canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


by Aisha Sasha John

I had five beers at the bar and told two people, a couple Iíd met only once before, Iíd masturbated about them. Thatís not badówhatís bad is that it was a joke and no oneóno oneóbelieved me. So I got mad and I poured ice water into the lap of a man who, apparently, wears linen pants and no underwear. I donít know what time I got home but it was morning, the sky the blue of a bridesmaidís dress. I woke up to heavy, water-less eyesómy contact lenses hard as a Frisbee. And my front door was open. Wide open. The hallway light flashed depressinglyóit never did that. It was judging me.

I kicked the door closed, pulled my bra off through my sleeve and threw my tights in the corner. Three Advil. The phone.

"Frances, you do that thing for me yet?" My mother.

"Iíll do it now, Iíll do it now." She needed a flight. She needed to see me.

"Ev-eryday you saying that. Every day. One little thing I ask you to do you canít do it. One little thing."

"Mom Iím doing it now." I needed to see her too; Iím just lazy.

My mother started shouting the flight dates into the phone.

"Mom, wait. My computerís loading up. Iím not even on the internet." I had my laptop on my bare lap and the heat was itching the tops of my thighs. It felt cancerous.

A knock.

I pressed the receiver against the side of my leg and I yelled at the door: "Coming!"

I knew full well who it was. He only came when I was busy and half-naked. I ran into my bedroom and of course I couldnít find a bra though I have twenty. I pulled a dirty sports bra from the hamper that was still damp from the previous dayís run, banging my elbow against the doorframe getting it on.

He knocked again.

"Coming! Iím coming!"

Okay: pants. I have more pants than bras but the pair I put on was inside out. I would have left it except that the last time he came my shirt was on backwards and heíd pointed at the collar mid-way up the front of my neck.

"Your blouse," he said. Yes, my blouse. Wayward, the both of us.

I unlocked the door and he told me why he was there but I already knew. We walked to the kitchenóme in the leadópassing the dining room table which had two open pizza boxes on it. Two neatly chewed pizza crusts were poised at the edge of the table: jumpers. I opened the cupboard beneath the sink and showed him the exact joint on the pipe that was leaking. He coughed once and then crouched down, anchoring one hand on the lip of the counter. I noticed that his hands were paint-splattered and large and beautiful. He did something to the pipe and then turned the faucet on but he had to move a burnt pot out of the way to reach the knob.

"Sorry, sorry. Iíll wash them. Let me wash them," I said.

"Oh, itís okay. Itís okay."

"No, itís fine. Iíll wash them."

But I had to stand slightly to the side of the sink because the cupboard door was open and, well, he was right there. At one point my ankle touched his hand and we both apologized. I scrubbed that burnt potóbasmati riceóplus a cutting board and a stainless steel salad bowl. The rest of the dirty dishes I just put on the table beside the pizza boxes.

"Oh shit!" I said. My mother. She was still on hold.

"Pardon?" he said.

"Oh, nothing. Iíll be in the living room."

"Op! No problem."

My mother had hung up but I figured it would save time if I just looked up the flights first and then called her back with the prices.

She called back just as I was lifting the laptop open.

"Mom, wait!" She kept trying to give me her flight dates. "Iím still not online!"

While the computer loaded she told me her work schedule for the week. Something about overtime and afternoon shifts. My mother is a nurse aide. When she works in the psych ward, she comes across women my age who badly want to die and her disbelief at their self-hate, after all these years, warms me. Iím less interested, however, at whether it was Thursday-Friday or Friday-Saturday that she had off.

"Uh-huh, uh-huh," I said. I was checking my email.

Lucas walked into the living room and out my apartment and then came back in with a large tool box that was red but not shiny. He almost always wore a buttoned down shirt. This one was checkered: light blue and pink. Oh, Lucas.

"Six forty-nine," I told my mother. I only ever checked Air Canada because Iíve been told itís the safest. I love my mother more than teeth.

"Six forty-nine! Oui, mon Dieu!"

"Mom. Relax. Itís cheaper than it was last time."

"Frances, no! Last time was it was under five hundred." She paused. "No?"

"No, mom. Last timeó"

Lucas was back in the living roomóone hand on the front door knob, the toolbox in his other.

"I have to pick up some other supplies," he said. "Iíll be back in a couple hours. You, youíll be home?"

"UmÖ Give me a second, Lucas." I wasnít sure but I think what he replied was, No problem.

My hand was covering the receiver down at my hip. I put the phone back up to my ear.

My mother was shouting: "Whoís that? Whoís that there, huh?"

"UmÖitís umÖ"

"The handyman," Lucas said.

"Ömy friend," I said at the same time.

"What friend? Whoís that man?"

My mother was so loud.

I pressed the receiver against my thigh. "Alright, Lucas. Iíll see you later, then. And oh yes. Iím home all day."

Lucas said bye and he shut the door gently behind him.

"Frances, whoís that man there?"

"Mom, itís my friend, okay! My friend!"


Aisha Sasha John is a writer. Currently, sheís working on a poetry manuscript about self-portraiture. Visit her at





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