By Cecilia Stuart
Her hand slaps the air like the air is reaching for the last cookie in the jar. She looks like don’t you dare. She looks like try me. She is so overdramatic. She’s wearing a Will and Kate baseball tee. Will and Kate forever. She looks down at the ground and wonders about space. She wonders, what would the earth look like if I got so far back? She wonders, which is more beautiful, the earth from afar or my mother’s deep blue eyes? Which is more natural? She writes poems about the rainforest. She writes, I am always closing in on lush. She gets so dizzy sometimes. She often faints but drinks red wine vinegar to speed her recovery. It makes her irritable, though. She is bad at introductions. She usually forgets small talk. She wants to talk exotic dancers. She wants to talk transport trucks. She hesitates. She stutters, then eventually she peters out. She fluctuates. She stole your wallet at the bar and feels bad about it. She threw it in a garbage can and said ten Hail Marys. She hates Queen Street because of this. She wants to get better. She tries pretty hard. Sometimes she meditates. Most of the time she folds (sheets and other things). I want to say hysterical, but it doesn’t quite fit. She hates her shadow. She runs from her shadow. She tries to be shadowless. She deletes her twitter account.
Kyle Was Just Fifteen
By Cecilia Stuart
Kyle was just fifteen years old when the love of his life (his soulmate!) dumped him for a boy she met at summer camp. When she told him over the phone, he wanted to say “fuck you” but instead he said “honour your pain,” which is something he heard his dad say to his mom during one of their fights once. The words didn’t sound as convincing when he said them, though. When he hung up, he felt ambivalent. His tongue felt dense.
Before this, Kyle never had sleeping problems. He used to fall asleep with his windows wide open. When the sun beat down into his room at 6:30 am (most days) he never grumbled or pulled the blinds shut. But after the love of his life stabbed him in the chest and left him bleeding out on the metaphorical street, he didn’t find the crows cawing on the roof every morning delightful. Or his neighbour’s ride-on lawnmower. Every night, he stuffed a towel under his door to keep the light from the hall out of his room. Instead of gently drifting off to sleep, he needed his waxy airplane earplugs and an eye mask he stole from his sister, which read “I Need My Beauty Sleep” in black sequins, to even start to calm down. He had to bury his head under several pillows, so he knew he was really really alone.
Kyle was in
When the girl was young, her parents made her copy out parts of the dictionary whenever she threw a tantrum. So she knew a lot of words and who they were for (e.g. cove is a girl word for girls to use when they want to feel safe. chop is for harder days). She knew that a lot of words were not for her, but she made them fit as best she could. Most words felt slippery, so she would repeat them over and over to herself until they stayed in her grasp (until she could pin them down). Every day when she came home from school, her mother would make a pot of Red Rose tea and they would sit on the porch. The girl’s mother would say “tell me about your day,” and often the girl’s response would come out so fast and so jumbled that it was unintelligible. “Tell me more about that,” the girl’s mother would say.
As she got older, she still copied out the dictionary when she was mad. She often stood in front of the mirror and practiced reciting the words she learned. Then she would practice speaking slowly, pronouncing each syllable distinctly. It never took, though, so eventually she gave up.
When she lay awake in the middle of the night, she would list words that might be good to say aloud one day. After a while she started making up her own words, ones that sounded and felt better (more precise). Some of them would be combinations of other words, and some would be completely new. Her spine shivered when she thought of all the possibilities. She could tell any story she wanted to now, without feeling like an imposter.
And wanted to be LEFT TO HIMSELF
Kyle remembered that when he was young, if he had trouble sleeping his parents would tell him the story of his grandmother and her words. When he got home from school the next day, he took a thick black marker and wrote IF U SPEAK WITH A DENSE TONGUE U DON’T SPEAK AT ALL on the inside of his desk drawer, so he would see it whenever he needed a pen or a stick of gum. It helped just a little bit.
Cecilia Stuart is an English Literature student from Toronto, now living in New Brunswick. In her spare time, she likes to research stained glass and whales.