By Mariana Chajon

Her zipper clips bounced on the top of her bag. They moved in sequence to the beat of seconds; ticking in minutes of breaths, counted in. They didn’t know how to count to a minute without catching their breath.

The zipper clips kept bouncing, and their sound could be used to trace the steps of two young adults walking a street that wasn’t Saint-Catherine (but if it was, you could’ve seen me, because you work on Tuesdays, somewhere on Saint-Catherine street).

Their shoes were dirty, but not once did she look down at them. They could’ve been clean. The laundromat they passed held stories of somebody else, but she felt she was a part of them as she heard them, because in the seconds and the breaths that they couldn’t measure in a minute, the words were directed to her: they were hers.

Since it was almost the end of October, and it was cold (even though I didn’t feel cold, and that morning I grabbed my lightest jacket), the breaths with words that couldn’t be measured in minutes that were directed to her seemed to trace currents of air, and wash away.

As he washed away his words on stories of somebody else at the laundromat, his zipper clips were on the left side of his bag. They didn’t make noise; they couldn’t trace back his steps.

Her bag was always heavy, but in the past couple of days it felt oddly light, so she walked on, past the laundromat, leaving her stories behind.

But more stories became hers and suddenly they became one, of her own.

His dad brought him into the church they passed by years ago and told him there was no god (I didn’t bother to capitalize).

So they kept walking leaving a trail of sesame seeds as they chewed on bagels that weren’t warm.

Oddly spaced, their steps were measured, not by minutes, but by two 20/20 visions reading street signs.

Every step they took, they could see clearer.

They knew where they were going, but they didn’t know where it was. They didn’t know where they were going.

A thought settled in one of them, like a feather falling down from the sky. They crossed the street in the ease of steps and zipper clips clipping, both sides of the street stared at each other’s eyes waiting to be noticed, but the dirty shoes kept walking in an oddly spaced sidewalk, and they didn’t turn their heads around.

Thirty seconds might have passed, as that is all they could have counted in the space of an hour.

The street was dusty, and the bagels they were eating rained sesame seeds and gathered dust.

Reflective windows.

It wasn’t a windy day, but for some reason the dusty street turned into dusty bagels, that turned into minuscule specks in their eyes. For the thirty seconds they could count in an hour, they closed their eyes.

Restaurant signs decorated the street with alliteration.

His tongue sounded like a prosody teacher as he named the businesses on the single street they walked in.

(In the end, we reached the theatre in time for the play).


And Church Lay Silent

By Mayan Godmaire


 lay in the grass. 


 the other side of the rutted road, it appeared to sleep. The plants flourished around it, nourished, it seemed, by its presence. Beneath my own feet the harsh beige stalks of winter wheat sprouted grimly. I was transfixed. My gaze, glassed over, searched the

 naked thing in helpless curiosity. How often had my thoughts wandered to this very shape? How often had my mind’s eye caressed the soft curves, conjuring the giving of skin to perfection?

It is here.

My heart, which lay tranquil in my chest, gave a sudden kick.

 The sun disappeared behind a stray gray cloud, dimming the countryside with sickened light. The grass around


 however, only grew with vitality, thrumming, it seemed, with a life more alive than even the new spring. Still, I was rooted to the ground, unable to move even a finger.


caught my eye mid-step and froze me; I became marble. In this marble casing, my thoughts raced, the beating of my fragile heart speeding gradually to a frenzy. I imagined that my skin grew hot, and in my fantasy, I was as vibrant as the nurtured plants which

 lay around the subject of my excessive passions.


 licked my lips, tasting salt. My eyes blinked once, twice, blurring the world and then clearing it once again. The figure in the field across the road still rested there in bloated paleness. With incredible effort, I lifted my foot off the hard ground and set it onto

 the street. There was not a car in sight, only the long stretch of country highway, diving towards the horizon as straight as could be. The wind whistled past my ears, passing me on its journey through the lawless plains. Above, the sky reached: an impossible, immense,

 grey-blue-early-spring, glutinous globe… I felt horribly small, electrifyingly alive, 


 a poisonous tree frog


 the clutches 


 a mother eagle…


 will kill your young, I thought and stepped fully onto the worn,

 pale asphalt. Your hatchlings. Destiny is written

 in my skin, in red, dripping danger. They are already dead. My head


Movement was once again possible; I

 had thawed from my stupor. I crossed the highway in its entirety and found myself only mere feet away from


 I drew a breath; my lungs felt tight. The wind gusted briefly and I froze— my chest turned to ice—

had I seen it move?

For half a moment the naked thing appeared to expand, to swell

 with the rising wind, grotesque in its horrid beauty… but no. I spun around, tearing my eyes from my prey on the ground. The other side of the forlorn street was silent: there was not a creature, but instead the chopped, dead wheat. My heart pumped dully, quickly.

 Not a thing, yet I had felt eyes. Oh, I had felt

 them and they looked- at me- and they were piercing, like…

I gave a furtive glance at the steel-like

 sky which soared overhead before my attention returned to the thing before me. I approached, and I was now so close that the tips of my feet touched the flowering young plants. 


 bent down. The sky, silent, watched me, but I ignored the feeling. My goal was all too close. I lifted a trembling hand over the body, perusing the skin with my eyes. Blooming under the skin, delicate-like, were patches of blood, perhaps where bones had been broken…

 I touched it, then snapped my hand back, quivering, expectant, fearful. Nothing moved. The wind continued to whistle mournfully—viciously, it seemed. It parted on either side of me. I was a rock in a stream, an obstacle in the constant, unending flow. I was

 in a sea of infinity; this wind which stroked the skies with an artist’s knife tousled my hair like a hurried mother. It was infinite in its scope, in its reach; it journeyed past the prairie, even. I lifted my head to the horizon and sat back on my heels.

 The body had not reacted. So, I ventured to touch it again, but this time… and then… And then?

And then what?



 need you to focus, please.” 


 is perhaps not a single word in the world that can describe the sluggishness of my mind, the unwillingness to release the dream, the vision, the lapse. I could barely see my surroundings; it was a slow, slow, half-return, a confused state of mind. I could

 barely think, much less talk, or so I thought. But when I did speak, it wasn’t me that spoke. It was pure instinct; my mind was elsewhere. How could I have controlled my mouth?


 I said, “focus.” I blinked hard and the field flashed momentarily before my eyes. I felt the wind, but the thing was gone. When my eyes opened again I could see the brightly-lit world before me, the sun shining through the window, barely fractured by blinds.

 There was still a vague impression, superimposed on reality like a film of dirt, of grit, of lawless western plains, and the wind tousled my perceptive. I felt, from a distance, so far removed, light-years away down the rabbit-hole of my swirling, whirling

 mind, filled with wind, dust, dry plants and sky, myself smile. 


 don’t mean to intrude,” the woman began. She was fidgety. I saw this because my focus was on her hands, her white hands, with a flashing ruby ring. The rest of “reality” was blurred. Her face, looming above, grave, dark, stern, like a hag, like a hag,

 like a beast, like looming death, like power… The air I breathed turned sour with fear, a rippling, tearing anxiety. “But I couldn’t help being somewhat worried about you today. Is everything all right?” Her phrases sent me deeper back into my head; the wide

 lenses of my treacherous eyes increased, her looming figure threatened to topple over me, her head was both in front of me and overhead.


 I’m okay… Just…” my mouth mumbled a few more meaningless pairs of vowels and consonants, then laughed. The laugh resounded around the room, ran on a pair of wings, stirring up wind, the same motherly, oceanic wind from the empty, mindless plains. My body got

 up and left.



 infinity of a city street snaked away before me, roiling like an ocean. Cars, like boats, passed, riding the waves like electricity along a wire. Buildings loomed, swooped, detached from each other, swelled grotesquely like murdered brats, drowned, swollen,

 drooping and sliding like jelly onto the sidewalk I walked on. Above me, the sky, the


 sky, so, so, so, blank-slate, a cold, indifferent stare, distorted. It watched from above: a cosmic vulture hunting for dead, lost prey. It watched with eyes, my walking shape so small, dark, and insignificant in the eyes swirling, whirlpool-like, in the tyrannical

 void. My legs carried my body forward, I saw

 myself walking from the perspective of the sky; I saw, ahead of

 me, of us, of the street, a yawning mouth.


 mouth that gaped open, hungry, ancient, new, pristine, and decayed. Vile teeth, dripping like stalagmites, devoured the grey, twisted street, tearing open the warm flesh of existence, murderous, and growing ever closer. A tongue danced inside, twisting the

 natural into a forbidding haze of the void. It stretched before me, yawning hugely. We drove on steady, like an army, like a passionless soldier, eyes void, unseeing, yet seeing all there was to see. 


 this time


 became void as well— 


 one could say there was a part to something which is nothing, then I was this. My perspective swelled, ballooned, rotted immensely, ’till I could feel the earth’s very life-fire, throbbing energy, below and around me. Limitless. Limitless. Limitless like the

 wind in northern plains. Yet even the breeze most free felt imprisoned compared to the dispersed vastness of my awareness of nothing. My sense of self, usually situated in time and space, transcended through dimensions I —

is it even proper to say “I”?

— knew nothing of.  Births, deaths, lives, sailed through my body

 in colours imagined only by the gods: swirling masses, hieroglyphs of the language of the universe. There was colour and darkness — a combination — colour and lack of colour, as one, brightness that was dark, physical light, vibrant hues that hid in their very vibrancy

 a dullness. Sound, dissonant but harmonious, painted. Still, there was nothing. Cradled in the palm of a giantess, whose eyes were stars, and the next moment fire, whose face shifted like mountains, like glaciers melting, like growing trees. She showed me

 time, showed me the slow passage of time, the immensity of this dimension of passing. I felt the toll of ages on the mountains in Colorado. Death loomed around every corner. Death lived in everything. Eternal sleep, like DNA, was written in the faces of all

 humans I passed, hung upside down by my ankles, walking on the sky, touching heads with my physical form, hopping from cloud to cloud, which writhed in agony under the pressure of the atmosphere, and dissipated as I touched them just as they stayed the

 same. The sky was an endless river, a mire, a mirror into eternity. I sunk through and fell far through space and time. I was made aware of the hieroglyphic colours once again as I tumbled and vaulted and crossed galaxies and harshly, harshly, harshly, slammed

 into the back of my own head, walking on that city sidewalk. My body crumpled, skinning its knees on the unforgiving earth. The eyes of the Goddess stared me down as I reached out a hand to my body, lifted its head— and in sudden disgust let it drop, kicked

 it aside, where it lay on its side, looking at me with earthly eyes, calling to me. The mark of death upon its forehead.

I am eternal,

I gasped, and colours flitted to the music of my lack of real sound.

 With every passing second, with each tick of the clock, my awareness shrunk. 

I don’t want to go. 



 it killed me. I came into myself again.The world cloaked itself in mysteries and wills of the ego. My knees stung and ached. I closed my eyes and saw the universe alive and dying inside me. My cheek was on the hard ground; every rock felt like a star. I saw

 my own discomfort in the terms of the universe and I felt ashamed until I saw that a macrocosm was represented in the microcosm of my being. At that, I pushed myself up and opened my eyes.

They were flooded by sunlight; I had broken the clouds. I stood up, feeling

 the pain in my knees like little suns, burning like fire. There was life here, life in death. Cracks in the city sidewalks admitted tiny weeds which worshipped the sun, there was moss on the stones, breathing gently, gently. My universal mind was free of

 care, of the burden of others. The sky loomed overhead, the earth spread below; I was still in the palm of the giantess, and her eyes stared from every corner of the sky, benign.


Skin of a Wolf

By Anonymous

Living as a man had been stifling, like constantly trying to squeeze into a hole that wasn’t meant to fit her in the first place. The inside of her head had been man up this and stop crying that, and a whole lot of what the fuck are you doing every time she had so much as thought about — well, gender

But living as a woman — or trying to, at least — is different. It’s better, in a lot of ways, Jack tells herself. It still feels wrong, for lack of a better word, less “claw-at-your-skin” and more like a stone lodged in her throat, the irrational, suffocating feeling she hasn’t quite learned to quell that she’s deceiving people. Most of the time she can swallow around it and move on.

She picks at the corners of her press-on nails until she can see the edge start to pop up. Naomi smacks her hand, a quiet thwhip noise as she does.

“Stop that,” she hisses, nudging Jack in the waist. “We can trim those later if you want, but leave them on. They look good.”

And she is right — they do look good, Jack supposes. She stares down at the coffin-shaped acrylics and frowns. It’s not that she dislikes the way that they look or even the way that they feel. At most, she maybe feels like it might signal to other girls that she’s straight like Naomi is — which Jack very much isn’t. Surprisingly, she finds defining herself as a lesbian more difficult to wrap her head around than defining herself as female. But on the whole, they make her feel good. They look feminine, and in that way, function as a constant reminder of her gender to herself and everyone around her.

When Naomi had first gifted her the set, she had said that even when she was fourteen and hated herself, hated her body and the puberty she hadn’t wanted, had been years away from getting hormones — being able to look down at her own chippy black nails made her feel better. It’s one of those things that trans girls just have to do.

That’s what she tells her, at least, and Jack doesn’t have it in herself to really disagree.

“Over here.” Naomi taps on Jack’s shoulder, her weight shifting almost imperceivably as she leans back. She’d brought her to the monthly meetup of a local trans organization — she doesn’t go to the meetings themselves, of course. Jack had asked her why, at some point, and Naomi had just scrunched up her nose and quietly muttered something about the ‘atmosphere’

This is her second time here with Jack, though. They’re at a bar, and there seem to be lots of members of the organization proper. Naomi knows most of them already, and Jack figures eventually she’ll get up the courage to make a friend or two of her own. For now, they stick close together.

“You see that girl behind me?” Naomi gestures with a tilt of her head to a girl standing a few feet away from them. “And how those stripes make her look even taller?” Her voice is low and careful, barely audible over the rest of the chatter. She clicks her tongue. “Vertical stripes make you look slimmer, and taller, while horizontal stripes make you look broad and short.” She turns to Jack, giving her a once—over. “You might be able to work with horizontal stripes since you’re already tall. The danger with horizontal is they make your shoulders look big.”

Jack nods. Makes sense. 

“And she contoured her jaw all wrong; just look at how it draws more attention to the sharper parts. You remember what you were doing earlier, where you don’t blend down your chin? That’s what that looks like when it’s worn out.” Naomi spins in her barstool, turning around briefly to grab her drink. “Don’t listen to youtube tutorials by cis women, Jackie. They’ve never had a mannish jawline. They speak only lies.” She giggles, and takes another sip.

Jack nods again, sliding her fingers in between her knees, anxiety building in her chest. What Naomi is saying all makes sense, and Jack knows why she says it, too — knows she has a strong jawline and a flat chin, her nose a bit too big. The years she spent as a teenager, where she had worked out in an attempt to look less like a scrawny high schooler, had broadened her chest and shoulders. At the time, she’d believed it might make her feel less shitty about her body. In hindsight, she regrets it. But otherwise, Naomi says, otherwise she has soft features. That will help her, apparently. Naomi says she can’t wait to be able to get facial feminization surgery herself.

“You’re lucky you have me.” She sighs as she reaches over and sets her cheek on Jack’s shoulder. “It’s been so nice, having you to talk about stuff.”

Jack blinks. She hadn’t thought Naomi was happy to have her around at all — was more convinced she was a burden than anything actually, up until that moment. There are so many basic things she’s had to teach Jack just for her not to make an embarrassment of herself, trying to exist in public.

“Oh, don’t give me that face.” She smiles, leaning her elbow onto the bar. “It’s hard to find people, you know, who get it. Even when it comes to other trans women, it’s just — ugh, like half the time. And then there are the trans guys and I don’t even — who would want to be a man? Being a man sucks. Imagine wanting testosterone.”

She pops her hand over her mouth, quickly glancing off to the side.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I probably shouldn’t say that.”

Jack nods back, but she’s not really listening. Maybe, she considers, looking down, the reason she dislikes the nails has less to do with the result and more to do with the implication that she has to wear them.

“Excuse me, is this taken?” 

The girl in the striped shirt from before smiles at them, gesturing to the stool next to Naomi, and Jack’s breath comes to a halt. She hadn’t really thought — or maybe just hadn’t quite realized until now — the person her and Naomi had been talking about is a real human being. A flesh-and-blood person, who’s probably not that far along into her transition, and probably in almost exactly the same situation that Jack is herself, except — she didn’t have another trans friend to bring to this. No one is going to tell her that her shirt looks awkward, no one will teach her how to minimize the breadth of her shoulders or pick out just the right shoes that swallow her feet to a more palatable, womanly size, and guilt boils through Jack from head to toe, but —

Naomi doesn’t even blink. “Go ahead,” she smiles, sweet and charming as ever, and the girl sits, oblivious.

“You should settle on a more feminine name sometime, Jackie,” Naomi comments, nursing her drink as she turns her attention to their conversation again. “It’ll help.”

Jack doesn’t really appreciate how factually the sentence is presented, and yet knows deep down that she’s still right, even if something about it doesn’t sit properly. Even though she likes her name. Knows no one will ever take her seriously if she just gives up and settles.

She shrugs, uses her thumb to flick off the faux nail that’s already peeling off her index finger, and watches it go skittering under a table.



By Chaily Bitton

I remember excruciatingly long summers in my childhood. Hot summers, red hot.  There was always a camping trip, even though we all hated camping. I suppose it was the principle of camping: family time. The running around on the bare grass and the smell of horribly burnt barbeques. The high pitched sounds of my cousins and I tripping and stumbling all over one another.  The river that flowed through all the tents, the river that was filled with the most agonizingly cold water. That pinching cold water that reminded you you were still alive, still breathing in this suffocating heat.  That cold that reminded me of the dead. 

No one was ever truly dead in my family. Physically they were gone, but their memories, the ideas of them, were so vivid. So alive. As a child, it sounds absurd, but I never really thought of my grandfather as dead. We would sing for him on his birthday, and make his holiday cards with glitter and stick figures with an arm and a half. To me, his gravestone was a home like any other. I’d even sit at the edge of the grave as if I was sitting on his lap.

He was, in a way, this godly ominous being. Unfamiliar territory. The feeling of having a grandfather has always been unknown to me, but what’s strange is that I didn’t feel a strong connection to my father’s father, which isn’t to invalidate him or his significance, but with my mother’s father, it was different. There was always this unspoken connection between him and me, a vulnerability bestowed on me because I had his name. And I always searched for more from him. I wanted to be like him. The gold chain with the life amulet, the high cheekbones, and the gap in his teeth. For my birthday I was given a chain, but mine was smaller and softer. My cheeks aren’t full, but there’s a gap between my teeth, so small, but it’s there. Almost like a remnant of him. Throughout my childhood, I looked for things like this. He was quiet like me, he smiled a lot, like me, but this was only a fraction of who he was, only a memory of good. To me, as a child so innocent, so pure, he could have done no wrong.  

I remember tapping softly on the window of my mother’s living room, my knuckles cool to the touch of the frosty glass.

 “Look at me, look at me,” I whispered lowly, a sound too shy to be heard. My tiny hand unclenched and leaped forward in a soft wave. The veil of the curtain wrapped around me,  hugging me, enclosing me between the shade and the window. There he stood, tall and dark. His smile, charming and welcoming, full cheeks so satisfied with red; you would think he was still living.  His arm was welcoming. He was exactly as I had always seen him, how I’d always expected him to be. 

“Who are you waving at?”  My mother crept up beside me.

“He’s there, can’t you see him? There, look, he’s calling to me. Reaching for me.”

My mother, unfittingly, played along, with what I now look to as childish antics, and crouched beside me. 

“Who?” She asked again, and I rolled my eyes, because how could she not see him?! He was tall and regal and, not to mention, her father. I reached for my brother, who was sitting on the floor, and asked if he could see him too. He could! He too started waving alongside me.

“Who are you two waving at?” My mother laughed loudly. We waved in such synchronicity, it was like something out of a horror movie.

“Papi,” we both said in unison, and at that moment, her laughter stopped. After I looked at her face, I turned back to the window to see no man, but an empty street. He had gone away. 

It’s funny that we would use such a familiar name for someone who was essentially a stranger, but he really wasn’t a stranger. And as I grew more and more, I thought my curiosity for him and his life would die out, but it’s only gotten stronger. 

“I’ll tell you when you’re older,” my mother had always said to me. His real life was like a secret shared between a few people in my family. There was one time we were sitting in my aunt’s living room, talking about a DNA test for Ancestry. My mother refused. 

“I wouldn’t like to find out I have a couple of long-lost siblings somewhere around the world.” I was maybe eleven, or twelve. I sat there and didn’t even think before saying, “Why would Papi cheat on Savta?” (Savta means grandmother in Hebrew.) Looking back, it was such a juvenile response. But this was a reflection of how he had been perceived to me: this holy entity.

My aunt looked at me, then at my mother, then back at me and said, “there’s a lot of things you don’t know.” I grew tired of this response, for my curiosity was only growing.

It was at this time that I had discovered a tactic.  The drive back from Long Island, New York to Montreal, Canada was a gruesome six hours. Six hours spent between just the two of us. It was at these times that my mother would be most vulnerable with me. I don’t know if it was the distraction of driving or the idea that we were truly alone, but she opened up to me most at these times.

This was the first time she had told me her father was an addict, and about the not-so-good days. The enthralling gossip within the bundle of siblings: which sibling fought with the other, which brother slept with which wife. I was sworn to secrecy, but I was twelve. This news was only the surface. When my mother first told me my grandfather was an addict, it was more of a warning for me, and she had told me it was cocaine. She thought that if she told me he was actually addicted to heroin, I would somehow be afraid of him. My mother so badly wanted my perception of my grandfather to be pure; she clung on to that memory of him. As did all my family. 

We were back in New York,  sitting around the table. Just my aunt, my cousin, my mother, and I looking through photo albums. When we’d move on to videos, someone would cry. The first time I saw my grandfather in a video, I cried. It was more of a surprising cry, a cry of  “I can’t believe he was actually real.” 

As we sat there, engulfed in our mothers’ pasts, we came across a photo of my grandmother and my grandfather’s brother, Edmond.  My cousin reached for it, recognizing the man he had visited this summer. 

“He has a funny way of drinking wine.” He chuckled and put the photo down, turning to my mother. “Have you noticed?”

My mother shook her head and mumbled, “No. I haven’t spoken to him in a while.” I looked at my mother, then at the picture, and then back at my mother.

“Why not?” He responded curiously. I knew the reason, and it became clear that neither mother was prepared to elaborate. My mother does not speak to her uncle anymore, because when my grandfather was selling drugs and doing heroin, my great uncle would cross the street and pretend he knew nothing of his little brother. But my cousin didn’t know that.

There was a tension-filled silence until I jokingly cheered, “I know all the secrets,” and my mother laughed because I was very aware of her father’s past. My aunt, however, much like the rest of my family, was not. 

“Oh, that’s so cute that you think you know!” My aunt laughed. She probably didn’t mean for it to come off as condescending, and I wasn’t offended anyway. None of my family could possibly imagine that I knew my grandfather was a heroin addict because that would taint the figure that has been presented to all the grandchildren.

I love him because my mother loves him, and I love my mother unconditionally. But perhaps because I  am not blinded by a child’s unconditional love, perhaps I can see my grandfather for who he really was. The cold water that still haunts me to this day pierces me and allows me to see the dead more clearly. I saw him as more than just a memory of someone else. I understood that this man was an addict. That he lost his mother, clinging to her grave as a young boy, and was beaten by his father. But I also saw that this man had anger deep inside him. He could be harsh and abrasive and aggressive; he would not always be happy, not as charming as the ghost I once saw when I was so little. He was vulnerable, loving, and caring. Always giving. I saw him, but most of all, I saw my mother clinging to the memory of her father and harbouring it. I suppose when you get married a year after your father’s death, there is never much room to grieve. So instead of grieving the dead, she celebrated the living—his living. And she took his life and bottled it up, keeping him perfectly and extraordinarily frozen in good, forever.


What’s In A Name?

By Chaily Bitton

I am eighteen years old and I still call my mother “Mommy,” and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s partly because, at this point in my life, calling her anything other than that would be odd. I had tried out saying “Mom” a few times but it felt so strange—like I was calling out to a stranger. I quickly started calling her “Mommy” again, because that’s who she is; that’s who she’s always been. 

 I think what was so hard about seeing my mother getting sick was the fact that she had always been so strong. That she had always been there for everyone and anyone. My father was and still is constantly working, so when I was younger she was always the one who was there.

I remember when she took us sledding on top of a hill at Beaver Lake. We had one sled for my brother and I. It was scarlet red and had one long opening at the bottom that looked like a scar.  The snow was thick and fresh, and it was everywhere. As you can imagine, sledding with a broken sled is futile—but still, this is my happiest memory. 

She did everything. She was the chef, the sheriff, the entertainer, and the handyman all rolled into this one heavenly creature. And I never saw her as a human before, because to me she had always been a sort of Wonder Woman. Never ill, never tamed, and certainly indestructible. 

She had been complaining of jaw pains for a while. She had just had gum surgery without any numbing drugs, out of fear of dependence. This wasn’t shocking to me. I had already been through this conversation. 

“Your grandfather was a drug addict,” my mother said in the oral surgeon’s lobby. I was just about to get my wisdom teeth removed and the surgeon had prescribed me some Oxi. I was holding her pinky tightly in my hand.  “Addiction runs in our family.” I nodded my head and suggested something less strong. 

I had always been a nervous person; my palms were always sweating. It was so bad, my mother wouldn’t hold my hand; every time I’d reach for her, she’d make this weird “tut, tut” sound that she often did, shake her head, and offer me her pinky to latch on to. 

So when I’d skipped first period to take her to the doctor’s, (because I’d taken her everywhere: to the dentist when we thought it was a cavity, to the pharmacy when she needed Tylenol, and to the MRI when reality hit) my head and my heart and my chest felt completely disconnected from one another, disunited because of this foreign feeling.

That night I spent hours begging anyone above to give me her pain. I held my hands to my ears to block the screams. I wanted to help but I couldn’t. I remember crying so much, I forgot how to breathe. 

I woke the next morning with this pain in my chest. Pain so thick, so hollow—I thought for a second that my prayers had come. That this was her pain I was feeling. That I would go to her room and she would be fine.  Wrapped under the protection of cotton sheets, her thumb in her mouth, and her dreams giving her peace.

But that’s not what I saw. And it was silly and naive and juvenile of me to believe this. It is so hard to see the one person you have the highest regard for being at their lowest. And there she was, her cries of “make it stop,” and her crushing of my pinky; as if our roles had been reversed, as if I was the one she needed. At that moment she wasn’t my mother, she wasn’t the chef, she wasn’t the sheriff, she wasn’t the entertainer, and she wasn’t the handyman; she was a human being. 

She was a regular person just like me, who at times gets sad and self-conscious. A person who had a childhood, and experienced love and heartbreak. That veil of motherhood was long gone and what was left beneath me was a tortured and suffering girl. This broke my heart.

I was absolutely destroyed. I was all-consumed with thoughts of “who am I without my mother?”. Who am I without her guidance, without her unusual bursts of energy that sprung from the most uncommon times? Without her witty responses and her knowledge on just about everything? I could not fathom the possibility of living in a world where my mother did not exist.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, the one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was my wedding day, which is strange, because I don’t even know if I want to get married. But I couldn’t stop. All I could think about was her not being able to see the dress she had been going on and on about since I was eleven because she was on the floor crying in agony. That her sickness was so torturous, she wouldn’t be able to be happy, and I wouldn’t be able to relish in her joy. 

And even now, when no episodes have come. There’s still dread. It’s like a cloud. Dark and looming and threatening. We didn’t talk out of fear of expressing it into existence.  

We went to a funeral not too long ago for a mother of four. I tried so hard not to get emotional; I barely knew the woman. I felt guilty. Here I was, my seemingly perfectly healthy mother beside me, physically with me while these four orphans were broken. Even in adulthood, they were distraught without their mother.

Every one of the daughters had said the same: “I couldn’t explain it, but the urge to start calling her ‘Mommy’ again had been so strong. I think on some level I knew.”

I grabbed my mother’s arm onto my lap, my fingers wrapped tightly around her long pinky, as though I was still a child; still her little girl, with clammy, sweaty palms. I rested  my head on her now-sturdier shoulders and whispered softly, “I will never stop calling you ‘Mommy’.”


Update for Creations 2020

Dear readers,

The times we are living in are quite strange, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we are going to give up on this wonderful publication! We will be publishing online as well as sending out print copies to the contributors. We are also hoping to host a virtual launch and reading towards the end of May, so stay tuned for details!

The submission deadline has been extended to May 1st. Happy creating!


The 2020 Creations editors





“Snow Was General All Over Ireland”: The Identities of Joyce’s Dubliners

As part of the Literature Profile Integrating Activity course, students write a 10-page paper. These two excellent papers, by Genevieve Daigle and Eric Neilson, are the presentation versions delivered at the Literature Profile Conference. This year’s conference programme appears in the final pages of this journal.

Written by: Eric Neilson

James Joyce’s 1914 short story collection, Dubliners, handles the topics of family, religion, and marriage, among others, in its depiction of urban Irish life. Joyce wrote of- and during- a period of historic tension in Ireland (Corcoran 57). In examining this text, I aim to uncover Joyce’s conception of Irish identity. Earlier interpretations of the work focus on motifs of paralysis and epiphany in the stories. Other interpretations consider how Joyce’s ordinary characters react in response to both the political environment, and Irish religious tensions. The text, I will argue, synthesizes all these components into a complete picture of a paralytic Irish national identity, both at the social and personal level, in the early twentieth century.

The most pressing aspect of Dublin at this time was the divide between Protestants and Catholics. Historian James S. Donnelly outlines the history of this opposition. During the seventeenth century, an anglophone landed elite established political, economic and social dominance of Ireland. They were conferred “possession of three-quarters of [Ireland’s] land” (Donnelly 240) by England’s Charles II, who also acknowledged the Protestant Church of Ireland as the established church, despite the native Catholic majority. Catholics launched many campaigns against the Anglo-Irish, including petitioning admission to the Irish Parliament, which they achieved in 1829. A new Irish-Catholic nationalism began to brew, becoming a veritable movement by the late nineteenth century. The tension between the burgeoning nationalist movement, largely Catholic-driven, versus the unionist movement, who favored English influence and was largely Protestant-driven, defined late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Irish politics, and thus informs Joyce’s Dubliners.

Dubliners’ depiction of Irish identity is, according to Canadian author Paul Delany, steeped in Joyce’s personal indictments against “the Catholic Church, the colonial ruling class, and the indigenous collaborators with that class” (257). Delany offers an example in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” where nationalist candidate Mr. Tierney’s supporters “recognize that he will betray the Nationalist cause once he is elected” (262), and so the issue of Irish independence is, for the politicians, a lesser priority, despite their celebration of former nationalist hero Parnell. The story paints the nationalists as corrupt and obsessed with the mythos of their own brief history (263).

Early readings of Dublinersdescribe two key motifs: paralysis and epiphany; both are essential to Joyce’s conception of Irish identity. Joycean scholar Florence Walzl argues that the theme of paralysis is supported by the fact that “thirteen of the… fifteen stories take place at the end of the day, at twilight, or actually at night” (223), when most people are stilled by sleep. Walzl goes on to highlight the age progression of the collection’s protagonists, ascribing different paralyses to each age bracket. The protagonists of the first three stories are children, and their paralysis manifests as the stifling of “emotional and psychological development of self as preparation for [adult] life” (222). In “The Sisters,” the boy narrator partially rejects religious society after the abrupt death of Father Flynn, his priest, who once embodied “knowledge and religious authority” (223) but is now maligned by the adults. As the sister Eliza remarks, “the duties of the priesthood were too much for him. And then his life was… crossed” (Joyce 9). Father Flynn’s connection with ominous paralysis is also explicitly highlighted in the first paragraph when the narrator gazes into the priest’s window and utters the word “paralysis” (1).

“Eveline” is the fourth story in Dubliners, and the first with a young adult narrator. Prior to Eveline’s journey to Buenos Aires from Dublin with her partner Frank (Joyce 29), she stops short at the dock, unwilling to board the ship. Walzl describes her behavior as becoming trapped by a “mistaken sense of obligation” (224-25) toward her violent, overbearing father. “Counterparts,” part of the next bracket of adult protagonists, features a man who takes revenge upon his son after he returns from his tedious office job where the “petty tyranny” (226), as Walzl describes it, of his boss stills his desire to rebel. Ultimately, a kind of paralysis afflicts each of Joyce’s protagonists, no matter their age, underscoring the sweeping nature of the Irish paralysis Dublinersinvestigates.

However, the characters often realize their ensnarement, and scholars such as Gerhard Friedrich term these moments epiphanies. For example, the disillusionment of the boy in “Araby,” upon his realization he is late to the market to purchase a gift for his neighbor Mangan’s older sister, is an epiphany, as he visualizes himself in the third person “as a creature driven and derided by vanity” (Joyce 26). The climactic epiphany of “The Dead,” in which Gabriel Conroy describes himself as “a ludicrous figure” (209) in his jealousy for his wife’s teenage love-interest who has long since died, echoes, according to Friedrich, the epiphany in “Araby” within a mature context (425). Gabriel and the boy respectively undergo disillusionment regarding their romantic impulses. However, despite their awareness, their predicaments do not resolve themselves.

The factors which most reliably produce paralysis in Dubliners are the Anglo-Irish economic and political hegemony, and the self-defeating, sterilizing habits of the Irish nationalist movement. The latter is explored in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” through the character Henchy’s bleak declaration that “Parnell… is dead” (Joyce 121). This statement is both factually true, as nationalist hero Charles Parnell died in 1891, and, as Delany writes, symbolically true, because Parnell’s mission had been forgotten by the self-serving nationalists. Crofton, the committee room’s sole Protestant, declares Hynes’ celebratory poem on Parnell “a very fine piece of writing’” (Joyce 125), a final judgement which scholar Emily C. Bloom argues subtly asserts Crofton’s superior political power (7).

Dubliners also condemns the habits of Irish Catholics, assigning them partial responsibility for their sense of paralysis (Haughey 355-56). In “Two Gallants,” the protagonist Lenehan’s modest ambitions, which signify those of his Catholic peers, are embodied in his “listless” walk, “morose” gaze, and desire to “settle down in some snug corner,” all of which emphasize his pessimistic attitude borne of “his own poverty of purse and spirit” (Joyce 48). Essayist Jim Haughey lists the numerous allusions in “Two Gallants” to the inescapable architecture of Protestant Dublin which “surrounds” (358) Lenehan and his companion Corley during their excursion.

Finally, Joyce’s narrative style prompts the reader to experience something akin to the paralytic crises of identity that beset his characters (Corcoran 63). Literary scholar Mark Corcoran analyzes Joyce’s use of ellipses to amplify ambiguity (63). The earliest example of this technique is in “The Sisters” when Old Cotter describes Father Flynn’s ailment: “I think it was one of those … peculiar cases …. But it’s hard to say ….” (Joyce 2). The boy narrator cannot understand their uniquely adult discourse, and so, Corcoran argues, this disconnection from the adults’ conversation precipitates a crisis of identity in the narrator, just as it precipitates confusion in the reader (65). “After the Race” exemplifies a similar notion. Joyce moves from unbiased narration (Corcoran 69), such as when the protagonist Jimmy is simply “seen by many of his friends” (Joyce 35), to a more limited narration, with Jimmy’s meditation on the pleasure of “return[ing] to the profane world of spectators” (35). Jimmy’s constricted viewpoint becomes clear when he outlines his goals: “notoriety” and “the possession of money” (Joyce 35). However, the narrative voice often fluctuates upward from such ruminations to declare facts such as, “Farley was an American” (37). This fluctuation results in his lacking narrative independence (Corcoran 69). Ultimately, Jimmy has little control and is effectively paralyzed in both his ability to tell his story, and in his capacity to affect its outcome. Corcoran concludes that Joyce exposes the “limits of human knowledge” (70) to underscore the impact those limits have on a society in crisis.

Dubliners enacts Joyce’s model of Irish identity, synthesizing the root factors which lead to social and personal paralysis.The text explores such factors as the divide between the Anglo-Irish Protestants and the Catholic nationalists, the petty, unambitious intentions of some Irishmen, and the fallout of English economic imperialism over Dublin. The resulting animosity and fear of these components of paralysis form Dubliners’ principal conflicts. Paralysis is embedded in both character and setting- in both Dubliner and Dublin. Despite moments of clarity, in the epiphanies, characters are not afforded escape from this quagmire, and Joyce’s vision becomes grim. Thus, Irish identity at the time, just as Gabriel Conroy’s personal identity, metaphorically “fad[es] out into a grey impalpable world” of snow, which serves to freeze and smother “all the living and the dead” of Ireland (Joyce 212-3).

A Feminist Defense of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew

As part of the Literature Profile Integrating Activity course, students write a 10-page paper. These two excellent papers, by Genevieve Daigle and Eric Neilson, are the presentation versions delivered at the Literature Profile Conference. This year’s conference programme appears in the final pages of this journal.

Written by: Genevieve Daigle

To our modern social sensibilities, William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (1580-1582) is easily the most disconnected and uncomfortable of his comedies. Though there is no consensus as to whether or not The Taming of the Shrewcan be considered a feminist piece, I propose that it was, in fact, a piece of proto-feminist work. Despite the initial scruples a modern audience might feel regarding the play, through an analysis of the ways in which the play subverts the standards of an early modern audience, an analysis of how Katherine is an outspoken dominant female figure and of Shakespeare’s treatment of women in his other works, I will argue that The Taming of Shrewis in fact a piece of proto-feminist literature.

Contemporary critics of Shakespeare have often found themselves looking upon The Taming of the Shrewin a critical light, and for good reason. The premise of the play, a woman who is “tamed” by a man, certainly runs counter to the values that modern feminism has taught us to uphold. Katherine, by the very fact of her taming, seems to be the antithesis of what a contemporary audience would consider a strong, independent female character. Indeed, as psychoanalyst Marvin B Krims reflects, when faced with a theatrical production of the piece, “we enlightened folk in the audience may find ourselves squirming in our seats, asking ourselves just why we had found such behavior so damn funny” (Krims 53). This reaction should be considered fairly normal because, to a contemporary audience, the behavior Petruchio displays in regards to Katherine and her taming could easily be considered abusive. In fact, literary scholar Emily Detmer likens Petruchio’s “taming” of Katherine to Stockholm syndrome, a syndrome where victims develop trust or affection towards their captors or abusers as a means of survival (Detmer 284). Much like an abuser, Detmer explains that Petruchio “isolates Kate from those who could intervene on her behalf, and […] threatens her survival” (Detmer 284). Though a contemporary audience may be inclined to read their interactions in this abusive light, the reactions of an early modern audience would not have seen Petruchio’s actions as abusive. Wife-beating as a form of subjugation was widely accepted in Elizabethan England (Detmer 275). In The Taming of the Shrew, however, Petruchio never once lifts a finger against Katherine during his taming. In fact, the only person among them to use any physical violence is Katherine, which would have been an incredibly visceral example of female disobedience to an early modern audience. The absence of such physical violence in the way Petruchio tames Katherine, though not a forward-thinking concept by our standards, is indicative of Shakespeare subverting the expectations of an early modern audience and anticipating future social and political movements to abolish the practice of domestic violence.

Another way in which Shakespeare subverts the expectations of an early modern audience is through Katherine’s strong intellect. Consistently throughout the text, Katherine exhibits a considerable amount of wit and intellect in her verbal exchanges. This is particularly highlighted during her initial interaction with Petruchio. Before they meet, Petruchio confidently proclaims that through his wooing, he will tame Katherine when he says “So I to her and so she yields to me, / For I am rough and woo not like a babe” (II, i, 126-129). However, as soon as he meets Katherine, he quickly finds that his wooing falls short in the face of her wit and strength of character. Their banter challenges the dynamic of a man being necessarily a woman’s intellectual superior by creating an atmosphere in which the reader is uncertain of who in fact retains the dominant position (Smith 300). Another example of Katherine’s wit and intellect occurs in Act IV when the two later travel back to Padua. Petruchio continues his “taming” through further verbal banter by proclaiming that the sun is in fact the moon. Here, Katherine seemsto submit to the mental gymnastics that Petruchio is proposing. However, it is far more probable that Katherine has in fact simply conceded to humor Petruchio in his little game. Indeed, critics such as Velvet D. Pearson have suggested, counter to what Detmer argues, that Petruchio is in fact playing a game of wits with Katherine to allow for “an intellectual freedom unavailable to many Elizabethan women” (Pearson 286). This argument posits Katherine not as a victim of abuse but rather as an active, intelligent participant in a game of wits: one that Petruchio allows and encourages within Katherine. Further proof of this occurs in the final scene, when Katherine has an exchange with a widow. The widow, offended at Petruchio’s remarks, turns on Katherine and attempts to make a fool of her. Katherine never misses a beat, however, and Petruchio, confident in his wife’s wit and intellect, is even willing to wager that Katherine will win the argument, which indicates that she has never lost this aspect of her character. These moments of Katherine’s intellectual superiority further point to Shakespeare’s care in depicting women as being far more dominant than audiences of the sixteenth and seventeenth century would have expected.

Katherine’s strength is not restricted only to her wit, however. She is a woman who has strong opinions about her plight and that of other Elizabethan women. Katherine’s status in the play is likened to that of a mere commodity to be bought and sold. This is especially highlighted by the fact that Petruchio proclaims he intends to find a wife with a large Dowry. This situation, however, is something that Katherine herself vehemently objects to. In fact, she fights this plight and accuses her father of trading her away as if she were a less desirable commodity or a prostitute when she says, “I pray you, sir, is it your will / To make a stale of me amongst these mates?” (I, i, 57). This moment, seeming at first glance to be part of how she acts “shrewish,” is in fact a powerful display of her outspoken reaction against her situation and a rejection of patriarchal control. It is also an obvious protest against a situation many if not all Elizabethan women would experience.

Not all scenes can as easily be interpreted as acts of patriarchal rejection, however. Critics such as Dale G. Priest continue to argue that Katherine’s final speech in Act V of the play, no matter how one attempts to deconstruct it, ultimately “reassert[s] the patriarchal order” (Preist 31). As Pearson suggests, however, the perception of whether Katherine is a broken woman at the end of her taming or a liberated woman relies heavily on the direction and performance of the play (Pearson 236). This is particularly the case with Katherine’s final speech. Despite the fact that her speech is seemingly an outpouring of wifely subservience, if the play is directed in a way that signals Katherine has not lost her vivacity, the speech would be delivered with confidence and power. This supremacy is further highlighted by the fact that Katherine’s speech is the longest in the play, thus showing us that Katherine never loses her outspoken character.

Perhaps the most compelling argument for The Taming of the Shrewas a proto-feminist piece lies in the Induction and the overarching implications it makes. In the Induction, Sly, a beggar, falls unconscious and a lord decides to play a trick on him. They pretend that Sly is a lord and treat him as such. When he awakes, at first Sly resists this new role imposed upon him. However, as the scene moves on, Sly settles into his role as a lord and ultimately submits to it upon learning that he supposedly has a wife. This entire interaction highlights the way performativity is essential to Katherine and Petruchio’s entire relationship (Smith 297). In fact, as literary scholar Amy L. Smith highlights, “this scene is less about the lord’s power than about how through enacting subjection the wife can establish a powerful position of her own” (Smith 298). Similarly to the page who pretends to be Sly’s wife, Katherine, through her own performativity, often enacts a similar power over Petruchio. Continuing with the reading that Katherine never in fact loses her power and wit and is simply performingthe role of a good wife, then not only has Katherine tricked Petruchio as the page has tricked Sly, but she retains a position of power over her husband. In this way, Shakespeare subverts the standards of the time and positions Katherine as a powerful, independent woman.

A further example of how the Induction influences the perception of Katherine and Petruchio is in regards to the relationship between male masculinity and the role a woman plays in the way it is defined. The Induction shows us that it is only when his supposed “wife” submits to Sly that he truly takes to his position as a dominant figure in the situation (Smith 297, 298). This model of superiority and assertiveness of masculinity is present in the dynamic that Petruchio and Katherine have. Although some argue that Petruchio arriving late to their wedding is one of the first steps in his “taming,” it is also a symbolic loss of his supremacy and respectability. As he ridicules himself at the wedding, the other men look upon him with distaste. In fact, Batista himself, who was once so eager to wed off his eldest daughter to Petruchio, makes no attempt to hide his distaste with his future son-in-law. In fact, Petruchio seems to completely lose his ‘gentlemanly’ attitude as soon as they return home. It is only in the final scene, once Katherine has made her speech and Petruchio has “proven” his dominance over his wife that the men come to fully respect him. However, as discussed earlier, his actual superiority is not necessarily authentic, as in the case of Sly. It is thanks to this comedic set-up that Shakespeare’s ridicule of masculinity becomes most apparent. Just as an audience member is meant to view Sly’s assertion of dominance and masculinity with ridicule, we are asked to view Petruchio’s plight in the same fashion. Shakespeare shows us the misplaced importance men give women as a way of defining themselves in the eyes of others. This anticipates a very modern facet of feminism that expresses the urgency for men and women to define themselves not in regards to the roles that gender norms dictate but as unique individuals.

Though The Taming of the Shrewcan be considered a more difficult play to attribute a feminist reading to, I would like to argue that Shakespeare was in fact also himself a proto-feminist and that this play was never meant to present women as weak, subservient creatures. Katherine, as shown above, is a female character with a strong will, wit and self-worth. These are hardly unique traits when it comes to Shakespeare’s female characters. Juliet in Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet (1597), is an example of one of the most intelligent, independent women in all of his plays. Juliet herself is in fact just as rebellious, if not moreso, than Katherine. Though Katherine criticizes her father, she never betrays him or her family. Juliet, on the other hand, actively rejects her family and rebels against their wishes for her to marry Paris. Her wit and strength of character, much like Katherine’s, often put her in dominant positions. One such example is in Act IV, when Juliet goes to see the friar, and runs into Paris. During their exchange Juliet continuously spins her words in a way that is never quite a lie nor ever truly quite the truth. In this scene, she is given a far more dominant position than Paris, much the way Katherine is given the dominant position in many of her interactions with Petruchio.

Othello(1604) is another play in which Shakespeare includes strong female characters.Shakespeare gives Emilia, Desdemona’s maidservant, a powerful feminist voice. In Act V, Emilia defies Iago, a patriarchal figure, in order to defend Desdemona in female solidarity. Shakespeare presents her defiance as an act of courage, strength and virtue despite the fact that it is an act of wifely disobedience. This depiction of female disobedience is a far cry from what Shakespeare’s audience would have considered proper.

In all of these examples, however, it is important to note the way Shakespeare has framed the way his female characters enact their agency. Art, no matter its medium, often pushes social and political boundaries. Shakespeare is no exception to this. In Elizabethan England, however, social norms and values forced Shakespeare to reconcile how far he could push these boundaries whilst still allowing for these plays to be successful. Had Shakespeare written Katherine’s taming as one of abuse and her plight one to pity, not only would he have removed all of Katherine’s agency but the play’s underlying message, which is one of female strength and individuality, may not have been received as positively. This is also true of Juliet and Emilia. Juliet’s rebellion against her family is framed as an act of true love, not one of outright familial defiance, thus allowing for an Elizabethan audience to more readily sympathize with what would otherwise have been seen as deplorable. As for Emilia, her defiance of her husband in the final act is framed as a defense of Desdemona’s womanly virtue (class notes). Shakespeare, clearly the proto-feminist writer, carefully constructs the situations in which his female characters display their agency and Katherine is no exception.

Shakespeare consistently presents strong female characters as having agency, be it Katherine, Juliet or Emilia. Though The Taming of the Shrew can seem misogynistic and sexist to a contemporary audience, Shakespeare lived and wrote at a time when more progressive feminist values were non-existent. However, this did not stop him from consistently challenging the values of his time regarding the treatment of women. Katherine is meant to be a character of strength, intelligence and outspoken wit. And thus, The Taming of the Shrew should indeed be seen as the proto-feminist piece it has always been.

On Wednesday’s We Wear White

Written by: Sheena Macmillan

Ivy Davis is the new President of the “free world”. She’s 47th in a line of all female Presidents. From my spot at the very back of the stadium, I look to the giant screens on the side of the stage to see her face. She stands in the middle, behind a podium, lined by all of her Ministers. All women. They wear bright gowns with long trains; they wear short skirts with their natural hair cascading down to their knees; they wear dark blue suits with flowers sprouting out of their cuffs. On the stage everyone is represented. Every skin tone, figure, hair texture. Except, when you pan out the image of proud women waving to the girls they wish to empower and inspire in the audience, you realise there is a lack of men. Where are they, you ask? They are with me, out of sight, at the very top of the stadium. We wear white shirts and white pants with white shoes, and sometimes we wear white jackets too. If we’re feeling spunky.

My name is Aaron Smith. I work as a nurse at the Grey House, so I get to take care of President Ivy if she gets a cold or something tragic like that. It used to be called the White House, but former President Violet changed it to Grey to symbolize how most problems aren’t just black and white, but there is a large grey area in between that should always be taken into account.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, specifically a surgeon, but all my friends and family said that I was living in a fantasy if I thought I could make it as a doctor. They said nursing would be more fitting for me, you know, since I’m a guy. In school, all the other nursing students were male. Just across the hall there was a classroom filled with the newest doctors in training. They were a huge class of at least 100 students, 90% women. It always seemed to be like that though. In the engineering programs, in the law programs, in the science programs, the classes were always 90% women.

My dad always told me stories of when he was young and in school. How university was a place where men flourished. Where every other guy was on the path to get a degree in something expensive, like medicine. He always told me stories about how horrible his life became when the Empowerment Movement began. The Empowerment Movement started before I was born, and its purpose was to bring the women of the world to their full potential and out of the oppressive hands of the patriarchy. All of the roles were switched. Women were given more roles of leadership, women were taken seriously in serious situations, and they weren’t harassed in the street for wearing that cute dress they’d been saving for a nice warm day like today.


Ron stands behind a pot in the Grey House kitchen, cooking up something for the President’s supper. He’s my friend, Ron. The only guys in the Grey House are either chefs, nurses, or cleaners. The only reason why I’m closest with Ron is because he always hooks me up with some great leftovers from what he’s made that day.

“Ron! Ronnie Ron The King himself what it do Mr. Ronster!!!” I yell.

“My man! My man, my man, my man, you look nice! White is such a good colour on you.” Ron answers.

“Yo I can’t lie I was feeling this look. White on white on white is my new thing.” I look at Ron’s outfit, “Mate, how could you do this to me we’re wearing the same thing! We can’t both be in all white or we’ll look like fools.” Ron laughs, “You know what it doesn’t matter if we wear the same thing, cause I know I look better than you.” Ron stops laughing.

“C’mon man you know these are my nice white pants don’t hate on my swag.” Ron is on the defense now. One the the Secret Service agents pokes her head into the kitchen. She calls for me, says the President isn’t feeling her best.

I walk towards her. “Any specific symptoms?” I ask.

“She’s very nauseous, and she’s got some cramps in the uterine area.” She’s walking quickly in front of me. She escorts me to President Ivy’s bedroom. She opens the double doors and we find the President laying on her side in the middle of her bed. She’s clutching her stomach and her face shows she’s in pain.

“Are you on your period?” I ask Ivy.

“No, it’s been at least four months since my last period, maybe even five.”

“And you didn’t think that was weird? To have missed so many months?”

“Well no, I mean I am a very successful career woman. I am under constant stress because of my job, so naturally I miss my period sometimes.”

“Alright, what I’m gonna do is give you an ultrasound to see what’s happening in your stomach since you’re so nauseous. Is that okay?”

“That’s fine.”

I walk over to her bedside and turn her onto her back. The same Secret Service agent from before brings in all the things I need to perform the ultrasound. As I pull her shirt back to expose her belly, I can tell it’s more swollen than usual. I want to ask if Ron cooked up an extra large lunch today, but decide against it. I put the jelly on her stomach and fire up the ultrasound machine.

“I’m just looking for anything that shouldn’t be there, like a Lego or the Declaration of Independence, you know?” I pause. “Woah.”

“What’s wrong?” Ivy asks with obvious concern.

“I gotta ask, four to five months ago, were you sexually active?” My eyes move from the screen to meet Ivy’s. She’s lost all colour in her skin.

She exhales, “Yes.” I look back at the screen and examine the ultrasound more. I look at the small fetus growing inside of her and see something I know she won’t be happy with.

I exhale, “It’s a boy.”

She’s crying now. So filled with disappointment and regret. She’s having a son. She’s mumbling about how she’s always dreamed of having a daughter, of raising her to know that she can follow all of her dreams, of giving her all to her daughter and making sure that her daughter loves every ounce of herself because she is perfection. But, she’s having a son. What is she supposed to do with a son? Teach him how to do laundry? She doesn’t know how to do that. Teach him how to keep a happy home and cook balanced meals? Make healthy snacks for his ringette team? She doesn’t know how to have a son. She’s never thought about having a son. She sits upright and dries her tears.

“You know, when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor.” I check to see if she’s looking at me; she is.

“I wanted so badly to be a surgeon but everyone told me I would be setting myself up for failure. My biggest regret is listening to them and going into nursing instead of being that 10% in the classroom. In school I was always taught that the

Empowerment Movement happened so women could live to their highest potential. But what about my potential? I should be offered the same opportunities that women are offered. I should be able to tell my parents that I want to be a doctor and not get laughed at.

“Creating equality for women isn’t switching the roles of leadership and having a matriarchy instead of a patriarchy. Creating equality isn’t oppressing the oppressors. The boy growing inside you deserves the best. You are the President, you should be setting the example. I believe in his ability to be an engineer like I believe in your ability to change how men are treated in today’s society.

“Let your son wear what he wants, don’t restrict him to white. Let your son think what he wants, don’t restrict him to domestic affairs. Let your son be athletic, let him play the sports he wants. Let your son be. He is blossoming just the same as a daughter would. He is growing strong because he knows you are the right mother for him. Don’t set your son up for failure even before he knows what adversities he faces.”

President Ivy looks at me with understanding eyes, like she is surprised I can speak so eloquently. She turns to the Secret Service agent, “Get me my tablet, we’re having a second Empowerment Movement.”

She Got An F In Sex Ed

Written by: Sheena Macmillan

At 12 years old they say,

“Be abstinent, that’s it!”

In sex ed class they say,

“You’ll need a mother’s wit.”

At 14 years you feel

A feeling new to you

Something new at your heel

Cherry red, so brand new.

At 16, it happens

An act you never knew.

16 and it happened

What does this mean for you?

At 17, she’s here

A baby all for you.

At 17, she’s here

Cherry red, so brand new.

He is older, 18

He left without word.

“I’m only just a teen!”

The memories are blurred.

You are 20, she asks,

“Mommy, where’s Daddy?”

She’s 2 years old, she asks,

“Do I have a Daddy?”

22, you feel it.

She always asks questions.

Can she understand it?

Just loosen the tensions?

23, you tell her,

“Your Daddy was no good.”

Will he ever know her?

If he’s out of boyhood.