animals Swallowed Alive:
by Kirsty Logan
Embark upon these twenty short, scrumptious flights of fancy from the unmistakable pen of Scott Prize-winning author Kirsty Logan, and you will be astounded, titillated, disturbed, amused, heartbroken, and above all, astonished.
“Logan crafts an exquisitely wrought diorama full of tenderly compelling characters; observations about grief, worship, social order, and human nature, and a love that transcends definition.”
– NPR on Logan's debut novel The Gracekeepers
Mike Mike Mike Mike
by Grace O'Connell
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
by Star Spider
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'.
by Matt Cahill
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.
Everything Must Go
by Jeff Dupuis
A man in the throes of a breakup is selling all of his possessions on Kijiji and Craigslist. Greg’s couch, his VHS tapes, obsolete desktop computer, and cow-shaped clock – it all must go. Between pot smoking, pizza eating, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, he meets with would-be buyers, taking his old life apart piece by discount piece in order to figure out what went wrong.
by Jessica Westhead
In this unexpectedly dark character study, Jessica Westhead puts you in the shoes of an apprentice forced to listen to a seasoned wedding DJ as he lectures on the tricks of the trade. Emboldened by the captivity of his audience, the DJ's 'humorous' observations and grievances claw deeper and deeper, betraying ugliness at the core.
“In the still-frothing wake of And Also Sharks, here’s another sadly hilarious and hilariously sad Jessica Westhead story with bite. The self-deluding wedding DJ in The Lesson is a perfect addition to Westhead’s bent gallery of sympathetic sad sacks blustering their way through work and love ever after.”
— Zsuzsi Gartner, author of All the Anxious Girls on Earth and the 2011 Giller Prize–shortlisted Better Living Through Plastic Explosives