Posted: October 17, 2016 in ann douglas
Tags: , , , ,


It had been a foolish idea to bring the umbrella with us on that stormy autumn day—a silly whim propelled by a truly misguided gust of optimism.

Nothing was going to be able to protect my five-year-old son from this particular storm.

Not me.

Not his mother.

And certainly not some flimsy, dollar-store umbrella.

And so the umbrella ended up being battered—badly—as any sensible person might have predicted. The wind can be as ruthless as an umbrella is unforgiving, after all.

Our hearts—his and mine—didn’t fare much better either.

Marriages aren’t supposed to fail.

Mothers aren’t supposed to leave.

And little boys aren’t supposed to be left to try to make sense of it all.

* * *

I still don’t know what led me to hold on to that umbrella—what made me decide to carry it back home with us rather than simply leaving it to writhe, tattered and broken, on the boulevard beside the bus station.

And I have absolutely no memory of heaving that grotesque and useless object up on to the top shelf of our front hall closet, where it languished, forgotten, until this morning.

In the end, all that it took to dislodge that pathetic umbrella was an innocent tug on a winter scarf—a scarf my son needed in the wake of the first heavy snowfall of the season.

His eyes lit up at the sight of the mangled umbrella, which had morphed into a nondescript hunk of nylon sporting a few twisted and misplaced aluminum spines.

Cool! Can I have it, Dad? Can I have it, please?”

I shrugged as he bounded out the door, scarf forgotten, brandishing the umbrella like some sort of precious talisman.

As I watched, he scrambled up the mountain of snow at the bottom of our driveway, placing the hardy remnants of the umbrella across the top.

“Look, Dad. A snowfort!”


Ann Douglas  is the author of numerous books about parenting including, most recently, Parenting Through the Storm. She is also the weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio. You will find her on Twitter at @anndouglas and www.anndouglas.ca.



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hunt“It started with the Yardley City Slicker my mother bought me in a sheer pink for my Grade 7 year-end party.”






We leave ourselves wherever we land,
jettisoning flotsam,
even if it’s only the accidental dust of skin
we settle in every room.
It’s the hello, the fingerprint,
the subconscious erection,
the careless monument that says:
We were here in this place.
Before you,
we also saw this water
and sat in this sweet mulch of fall grass.
We call back to ourselves,
if only by the shape of a palm pressed into tin
left ugly for the next comer.



Elan Morgan  is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works (http://elan.works), spreads gratitude through the Grace In Small Things (http://www.graceinsmallthings.com) social network, is a co-founder of GenderAvenger (http://www.genderavenger.com), and speaks all over. She has been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health and Woman’s Day magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. She believes in and works to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.



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douglas“Mothers aren’t supposed to leave.”


They’re in the dark, and one of them thinks about the study that concludes monkeys understand how money works. While they use their coins at first to buy grapes and marshmallows, some monkeys begin paying each other for sex, and even seem to budget for it. The other one thinks about how all movies are about loss, and not just because of what’s outside the frame or left on the cutting room floor, but because the best stories leave out far too much.

Perfumed by popcorn mixed with sad-basement-corner (you can’t avoid compounds when describing smells), they talk about how it’s musty here because of the rain today and because they’re actually underground right now, but it’s hard to know for sure in a room without windows.  Or maybe too many sodas have marinated the spongy flip-flopping chairs, their navy and fluorescent upholstery only ever used on seats in theatres and Greyhound buses. A stranger, an aisle over, laughs and one of them thinks it’s at their conversation, and is happy to be thought of as funny. It’s not, it’s only a gif of Bob Ross on his phone, halo of hair puffed in its usual way like one of his happy clouds, sun coming through the edges, but they don’t know this.

Marissa hates that her husband walks between the row of seats head on like it’s a garden path instead of shuffling sideways like everyone else. She also hates that he hordes napkins, yanking out stacks from every restaurant they go to, and because she’s the one with the purse, they get stuffed in there. Now she’s his accomplice, and not even in an edgy way where she could invoke spousal privilege. He’s done it today, while she was getting bottled water, and as far as she has it figured, nothing is gratis. Not the condoms raining from the hands of RAs in her university days, not mini shampoos, and not these napkins.

Steve doesn’t hate too much about Marissa, except that he recently began to notice that when he shares a revelation, she interrupts before he gets to the good part with “Tell me about it.” He suspects that she says this not because she agrees or has even thought about it before but as a way of turning the channel. She could walk out of the room, and say “Need anything from the kitchen?”. She could ignore him in even crueller ways that he can’t fathom yet, but instead she dismisses him by feigning complete accordance. Two minds think alike, pinch, poke, you owe me a coke, etc. It’s not so bad, really.

They couldn’t agree on a movie to see. She wanted a bromance, he wanted something cerebral. They let one of their perpetually single friends pick for them, their arbiter they call him, and joke that all parts of marriage are a trial run for divorce including today’s mediation.  And so they find themselves at the downtown cinema showing the digitally restored version of It Happened One Night. They had seen it before, a pirated version online, and one of them suspected it was a precursor of When Harry Met Sally because both movies are madcap love stories with road trips where the audience feels self-congratulatory for seeing so quickly the star-crossed lovers are perfectly matched. The other began looking for facts about the movie, to stave off discomfort with the unrealistic but happy ending. Gable’s Oscar sold for over half a million dollars, while no one bid on Colbert’s. Isn’t that the way. They also learned that Stalin and Hitler were fans, and maybe this mutual appreciation had a hand in laying the foundation for their infamous Stalin-Hitler, correction: Molotov-Ribbentrop, non-aggression pact.

During the movie tonight, she files away Gable’s response to his boss when he gets fired. You gashouse palooka! She often fantasizes about quitting her job, so this is research. For him, he begins feeling really nostalgic for a time that seems so distant, or one that maybe was only ever there in cellulose.

They both love the movie’s most famous scene when Gable and Colbert, still practically strangers, have no choice but to share a hotel room, and with chivalry he hangs a sheet like a curtain between them for decency. Decency. With the makeshift divider, Gable alludes to the walls of Jericho to comfort Colbert, even though in the Bible anyway, the walls fall and everyone but a prostitute is slaughtered. Marissa and Steve both love the end of the movie when Gable and Colbert finally get married and go on their honeymoon. Offscreen, they hang a sheet between them again, only this time, Gable plays a toy trumpet as foreplay. Marissa and Steve imagine that sheet cascading to the floor like melting ice cream and silk and shadow.

The credits roll, she sidesteps between the seats, and he marches behind. When she rummages  in her purse for her keys, a napkin wings its way to the floor, and he sings, almost privately, ‘and the walls came tumblin’ down.’ She falls for him, a little anyway. Their eyes adjust back to the light.



Charmaine Cadeau,  a Canadian writer, originally from Toronto, currently co-directs a community writing center, and teaches English at High Point University in North Carolina. Her books of poetry include What You Used to Wear and Placeholder, which won the ReLit Award and the Brockton Campbell Award.


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morgan“We leave ourselves wherever we land,”



I ask myself, what do I see?
Is something there?
A robot or a fallen box
Blue to red ratio some subtle sense
I have of small face or broken water
What is the difference
This and the others?
Have I forgotten to need?

A list of seas:
Chilean Sea
China Seas
Sea of Cortes (Sea of Cortez?)
Koro Sea
Shantar Sea

“I do not paint the sea. I paint what the sea painted in me.”


Natalee Caple  is the author of seven books of poetry and fiction and the co-editor of an anthology of contemporary Canadian writers.  Caple’s latest novel, In Calamity’s Wake, was published by HarperCollins in Canada and by Bloomsbury in the US. She is a professor of English, teaching Canadian literature and Creative Writing at Brock University.



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cadeau“She wanted a bromance, he wanted something cerebral.”


bush - Copy

A paper blew past, a scrap of garbage. We stepped over it as we walked to the riverbank.

It tumbled to the feet of the old homeless woman sitting on a bench, hair in lanky grey tangles, layered in grotty clothes, bundled against the world. She bent over ­– I swear I could hear her creaking – and grabbed it, caught against her feet.

She unfolded the scrap of garbage, smoothing it on her knee as if it was somehow precious. She sounded out the words.

“She can’t even read,” someone muttered.

We laughed, all of us, at this pathetic old lady as she ran her finger along one line and then the next.

She reached the end of the sentence, nodded and smiled as if it meant something. She leaned back, her head to the sun, eyes closed, ecstatic. How could a scrap of paper make anyone smile like that?

As we stared, her skin began to glow. Her smile deepened, her eyes still closed. Light poured out of every part of her body, golden bright and brighter, until she was gone.

We leapt back, horrified. Silence thickened around us. Everyone ran, except me. I waited until the silence eased, and picked up the paper.


Maureen Bush  loved writing as a child but had nothing to say, so she went on to other things, including a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. She worked as a public involvement consultant and trained as a mediator, then discovered she liked writing even better. She’s published five children’s novels: Feather Brain, (Orca, 2008), Cursed! (Orca, 2010), and the Veil of Magic series:  The Nexus Ring (Orca, 2008), Crow Boy (Coteau, 2010), and The Veil Weavers (Coteau, 2012).

She can be found at http://www.maureenbush.com

(photo, ”Paper’, by Maureen Bush)



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caple“A robot or a fallen box.”



I took my Allen Key, Henry. I took it and I tried my best. Did you see the mess things were in by the time I got to it? The way the catalogue arrived, tossed like so much detritus on the driveway you’d just paved, the way its crisp petroleum-laced pages were dog-eared to excess, the way your jeep had swept over and over it all those days as you rushed to work and back, to the hardware store for your innovative hinges, your every articulating things, the way I and the children (oh, the children!) trod upon it like it had no value, like it was inconsequential. Like we had no goddam respect. You never really love IKEA until it’s just out of reach, I’ve heard that. In that catalogue, mangled and illegible — are all the things you’ll need for your frugal new life, the Tromsö bunk beds, the Billy shelves, the jolly Kustruta bedding, that almost-hip Fado lamp. You probably don’t know about my toolkit, the one I’ve hidden in the bottom drawer of my heart, the one with a Phillips and a Robertson, a top-of-the-line air compressor, all manner of screws, nails, bolts, and dowelling. I’ve been saving, hoarding. And there under the coil of waxed rope and the chisel set, I found the Allen Key, rusted but with a little 3-in-One (I think my dad taught me this trick) instantly rejuvenated. I found the instructions on the Internet, Henry. Did you think to look there? You can find everything there, honestly. And a Google search was my first angle of attack. No one looks for lock points on a catalogue, but they are there, tucked in the margins, embedded in the glued binding, sometimes so well hidden I had to flip the pages back and forth many times before I spotted one. I worked that thing for weeks but I couldn’t figure out how to repair it. I failed here, I know. I tried so hard, for weeks until the weeks grew to years, until the years turned to decades. It’s important to me that you know I tried by best.


Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is the bestselling author of the novels All The Broken Things, Perfecting, and The Nettle Spinner, as well as, the short story collection, Way Up. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta Magazine, the Walrus Magazine, Storyville and others. She is a PhD candidate in the English department at the University of Toronto, where she researches in theories of creativity. Kathryn is Associate Faculty with the University of Guelph MFA in Creative Writing.


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bush“She can’t even read,” someone muttered.





“You’re not supposed to throw them away.”

“I didn’t throw it away. I put it in my purse. It’s got to be here somewhere. Is this it?”

“That’s from November.”

“See that line? I always draw a line across the ones I’ve checked.”

“Is that it?”

“That? That’s from drycleaning.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t think I picked up that drycleaning. It was just old coats I was giving away.”

“I don’t know how you find anything in there.”

“It’s got to be in here. It wasn’t a winner anyway. I always draw a line.”

“And you remember drawing a line?”


“You drew a line?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“You think so.”

“I kept it. You can double-check it.”

“Has that one been checked?”

“It’s from January.”

“There’s no line through it.”

“Maybe I didn’t have a pen handy.”

“But are you sure it’s been checked?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Pretty sure. You know how many millions of dollars go unclaimed every year? I read that somewhere. Millions. Scratch tickets, they’re notorious.”

“If I re-trace my steps.”

“The government must be raking in money hand over fist from those unclaimed scratch tickets. People like us. Buying the little dream.”

“It wasn’t a scratch. I don’t buy the scratch, you know that.”

“What’s that?”

“That’s from June.”

June? Of what year?”


Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Frances Greenslade  has since lived in Winnipeg, Regina, Vancouver, Chilliwack and now Penticton. She has a BA in English from the University of Winnipeg and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia. By the Secret Ladder and A Pilgrim in Ireland (Penguin) are her first two books, both memoir. Her novel, Shelter, was published in Canada by Random House in 2011, in the US by Free Press and the UK by Virago in 2012. It has been translated into Dutch, German and Italian. She has taught English and Creative writing at Okanagan College since 2005.



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kuitenbrouwer“You never really love IKEA until it’s just out of reach”