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Short Story: Another train at Sunalta station

(815 words) Written April 2016

By S.R.A. Markin

I travel through downtown Calgary and up the rails in the S.W. raising in elevation. I look out the window while sitting tightly between two people. The train smells of cheap cologne over body odor and cigarettes.

“Next stop, Sunalta Station,” the intercom announced.

I dislodge from the pressure of the body’s and move through the overcrowded train, making my way to the door. I take a deep breath waiting for the train to stop. I image the train stopping short of the platform and the rails crumbling beneath me.

The door opens, and I walk out. People move past me, bumping me. I look through the crowd. I look for her. She said she would be here at 5:30 PM. What a terrible time to meet in Calgary. The rush-hour disperses, and the platform calms. I stand alone, and then I see her sitting on a bench next to an advertisement. The sign displays a help-line for domestic abuse.

She has baby blue painted toenails and fidgets with a sandal. Her leg vibrates. She sits wearing a beautiful yellow sun-dress looking straight ahead. I am nervous. Her dark hair moves in the light breeze. I approach her.

“Hello,” I said then clearing my throat.

She turns her head and looks at me. “Hi,” she said as if she was out of breath.

“Have you been sitting here for long? I tried to get here early, but you know how bad this city is after work.”

“No. It’s okay. You are on time.”

“Okay,” I said.

She turns her head looking past me exposing a dark side of her face. Purple eye-shadow runs down her cheekbone.

“Is that a bruise?”

She turns her head looking forward then down to her fidgeting feet.

“Yeah,” she said.

I sit next to her as I did four years ago in the summer rain when we first met. Instead of the rain hitting the ground, her tears do. Instead of me putting my arm around her and flirting, I sit quietly with my hands on my lap. Her body is different than before. Her skin glows, and her stomach seems full.

“He hits me,” she said.

I fight the urge to place my arm around her.

“He drinks often and blames me.” Her tears continued to fall.

I look at her leg as the dress sways in the wind, revealing more darkness. She sits folded over, deflated and helpless. I think of us that summer. I recall how she would drain the battery of my cell phone nearly every night. How I could find something witty to say to almost every remark she made. How full of life I was around her. I remember her running into my arms and holding her tightly never wanting to let go.

“I am pregnant,” she said, “And he doesn’t want me to have the child.”

I place my arm around her. She moves her head deep into my armpit, soaking my shirt with tears. I breathe profoundly looking at her.

“The child isn’t his.”

“Does he know that?” I said.

“No.”

“Then,” I say unprepared to finish my question.

“I am unsure who’s the father,” she said.

Another train makes its way to the station. People pushed out of doors and moved towards the exit and down the stairs.

“I have no one to turn to,” she said.

I think of the last time we spoke to one another two years ago. I closed the apartment door, and waited in the rain for a taxi, listening to her yell from the window above.

My cell phone vibrates in my pocket, and I try to ignore it. I know it is my wife texting me, probably with a grocery list.

“I am your friend.”

“I know,” she said perking up.

I quickly regret my words. She pushes her body in closer and places a hand on my thigh.

“I am married.”

“I know. I was married too when we met,” she said with a laugh.

I do not laugh.

Her ring finger shows a tan line, the same type of tan line I ignored four years ago. I place my hand gently on her bruised face and look into her bloodshot eyes.

“I want to get you help,” I said.

She looks at me and smirks with a youthful, broken expression of lost innocence.

“But, that is all I want to do,” I said. “I have a family whom I love.”

“Well, to hell with you then,” she said and got up. “Why would I have even thought that you would have cared about me. You are the one who left me,” she said yelling while walking away.

She does not look back. I sit on a bench next to the advertisement watching the door close behind her yellow sun-dress. I remember buying her that dress. Another train arrives. I watch the people leave.

 

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Flash Fiction: By the river

 

(429 words) 25 March 2018

by S.R.A. Markin

“I don’t want to go anywhere without you,” he said.
There is no response. The breeze blows over the river and rustles the branches causing a few debris to fall.
“I thought I would spend more of my life with you. This is too hard to go on,” he said. “I can’t help but think of you and how we were together.”
The features of her face show under the sun’s light in his mind. He thinks of them sitting together outside of campus under the blistering sun eating snacks. She would often bring almonds for him in a container that would hold a pear or an apple. She would even offer him a bite of the apple.
“I know it is over, but it is so damn hard,” he said. “Why did it have to end? I could have been better for you. I could have been patient, and-.”
He sits down on a log, with his feet in the snow. The current flows and decreases in size until each wave is a mere ripple in the water.
“And, I could have worried less. I spent my time worrying,” he said. “Such a waste of time. I could have laughed and enjoyed myself with you. It has been two-and-a-half months, and I have been getting better since we broke up. I don’t cry as much. I have found things that I enjoy doing. I do most of those things. Although some days are hard to get out of bed, I do eventually get out of bed,”
He laughs and moves his feet in the snow. The sun casts a perfect glaze onto the surface that becomes blinding after watching for so long.
“I know that we can’t get back together. It wouldn’t work for either of us. I wish I could be stronger, and a better friend. I could be your friend from a distance. I could help you when you need it, or be friendly when you say hi. I can be your friend as long as you don’t get too close for too long because I am still in love with you. I don’t want to ruin our progress. I don’t move on very fast.”
He sits by the river as he will for the rest of the spring and summer’s days. He knows that one day he will meet someone else and go through the emotions and lust of falling in love, but neither that will take away what he once had.

 

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Flash Fiction: Maligne Lake

(500 words) originally written: winter 2016

Edited: 10 March 2018

By S.R.A Markin

The stars above illuminate throughout the sky. Their intense twinkling is captivating out here in the open land. I lean back in the grass resting my head on a crooked tree trunk. I sit next to my best friend, and we both have our feet towards the fire. My damp socks steam from the earlier fight. Hers does too. I calmly breathe allowing my mind to finally clear. I think of very little, and the men across the fire speak to one another. They converse about their day’s rescue. A dog with a ringing bell chases a squirrel into a tree and stands at the base looking up while barking. The fire between the men and us blazes high and engulfs dry pieces of wood causing sharp crackles to shoot sparks up into the night. The flames cast dancing shadows on the men’s faces.
“I am happy here,” she said.
“Me too,” I said adjusting myself and gazing towards the glacier-fed lake.
I look onward thinking of how beautiful the body of cold water is, and how mighty the overlooking mountains are. I look towards the dock where three canoes are tied up. They bob with each wave that rolls under and reaches the shore of the bay. Much like the fire, the water here dances as well.
My tightly pressed jacket adds warmth to my fatigued body. My eyes begin to close, and the murmurs, the crackles, and the dog’s bark blends into an array of white noise, which lullabies as I slumber into sleep.
I take control of the canoe as the powerful frigid waves threaten us to dock. I paddle hard with one oar maneuvering obliquely and then parallel against each hit that floods into the boat, and she holds on directing us towards land. We align the boat 20- feet from shore slicing the waves trying to gain more distance towards our destination.
After four hours of paddling my efforts fade, and we are forced to dock into a log that protrudes from a hooked-shaped land mass. She ties the canoe to the log, and I jump into the cold water holding the boat for her. We walk to shore and shelter ourselves away from the tallest trees. She shivers. Lighting continues to illustrate the sky, which opens the dark clouds above with each strike. I dig into my rucksack. The rain fails to stimulate my skin.
We search for dryness and gather materials. I scrape a blade over magnesium causing sparks. I continue and more sparks. I scratch harder. The sparks collide with the kindling, and they are immediately extinguished. I shave wood and add wool from my kit. My fingers become more useless with each strike. She shivers while cutting wood into a pile of shavings. The raindrops moisten the land and thunder echoes throughout the forest. More sparks fail to ignite. She shakes profusely. And I awaken to wood crackling, faint voices, and a dog barking with a bell.

 

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Flash Fiction: blue light

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(457 words) 9 March 2018

By. S.R.A. Markin

The light continues to flicker, and he can’t stop looking at it. All damn night, he thought. I have been laying here staring at that damn blue light all god damn night.
The illumination is dim and occupies a small space in the dark room. It would be missed if one did not appropriately know where to look and even what to look for, and even by chance of glancing, one would quickly mistaken the blue light for the rest of the darkness.
“Will you turn off that damn light. I am trying to sleep,” the man yelled knowing very well that no one can hear him. “Every night, I am damned to see this blue light. I close my eyes. I see the light. I open them, and there it is. Have some damn decency and turn it off. I have asked countless of times. I have asked nicely. Now for the love of god, turn it off before I smash it off,” he shouted.
The man did not get up for he is much too weak. Arthritis in his knees has contributed to his inert manner of sedentary life in isolation. Well, that is what he would have you believe.
The man aggressively rolls over in his bed. The springs protrude from the ripped sheets. He knows where to move as he adjusts himself back onto his back.
“I am very tired,” he said out loud. “I have had a long day, and all I ask is for that blue light to be turned off.”
The man has indeed had a long day. Although he has no recollection of the length of time of which he has been awake, nor does he know if it is daylight or nighttime, but the man, if there were light to see, would show great tiredness. If there were light in this basement room, one could see the sleeplessness in his eyes. His eyes would-be unusually red as if blood had dried and crusted. One would see blackness around his pale, almost translucent, skin under his eyes and splotchy bedsores scattered throughout his frail and atrophied body.
Although it would be unlikely to think of this man if one was indeed to see his outer appearance, the man at one time in life was an attractive young man. Life had not been kind to him, as it has been unkind to so many, and he is aware of this. And as he lays in his damp bed as he will until he dies in a couple of days, this man while asleep before then will dream of a woman who once loved him and cherished his company.

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Flash Fiction: Brain Gains

 

(824 Words) 5 March 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

“I don’t care. I am not going to workout every single day. I am sitting at my desk, and I am doing my work,” he said. “Today is my rest day.”
“But we are required to workout. It is Chest day. You can’t just stop that is unsociable. Our bodies need to be continuously attended to every day with weights,” I said. “The Bit is not going to react kindly to this. We need our gains.”
“I took the Bit off. Mine was defective anyway. I will get my gains through reading and writing.”
“You did what? Please tell me you are joking,” I said forcing a laugh. “How did you – and why would you read? How did you even manage to take it off? Nevermind. Forget I am asking. I don’t want to know. This is highly irresponsible. Writing? Really?”
“Oh relax,” he said reclining in his chair at his desk.
The man is in great shape, and he has been my friend for the past ten years. My training partner actually, so that makes us great friends, up until now. I can hardly stand to look at him. He is going to lose what is most important, what is socially acceptable.
“Okay, you know what, I get it now. That is hilarious, but we have to get going if we are going to make it to the gym,” I said. “We have to get a bench.”
I walk over to the counter and crack into the vanilla iso-protein. It was on sale for $200 CDN for 4-scoops. I couldn’t imagine skipping out on this deal. I filled the container with premium Canadian Glacier water (to avoid all the estrogen contaminated water). Shook it, and drank it down for a low-carb, pure anabolic muscle surging pre-workout snack. I can feel the gains. Then I crossed an X on the calendar: right over International Chest and Bicep day: Bro Day. I still can’t believe it took until 2021 to change the days of the week to bodybuilding splits. My birthday is in four days on Shoulders and Arms day. I can’t wait. The best day, besides today, if Bro wasn’t being a dick and pretending to rest. Oh yeah, I will be turning 25-years-old, which is pretty amazing that my testosterone levels are still elevated high enough at such an old age to get gains.
I almost forgot to like people’s Instagram photos before I leave. Okay. I will turn on my Bit, scroll down, double-click. Some crazy physiques and butts. I can’t wait for Humpday; although, I don’t think I will train legs again this month. That was too much for me; besides, I think more Bicep days is best.
“Are you sure you aren’t coming, Bro?” I said. I look around the corner, and he has his face in a book. It isn’t even a mag? “Whatever Leg day did to you last month, I am sorry we trained them. I have my Bit on step mode, and I need my 10,000 steps, and I am only at 600. I need the couple more to the car and from the car into the gym, Bro.”
“Do you mind keeping it down.”
“Seriously, what are you doing with that book?”
“It is one of Huxley’s best works, and what I am doing is getting brain reps. Maybe that you will understand?” he said.
“Like curls?”
“Yes. I am curling to provide hypertrophy for the cellular integrity of my brain.”
“Bro, you should have told me. Give me that book.” I slammed the book into my head for a rep. “One.” I slammed it again. “Two,” I said. “How many again for muscle gains? Is it 12?”
“Yes, twelve.”
“Three. Four. Five.”
“Make sure you get the right amount of sets and feel free to do it in the kitchen so you can get your protein in right away during the anabolic window.”
“Oh, yeah. Six. Seven.”
“Oh and Bro?” he said.
“Yeah, Bro? Eight. Nine.”
“Remember to flex your brain muscles in between sets. You have to get the muscle surged with blood.”
“Ten. Eleven. You are so smart, Bro. Twelve.”
I flexed my brain muscles as hard as I could. I knew I was doing it right because my ears popped, and I got four more steps on my Bit. Oh shoot, I better get my scoops in before I can’t get my brain gains in. I drank the last of my iso-protein. I will have to finish my brain curls tonight. I love two-a-days.
“I can feel the gains,” I said.
I couldn’t hear him. He must have closed the door when I left the room. I almost forgot I have to get to the supplement store before I get my bench. Good thing I took out $600. Now I can get a serious pump.

 

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Short Story: bullies

 

(1042 words) 27 Feb. 2018

By. S.R.A. Markin

I am a loner again. I am better off this way, and more used to it. Besides, I can’t stand people. I never really have gotten along with most people anyway. I still can’t believe how much I got picked on when I was in Elementary, I thought while waiting for the bus.

I would come home after school, puffy faced, and head to my room to cry in my pillow. I would soak that damn pillow for the first hour or two before being called for dinner.

Then mom would come in and sit down at the edge of my bed rubbing my leg telling me such kind things. Then if that didn’t work, she would say that she is “going to kick the shit out of those little fuckers.” I don’t know why I always insisted she didn’t. I nearly begged her not to go to school and hurt anyone. Even looking back, I question if I saved a couple of lives.

I was a chubby kid if you haven’t picked up on that, and I got picked on. So, I guess it was my fault? That is how it works, because kids who are polite, shy, and keep to themselves, are one thing, but if they are fat, well kick the shit out of them. Right? That is what I started to believe, anyway.

I had a few friends in school, and this pretty much stayed the same even until now. Although the faces change here and there, having one or two close people is often as much as I can handle. My friends in elementary couldn’t stick up for me. A couple of them have tried, but this lead to them being pushed to the ground or bullied as well.

One day, in particular, I recall being outside next to our trailer extension classroom in Chase, B.C. I was shoved by some guy, who was two grades ahead of me. Who I am pretty sure failed a grade, so maybe three years older? He had two friends, and they also exchanged unpleasantries. I wasn’t equipped with fast wit like they were for comebacks. Regardless, I took a couple of shots to the gut.

Nearly 17-years-ago, and I recall the bullies words:
“I bet a turkey dinner will come out,” he said before hitting me again in the stomach.

“And stuffing,” one of the other’s said.

The funny part, and what made me laugh was that their punches didn’t hurt. I mean, I was laughing while getting punched, and this must have pissed them off even more because more blows hit my chubby body. I was chubby, not very fat, so they should have been able to hurt me physically. The shitty part is that I didn’t know how to fight back. I couldn’t hurt them.

A few days later, and after years of bullying, my mom had enough. I am certain she would have done this much earlier if I didn’t hide the fact I got my ass kicked on a regular base from a couple of my peers.

Mom told my dad to teach me how to fight. We went for jogs that nearly destroyed my chubby asthmatic self. My lungs would feel like fire. They would burn as I wheezed into my inhaler trying to breathe in so the medication will help me. I wanted to go a little further because I thought this would help me to hurt those boys. I jogged as many times as my dad took me out, which was often.

My parents got me a bench press and a set of weights that look like they were straight out of the eighties. So am I, so I guess it works? They got me two bench presses. I am still uncertain about why two. Maybe they wanted me to hurt those boys as much as I wanted to?

I learned to push the weights from off my bitch tits, as they called them, and curl the weight with my fat stretched marked arms. I was getting faster and stronger, but I still didn’t know how to fight.

Eventually, I was put in karate to learn to defend myself. I am pretty sure this was my mom’s idea. My cousin was in karate as well, and she knew about my bullies. She was teaching me a couple of things about how to throw punches and kicks and what areas to hit. I wanted to be like Bruce Lee against those boys.

I remember being in karate class having to fight someone. Each punch and each kick landed on the padding over my chunky body. I was told to punch and kick back, but I couldn’t do it. This boy wasn’t my enemy like those bullies who I wanted to hurt.

The karate instructor came over one day after many failed attempts from me punching a wooden board. He brought a wooden board. We stood outside in the backyard. I would bow, then throw a punch like I was instructed. I never threw the punch very hard. He eventually left leaving the board for me to practice on. I remember bringing it up to my room and sketching dinosaurs on it. I painted a stegosaurus that was colorful and vibrant. Of course, the dinosaur was a herbivore and extinct, but large and in charge, and that is what I wanted to be. I sat the painted wooden board on my shelf above my bed.

I never did get my revenge on my bullies. I only thought of hurting them. One ended killing himself, and who knows what happened to the other two?

I got on my bus that arrived at university after a long day of school work and training in the gym. I couldn’t imagine what would happen to the two boys who may be still alive if they tried anything with me now. Why should I even care? I am creative, strong, fit, I have a couple of carrying friends who would stick up for me, and I am a sweet-hearted person. I am doing okay, but then again, kicking the shit out of those little fuckers would feel nice.

 

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Short Story: an almost poetic outburst

 

(468 words) 22 Feb. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

I belong in a cage. In a cold enclosed uninsulated area with not enough food to sustain nourishment, the man thought. “And ice that doesn’t melt,” he said reaching for a nearly frozen bottle of water. “And weights that are too cold to touch. I belong to be left alone, cold, starving, dehydrated and atrophied. For I am full of hate, and deep within the light suffocates, so malnourish my flesh and corrode my bones, and starve my lungs,” he said laughing harder.
What a dramatic dialogue, he thought to himself. Such poetry.
“And maybe then, when life extinguishes, I will smile again. Again he repeated in his mind, thinking as if the word held great potency that is out of his control. “I have lost appreciation for what was and what is.”
The light flickered in the cold garage. The fluorescent hardly lightens in negative 26-degree Celsius weather. The man sits on a wooden lawn chair that he made for his mother in high school. She left it behind when she moved away.
“I belong here,” he whispered. “I do not care much for social interactions. They are superficial, and anything meaningful always ends up hurting too much. That is why I am in the garage so late. It is easier to avoid others, to hide away after a long day of blending in,” he said quietly laughing to himself.
The idea of blending in with others isn’t exactly an idea that crossed his mind before. “Does that make me like one of them? Such a foolish idea. I am full of shit.”
The man continues to lift the cold, heavy bar for reps. His hands are tight from the long wait times between sets and such a drop in body temperature. He groans and counts aloud. The same noises he has annoyed others in the gym with and the similar sounds that have annoyed him. Only animals make noises like this. Therefore, I am an animal in my cage, he thought.
The man put the barbell down and took off the weights. He stacked them in neat piles just as he likes them. He leans the bar against the wall and turns off the light that is nearly out. He closes the door and walks through the crunching snow. A little owl sits perched on a board.
“Hello again, little owl,” he said.
Of course, the little owl doesn’t respond for the owl is hunting.
“Dad said you caught a mouse yesterday from behind the shed,” he said to the little owl.
The owl continues to look down.
“Good job,” he said raising his thumb. “You show such poise and patients. I can learn from you.”
The owl sits looking down. The man walks inside to clean up and eat fish and fries.

 

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Flash Fiction: move on, my friend.

 

(537 words) 22 Feb. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

I wanted to text her and tell her that I am sorry, but I am afraid her phone will vibrate and wake her. She needs her sleep, and she deserves a good nights rest.
I have not been a good friend, not the kind she needs right now. She is going through a break-up, and her ex-boyfriend is mentally unstable. He is depressed, and she cares so deeply about his well-being that it is affecting her mental state.
They mutually agreed to break up, at least that is what they tell one another, but her ex-boyfriend makes it seem like it was more her idea.
He gets upset rather quickly, I am told. He isn’t the kind to be violent, but to lash out yelling, usually in public places, which can be degrading and uncomfortable. She attempts to calm him down and to talk in private about these matters, which she seems to accomplish very well. Unfortunately, anything she tries to say ends up going poorly. Often something she has done in the past is thrown back in her face. When she starts crying or gives up fighting with him, that is typically when he starts realizing the pain he is causing and begins to apologizes. He often cries, she told me, and of course, she is too carrying not to try and comfort him; regardless of the pain, he has caused. They make up for a little while, and then back to fighting the next time they are together, and repeat.
As far as I know, they have gone through some shit in their year-and-a-half together, which isn’t a long time, but they have spent nearly every day together before breaking up a month ago.
Although it is not my place to say, she should let him go. He will be fine. What I know from her about him is that he is a loner and does best while being alone. He isn’t the kind to go out of his way to bother someone, especially if they don’t want to interact with him. Sure he is sad, he has every right to be sad, and he will get over this, but you, my friend, you need to take care of yourself. You care too deeply about everyone, and I get that you love him. But in this case, love is not enough. You need to be healthy and strong by having your independence again. This will provide you with time to heal and time to reflect, which of course, you deserve. I am not blaming your ex-boyfriend, nor am I blaming you. It is clear to me, from someone who has listen to you over the past year-and-a-half that you need your time to yourself.
You say that your main concern is for him to be happy, well Sweetheart, neither of you seem to be happy with each other anymore. You told me that he said he wants you to be happy too. Without making this too complicated, you are unhappy together, and there is no reason for it. You deserve to be happy.
And remember, you are not alone. This is time that seems painful, but in the long run, you will be better off.

 

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Flash Fiction: little owl

 

(964 words) 21 Feb. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

It was late, and the young man was restless after a long day of sitting in his room at the computer. He needed some exercise to alleviate his mind. He put on a long sleeve, two thick pairs of socks, sweatpants and a hoodie. He grabbed his worn-out gloves that three fingers stick out of, a water bottle, and toque, and went outside.
The young man had his head down minding his business while walking through the snow. He looked up and was startled to see a small bird. The bird was unlike any bird he has seen, and it sat perched on the gated fence. The bird turned its head towards the young man and looked at him with its large yellow eyes that were outlined in a flat array of light brown feathers.
An owl, the man thought. He got excited and stepped cautiously towards the little bird. The owl seems to be waiting for something as the owl looked down into the heaps of snow.
He must be waiting for mice. There is plenty of bird seed, and god knows what else is around here that dad has left out, the young man said to himself.
The young man steps closer towards the bird, and each step makes a crunching noise on the hard snow. The bird looks at him for a period that makes the man feel as he is bothering the bird.
“Hello, I just want to get past you,” the young man said. “I do not mean to disturb you, but I would like to get into the garage to work out.”
The bird twitches his head looking at the young man and back downward.
“I am sorry, but it has been a long day, and I want to workout.”
His breath steams in the cold air. Maybe I am not supposed to workout today, he thought. I have been going hard all week.
The young man stands in the snow within arms reach of the little bird who could fit in both hands of the young man.
“Are you stuck?” The young man said. “I hope you are not. I had to help a smaller bird in the summertime who was stuck on a sticky mousepad. I was saddened to see the little thing chirping for help. I had to get gloves, and water to unstick the bird’s feet from the pad,” he explained to the little owl. “But luckily with patients and a little work, the bird flew free.”
The young man inspects the bird’s position to see if maybe the bird is stuck in the wiring.
“You seem to be okay. You sure don’t make any noise.”
The bird continues only to move its head.
I wonder if you are stuck and that is why you do not move your feet, he thought. The young man approaches even closer being more aware of the noise each step makes. The owl looks at him.
“Are you going to fly away?”
The young man looks around. I hope your mother isn’t nearby, he said to himself. He thought about how large owls can be, and an uncomfortable feeling came over him.
“Such a quiet owl,” he said softly. “Have you caught any mice out here?”
The young man thinks of how he could help the little owl. The snow is piled high. There can’t be many mice out here if any, he thought.
The young man could put his arm up and touch the little owl’s feathers, but he was afraid to bother the owl any further than he already is. I should name the owl. I wonder what a suitable name would be, he thought to himself.
“I will name you Jesse,” he said with a look of enjoyment. “But then, if I name you Jesse you would leave me as she did.”
The young man thought harder about the owl’s name.
“I know, you will be Ashley. Nope. She left too. I don’t want you to end up leaving me, little owl,” he said.
The young man’s look of pleasantness has dropped from his face.
“Do you have any friends, owl?”
The owl looks down as if waiting for a mouse, or even ignoring the young man. The owl must have grown tired of looking at the young man who is inches from the little bird. The young man thinks of rocking the fence.
“I asked you a question,” he said.
The coldness nips at the young man’s toes and fingers. A chill works at the young man’s core as he has been expelling body heat trying to converse with the little owl.
“You are giving me nothing, little owl. I wish to know about you. You seem friendly, but that is nothing but a lie. Like most people, I suspect, you just care about yourself. Your own business. Well, sorry to have bothered you owl, but my business is going to the garage and exercising.”
The young man steps further reaching for the door nob. The owl flys away, straight ahead. The sound of feathers flapping is heard as the young man’s momentary friend leaves. He twists the doorknob making a screeching noise, and the door is heavy to push causing a thunk. The young man flicks on the light, but it has been too cold for the fluorescents to light up. He flicks the light up and down hoping something will happen. Finally, a dim light goes on, and the young man steps into the cold garage to work out and clear his mind. The young man doesn’t forget about the little owl, but he is certain the little owl won’t remember him. They never do, he thought.

 

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Non-Fiction: Chase B.C. to Calgary AB. -’94

(302 words) 20 Feb. 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

I had an interest in playing outdoors, toys, and supervillains.
My few friends were close like brothers and sisters. We spent our days together, most days, playing and being creative. Our toys were characters in our worlds, and each had their unique attributes.
Blake moved away to Drayton Valley, and I was too young to understand. I thought he went to another planet. I stayed back for a while with Colin and Candice until my dad came home and talked about living in Calgary. My life had friends. My world had my toys.
One afternoon, after months of packing boxes, we drove away. We left behind grandpa’s boat. We got it after he had died. We left my toboggan and a couple of boxes of toys. We left Colin and Candice. I waved to my house and my friends, and for some reason, I felt a slight tear in my body like Velcro.
The night was eerie. I sat next to my sister in a big U-Haul. She slept. I was bug-eyed and watching the road. The lights shone only a near distance ahead of us. Lights dimmed as they came nearer. Clouds danced on the dark road. My dad leads the way. Behind us, mom drove with my baby brother in our van. My dad protected us throughout the night.
After hours of watching lights and clouds, we stopped at McDonald’s. It was open 24-hours, and I got a burger and a toy. I was excited to eat my burger so late. I have never had the pleasure to eat this late at night before.
Back in the truck, my dad drove smelling like coffee. My sister went back to sleep and lightly snored, and I showed my new toy the road to my new world.
I named my toy, Animal.

 

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Postcard: two brothers and an old man

(350 Words) April 2016
by S.R.A. Markin

“You seem anxious.”
I look at him then my eyes drop. The elevator door closes.
“You have been going for many walks at unusual hours, and it is concerning. You spend most of your time at the gym, and then when you come home, you go downstairs to your room. You know you can talk to me.”
I force a smile while looking ahead and leaning on the wall. My brother stands up straight. All six feet of him with one hand on my shoulder. The elevator door opens. A short old man steps into the elevator. He stands with his back to us.
“I am angry,” I said.
“I know,” he said, “Do you still write in your journals?”
“Yes. I mostly write when I am upset. These past few years I have been filling up my fair share.”
He almost laughs, and I smile a little. The old man blows his nose and clears his throat.
“You know, ever since I found Mom lying on the floor, next to a side stand with empty prescription and empty wine bottles, my view on life has changed.”
“How so?” he said.
“I never told anyone this, but that night I was going home, on the train, I met this unusual woman. She had to be younger than me. Full of life. She caught my eyes. My eyes were puffy and red from crying earlier. She was at one end of the train, and I was on the other. We faced one another smiling and mouthing our words. We laughed. I felt so alone that night, nearly abandoned by the one person who said she would never leave me, and here I was, laughing.”
My brother clears his throat. The elevator stops. The old man presses buttons, and the elevator remains still.
“Do you think we are stuck?” my brother said.
“Yes, we are stuck.” I watch the old man try to open the doors. I watch him begin to panic as if it will help. My brother attempts to comfort him. That is his nature. Mine, however, I just laugh.

 

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Short Story: She makes it better

 

(279 Words) 2 Jan. 2018

I am very uncomfortable. My ears are bright red, and there is pressure on my forehead. I drink from a Starbucks Grande. Steamed lactose-free milk with a shot of sugar-free dolce drips from my mustache onto my journal. I sit at a table next to the window looking out at the snow. Across from me, Erin sits. She writes poems.

We came here from school to work on our projects. It is hard to sit quietly next to Erin. We usually talk and talk. I feel a little guilty writing. She seems to be doing just fine.

A guy behind me is on his computer. He looks around often. Another man across the room, who I would have mistaken for an oil rigger, opens his bag and brings out a large textbook, a pad of paper, and a pen. He does not look up. Two women sit across from one another at separate tables. One is on a computer speaking to someone named Jenny, and the other woman is looking into her phone. Two baristas are behind the counter. One made our drinks.

My drink nearly drinks, and it is cold by now. No foam. No wipe cream.

Erin hands me a slip of paper. On the back of a movie ticket, from our last date, is a poem. She blows on the wet ink and releases the paper from her hands.

I read. She stares at me like she always does. I could never get used to having someone so beautiful looking at me. I smile honestly and ask her if I can take a photo to caption this moment for me.

Another moment to remember.

 

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Creative Non-fiction: Maxwell

 

(1020 Words) 17 Dec. 2017

by S.R.A. Markin

I remember the day we got you. You were no bigger than my teenage palm. You walked straight into Misty’s food dish and helped yourself. I thought she was going to eat you.
That night, dad put you in the washroom along with a bed, a food dish, and some water. I couldn’t sleep, so I brought you down to my room. You were light. You and I played on my bed. For some reason, I put a loonie down on my sheets. You walked over it and peed. I guess you don’t care for money? I kept my lights on all night. I would throw a little ball up the stairs, and you would try and run up and hit the ball. The ball was much faster than you, but I admire how many times you would chase it. I made you a fort with my blankets. You cuddled in and went to sleep. I fell asleep too. When I woke up, I couldn’t find you for a while. You were playing behind my TV stand. I saw you next to some little poop on my TV guide.
Years later, when we turned on the fireplace, and it didn’t take you long to wiggle your way over and fall asleep. You would just lay there on your back with an orange furry stomach stretched out and paws open and pointed towards the warmth. You knew how to find the warm places. You would allow Misty to get comfy in a heap of blankets or on the couch, and once the spot was warm, you were relentless nudging her and taking her stop. I know she misses that.
Maxwell, you would try and fit in places that something of your size probably shouldn’t try for. I know you loved Pepsi boxes, well any box really, but some of my fondest memories of you was when you would curl up in a fat ball with your body pushing against the walls of the box. That box got destroyed.
You were loyal. I could bother you by calling your name and running around you. You would spin around meowing, and when upset, your tail would rattle like a snake while backing up slowly. I would pick you up and hold you firmly. You would purr loud. I knew when it was time to put you down, once you started wheezing.
You were such a charmer and a brat. When my female friends would come over, and each time you, Maxwell, would rub yourself against them. You would purr and encourage my attention. I often tried to call you over to me, and I know you looked at me; I know you did! But I got ignored.
I would hear scratching at my door. This was a game to you that I figured out quickly. I would get up from doing homework or watching TV, and open my door. There was nothing there, so I would sit back down and resume. More scratching, sometimes even harder. I would open the door, and if I were quick enough, I would see your little orange butt turning the corner. And if I were fast, you would acknowledge me and rub your cute small head on the edge of the wall while looking at me. You had such sweet eyes.
You took up a lot of my leg room. I would let you in at night to sleep with me. Well, we both know I didn’t have much of choice. Sometimes you would find various spots to sleep in, sometimes up against my body near my armpits or between my knees pushing my legs outwards. I preferred my armpits so that I could cuddle you like a pillow, and because sleeping with my legs like that is very uncomfortable. I miss the uncomfortable nights.
You loved food, just as I do. Open a can, and your chubby tabby body could run. You would push Misty out of the way with your head. Why couldn’t you share? There was plenty of room for you both. You had your dish! You were so difficult to move over, physically imposing when you wanted food. I guess we can’t always be charming eh, buddy? When I would cook in the kitchen, I would just pick up the can opener, and I would feel a push on my legs, sometimes I would lose my footing. You knew I was too weak to not share with you. I miss sharing with you.
The last days I saw you were on your birthday, May 8th. I don’t know why I didn’t take you with me. I thought you would be best at home with the other cats and lonely in my apartment. I came to see you. We drove from downtown to the deep south to bring you to the hospital. You were skinny. My girlfriend at the time accompanied me. You went straight to her like I wasn’t even there. You purred, and you meowed. She picked you up, and we got you ready for the trip. My goodness, you were loud in the car. I kept making noises and tried to reassure you that everything was okay. You and I both knew it wasn’t.
The ladies there loved you. You were behaved and quiet for them. They petted you and took tests. You were even good for the vitamin-B shot, which seemed to have given you back a little of your energy, almost like when you were young.
The ride home, you were a little more comfortable. Maybe more at peace. We got you back home, and you laid on the linoleum upstairs in the kitchen. I stood at the bottom of the stairs looking at you. My vision was a little blurry, but I remember everything. I was told I should stay and play with you. I thought it was best to let you rest, and that I would see you again.
I see you when I think of you. I still think of you, Max.

 

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Sudden Fiction: Insecure

(251 Words) 12 Dec. 2017

by S.R.A. Markin

She holds my left hand. I look into the window, and the darkness behind it shows a reflection. I am unlike I was.
My muscles are swollen and protruding out my sleeveless shirt. My shoulders are striated, and there is a distinct separation between my biceps and triceps. Without flexing. I am more swollen than when I use to flex. I would look into the mirror in between each set, look myself in the eyes. I would wink and a cocky smile, although subtle, would open my mouth.
Now I walk, expelling sweat from my palms onto the palms of a beautiful young woman. I see her reflection.
She is smiling and looking at me. Directly at me. I look forward, and my head angles downwards. I clench my jaw and clear my dry throat. My lips stick to each other.
A large dark skinned bald man walks in the distance. He is carrying a foam roller and walking in the middle of the track. Slowly.
I see him through the beautiful bodies. My head lowers further, but my peripherals cast him.
I look at Joyce, and she is looking forward. I stare at the side of her face. Is she looking at him?
Her head remains forward. She has the faintest smile. My stomach fluctuates, and my chest sinks.
She squeezes my fingers twice. I look up from the floor. She is smiling at me with a glimmer in her eyes. My reflection.
I straighten my spine and smile back.

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