Study for a Crayon Resist Drawing
By Trevor Abes
Tony Athabasca, rock crusher, is haunted by the cell phones his labours provide the raw materials for. His pickaxe rings against rock faces and loosens their likenesses until earthly provenance begins to fade. He wheelbarrows cracked features into the backs of trucks to be reshaped into connective tissue, anchored by silicone, use of which distends and fractures his own vision of himself. He sees his job as a dental cheek-retractor on how we are seen, how we resemble ourselves, and how we get across to one another.
Tony takes to pocketing rocks. One day coltan, next day cassiterite, frequently wolframite, seldom gold. The armed guards haven’t the millimetric focus to notice 30 or 40 missing grams at a time. He stores them in stacks of plastic bags that come to occupy his modest closet. When he can no longer slide the door open to add more, he moves on to the laundry sink, bath, cupboards, and toilet, until his personal space is glimmering with minerals. He packs up and leaves only when a pathway between his bed and the front door is all that’s left; he unloads bags as he walks backwards, filling the gap, and locks the door with a blackened hand.
After days of silence, Tony’s girlfriend visits unannounced. She cups her hands over her eyes and peers through the living room window. She calls his cell. It rings from somewhere inside.
By Trevor Abes
Samara Rafferty, Christmas store cashier, is gifted a Balsam fir tree by her boss, whose teenage son neglected to water it for an uncertain number of days while nervously waiting for a crush’s text reply.
She takes the gaunt, shedding specimen home, convinced that its outward appearance betrays its abundance of life, installs it in her living-dining-bedroom, turns on the TV, and lies down to sleep.
A program about irresponsible home ownership teaches her that harvested Christmas trees contain roughly thirty-thousand organisms before she’s out like a light.
Samara spends lulls between customers searching the internet for the correct term for fluorescent dyes used to mark cells and molecules. She lands on ‘fluorophore'.
She makes some calls and secures a litre of it, plus the requisite chemistry equipment to collect all the critters she can find from the roots to the top of her burgeoning Balsam.
Samara uses the fluorophore to coat the critters a shimmering aquamarine, placing them by the test tube in glass jars quarter-filled with soil and planted with seeds from the Balsam’s cones.
You can find them in the impulse section next to front cash.
By Trevor Abes
Sidney Tinsley marries May San Porter, his first girlfriend, when they’re both 23 and halfway through medical school. By the time they’re doctors, neither remembers who Tom Bergeron is, which wars are being waged, or whether maple-bacon donuts are still a thing.
Though the couple works in the same hospital, they only see each other for a half-hour lunch frequently interrupted by death’s intermittent emergences.
Sidney and May devise a project to feel closer than work allows. One that gives them a story to share at night before bed. They ask each patient that passes through their offices one question: can I take your portrait?
If yes, the patient stands on a stool made of transparent tubing behind a framed pane of museum glass. The stool’s see-through design makes it easier to Photoshop out. The doctor then snaps the patient’s picture and titles it with the ailment from which they suffer—from “Abdominal Pain” to “Kabuki Syndrome” to “Zinc Toxicity”.
May and Sidney display these portraits in their waiting rooms as autostereograms.
Trevor Abes is an artist from Toronto with a fondness for writing essays and poetry. He was part of the winning ensemble at the 2015 SLAMtario Spoken Word Festival, and competed in both the National Poetry Slam and the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word as part of the Toronto Poetry Slam team. His work has appeared in Torontoist, (parenthetical), untethered, Sewer Lid, long con magazine, Spacing Magazine, Descant Magazine, The Rusty Toque, The Theatre Reader, Mooney on Theatre, The Toronto Review of Books, Hart House Review, and Sequential: Canadian Comics News & Culture, among others. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @TrevorAbes.