I'm Almost There - A Short Story

Ice chunks disintegrate into pebbles underneath my boots. I call out to Marcus up ahead to slow down but from what I can see through the fog, he keeps walking towards the rock.
The lake is bare.
In the summer, we would ask dad to take us to the rock. It would take five minutes to boat there, and ten to anchor and jump into the water. We’ve been walking on the ice for almost thirty minutes. My hands are cold. My hands are cold and my face is colder. I can’t feel my feet anymore. I put my gloves to my ski mask, wiping the snot before it turns into crystals. I force my body forward towards Marcus, who is now standing on the rock a few hundred meters away. I hear him laugh and yodel into the wind, slugging his fists to his chest. I see him brace himself on the rock. He plants his feet firmly and bends down. I’m almost there. I’m almost there to tell him to stop being an idiot. He stands up and bends his knees down again. He waves to me and laughs again.
He jumps.
He jumps from the top of the rock until he hits the ice. He lands on his knees and slips forward onto his hands. His body has moved the snow away. The ice there is darker than the ice along the shore. He tries to get up before the water below consumes him. I start to run. I’m running for hours.

You Are My Best Friend

You’re about as transparent as a rock.
Hollow as a cat, with all its slick pulsating organs.
You are heavy like water, and lost just as easily.
I miss you when you’re not around.

You bring me flowers past their sell-by date
And eat the chocolates in the car.
I like that you never seem to care but
It leaves me lost someplace in the far distance.

You are ugly; your face dissolves in the wind
And solidifies into a canyon of erratic skin.
People avert their eyes when they see you but
I think you are very beautiful.

You laugh like broken glass washed ashore
And I can hear your smile a mile off.
When you cry, flowers grow in the
Puddles you leave behind on the pavement.

You are my best friend, simply and entirely.

there’s a demon in the cupboard - 
his arms extended and fleshy, 
face obscured by rolls of 
meat, wet and electric. 

last night he made you swear by
tomorrow morning, make
promises against yourself

- all peach fuzz bone cold 
summer hair up complexion 
riddled with the fruits of 
your own labour -

but they don’t hand out 
the kind of medals you’re 
looking for, besides the ones 
you collect, rib-bare 
against your mattress pad 
(belly full of water like 
some undersea volcano)

and so you run, 
leagues of you run,
rushing towards this great

The First Time

The first time Sammy ever went swimming was when her father took her three hours up north to her cottage in Muskoka. There where the pine trees grew monstrous and deer were so abundant they lay like trophies along highway 401, every deer fresh, ready for stuffing. Sammy’s mother wanted a break from the family after a few months of being babied and carried from the couch to the bedroom every morning. Day after day of hidden wine bottles and slurred insults, fed up, Sammy’s father agreed to the terms once she set them.

He took their daughter to the heated cottage on the lake and bought a life jacket at the nearest Walmart in anticipation of the lesson to be carried out later that day. The afternoon had ended on the highway, the evening beginning, the sun set comfortably underneath the clouds, seeming to gaze down the lake and smile colors of yellow, rainbow violet and cotton-candy pink. It grinned at the tops of pine and the roofs of cottages hidden in the wooden along the shores of the many smaller islands that inhabited the residential lake. The fisherman had left to feed their families and the fish had settled to no longer graze the tops of the water to feed the greedy loons and seagulls. The lake was silent

Sammy changed into her black one piece, she’d acquired a love for the color ever since her mother started throwing up her food and alcohol- it was the only color that didn’t come out of her in acid- and newly bought black life jacket that hung off her boney shoulders and buckled at her fast-food filled belly and between her muscly thighs. Sammy walked down the familiar wooden dock steps that she had sat on so many times before, watching her older brother flirt in the water with his girlfriends. She stepped into the water, toes first and then the second slender foot. The pebbles and larger rocks felt coarse and infected with zebra-mussels that inched to pierce your skin and release young blood into fresh water. Her father followed her closely behind and then passed her to jump off the edge of the largest rock and into the black water and then swam towards her with outreached arms and a grin that started with his yellowing teeth and travelled to his great brown eyes. Sammy jumped towards him with no fear of falling, Sammy felt the loving warmth and comfort of the water, as she splashed into it. Her mother wasn’t here to ruin the moment with and tell her she was going to catch a cold. Her brother wasn’t here to make fun of the boys she liked at school and how they would never like her back while she had knobby knees and a boney spine that ribbed out of her back.  It was just her and quiet, reserved, bearded Daddy here, the last time she would ever be able to call him that, Daddy, after this she would have to grow up too fast to take care of mother, watch her father die, and be beaten up by her first boyfriend, Bobby. But here, time was suspended in the strokes of her legs and the way her black hair disappeared into the darkening water past her shoulders. Time was mostly still in her father’s nicotine infested smile, the way he ends of his lips crept up naturally, he was so happy.

i was an afterthought

skepticism soldified deep within me
when he butchered my name for the third time.
two syllables too many, i thought.
my name foreign to his tongue
and probably his mind.