Pushing Through To The Back Of The Bus

When Terry begins scrolling through her phone, none of the photos she finds are hers.

Only seven this morning. That’s a blessing. Sometimes there are as many as two dozen. At first (two months ago? four? more?) she’d deleted them as quickly as they came in. But now she checks each one.

There’s never anything extraordinary or striking about the photos, nothing indecent that would prove embarrassing if the people in them were identified. In fact there are no people in them.

She’s done everything possible – changed her ID, the app, her password, had the store clean the phone and return it to factory default, and even bought a new phone. Still the photos keep coming.

And her photos?

She no longer takes photos. They don’t show up on her phone anyway. The only photos she sees are someone else’s.

She goes through the seven photos as she eats her bowl of cornflakes. Taken from Continue reading


“Ghost Coat” in the New Quarterly

I’m delighted to announce that my story “Ghost Coat” appears in The New Quarterly‘s spring issue “The Trickery of Spring.”

I started this story in Nancy Zafris‘ workshop at the Kenyon Review Writers’ Summer Workshop. And finished it three years later while working with mentor Caroline Adderson during the Wired Writers Workshop at the Banff Arts Centre.

I feel so lucky to have worked with two phenomenal mentors.

How many drafts? Oh, the variations this story has been through!


That Night At The Circus

Cirque du Soleil Big Top - Montreal Vieux Port

It was her vibrant contralto that made her such a valuable addition to the circus. That, and her winning smile and ability to transform into any form suggested by random members of the audience. Rock, waterfall, leopard, begonia, soup spoon… All was possible. (Once, to the audience’s horror, some idiot called out “skunk.”)

The Invisible Circus, BristolThe Ringmaster permitted only three transformations a night. He felt more would be detrimental to her health. Transformation was an exhausting process, even for her, to whom it came so naturally. In any case, three, the Ringmaster maintained, had scientifically been proven to be a lucky number.

Not so lucky if you were Snow White, argued one of the tightrope walkers, but he was well known as a troublemaker, and we all knew that story turned out fine in the end.

The little boy should never have been admitted. Everyone is now agreed on that, even if at first some said it was all her own fault. She’d always been able Continue reading

The Optimism Project

Chinese Gardens, Montreal Botanical Gardens 2015Optimism? Three whole pages? What sort of a school project is that? When I was your age, I was doing sums, finding the highest mountain in the world in the atlas, looking at leaves through a magnifying glass, important stuff like that. What will the world come to if all you kids do is think about optimism?

Your dad shouldn’t have sent you to me, my dear. I’m the family pessimist as he well knows. As far as I’m concerned, optimism is for the birds. Think everything will end up in a rosy glow? It depends on the occasion, that’s all I know. Some things will turn out well, others won’t. And you better be prepared when it doesn’t.

I learned pessimism from Charlie Frent in elementary school. Playing conkers in class, he was, when all of a sudden his conker got the teacher in the back of the head. Next thing we knew, Charlie was over his desk being whacked on his behind with a ruler.

That did it for me. Charlie didn’t give a…I mean, he wasn’t fazed at all. Although who can read another’s mind, especially at the age of seven? He just gave the teacher the finger (behind his back of course) but I was marked forever.

Never see a conker, but that I remember the lesson I learned that day: always watch out because just when you’re having fun, you get whacked on the behind.

What? Well, that may be so nowadays, but back in my day teachers were allowed to. But there, the past is past and you’re young and you need to write three pages on optimism for your teacher. Let’s see if I can dredge up something for you.


Hm…. It’s a shame your Uncle Freddy isn’t here.

Make a cup of tea, why don’t you, dear? That might help.


It’s not so easy this optimism lark. Get out the dictionary, there’s a love. “Hopefulness and confidence about the future.” Hm… What with the Continue reading

The Low Green Door

“The Low Green Door” is the first of my weekly writing ‘blurts’. You can read why I decided to make this my 2016 New Year’s Resolution here.


The Low Green Door

That girl with the curly hair, she looks like a kid out of a storybook, the kind of kid that nips through a low green door half-hidden by brambles and roses and wisteria, the kind you go through and then can’t find again so you Continue reading