Quilt Mini: Threads

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FOREWORD Since we’re new to the scene, this year’s Quilt has the distinct privilege of inaugurating traditions. Here’s another: our first annual creative “zine.” In the following collection, you’ll stumble upon heroes of old, bartenders, Fidel Castro’s cigar, and romcom enthusiasts. We are so thankful to every one of our contributors for their stunning poetry and prose. You are our lifeblood and our inspiration. So, on behalf of our dedicated editors, brilliant designers, and infallible logistics team—welcome to Quilt Mini: Threads. We’re happy you’re here. Much love, Daniel Green, Editor-in-Chief Julia Harmsworth, Co-Managing Editor Fiona Mulrooney, Co-Managing Editor

EDITOR’S NOTE Pieces from authors on staff appear in this issue of Quilt, myself included. We select pieces using a completely anonymous fashion, in which any members who recognize an author’s work must leave the room or not partake in the selection process. Neither Aynsley Rae nor I were in the room when our pieces were selected. I swear by and believe in an integral process that objectively features the best work that we received. In fact, I have been rejected by Quilt multiple times—this is my first time appearing in one of our issues. Excited about it. Enjoy. —Daniel Green, Editor-in-Chief






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christie in january WRITTEN




dufferin in august WRITTEN BY AYNSLEY RAE i’d never had a real coffee until the portuguese bakery on the street corner where concrete peels like dead

made with the opposite intention blankets unfamiliar if everyone is sober i wish i hadn’t walked to the liquor

can nails hammered through yarn cracked drywall at dupont the neighbour someone’s neighbour paints sp


with dead leaves, spit-soaked steam a contradiction in bare chests, loose fibers in the metal catch

an apple is the doorstop. in lieu of a working lock it is an invitation, a trail of pawprints from stoop to kitchen to hallway and back again

does the cat count as ours? if the annex is a lonely place to be and we grew sick of slamming shoulders into bruises for strays

does it count as smoking inside? if we pour our lungs to the front porch and the smoke trails slither between the chipped green paint, green skin to stain the walls second-hand

in the small kitchen there’s gin and key bumps, before bambi’s, under the rounded archway where I took your photo and forgot to curl the corners in red, your roommate coated the wall white and we washed our sheets

does it count as fucking? if we twist the knob till it burns and lick off each other’s flesh under the eye of the windowsill, a misstep in the architecture we try to cover the dead spots, the mildew

we can’t live in our own stains, but the blood feels like home anyway.

skin no skateboarding this is toronto is dufferin grove the curb is nicer when it’s

r store it’s been two years but the door sticks no slides this isn’t a sink it’s a garbage

plit houses and leaves an old dresser on your lawn.



trees. Woven by the woman he’s desperately There is a boat in the middle of a gray and

trying to escape. Because she offered

choppy sea. Actually, the boat is more of a raft,

him immortal life. Well, because she was

tree trunks barely stripped of bark, lashed

insanely hot and wanted to sleep with him.

together with the rawest of rope. Maybe the

Well, because he really should be getting

rope is handmade, too, wild grasses woven

home. He’s got a wife. A kid, too, he thinks;

together by hand into something stronger.

the kid only featured in the poem because

That would be a fantastic metaphor, though

he really didn’t want to go to war.

he’s never woven a thing in his life. The boat that is a raft has a tall and imposing mast,

Oh, yes. There was a war.

well-secured enough that the wind and the waves can’t tear it free, but not difficult

Oh, my God. Gods. He believes in gods.

enough that wrangling it onto the boat took

How long has he been gone? How long has

the space of more than a singular clause.

he been stuck in this storm? His wife is going to be worried sick. She doesn’t even

Maybe it was hard, though. Maybe the poet

like it when he takes trips up to visit his

just didn’t really know how to build a boat,

father; the roads are littered with robbers,

not well enough to devote a whole stanza

and the human detritus is fond of wielding

to it. Poets leave things like that to other

remarkably effective secondhand weapons.

people. They create things that can’t be

Maybe firsthand weapons. Men of good

lashed together with rope.

standing don’t pilfer corpses for swords. But men of good standing don’t lurk at the side

Anyways, the boat. It’s afloat for now, but

of the road like the shiny plastic cans on

might not be for long. The wind is ripping

garbage day. That’s a simile from the wrong

at its well-woven sail. Not woven by him; his

century, but if Odysseus knew what garbage

hands are too gnarled from cutting down

day was, he would definitely refer to it. 7

sort of strange cosmic substance, the kind of material that makes up dreams and embarrassment. He tries to lash that idea down with rope, he convinces himself that Odysseus! That’s right, he’s Odysseus. He’s

he wove this rope with his very own hands

Odysseus and normally his wits get him out

and it will not fail him. He clings to his

of scraps like this, and surely he’s scrapped

memories, and he clings to the mast, and

with the weather before, but never weather

he prays. He’s barely skirting the edge of

like this. He’s used to wind that rips at his

a world where his gods will hear him, but

skin, not wind that bites him apart from

it’s a nice effort, so I give him a little nudge,

the inside, its molars rubbing against his

slight but enough to force him into the sticky

fragile nervous system. He suspects the

membrane between worlds.

island where he spent the last seven years wasn’t quite in the real world, and getting

Shoved in between the layers of skin at his

back will require some tricky carving into

universe’s temple, Athena finally notices

the soft flesh under the universe’s ribcage.

him. The temple is her domain, after all. She

He wishes his wife were here to decisively

notices him clinging to about three quarters

turn the key and swing the door between

of a memory and weeping profoundly and

worlds open, but he shouldn’t be thinking

praying. Athena isn’t super into emotions

that because she hasn’t turned any keys at

like that, but she appreciates the prayer,

this point in the poem.

so she carefully peels away the material of dreams and embarrassment and gives

He’s pretty sure he’s going to die. He’s going

him a real boat to cling to, and it happens

to die and that’s why everything is confusing

fast enough that he doesn’t have time to

and upside-down, and though the thoughts

scream and flail and beg for his life. He’s

in his head make perfect sense, the words

on a boat that is a raft that is a dream that

they’re expressed in are from a foreign

is embarrassment, and then he is on a boat

tongue. That’s on me, Odysseus. I don’t

that is made of dead trees and rope woven

speak Ancient Greek and I live in a world

by no one’s hands.

with plastic garbage cans. And he is still Odysseus. And there is an Odysseus is definitely going to die. Maybe

island on the horizon. And he thinks he

he’s been dead this whole time. Maybe he

might have died after all, but he’s still here,

died at Troy and refused to believe it: he

and his new sail flaps mildly in the wind,

keeps going, that’s who he is, that’s what he

because at some point the storm stopped,

does. Keeps going. He clings to the stripped

or he stopped being in it. He is sailing the

bark of the mast he cut down himself, the

universe’s veins now, alongside the oxygen,

wood that probably isn’t wood but some

and he has nothing else to do but keep going. 8




WRITTEN BY SOPHIE DE FREITAS ILLUSTRATED BY LAUREN BALE When water melts would it smell like wax Unlikely: Butter. The oil that won’t come off I do not see the birds, only their feet, and even then, only the ones missing talons I’ve been pulling my hair out since I was little, letting it fall from my fingers, and at this rate the strands are all over the world, DNA stamps on a map I don’t have eyelashes, haven’t for a year. I can’t wait to wear mascara again. The male gaze: I can’t wait to wear mascara again The female gaze: I don’t have eyelashes, haven’t for a year this crying is tragically beautiful this crying is pathetic unless I have the mascara smears to prove it What do I know about pain, what do you? Can either of us spell napalm? One of those gold bracelets, the cheap ones that stain green. I’ll give it to you if you like, in exchange for straight teeth (all my molars are glass; they shatter in the winter, or at the opera) I am exactly like other girls, except for my hair and my skin and my face and my voice and my bones




I am exactly like other girls, keys in fist and bath knees If I undressed like you wanted me to, I’d never get this dress off The male versus the female gaze is a pyramid scheme It’s Fidel Castrol and I again. He smokes a cigar, I put it out on my tongue it’s hot (it’s hot, for who?) Before I tan, my skin dapples, lucky me Before I cry my eyes lighten, lucky me The male gaze: An oil spill The female gaze: Butter. The oil that won’t come off And if I undressed like you wanted me to I’d take my skin off, hand you my womb You can have it, keep it, I don’t mind. Just leave the glass molars in my mouth I’ll keep my hair and my skin and my face and my voice and my bones And everything else that makes me a female with a gaze, but not the female gaze because I put that out on my tongue, remember? Are you even watching?






Before he died, the last time I spoke to my

a foul mood regardless of how much fun we’d

father we were broiling underneath the

had. A few hours after he caught the foul

August sun in section 126 at the old ballpark.

ball on that scorching August afternoon, I

All the covered seats at the diamond had sold

blew up on him because he started using

out, but despite knowing we’d inevitably

his therapist language on me. Watching My

get sunburnt, my father had insisted we

Team lose in extra innings had me in no

celebrate my eighteenth birthday with a

frame of mind to be lectured about “black-

baseball game. I still have the foul ball

and-white” thinking or “catastrophizing.”

he caught me; it’s front and centre in my

I was so angry at his condescension that I

memorabilia display. However, a decade

almost threw the ball in the trash.

later, what I really remember from that afternoon is being sweat-soaked and furious

When I get home from work, the ball is right

when My Team lost.

there on my mantle. I sweep my negative thoughts aside and park my butt on the couch

Now, my father is gone, but Opening Day is

in the room Abigail calls my ‘mancave,’ then

here again, and I’m on the clock counting

turn on the game just in time to catch the

down the minutes until the first pitch of the

team introductions—not that I don’t know

season. Bringing that baseball he caught for

every player already. It’s quite a boring game

me to work has become a personal tradition:

until the sixth inning when My Team’s best

it reminds me of simpler times, of days from

hitter crushes a huge home run with two

my childhood when we would drive my

runners on base.

mother crazy by pacing around the living room during intense duels between pitchers

“FINALLY!” I scream.

and batters. When my shift finally ends around six, I sprint to my car, holding my

Eventually, Abigail comes downstairs asking

lucky baseball like I’m stealing second base.

me to lower the TV volume; I tell her the score, brimming with excitement. Her smile

I wonder if Dad ever did this? I ask myself.

is tentative. She watches a few pitches with her hand on my shoulder, then goes back

He always liked watching the sport, but

upstairs to bed.

what he loved was taking the train into town, scarfing down two footlong hotdogs,

When we win the game, I hop on Instagram

and drinking piss-water beer. None of that

to relive it all. The official MLB account

superficial stuff brings me enjoyment

posted about how well we did. They made

unless My Team wins. We always used to

a cool edit of the home run where the bat

fight whenever they lost because I’d get into

looks like a lightsaber.


After watching that several times, I read

an 18-10 record. The online discussion

through some analysis written by fan



accounts before finally joining Abigail in



our bedroom.

negative fans and columnists were after




refreshingly liked


a loss. He never believed that one game She’s already dozing off under the covers.

could be meaningful in a 162-game season.

Our bedside clock reads eleven-thirty; I must

Obviously I know they all matter.

have lost track of time scrolling. I brush my teeth, undress, then climb into bed with my

Being atop the baseball world propels me

wonderful girlfriend. She’s warm. I don’t

through my shifts; the annoyances of office

mind that she doesn’t nuzzle her head into

work become tolerable. I proudly keep my

my chest tonight—it’s late, and she’s on call


at the hospital tomorrow, after all.

don’t actually watch the games—updated on




scores. On casual Friday, I wear a baseball “Did they win by a lot?”

cap sporting My Team’s logo without shame.

“Just by three,” I say. “How did you know we won?”

Abigail and I really get along when My Team wins. I’m more motivated to cook dinner

She falls asleep without answering me.

when there’s an exciting game right after as a reward. I have more energy to listen to


her problems when My Team is good. She

My Team wins eight of their first ten

gets annoyed when I insist on watching the


post-game coverage, but reliving each sweet victory is better than having the same-old

At the end of April, we’re in first place with



# May isn’t good for My Team.

“This is a four-seam fastball,” I tell her, demonstrating the grip by holding my

I’ve taken to throwing the TV remote. The

pointer and middle fingers across the seams.

first time I did, I nearly hit my memorabilia

“You want to throw them early in the count.”

display. The second time, Abigail came

“Okay… why?”

downstairs right as My Team’s pitcher

“For most pitchers, it’s their best pitch,” I

gave up a grand slam to lose the game. She

explain. “You want to throw your best pitch

claimed to have heard me shouting all the

early so that you can get an advantage on the

way upstairs in our bedroom. I tried telling

batter. If you throw strike one, that means

her that it’s not my fault we have thin floors

you are putting him on the defensive. Good

or that the paint on our walls is so easily

pitchers always attack.”

scratched, but she didn’t buy it.

“How do you strike batters out? With curveballs?”

We agreed I’d sleep on the couch that night.

“Yeah, curveballs can work,” I say, working

It would have been a one-night thing had My

my fingers into the grip that my father taught

Team not departed on a two-week-long west

me years ago in our backyard. “Or sliders...

coast road trip the following day. Whenever

sometimes changeups.”

they play in California or Seattle, the games

Abigail puts on her thinking face. Her

don’t start until ten o-clock our time, which


means I can’t go to bed until one in the

uncomfortable is coming. “Okay… well,

morning. I’m on the couch for the fifth

unfortunately, I need to throw you a bit of

night in a row because it works best for us

a curveball here: I’m going away for a few

both. We’ll get back to sharing a bed soon;


baseball ends in September, but Abigail is

“Going away? Where?”




around all year. “I’m going to go stay with my parents for a #


We start winning again in August. The last time Abigail visited her parents was I’m back sleeping with Abigail. She seems

five Septembers ago while My Team made a

happier since the hospital started giving her

fruitless push toward the playoffs. They blew

weekends off work—they hired a new nurse,

the season by losing their final five games; I

apparently. When the anniversary of that

was too furious to talk about anything when

afternoon in section 126 comes around, she

I picked her up from the airport.

offers to watch the game with me. I take the foul ball out of its case to teach Abigail about

I take her hand. It’s cold. “Can I ask why?”

pitching while we do.


“Well, I haven’t seen them in a while, and

He forced my mother to drive me to college

my dad isn’t doing great—I know you can

alone and didn’t hug me goodbye. He spoke

understand that. Besides, I figured this

through her from that day forward; she told

was a good time because you’re going to

me about his cancer diagnosis, and he never

be pretty wrapped up with the end of the

once called to update me. We became so

season, right?”

distanced that it didn’t feel appropriate to speak at his funeral. Still, I can’t shake the

My Team does have a good record at 80-

feeling that these are the type of baseball

67. We’re in a prime position to make the

moments I always wanted to share with him:

playoffs if we play reasonably well over the

Our Team only needs to win three of their

season’s final weeks. She’s right; I’ll probably

next five games to clinch a playoff spot.

spend most of my free time in-between games stressing over predictions.

When My Team loses game one, I don’t throw the TV remote—the batteries rolled under

“That doesn’t mean you need to leave.”

the couch last time, and I haven’t cleaned

She sighs. “Yes, it does.”

the floor since Abigail left. Instead, I slam it into the couch cushions to blow off steam.


Fortunately for my sanity, winning the next

Living alone again is a mixed bag.

two games puts us in prime position to finally end the playoff drought. I can taste

I like watching the game with the TV cranked

the champagne on my tongue until My Team

loud enough to shake the house and having

loses the fourth game in humiliating fashion.

the freedom to scream without judgement. What I don’t like is having to feed myself—

I fall asleep in an empty bed, shivering.

cooking every night is exhausting. My father used to keep a book of easy recipes for the


nights when my mother had to work late, but I’ve forgotten most of them. The UberEATS

In honour of the final game, I take the foul

boxes are piling up when the final week of

ball out of its display case. I squeeze it tight

the season rolls around.

with excitement when My Team takes an early 1-0 lead on a first-inning home run.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my father a

The crowd looks electric. I’d do anything to


be back roasting in section 126—even eat one of those disgusting hot dogs my father

In the fallout of our fight on my eighteenth

used to love.

birthday, he refused to watch a game with me again. He swore off baseball entirely.

My phone rings. I ignore it.


My Team falls apart in the middle innings.

“Here comes the curveball—”

Our pitcher loses his release point and

The batter at the plate is just a kid; if we were

coughs up the tying run. They’ve been

watching together under the sweltering sun

struggling to hit since the first inning, while

in section 126, my father would have pitied

the opposition has gotten into a confident


groove. The other team scores another run in the eighth against our bullpen pitcher.

“—No balls, two strikes… the pitcher is

The game is in jeopardy—we only have one


inning to come back.

Ball game. Strike three looking.

My phone rings again, so I check it. Abigail.

Anger consumes me; I want to throw the baseball at my TV screen until it shatters

As the game cuts to a commercial break,

into a million pieces. I cock my arm back

I scurry upstairs to take her call. “What’s

like a shortstop about to throw, but then I’m

going on?”

transported back to section 126. I’m smiling

“My dad had a stroke.”

ear-to-ear as my father hands me the foul ball

My heart drops. “Oh, God… is he okay?”

he just caught. I’m back in the crowd arguing

“I don’t know… I—I’m just so—why didn’t you

with him as we’re leaving the stadium. I’m in

answer me?”

my mother’s car thinking about him on the

I swallow hard. “I was watching the game.”

way to college. I’m feeling embarrassed that

“The game? You ignored my calls for the

the baseball is in my pocket at his funeral


instead of the words to a speech.

“It’s their last one, I—” My phone rings again. She hangs up. I call her back. No answer.

I set the ball down, and then I answer.

She ignores my second call as I go back downstairs. When I get back in front of the TV, I curse to myself, realizing I missed the majority of the ninth inning. I sink into the couch right as the opposing pitcher throws a fastball by our last batter for strike one. I tighten my grip on the baseball my father gave me when the batter swings and misses for strike two.






Jane was leaving the convenience store

is writing the exposé that could ruin your

when her romcom was ruined.

career forever.

What they don’t tell you about meet-cutes is

The reunion gives them conflict, but it’s just

that meeting is never as cute the second time

an obstacle to their love story. It gives their

around. In fact, the so-we-meet-again is the

romance the opportunity to evolve. It makes

most awkward part, and it always happens

it meaningful.

when you’re not expecting it. Real life is rarely so neat. Except, that is, in movies. Destiny reunites people in interesting ways in romantic

And, honestly, Jane wasn’t interested in that

comedies. The man you spilled coffee all

second part anyway. All she’d wanted was a

over is your new CEO. The woman you

nice story to tell her friends—a one-that-got-

rescued from oncoming traffic is planning

away to mourn who would remain pristine

your sister’s wedding. The boy who sent

and context-less in her mind.

sparks flying when he brushed your hand


One afternoon at her local bookstore, she

all over him. The kind who swung kids over

thought she’d gotten it. Her very own meet-

his shoulder and snuck them candy when


their mom wasn’t looking and wrapped them in that soft jacket he was wearing when they

As a fifth-grade English teacher, Jane spent an

refused to bring their own.

embarrassing amount of time in the middlegrade section. Her usual companions there

“Can I help you with anything?”

were frenzied parents trying desperately to find good birthday gifts and ten-year-old

One of the clerks had approached him. The

kids spending their allowance money while

man nodded.

their parents bought coffee. “Book two of the Chronicler series,” he said. Rarely people her own age, though. And

There was a charming cockiness to his voice.

certainly not tall, messy-haired young men

“Have you got it?”

with killer jawlines skimming through the pages of Narnia.

Maybe Mr. Narnia worked in trades, Jane theorized. The way he held himself was

Naturally, Jane did a bit of a double-take

so casual, like he inhabited his body one

when she spotted him sandwiched between

hundred percent, like he trusted every part

A-F and G-L.

of it entirely.

She blinked slowly at him.

After a minute of searching, the clerk was at a loss. “I’m sorry, sir, I’ll have to check the

He looked sweet, she thought, as she


pretended to read the back of a YA novel nearby. His hair was a dark blonde that

“Look under B,” Jane suggested, unthinkingly.

nearly covered a set of thick eyebrows. Something he read made the corner of his

Both their gazes snapped onto her. Mr.

mouth perk up and her pulse skipped in

Narnia’s was particularly weighted as he


considered her for the first time. She took a deep, shaky breath when they made eye

Too young to have a ten-year-old kid, most


likely. And no ring. Maybe shopping for a niece or nephew?

“Sorry,” she said, “it’s just, uh, you’re looking under L, which would make sense for the

Jane grinned to herself at the thought. It had

first book, by Peter Liltwood. But the second

to be that: this guy had “fun uncle” written

is, uh, by a different author.


Amy Brent? The series is a collaboration.”

the corner behind the History section, with baristas dashing about behind the counter

“Huh,” said Mr. Narnia. He pulled a purple

and coffee machines whirring away in the

cover from an adjacent shelf. “There it is.”

background. When she ordered her drink with three sugars, Chris gave her a bemused

“Thanks, miss,” said the clerk, smiling


tightly and moving on. “I almost don’t want to pay for that,” he said. Jane nodded and went back to fake-reading

“Can you even taste the coffee?”

The Fault in Our Stars. “Shush.” Mr. Narnia turned the book over in his hands and shot her a much warmer smile. “Expert

They chatted idly once they sat down, mostly

in kid’s lit, then?”

about the books they liked as kids, the books they liked now, the books that were way

Jane let out a stuttered laugh, surprised at

over-hyped. Chris was smart, laughed at her

the continued interaction. “That’s one way

jokes, and made her laugh in return. It was

to put it.”

scarily easy to forget that she’d only met him within the past half hour. She’d never felt so

“Well, I appreciate your insight, then.” He

comfortable around a near-perfect-stranger

held out his hand. “I’m Chris.”



Given that previous experience, Jane could tell it was too easy. Which was why it felt like

His palm was large over hers. The look he

the universe putting itself back into balance

leveled at her as they shook hands made her

when Chris got a phone call.

feel like another book he was perusing, like he could read every line of her.

He paused mid-sentence, glanced at the name on his screen and rolled his eyes.

“Let me treat you to coffee, Jane. For coming to my rescue.”

“Sorry, I really have to take this.” Chris hit the answer button before Jane had even

“I don’t know about rescue,” Jane said, “but I


do like coffee.” “No worries,” she said, more to herself than Jane let Chris lead her to the bookstore


café. It was a small place, tucked away in


From what little Jane could hear, the man on

An epic romance, all from the safety of her

the other end of the phone was one wrong

own mind.

word away from an aneurysm. Chris spoke in fragments, trying to calm him down. From

And once she decided to start going to a

how he was tapping on the table impatiently,

different bookstore, Jane was comfortably

Jane knew this wouldn’t be a short call.

certain it would stay that way.

Chris pursed his lips apologetically as he

Until her costar smacked into her in the

looked back over to her and covered the

pouring rain in the parking lot of the

microphone with his palm. “This might be


a little while.” Jane almost didn’t recognize him: he was “It’s fine.” Jane pushed the café chair back as

wearing a suit, a far cry from the casual

quietly as she could. “Thanks for the coffee.

t-shirt, jacket, and jeans combo from when

It was great to meet you.”

they met. The downpour had painted it to his skin. Those shaggy bangs she’d admired

Chris nodded with a small smile, then his

were sending water running in rivulets

attention was overtaken once more.

down his nose and cheeks.

And for a good month or so, that was Jane’s

All this she took in as Chris swore and

little story. A chance encounter with a

grabbed her by the shoulders to right her. She

handsome stranger. Nothing as fancy as you’d

could pinpoint the exact second recognition

find in your typical summer blockbuster,

sparked in his eyes, and it was with belated

but enough to fuel a fantasy.

horror that she realized she hadn’t bothered to change out of her pajamas for this trip.

Her friends all lamented that they hadn’t exchanged numbers, that he’d taken the call.

“It’s you!” Chris exclaimed.

Jane appreciated their frustration on her behalf, but she was mostly just grateful that

“In the flesh.”

anything as interesting as a pseudo-meetcute had happened to her at all. Now, she

Chris put his hands on his hips. The rain

could imagine a hundred different ways that

soaking through his dress shirt didn’t seem

they could see each other again, fall in love,

to bother him in the slightest.

overcome all the usual romcom obstacles. All without any shred of belief that it would

“I went back to the store a couple times, but

actually happen.

I never saw you,” he said. “And now here you are!”


“We must have missed each other,” Jane said.

“But you said…”

(Guiltily). “I’m an English teacher. That’s where I got my, “Must have.” He grinned wide. “Knew I’d see

uh... Expertise.” At the lost expression on his

you again, though. Eventually.”

face, she added, “Sorry?”

“Did you?”

“No, no, don’t be, I just—I guess I really built all that up in my head, huh?” He did a self-

“Yep.” He wiped his bangs to the side cheerfully.

deprecating little shift that made his shoes

“Listen, I know you didn’t realize when we first


met, but—I’m Christopher Marshall.” The rain was still pattering loudly on Jane’s Chris watched her expectantly, as if this should

umbrella. Droplets of it bounced off Chris’s

be jaw-dropping information. Jane squinted,

hunched shoulders.

trying to place the name. An old classmate, maybe? A neighbour?

She sighed. “You don’t have any nieces or nephews, by any chance, do you?”

After a few seconds of silence, she still had nothing. Chris was starting to frown.

“Uh, no?”

“As in, head editor at Equinox publishing?” he

Jane squeezed the handle again. “And you were


looking for the Chronicler books because you publish them.”

“You’re an editor?” “Our rivals do, actually. I wanted to, uh, see “Well, yeah. I thought it refreshing you didn’t

if they were selling.” Chris looked even more

know. Most middle-grade writers wait months

confused now.

to talk to me, and there you were, completely clueless.”

Jane scuffed one of her rain boots across the pavement. “I... may have thought you were

“I- I’m not a writer,” Jane managed, once her

buying something for your niece. And may

brain caught up to what he was saying.

have imagined you as this really cool uncle, who didn’t know what to get for her birthday,

That finally seemed to shake him. Chris

and our little meet-cute thing totally made her

blinked. “You’re—what?”

year by helping you find her favourite book...”

“Not a writer,” she said, more confidently this

A lopsided smile broke slowly across Chris’s




“Yeah, sorry,” he echoed, slight cockiness

both the type of romantics who got completely

back. “I’m an only child.”

ahead of ourselves, and now we’ve learned our lesson, and we’ll keep changing each other for

“Figures.” Jane laughed. “I guess it wasn’t

the better.”

much of a meet-cute, then.” Chris looked extremely proud of himself for “I guess not.”

having come up with this. Jane kept walking.

Jane nudged him with her elbow. “Better luck

“I’m not that romantic,” she said, unable to

next time, yeah?”

think of a better rebuttal.

She took one more look at his handsome

“Don’t lie,” Chris said. “I bet you’re the kind

face dripping with rainwater, committed it to

of teacher who puts all the kids next to their

memory, then turned to go home. It served


her right, she supposed. No fantasy could last forever. She’d have to find a way to break the

Jane glared. She was that kind of teacher.

news to her friends. “You’re just saying this to get my number.” Except she only got about five steps away before she heard the splashing sound of

“True. And you don’t have to give it to me. But

someone following her.

admit it, meet-again-cute is pretty good.”

“Jane!” Chris jogged in front of her, a wild and

And, damn it, it was good. He already knew

excited look in his eyes. “This is the meet-

which buttons to press.

cute!” “All the best romcom scenes happen in the “What?”

rain, Jane.”

“This! Right now! This is the meet-cute!”

Jane bit her lip. Chris was well and truly drenched and couldn’t look happier about it.

Jane laughed incredulously. “No, it’s not. It’s

And here she was, in her PJ’s with her giant

the part where two adults realize their lives

umbrella, speaking to a guy she knew even

are not actually romcoms, and that they’re not

less about than she’d originally thought.

made for each other just because they met in a fun way.”

“This is a terrible romcom,” she said, pulling out her phone.

“Not true. You and I, Jane, are in the middle of a meet-again-cute. In which we realize that we

But even as Jane said it, she found she didn’t

should definitely go on a date because we’re

really mind. 22



The bartender starts work now.

A man cries:

He doesn’t drive. He walks.

“Tell the bartender not to drive tonight!”

I guide:

But he never learned how.

a vanilla glow

And I say:

peeking at

Bartender, oh Bartender,

winter’s chalk drawings.

close for the night. I am shy.

He goes in through the front door.

That whiskey slips down,

I go in through the window.

that barfly leaves.

The bartender’s lips are dry.

The bartender is stuck staring at keys.

He fills craters with liquid.

Now we are alone.

Warm in the stomach.

I try to wrap him in my silver wings,

Water on the moon.

but he puts on a leather coat.

Drops sift through space,

He leaves the bar. He looks to the sky.

down our cheeks,

We are both weeping

like whiskey in a barfly’s glass.

and don’t know why.


I found a letter in my mailbox addressed to

My father is a Canadian science-fiction

someone who doesn’t live here anymore.

author. His last novel in the Ashland Trilogy,

The same mailbox where someone left used

St. Patrick’s Bed, opens with the following

cotton balls, rubber bands, and needles

acknowledgment: “For Daniel Casci Green,

inside. The mailbox that I removed from a

the completion to my fabulous Trilogy.” The

crumbling brick wall to sanitize with a bottle

Ashland books are almost pseudo-memoirs.

of water and dish soap. I got orange-brown

He blends fact and fiction — plays with ghost

rust stains all over my clothes; I don’t know

stories, the afterlife, time travel — things

how long it’s sat there, but long enough to

that seem so fake but are too real.

garner rust indoors. The first in his trilogy is Shadow of Ashland. The letter was addressed as such:

It follows Leo, who’s trying to locate

Owen McGuire

Jack Radey, Leo’s mother’s brother who

Apt 2

disappeared when she was young. Both to

345 Sydenham Road

Leo and my actual father, Mom’s last request

Kingston ON, K7S 3N6

was to “find out what happened to Jack.”

Owen. Every time I cross paths with the

At the beginning of the novel, Dad writes:

name Owen, it makes me think of my For my brother

brother. He’s one of my two half-brothers;

my father is seventy-four years old. He had a


family before the one that I’m a part of. For

Whom we all miss

him, I’m the last of three, the youngest of the

Now and Always

family, and the one born into the protection


of parents in a stable marriage.






Ron died of a heart attack at sixty-one.

I walked into the doctor’s office.

Not being born yet, there’s no mention of


me. But there’s this: As always, with love, I

receptionist, Dora, said.






thank my family: Merle, for everything, and Conor and Owen for everything else.

I was having trouble breathing. “Brother?” “He just left. He went down the stairs. You

Owen was acknowledged. But he left anyway.

didn’t see him?”

He went missing about five years ago, in 2016.

“Oh. No. What brother?”

Or, maybe not missing, but disconnected.


What classifies one as “missing” rather than

I froze. Then I sat down. “Oh.”

“disconnected” or “disassociated” depends

“Are you okay?”

on whether or not they want to be found.

“I haven’t seen him in a while is all.”

If you don’t want to be found, people don’t put up missing posters for you. I can’t put

My dad came up and sat down beside me

up a missing poster or call the cops. Owen

shortly after.

chose to go missing. He blocked our phone

“Dad. Owen was just here.”

numbers and ceased contact with our family completely. It’s random to us, but not to him.

His mouth opened. Eyebrows raised. “You’re

About two years ago, I went to the doctor’s


office for a checkup. My dad drove me but

“No, Dora just told me. I could’ve run after

he couldn’t find parking — he dropped me

him. I should’ve run after him. I don’t know

off while he looked for a spot. I went up

why but I just sat down and—”

the old creaky elevator alone. I’ve always feared getting stuck in elevators, especially

“Stop. There’s nothing you can do. You did

the one at Doctor Loukides’s office. It had a

the right thing. If he doesn’t want to talk,

dim, orange light that lit up the numbers. It

you can’t make him. But he was here?”

moved slowly, wobbled. I didn’t like the idea


of getting stuck.

“Well… Wow. Thank God. At least he’s taking care of himself.”

Upon reaching the top floor, I heard the door to the stairwell open and close. I can’t

That’s the difference between father–son

remember if I saw the tail of someone’s shoe

and brother–brother relationships: my Dad

disappear around the corner and down the

was relieved to find out that he at least went

stairs, or if I’ve made that detail up after

to the doctor. I lost a brother, but he lost a

years of trying to cope.



I think I regret that moment — freezing —


but I’m not entirely sure. What would I have

David Danladi Luginbühl

said? Was I to run down the stairs screeching

Always remembered, always loved

his name, crying as I did, my sobs echoing

Music forever

through the six-story staircase? How would


he have replied? How are you supposed to reply when you haven’t for so long?

David was the son of my father’s friend, Ken. David was dating a woman in her late

It’s the same thing with phoning him. A

twenties. She had a kid. The three of them

while ago, I thought I was blocked, and the

were driving down the 401 when their car

number used to go straight to voicemail or

got a flat tire. He pulled over, he and his

to “the caller is currently unavailable,” but

girlfriend got out to check what happened,

now it rings. It rung when I tried calling

and they were hit by an eighteen-wheeler.

him last week. I’d like to think that means

The kid survived. O.P.P showed up at Ken’s

he unblocked me, but it probably means

door at 5 a.m. to tell him.

he got a new number. I’m scared to call his number. I swell up with anxiety when I do;

David was a twenty-three-year-old piano

don’t know if I actually want him to pick up,

player. It looked like a future in music was

don’t know what I’d say. I also don’t know

on his horizon.

what’s worse: no answer, him picking up, or a stranger picking up. I don’t know if there’s

Owen is forty now. My dad sent him a text on

a difference. I don’t know a lot of things.

his fortieth birthday:

Maybe he’s dead. I’m sure we’d find out

February 16, 2021

somehow, next of kin and all, but there’s

Owen... Think of you every day. Happy Birthday.

no way to be sure. If he died tomorrow, or

Love to hear from you. Update me and let me

yesterday, I would keep on living my life as if

know you’re OK. It would mean a lot to me.

he was alive. Missing? Dead? Disconnected?


Maybe people are just gone at a certain point.

He sent him a letter a few days after:

My father wrote a book about being gone—

February 21, 2021

about death. A Witness to Life starts with his grandfather dying on a streetcar on

Hi Owen,

Christmas day 1950, and then transcending

I’ve thrown a few “bottles into the ocean with

into some sort of afterlife. My father

notes inside” trying to find you. This is one

introduces the novel with:



Knowing that in the past, phone contact

My acknowledgment will read:

seemed to be blocked, I tried sending you a text on your 40th birthday, but I think it was

probably blocked too, ending up in cyberspace.


Before that, I’d had mail returned from your old

Whom we all miss

Sammon Ave apartment with “Moved” printed

Now and Always

across the address. It’s a long story how I came


For my brother

across this mailing address, and I’d be glad to tell you about it if we can talk some time.

Or maybe instead of question marks I’d use the date it was published. Because if I had

Last night I actually had a dream about seeing

chosen to share him with the world that

you again, which has prompted this attempt.

would mean he was gone. That would mean

Simply put, I’ll always have a sense of my life

it was real. It would mean that I’d be sure

being “not right” with you not a part of it—

he’d never read it.

no matter how much distance you choose to maintain.

Earlier this year, when my ex-girlfriend and I first started dating, every time I’d drop her

I’d love to hear from you, to know (if nothing

off at her place, I felt lonely walking home.

else) what you’re doing, where you’re living,

I would usually tear up but didn’t know why.

and that you’re OK, especially with all the

It took me a while to realize the emotion I

Covid craziness. That much would give me some

was feeling was loneliness, but that’s because

much needed peace. If we could achieve more

I’d never felt it before. My parents loved me

than that, it would be a bonus. Life is too short.

(and still do), but I couldn’t run to them the

I actually had a minor stroke back in October,

same way I used to. I had a core group of

2019—a wake-up call.

friends in high school — always someone to hang out with — but now I’m struggling to

Daniel is in 3rd year at Queen’s, doing well. He

figure out friendship.

misses his brother like I miss my son. It’s November 2020—I’m assigning blame Love to hear from you. Call. Please.

to people in my head while walking home

Take Care.

from my girlfriend’s house: she didn’t make me feel welcome. Maybe she’s going to leave me


like Owen did. No, maybe it’s her roommate. Maybe she’s making me cry. No, no… Maybe

I hope to have a book published one day. To

it’s because I haven’t gone home to Toronto in

write as well as my father does.

a while. Maybe it’s the fact that my roommate still hangs out with my ex-girlfriend.


Maybe it’s because I was with her for four-and-a-half years and left suddenly: disconnected, gone. Maybe it’s because David Luginbühl died on the 401. Maybe it’s because the kid was the only one that lived. Maybe it’s the fact that my father had a stroke last year. Maybe it’s the fact that I think he is going to die soon, that I can sense the cancer soon to be revealed. Maybe it’s because we all can die soon. Because lightning can strike — and people are gone. People just leave sometimes. It starts to rain. Hard. The ink of an advertisement for music lessons bleeds down the pole it’s stapled to, like words turning to italics. Drops speckle my glasses. I can really cry now, because it’s invisible: maybe it’s because somebody left heroin needles in my mailbox. or because i got rust all over my clothes or because the caller is unavailable. i look up into the night at the clouds and the moon is poking through bright and orange glowing like christmas and raindrops and elevator buttons at the doctor’s office and bleeding rust splattering onto piano keys. i’m crying but don’t want to anymore or maybe the moon just likes to make me feel this way maybe feeling melancholic is beautiful and owen feels this way when he walks home ashland owen mcguire find out what happened to jack letters mailboxes lost people gone missing disconnected disassociated music forever now and always whom we all miss 1997 1932 1974 1993 1981 always remembered always loved ron owen walking home, for my brother






If I’ve learned anything, it’s that Sunday

Mine will sit beside me with stitched-up

night might always be heavy. It might

lips, and I’ll ask her where we’re supposed

always remind us of every night we spent

to run from numbness like this, how we’re

convincing everyone else they were worthy

expected to mourn if there was never a

of healing, every instance bringing rise to

body. I’ll apologize for never making room

the nights that we didn’t want to live. Maybe

for her death in my bed because I couldn’t

all we could ever count on was failure. We

handle the weight of it all. How she’ll never

could tally every mistake on the doorframe

go home again because I can’t remember if

of the houses we grew up in until the children

we ever had one.

buried in the backyard find us again.

I’ll unstitch the chapped skin and

want to, I’ll listen. She’ll tell me about

watch her vomit the rust and the rot

forgetting names and new days that

and every obituary clipping mourning

won’t taste of their skin. Having people

the childhood she survived without

around was never the same thing as

ever being taught how to hold herself,

having friends; the parts of my life I’m

without ever being held at all. These

holding onto so desperately are parts

words will look familiar because they’re

where I wasn’t even happy. She’ll be

my own; they’re pieces of me, aching

laughing and telling me it feels nice to

in my stomach and rattling around

breathe. It feels nice to start getting our

like collected baby teeth. We never

smile right on the first try. She’s still

did believe in the tooth fairy. Or Santa

afraid of the monsters in the closet,

Claus. Or God, for that matter. And the

but with me, she’ll be okay. I’ll tell her

child will know all of this because she

we have sharper teeth now. A salt rock

lived through it with her mouth shut.

nightlight and stronger sleeping pills so eventually she’ll get a good night’s

I’ll tell her the names of the people

rest. She’ll remind me of every night

she will one day love and watch

that she didn’t want to live and despite

leave. I’ll tell her about being a

not believing in anything, I’ll thank


God she’s alive.

she’ll interrupt to ask how her puppy is. I’ll tell her she grew up to be the best

The two of us will sit in the quiet

dog in the world, that I might never

heaviness of Sunday and think of each

forget how the air smelled the day she

other, of how our throats aren’t closing


around dirt anymore. This night will be the night she resurrects, and I’ll hold

At this point, I’ll be searching for

her for who she is. We’ll honor the

the faces in the ceiling until I can

insignificance of it all and I’ll give her

breathe again, and she’ll start to tell

permission to cry without immediately

me about spring. About knees scraped

wiping her tears.

on pavement and how being loved doesn’t hurt anymore, how it was never supposed to. As much as I don’t




Permission to be a child.



AFTERWORD Thank you to the Queen’s Inn on Brock Street—particularly Kathy and Richard Mitchell—for hosting Quilt and its contributors on November 27th, 2021 to read their work live. We could not be more grateful. Thank you to the Queen’s English Department for their unrivalled support and belief in our publication. And finally, thank you, our readers, for being here. Let











Haudenosaunee territory. We are grateful to be able to live, learn, and play on these lands.



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