Fiction

Drone Strike

Jihad. The billboard portrayed a masked ISIL fighter dressed in black, carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. Alone in the rear seat of the silver Hyundai sedan, Karim grimaced. Reminders of ISIL's martial grip on his town were everywhere. Slim, an d in his thirties, Karim had a penetrating gaze and light brown eyes. Since ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant,…

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Once Upon a Pizzeria

Once Upon a Pizzeria

Once upon a pizzeria, a little pizzeria in the big big city, there lived a woman named Maria, but everyone called her Nonna Maria. Nonna means grandmother in Italian, and everyone loved to adopt Nonna Maria as their own personal grandmother. Nonna Maria didn’t exactly live in the pizzeria, she lived upstairs from it. People came from all over the big big…

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Loss of Teenage Dreams

I don’t know if he has recognized me. Frank Spadari. He’s even more handsome now with the grey at his temples. Many years have gone by and my heart still overturns at seeing him. I make myself stare outside the train’s window. I think back to a time in the ’70s. I was thirteen years old; my older sister Gina…

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Zia

Zia

I re-read the telegram for the third time. But the message would not change. Zia had died. Alone. In the small Italian village where she had lived for seventy years. Only three months ago I had seen her for the first time. She was standing at her front door, waiting. All of her life she had lived in that mountain…

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Poppy Crackers

Poppy Crackers

Cat jumped into the backseat, asked for snacks and Shawn Mendes. Rosie granted one of the two requests and they waited for Grace, as the heat blasted and Stitches played. Cat pulled out her lunchbox to scrounge for leftovers. When Rosie glanced over her shoulder to check on her, she saw a lap full of familiar orange crumbs. She was…

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The Darkness You Hold

(for Joseph Altobelli) Imagine this: you are twenty-four years old and you long to take the world in your fingers. It’s yours for the taking. You know it’s yours, as you lie wide-awake in bed to watch the dawn spread like wonder across the sky. You watch until day fully blossoms, opening as gently as Giulia’s mouth, which yielded several…

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The Motorcycle

“Monsieur, Monsieur.”       He could hear a voice far away. Then he felt a light tap on the shoulder. He opened his eyes not knowing they had been closed.       “Monsieur, it’s your turn. A23,” said the Haitian man sitting next to him. “Look, it’s A23.” He pointed to the flashing red number above the chairs.       His number had…

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The Hog Slaughter: February 1862

The Hog Slaughter: February 1862

The hog is limp, having shuddered its last breath after a single blow to the head with a mallet. Gabriella and some of the neighbourhood women watch her father Lorenzo and his friends urging each other on with cries of “Pull,pull!” as they hoist the hog with a crude rope and pulley system. The thick ropes have been drawn through…

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Queen of the Majorettes

Queen of the Majorettes

Judy needs to pee. Beyond the barricade of blankets, she feels a chill against her cheeks. If she gets out of bed, the rest of her will be cold too. She holds it, and holds it, until she feels herself leaking into the darkness under her sheets. Scrunching down to the bottom of the bed that fills the back of…

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Flora and Bruno

  Flora and Bruno drive for hours – her fault, partly. Curled up in the front seat of the stolen Impala in a nightie and Bruno’s Blackhawks jersey, Flora demands, “Show me Niagara Falls!” Sparks fly from the tangle of wires, red-blue-green, hanging from the dashboard. Bruno is worried that if he stops, he won’t be able to get the…

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Devotion

In a flurry of sticky fingers, we drop our change in the box and nod to the man with the moustache. He says hello, or thank you, or you need six more euro, but we don’t understand because neither of us bothered to read the conversation guide, and Anne’s first year-Italian proved to be useless before we even got off…

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Angel of Petawawa

Angel of Petawawa

She looked like a pin-up of Betty Grable, hair curled into seductive blonde sausages, naked shoulders like two perfectly rounded scoops of ice cream. “Need a ride, soldier?” Mario tugged off his cap. “Oh, only if I’m not taking you out of your way, Muh-Miss. I’m headed to, to St. Catharines.” The lady laughed. Mario smiled, not certain what was…

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Moon Hill

Moon Hill

A cotton ball moon hangs over Knocknarea. I push a wider gap in the curtains and stare up at it, before turning back to Oisín’s cot. I lean over the rail and scoop his breath to my nose; it is luxuriously sweet – the lovely, frightening smell of sick baby. I am so glad that Oisín, like my other three…

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Food Companion Wanted

Food Companion Wanted

The park sits in a deep dip on Caledonia Road just before the street climbs a steep hill, probably the steepest in the city. It’s morning and nobody’s around. The grass glistens in the spring sunlight. She is sitting on a bench near the playground where they agreed to meet. Nina gives the old guy a once over. She came…

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Making Her Garden Grow

Mary, Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row. “Dreams don’t come true,” her son announced. She was taking him to his Suzuki piano lesson. It was her practice to finish at the office early the afternoon of the lesson. They would stop at San Remo Bakery…

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My Husband Lives in My Garage

My Husband Lives in My Garage

When I first told others that my husband, Andrej, was living in my garage, they thought I spoke metaphorically – that he was “in my bad books,” as they say, or that he was “in the doghouse” for bad behaviour. We really weren’t on bad terms at all; our separation had been peaceably carried out. So when I shook my…

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This is Sunday Lunch

This is Sunday Lunch

Lunches are quiet at Via Scapardini 9. Father. Mother. Son. And me, the fiancée from Toronto. We eat in the kitchen with the ticking of the clock, sometimes an Italian soap opera. We all have our places around the table. Mine is beside the radiator with my back to the television. I face an armoire bursting with all manner of…

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The Fourth Wife

The Fourth Wife

To look at Uncle Enzo you’d be hard pressed to believe that this short mild-mannered fellow who liked to make pasta sauce in the middle of the night dressed only in his underwear had already killed three wives. That’s what some family members believed. Kith and kin were sympathetic enough at the first wife’s demise, fittingly surprised and shocked with…

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Laura

Laura

A freak snowstorm diverted the London-Venice flight to Monfalcone – an industrial town nestled near the Gulf of Trieste. There was a bell tone. A sign blinked on overhead: FASTEN SEAT BELTS. The intercom crackled once, and the pilot informed the passengers (mostly tourists) that a winter storm was raging along Italy’s Adriatic coast; airports in Treviso and Venice were…

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Day After Day

I am scribbling these notes moments before departure. I have awakened from a dream which seemed to last for years. I remember nothing of the preceding day, month or year. On the dark screen of memory, fragments of images appear for a fraction of a second and are gone. The clocks of the metro - station after station - all…

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Call Display

Call Display

Giovanni meets his women in bars, late on weekend nights. He meets them the easy way; he goes over to them, or they come over to him. No sweat. Especially after he's had a few beers. But lately he has begun to feel repulsion for his kind of life ... a loathing of himself. More and more, he feels like…

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