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.