A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Diane is smoking a Players Light and waiting for the bus. Her feet are killing her in those heels. She wants to take them off, but doesn't because she's scared of the dirty pavement. Spit pools. Wads of gum. Or worse. Syringes, broken glass, Anthrax disease.

Diane pulls on the cigarette and inhales deeply. She feels her body relax. 
She'd told Grant, her date that she didn't smoke. She also told him she wasn't really hungry, and only picked at her dinner. At the end of the meal, her food looked gnawed on by vermin.

When she gets home, Diane will heat up a Michelina's frozen entree and eat in front of the computer. She'll log onto Match4U and see if anyone's messaged her. There are a lot of singles out there. Plenty of fish in the sea. But some are sharks and some are sardines.

These days, Diane feels like giving up. She wants to stop going on dates, stuffing herself into tight shirts, jacking up her breasts with a push-up bra and applying her: "Kiss me Coral" long-lasting lipshine. 

The bus is late. Diane shifts her weight from one foot to the next, considers removing her shoes again and lights another cigarette. 

Then she notices, among the dead leaves and bits of plastic and trash at her feet, a rose. And it's huge and absolutely bursting, the reddest rose she's ever seen. 

A song comes into her head: "Dance me to the End of Love." 

And Diane starts humming and even though her feet are about to fall off, she begins to sway. 

"Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin. Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in"

She performs a turn and feels her skirt spin out around her legs. The burning cigarette arcs with her arm, its tip turned into a flare.

"Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove"

Diane's out of breath now, but she keeps dancing.

Click here and sing along with Diane. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Casual Fridays: Love is alive and well.

Hi guys, it's Britt. 
Love is alive and well on the streets of this city. Doesn't it feel good to be reminded of that? Especially when things get, um...tough.

 Thanks to, artist, Gregory Allan Elliott, who I suspect is responsible for some of this "love graffiti." Read my previous post about him here.

Have an amorous weekend, story-makers.
See you back here on Monday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alex is pacing in front of Pacos Tacos. The people inside are staring at her. One of the cooks just rapped on the glass and told her to move on. 

But she won't leave. In this moment, Alex wants a bean and cheese burrito more than she's ever wanted anything in her whole life. She tried to buy one earlier, but they took one look at her pregnant belly and sent her packing. 

Alex isn't sure what exactly is in the burrito that she's not allowed to have. She considers telling them it's for her husband, Peter, but knows they'd call her bluff.

Her back is starting to ache and she's out of breath from circling back and forth on the pavement. She lowers herself onto the curb. 

Then a teenage boy approaches and Alex flashes him her most winning smile. 

"Hi there," she says, fishing a twenty from her purse, "can you help me out?" 

The kid eyes her uneasily. He lifts his ball-cap from his head, looks inside as if there's an answer in there, and then re-plants it on his head. He takes her money. 

"Combo three," Alex hisses, "with extra hot sauce." 

The kid reappears a few minutes later, thrusts the paper bag into her hands and hurries away.

Alex ducks into the alley beside Pacos and hunkers down onto a flattened cardboard box. First, she sniffs the outside of the bag, inhaling the aroma of chili peppers and hot cheese. Saliva rushes into her mouth and she wants to tear the bag with her teeth, like a lioness on the serengetti, ripping open the stomach of a downed zebra.

Next, she takes out the little containers of hot sauce and lines them up on the cardboard. Three red sauces and four green ones. The perfect amount to set her tongue tingling. 

Then, Alex lifts the waxed-paper covered burrito from the bag and feels the weight of it in her hands. When she unwraps it, she wants to cry because it's so beautiful and perfect.

Of course, Alex can't eat any of it. She knows this is as far as it goes. Her heart is racing as she returns the burrito to its wrapper and then back into the paper bag. She'll toss everything in the trash before she gets into the car.

And she'll be back again tomorrow. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Danny was King of the Lanes. The other bowlers called him "King," and when they asked him questions, it was: "King, what's the score?" or "How's my form today, King?" 

He didn't look like a bowler. He had tattoos running up both arms and long black hair streaked with grey. He was six feet, three inches tall and two-hundred and forty seven pounds. But when King stepped onto the lane and sent that ball rolling, he was a ballerina in bowling shoes.

Today is the final game of the regional championships and King is nervous. His team, the Silver Bullets are down by twenty pins.

Beside them, the the Holy Rollers are already victorious. Their captain, Zeus tips his bottle of beer in King's direction and grins. King cringes at the thought of that weasel and his gutter gang taking home the trophy. 

It's the last roll and King and Zeus are up. 

Zeus is now leading by only eight pins. King just needs a strike to win the match. He lifts his ball from the rack and strides forward. 

At that moment, one of the Holy Rollers yells: "Hey Danny, don't choke." Laughter follows, and during this laughter, Zeus removes a small bottle from his pocket and squirts baby oil onto the lane in front of King.

No one sees it happen. But everyone in the bowling alley witnesses what comes next. King slips in the puddle of oil and comes down hard, all two hundred and forty seven pounds of him. His nose smashes into his bowling ball. Pain shoots through his skull and blood gushes from his nostrils. He can barely see, but he struggles to his feet. 

Through the blood and spittle and tears, the King bowls. 

His arm swoops like the wing of an angel. The ball is released at precisely the right moment and sails down the lane like judgment day. The pins don't so much fall as scatter. 

Shouts rise up all around him. Someone clasps him by the shoulders. Another person kisses his cheek. The Silver Bullets have won the championship.

They don't call him the King for nothing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Casual Fridays: It's good to feel welcome

Snapped on Queen Street in Toronto.
Have a nutty weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Before Wilhelm Streak, the famous archeologist disappeared forever, he filled four bottles and placed them on the street beside a cardboard box. The box held four envelopes. Inside the envelopes were letters that revealed what the liquid in the bottles really was. 

Wilhelm had spent his life searching for the fountain of youth. Many times, he'd nearly died for it. And now that he'd finally found it, he wanted to share. But how could he choose who would live forever? 

This was the only way. The gift was right there on the sidewalk for the taking. Fate would bring the one most deserving.

Wilhelm hid himself nearby and watched....

Rodney Dunn's first day of community service wasn't going well. Twice, he'd stepped in dog dirt, and once he'd stabbed himself in the knee with the end of his litter pick-up stick. 

He was wearing an orange pair of coveralls that made him feel like a giant walking pylon. Stamped on the back of the coveralls were the words: "Bayside Correctional Services.

The afternoon was hot and it must've been a hundred degrees inside that suit. Sweat was running down the back of Rodney's neck. His mouth was dry and his tongue felt like he'd been licking a chalkboard.

He wanted to find a nice patch of shade and have a nap. But he needed to keep going, picking up the trash. The judge had made it clear: it was either this or prison. 

Still, no judge could fault him for a little smoke break.

Rodney put down his trash bag and fumbled in his pocket for his cigarettes and lighter. He noticed a box someone had left on the curb and groaned. What was wrong with some people that they couldn't clean up after themselves?  

But wait--beside the box were three, no, four bottles of water. 

Rodney's luck was changing! He twisted the cap from each of the bottles and gulped them gratefully. Then he picked up the cardboard box and without looking inside, dumped it into his trash bag.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's dark inside this air vent. The light shining through the metal slats is dim. I crawled in, but I'm not sure how to get out again. All of my brothers and sisters have been eaten in the human's feast. I can see some of their remains on the floor. An antennae here, a claw there. 

Except for the hairball living inside this vent, I am truly alone. He scared me at first, but now we have become friends. I call him Harry. To pass the time, I recite poetry. (I consider myself a poetic sort of crab.)

And what is the future, happy one? 
A sea beneath a cloudless sun; 
A mighty, glorious, dazzling sea 
Stretching into infinity.

This life is a fragile thing. One minute you're a carefree bottom-feeder out for your morning walk, the next, you're somebody's dinner. 

The pot of hot water was bubbling on the stove and one-by-one, my friends were being plunged inside to their doom. When the hand came to take me too, I made my move. I pinched that human woman as hard as I could. She shrieked and drew back, giving me enough time to escape.

I scuttled toward this air vent and hid inside. But now I'm getting weaker. I've got nowhere to go. Even if I could manage to get out of here, I don't know the way back to the sea. 

There are no words too beautiful to say
of one who goes forevermore away 
Across that ebbing tide which has no flow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Casual Fridays: You may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one.

Hi guys. It's Britt 
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about dreams. 

Last week I was in conversation with someone I'd just met. He asked me what I do, and I told him I'm a writer. He said that he used to write but doesn't anymore. When I asked why not, he gave me a long list of practical reasons. Then, later in our conversation, he sighed and said: "I really wish I was still writing."

We've all got things our hearts long for. I dream of becoming a best-selling author who flies airplanes in her spare time and makes a mean pie crust.

Do you remember the public journal project I did a few months ago?

I thought I'd "ask the audience" once again. I wrote the question: "What do you dream of doing?" on a piece of paper and taped it and a pen to a post outside my apartment. And this is what people said: 

I dream of moving to Paris
I dream of living on a tropical island 
I dream of changing our food systems
I dream of motorcycling across Europe 
I dream of building a cabin in the woods 
I dream of falling passionately in love. 

Seriously. This is what people really wrote.

Paris. Love. Changing the world. 

Not a single practical thing among them. 
What do you think? What do you dream of doing?  Write em' down and share them here.

Have a limitless weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bryan has been driving around with rocks in the passenger seat for a week. When Casey rides in the car with her husband, she has to sit in the back, like a child. 

The rocks are flagstones for the patio Bryan is constructing in their new yard. "Imagine it, sweetheart," he says, "barbeque dinners out there in the summer, with our little ones playing in the grass."  

Casey never asked for kids, or a stone patio, or a house in the country. He wanted all that. She just wanted him. 

On Saturday she's in the backseat, looking at the back of Bryan's head when an idea hits her. The radio is on, tuned to her favorite jazz station, but the music is interrupted every few seconds by bursts of static like gunfire. They're too far outside the city to get a clear signal. Casey looks at the stones piled up on the passenger seat and suddenly becomes certain that she is buried beneath them. The her sitting in the backseat is a fake.

Someday soon, Bryan is going to move those stones and the real Casey will be released. What will happen then?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Miss Felicity loves me just the way I am. She doesn't tell me my clothes don't match, and she doesn't mind when my hair needs to be washed. 

My cat isn't like those bill collectors, who call with their harsh voices telling me my payments are past due, or that my electricity is going to be shut off. 
Most days, Miss Felicity and I sit in the chair by the window and eat cans of tuna. Then we doze with the afternoon sun on our faces. 

Jackson is always giving me a hard time. He tells me I need to get out more, join a ladies group. "Mom, lots of women your age are going on trips, or taking dance classes," he says. 

Dance classes!  

Why would I want to traipse around the Eiffel Tower snapping pictures, or put on a pair of boots and do the electric slide? All my life, people have demanded things of me. Isn't it alright that now I just want to do what I want? 

Miss Felicity understands. I scratch her ears and she gives me a nice lick on my chin. Her breath is slightly fishy and her tongue is rough, but not unpleasant. Then, just to show my gratitude, I lick her back.

Isn't it nice spending time with someone who understands you? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Casual Fridays: Roots and shoots

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
A few months ago, I was walking along a somewhat bleak little strip: the Lansdowne/Bloor underpass, when I discovered the coolest thing. The concrete walls are covered in beautiful botanical paintings:
I got home and did a quick search, and discovered that the paintings are the work of Toronto artist, Richard Mongiat. The Underpass Project, part of "Cultureworks" Big on Bloor Street Festival, June 21, 2008.

One of the things I love about these images is they seem to be working with the concrete, instead of trying to cover it up. I think the result is gritty and elegant at the same time.

What do you think? Do you dig this as much as I do? 
Have a lovely holiday weekend, story-makers. Promise me you'll eat more than one slice of pie.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dear Lewis: 
Hi. Can I ask you something? Will you be my boyfriend? I really like you and I think you are SPECIAL. You are also very cute. 

In order of boys I like: 
1. Justin Bieber 
2. You! 
3. Randall Smith

I like you before Randall because he always says rude words, even in front of teachers and girls. Also, he got his hair cut and that made his ears stick out a lot. Also, he is Shelly's boyfriend and she is my BFF. 

Your hair is nice and brown and I think you should not cut it. Your ears are also good and they do not stick out too much, or at all. 

Other reasons why I like you: 

-You never push the grade fours and fives even though they are younger than us and lots of kids push them. 
-You let me listen to two whole songs on your ipod at recess.
-That time when I fell on the ice and lost my tooth, you picked it up and put it in your mitten to keep it safe. 
-Your Mom makes good cinnamon raisin cookies. 

I love you Lewis! I think we are MFEO. That's Made for Each Other, if you don't know.

Love: Sadie 

p.s. My big sister Emma helped me with this letter. She is in grade 8. She is cool.

Monday, October 3, 2011

 It is Thanksgiving and Brian's mom brings out the sweet potatoes which he knows Cheri hates. But she will eat them and swear to love them because she is a liar.
Pseudologia fantastica. Compulsive lying. 
She has medication, but he never knows if she's taking it. Brian and the doctors are the only one she's told about her condition. Not that Brian's ever met any of these doctors, though he's tried to come along to her appointments. 
She was a real mess when they first met. It was last summer at their friend, Roger's place. They were playing Balderdash, of all things. Cheri was an ace at that game. 
They shared a cigar on the patio. She told him they were from her recent trip to Cuba. He remembers the spicy-sweet of the tobacco and her long legs in a mini skirt. She eyed him through a haze of smoke. "I'm not good for you," she said. For a moment, he thought she was talking about the cigars. 
The next three months were the happiest of Brian's life. Cheri told him of her childhood in Spain, her job as an acupuncturist. She had her mother's blond hair, and her fathers affinity for old cars. Brian was in love with the most interesting and gorgeous woman he'd ever met. 
Then, came the crash. Cheri lying on the bathroom floor. The tears and screaming and...the truth.
At the Thanksgiving table, Cheri helps herself to a second plate of sweet potatoes. "Brian and I are getting married," she announces. 
His mom gasps. His father's eyes fill with tears. 
Brian pulls Cheri outside to the front porch. 
"What are you talking about?" he says. 
"You asked me and I said yes. Your dad is so thrilled!" 
"I didn't ask you, Cheri. That's not true, it's a lie."
She steps back and gives him a steely look. He is reminded of her on the first night they met. He can hear her voice in his head: "I'm not good for you."
"How do you know it's a lie?" she asks him. 
Brian feels himself slipping off some edge in his mind. How does he know? How does anyone know? 
He takes her hand and they return inside to toast their upcoming wedding.