Granville Island Winter Ale


The bar is all cement floors, its patio wood-paneled. But they are inside at the moment, and this place with its faux-American name is playing swing music, or music that you can swing to, she does not know the difference.

He is French, slim like her, and the crown of his head but an inch or two above her own, always in chinos and hand-stitched shoes. She has never properly danced with someone before. But old books had her convinced that this must be fun; when he asks her she leaps at the chance, and she is not disappointed.

She finds that she can follow him and he has no compunctions about how close they should be.

At the table, earlier, newly-minted friends testing each other’s waters over chocolate-coloured pints, someone had asked her if she was in love with her absent boyfriend. Several faces turned to look at her and they were intimate, serious; they had dredged up school scandals and dead parents, now it was her turn to share. She certainly loved her boyfriend, but with the intensity behind that question, the turn of the voice on in and the sense of being measured for all time, how could she know for sure at 22 years of age? How could she match the nakedness of that question? Why were they asking her such a thing?

She was nonplussed, embarrassed, tipsy. She didn’t have any prepared lies. Her skin prickled under all the stares and she answered with what first came to mind.

It is only as she is trying her first steps of swing dancing with her classmate, movement becoming delight becoming laughter, that she realizes honesty can amount to disloyalty.

And it is much, much later before she realizes that her boyfriend, who proves indifferent to her love of dancing, is the sort who does not like his girlfriend to dance with anyone else, even if he has no intention of dancing with her.

The Sea-Girl’s Undertows


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One naked, pink-shell ear is his

Words made of spice and rumbling

He sounds like hills she’s never seen

Conifer fires, fragrant humming

She gleans dark loam from his smile

Far from the sand and rocks and waves

Warmth drawing her from whitecaps

An effervescent nature stayed

Salt glitters on cheeks, on eyelids

As pale and slight as he is hearty

Her kelp hair like matted feathers

Eyes blue, bewitched and longing

She listens although cracks spider

Over her lips and back and hair

Heart burning out of the water

That kept her sleek and fair

And she listens to him still

After he has journeyed on

One pink-shell ear turned white

Sowing undertows of want

~

Elizabeth Cook, 2018

The Crone of the Westward Hunch


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Image from Mickey Shannon Photography

The Crone of the Westward Hunch

For her Eastern twin went searching

And beneath her no road rushed

And none was long kept waiting

She took the lonely mountain paths

And the cowherd’s grassy trail

Towns and thoroughfares she passed

By day and starlight pale

 

Rare was the one who, pausing

Heard more than the branches sigh

In a wind down from the highlands

When the Westward Crone was nigh Continue reading “The Crone of the Westward Hunch”

The DeWhitts


Mrs. DeWhitt was a bit too unerring in her instincts for her own good. Somehow, whether by the curling of her toes or a pinch in her right shoulder, she knew when Mr. DeWhitt was inappropriately occupied with the nth chamber maid, the girl-who-came-only-on-Wednesdays, the innkeep’s daughter, or any other bit of female miscellany under the age of thirty.

During these times (which constituted most of the time) Mr. DeWhitt would often be puzzled to find his dinner late, cold, or absent; his gloves, or cuff links, or rifle missing; his galoshes continually, inexplicably muddied; and his best scotch disappearing faster than he could rightly account for.

Unfortunately for the marriage, Mrs. DeWhitt exercised her powers in so natural and unconscious a manner, and Mr. DeWhitt was so far from thinking these mishaps anything but coincidence, that the gentleman never realized that he was receiving his just desserts, and the lady was never content.

CONDITIONAL HOLIDAYS ARE ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT THEY SEEM (4/4)


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It felt like an age had passed while I was in the restroom. Yet it hadn’t been long enough. The older I get the less these conditional holidays seem like holidays at all, and more like work in disguise.

Lalantree?”

Reluctantly, I turned towards the voice and the mountains. Either it was my imagination or the twilight on that side of the plaza was deepening; shadows darkening the flowers among the scrub, and far above them, the pines and the crags. Someone had seen fit to leave a stone table on the grass not far from me, and its weathered scrollwork, and cracked surface, managed to convey forlornness amid the rest of this zytocoke1-fueled fantasy.

Mavind was sitting there, waiting for me with her cream self perched upon the faded grey, feet off the ground and legs swaying slightly. The table might as well have been placed for her. A creeper was growing up one leg. Continue reading “CONDITIONAL HOLIDAYS ARE ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT THEY SEEM (4/4)”

CONDITIONAL HOLIDAYS ARE ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT THEY SEEM (3/4)


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I forged a path toward the washroom through the thinner bits of the crowd, conscious that my newfound powers in clearing away knots of people were 100% due to the Junoesque figure following me. And this, I realized, was one of the most exciting things that had happened on any of our CLPFC days; the expressions around us were awash with curiosity, shock, and delight. Everyone here would know that Ibrander’s date had jumped ship to Lalantree before lunch was served.

Trying to scan as many faces as possible without making eye contact (now this is a true art) I almost bumped into Loddi’s mum. This in spite of her neon floral mumu. “Oh, hello Lalantree. Loddi isn’t with you?”

No…” Mavind had come up close behind me, and Loddi’s mum did a double take. Continue reading “CONDITIONAL HOLIDAYS ARE ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT THEY SEEM (3/4)”

Conditional Holidays are Always Less Than What They Seem (2/4)


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Nonchalant and all that, I waited until the last moment to look up at the welcome interlopers.

Ibrander,” said a poised, throaty, laughing voice, “won’t you introduce me?”

They stopped in front of the bench, my third cousin Ibrander1 (who detests Loddi, making me instantly suspicious of his coming over) and a tall, glossy person who was all rich brown hair and expressive mouth and hand gestures. One hand was on Ibrander’s arm but she still managed to be gesturing with it. Her clothes were nothing less than dashing – a wide hat and a one-piece dress suit in cream, its tailored A-line skirt skewing physics by ending in a sway. This was one case where I didn’t have to worry about the polite game that people played of trying to guess-without-guessing whether someone was visiting in-holo only. She was most definitely in person. Continue reading “Conditional Holidays are Always Less Than What They Seem (2/4)”

Conditional Holidays are Always Less than What They Seem (1/4)


Loddi Frisket is a black hole of neuroses. His very existence centres on an unstable singularity, which sucks in anxieties, crises, and the most outlandishly negative possibilities. From prior experience I can attest that his event horizon fluctuates around a diameter of approximately 15 metres. Sometimes the emotional debris which gathers on his accretion disk is an accurate enough warning that I can reverse course, and get away before his attention fixes on me. Sometimes it is not enough.

To give you a sense of just what I am dealing with, Loddi once asked me if I would rather lose my heart (and dignity) to a psychopathic baker, or flee the civilized world, giving up everything from clean pillow shams to NutriPills, only to waste away in boondocks replete with SABs1 and smugglers.

In my humble opinion, the baker of Loddi’s bipolar love was not psychopathic (I still buy rolls there), but merely possessed of poor judgement, seeing as she countenanced his Gothic style of flirting in the first place. Furthermore, it is well known that the Carwallian smugglers (the only smugglers within 50 lightyears to whom Loddi could have possibly been referring) live very well in their off-planet colonies, though the latter are admittedly remote places. Politics may be laissez-faire over in the Esten Economic Zone but they still don’t want blatant crime polluting the fine views and real estate values of the elite.

Continue reading “Conditional Holidays are Always Less than What They Seem (1/4)”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF “ISMS”, AND THE CRYOSTATICALLY RE-ENABLED (5)


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As I alluded to earlier, the Blartists of today bear little resemblance to the long-deceased statesman from whom their brand derives. To be brief in summarizing a long and dusty biography, which I pulled from my grandmother’s shelves (she collects histories of anything “queer”, as she deems it), R. F. Blart broke into Hyan politics before they were known as Hyan politics by throwing outrageous parties. He was an instant star, with a keen instinct for brokering alliances, and a flair for speeches that served as accessory to a bold appearance; he was never seen in anything but purple.

Blart set his stamp on the original Charter and Constitution of the Hyan Economic Zone (HEZ) as one of its first eleven High Councillors, and after a few goods years, he proceeded to ricochet from highs to lows – from diplomatic triumphs to day-drunk rants in the Senate. Such erratic behaviour ate into his popular support until only the most hardcore remained dedicated to him; town criers, and foot masseuses1. Continue reading “ON THE IMPORTANCE OF “ISMS”, AND THE CRYOSTATICALLY RE-ENABLED (5)”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF “ISMS”, AND THE CRYOSTATICALLY RE-ENABLED (4)


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When we came down to the Conference Lounge it was five minutes to the preordained start, and hardly anybody was there. No one that I recognized, certainly, which lead me to believe that the few people scattered here and there among armchairs were probably from the infamous MV&SR, while up on the little raised speaking platform two people, faces hidden, were conferring over the intricacies of pressing the large black button to turn on the microphone. I wondered which of them might be our speaker.

I made a beeline for one of the remaining overstuffed armchairs, my top priority as the room was predominantly populated by the less puffy variety. It felt as if our group of six or so, hushed remarks and chuckles not entirely quelled as we crossed the room, was quite conspicuous in the sparse silence, and it was with a knotty mix of emotion – including modest dismay – that I found Hellinder seated next to me, very nearly tête-à-tête.  Continue reading “ON THE IMPORTANCE OF “ISMS”, AND THE CRYOSTATICALLY RE-ENABLED (4)”