Posted: June 8, 2017 in elise moser
Tags: , , , ,


Jay. I hope you don’t mind that I am just putting the keys in this envelope for you instead of meeting you in person. I know I said I would meet you, but I got a ride tonight so I won’t be here tomorrow after all. I know you said you forgave me, and I really really appreciate it, and I hope you know I really really am sorry for the times I let you down. Also the times you thought I let you down that might not have been actually my fault.

Jay. I am really sorry but I am leaving you the keys here instead of meeting you in person, because I met some guys who can give me a ride most of the way, except they are leaving tonight after their gig (they are a band) so unfortunately I won’t be here tomorrow when you come get these keys. I know that you were pretty mad at me. I really appreciate that you said you would not be mad if I admitted that I didn’t do the stuff I said I would do, which was not fair to you. That is really great. Like, I know I didn’t do the dishes enough and that pissed you off practically every day. So: I did all the dishes before I left! Even the frying pan!

Jay. I’m really truly sorry I won’t be here tomorrow to meet you, but here are the keys. I don’t have the money for the last two weeks of rent because I have to pay these guys gas money, but I’m sure you can find someone to move in on short notice. You can keep my mattress and the clothes in the closet, there are just a few things I couldn’t squish into my bag, I know they won’t fit you but maybe you could sell them. One is my down jacket, the zipper is broken but it’s still really good. You could give it to whoever moves into my room, as part of the deal. If they aren’t vegan.

Jay. I apologize. For everything. I know I said I would meet you in the morning to give you the keys but I am getting a ride with a band tonight – so much cheaper than the Greyhound, only gas and beer money! So I really have to go tonight! I know that in the past me not taking responsibility for my actions was a really big thing for you but since you said if I apologized (really sincerely apologized) (not by text message) you could totally forgive me, I really wanted to be here to meet you and apologize face to face but I have to take this ride. So I hope you don’t mind if I apologize in this note. (This is not a text.) And also I washed the dishes before I left. (I know me not washing the dishes was a thing too.)

Jay. Here are the keys. I’m sorry I won’t be here when we said we would meet, but I have to go. I just have to say I know you were sometimes mad at me but I am basically a good person and it wasn’t my fault that you thought that when we slept together it meant more than it did. I did the dishes. You left a plate and a cup on the counter and I washed them, and the frying pan. (It wasn’t totally fair to say I never did the dishes.) I left you my mattress, I paid $100 for that a year ago on Kijiji so let’s just say that’s $100 of what I owed you for the last two weeks of the month. So if you get someone to move in immediately, you will actually be $100 ahead. Or anyway you’ll have an extra mattress.

Jay. I feel like no matter what I do, it’s not going to make you happy. I know I said I would meet you tomorrow to hand over the keys but I really feel you are going to be mad at me even though you said you would forgive me if I could truly sincerely apologize and take responsibility for my actions, but I think you will actually be happier if I just leave. So with that in mind I have found a ride for tonight so I can’t meet you in the morning, so I am just leaving the keys for you instead. I wish I never slept with you that time because I feel like no matter how many dishes I might have washed or how many times I took out the garbage you would still be mad at me because I’m sorry but I just don’t like you that way, we were both drunk and it was meaningless. I can’t help how I feel, right?

Jay. No matter what I say you will always be mad at me so I’m not going to say anything at all. I am just leaving you the keys.



Elise Moser has written a passel of short stories; a novel, Because I Have Loved and Hidden It (2009); a YA novel, Lily and Taylor (2013); and a nonfiction book for kids, What Milly Did (2016), which tells the amazing true story of the woman who invented plastics recycling — so the Litter-I-See Project is right up her (litter-strewn) alley! She is a member of the board of PEN Canada.



Up Next:

“I write though you’ve asked for no letters.”














Garbage day after
the holidays: blue boxes
overflow. Wind skates

trash over fresh snow,
drifts to a halt on the fence.
I can feel like that –

torn open, smashed flat –
mourning my dead, the future
trumped, ice sheets cracking.

Nothing left to do
but pick up the pieces, hold
to what in the end

is all that I have –
trust as the light fades to cold
you’ll not leave me too.


Betsy Struthers  is the author of nine books of poetry — most recently All That Desire: New and Selected Poems — three novels and a book of short fictions. Winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and runner-up for the Milton Acorn Memorial People’s Poetry Award, her work has been extensively published in literary journals and anthologies. She is a past president of the League of Canadian Poets and lives in Peterborough, Ontario.



Up Next:


“Jay. I apologize. For everything. I know I said I would meet you in the morning to give you the keys but I am getting a ride with a band tonight – so much cheaper than the Greyhound, “




  • Fridge door
  • Pen affixed in some clever, purposeful way to fridge door
  • Designer pad of note paper, preferably decorated with bright flowers or small animals the like of which are never seen in nature. (Failing this, a used envelope or scrap of junk mail will do)
  • Fridge magnet to hold the above in place. (Your choice of design, provided it is too cute for words)
  • Guilt, for garnish


Use the pen to list on the paper everything in your life you should have done by now, everything you ought to be doing this very minute instead of what you are in fact doing and everything that, by all that’s holy, you should at least try to do before you die. Ideally, your list will include both the somewhat doable (eg – Lose 15 pounds) and what can best be categorized as the do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry (eg – Try to be a better person)

Ignore your finished list for at least a week and preferably several years.

When the paper is yellowing and the ink beginning to fade, re-read your list, pen in hand.

If you can tick off even a single item, you have failed failure.

Garnish with guilt.

Serves one. As often as you choose to subject yourself to it.


K.D. Miller’s  stories and essays have appeared in Canadian literary magazines, have been collected in Oberon’s Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology, and have been broadcast by the CBC. She has published four collections of stories: A Litany in Time of Plague, Give Me Your Answer, The Other Voice and All Saints; an essay collection, Holy Writ; and a novel, Brown Dwarf.  In 2014, All Saints was short-listed for the 2014 Rogers Writers Trust Award and named as one of the year’s best by the Globe and Mail.
Visit K.D. Miller’s website at: www.dawnwriter.com




Up Next:

“torn open, smashed flat – mourning my dead, the future trumped,”

The stripe on the sleeve of a man with a mop
who is waiting on the corner for the light to be

not-red; stop. The flag in a storefront window;
stop. The cap on the kid in the stroller; stop.

The mailbox near the Chua Linh-son Temple;
stop. Last year’s rose on this year’s vine, wilted

by the fire station fence; stop. The cherry flash
atop the cop car, here now, hurrying; stop.

Where am I going? When do I go there?
What’s my name?



Joe Fiorito  is a Toronto journalist. He won the National Newspaper Award for columns in 1995. He is the author of six books, including a best-selling memoir, The Closer We Are To Dying. His novel, The Song Beneath The Ice, won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2003. His most recent book, Rust Is A Form of Fire, is a poetic meditation on the streets of the city.



Up Next:

“Use the pen to list on the paper everything in your life you should have done by now…”




K.P.  Kingston Pen. Used to be so quiet here. It’s true, the prison stole my harbour view, and trying to reason with that despotic monster was just talking to a wall, but what I lost in prospect, I gained in privacy and wind-protection.

Those were the days. I stretched in the sun, lolled at my leisure, clean and happy and untried—because, let’s be honest here—who walks past a prison for pleasure? A few stray dogs, the odd drunk weaving his way to town from the Portsmouth Tavern—that was the worst of the traffic I had to shoulder. In fact, compared to my cousins over at the Market Square or those poor slabs over on Princess, cracked up and cast aside and recast time and again these past few years, all so City Works could fix the sewers, I have to admit, I had it good.

Until they closed the place. Then they stabbed me with an A-frame sign advertising tours, of all things, and sent me to daily boot camp. Did they ask? Do they care? Did they help me to prepare? I’m not as young as I once was. I’m not in good enough shape for this! People on my back from dawn to dusk—townies and tourists, busloads of them—and I’m supposed to carry every one without complaint? Tramping on my spine, stamping on my shins, slopping their sunscreen and sweat and spit and Gatorade and God knows what on my poor, pathetic, pockmarked face.

Oh, Voltaren, my saint and saviour! Whoever it was who left you here has earned a lifetime of easy passage. Never will I trip or trouble that good or just plain overburdened soul, the one who dropped the open tube and failed to notice. Nor will I rise up against the one who now approaches, ready to press and squeeze and smear the medicated ointment underfoot. Out here, in the full glare of the sun, weary, beaten, broken, I splay in my sad condition for all to see.

Go ahead. Rub it in.


Susan Olding  is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays, selected by 49th Shelf and Amazon.ca as one of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Maisonneuve, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, and the Utne Reader, among others, and in anthologies including Best Canadian Essays, 2016 and In Fine Form, 2nd Edition.


*Photo — ‘Voltaren’, by Susan Olding.



Up Next:

fiorito“The mailbox near the Chua Linh-son Temple..”


He waited at the bus stop for a while, trying to read a copy of the free arts weekly he’d shoved in with his groceries, but the wind kept yanking at the pages, rattling them until he staggered back into the doorway of an out-of-business costume shop to get out of the wind. He put the bags at his feet, knowing that he was no longer really at the bus stop, that if the bus came he stood a lesser chance of it stopping for him back here, but it was a cold day and he was tired.

The cover story was an article about a band he hadn’t heard of, called the Simpletons. They were local too, started out playing together at some high school on the Danforth, branched out to east end bars, signed to Arts & Crafts. It made his throat hurt, dry and burning like an approaching cold. He didn’t resent their success—god knows, anyone who could escape the Value-Village-sweater life was a good omen for the rest. But the fact that he’d never heard the Simpletons, not at a fest or a showcase, hadn’t run across an EP or had a friend mention them, that felt like a bad omen. Like he wasn’t in the main circles anymore, like the acts who had new sounds were playing at bars he hadn’t even heard of. And who could he even ask about what bars, what neighbourhoods? It felt like everyone he had in his phone had gotten a job in marketing or teaching something, was spending Saturday nights trying to fix leaky taps and taking toddlers to the emergency room because they’d eaten an egg of Silly Putty.

A stronger gust of wind yanked the paper out of his hands—maybe he wasn’t trying that hard to hold on to it. The pages separated, most skittered east in the direction the bus would eventually take him, some flying up above his head until he lost track. When he glanced at the ground, he saw the page he had been reading, the baleful pride in the photo of the Simpletons, but he didn’t bother to pick it up. He saw the blue lights of the bus flash in the distance, and bent to gather his sacks of waffles and salad dressing.



Rebecca Rosenblum  is the author two short-story collections, Once and The Big Dream (Biblioasis, 2008 and 2011), the chapbook Road Trips (Frog Hollow Press, 2010) and the novel So Much Love, forthcoming in March 2017 from McClelland and Stewart. She lives, works, and writes in Toronto.



Up Next:

olding-hers“let’s be honest here—who walks past a prison for pleasure”



King Jack ruled with iron fist,
kept mortals in his kingdom
from living frivolous lives,
made them account for each coin,
every smile.

Not a benign monarch
who cared for his children,
not a father to his family.
No, King Jack ruled
his kingdom with iron fist,
with whip and weapon.

When clouds gathered
at the horizon,
slowly at first,
piling up and over each other,
dark, threatening –
King Jack ignored the threatening storm.

The people whispered,
They met
in secret,
in wishful whispers.

When the storm broke loose
in all its fury
wind and floods swept King Jack
and his army away,
washed shackles off
his people.

Relieved of the ruthless King
the kingdom breathed a sigh
of relief.
A burden lifted,
a ruler crumpled, faded
because no harshness, no violence,
no threat, no dominance
can foster love.

Long live the Queen.


Margriet Ruurs  is the author of 35 books for children. Her newest title is Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey (www.steppingstonesthebook.com)

She speak at schools around the world. When she is not traveling she runs Between The Covers, a book-lovers’ B & B on Salt Spring Island, BC (www.betweenthecoversbandb.com)



Up Next:

rosenblum“He didn’t resent their success—god knows, anyone who could escape the Value-Village-sweater life was a good omen for the rest.”