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, May 28, 2012

When Steve and Mona split up, Steve's left big toe missed her the most. This toe called himself: "Three Brown Hairs," or "Three," for short.

Three loved Mona from that very first day in the park, when she convinced Steve to remove his black leather dress shoes and socks. The breeze caressed each of Steve's pale toes and ruffled Three's brown hairs. Mona ran for the fountain. Steve followed, and they splashed barefoot in the cool water. 

Life with Mona was wonderful for Steve's toes. With Mona, they took long walks on sand and peeked, tanned, from sandals. They tapped in time to music and spent entire afternoons in bed. Once, Mona even licked Steve's toes and the memory still makes Three curl with delight. 

Then without any warning at all, things began to change. Three and the other toes spent more and more time jammed inside Steve's black shoes where it was sweaty and dark. They never wiggled or danced or played.

One night after the bar, Steve fell and bashed the pinky on his right foot, fracturing the tiny bone. Poor pinky had to spend the next month taped to the toe beside it. Shortly after that, Steve spent the night in some other woman's bed. Three was so upset, he got an ingrown nail.

The toes had a meeting. They made a decision. 

On Monday morning, when Steve left the house to go to work, he tried to walk left, but went right instead. 

What the--? 

Again, he raised his foot to go left and went right.

Steve stumbled like a drunk and hit the pavement, scraping the skin from his palms and tearing a sizable hole in the seat of his pants.

When he finally stood up, Steve didn't fight it. He let his feet take him where they most wanted to go: Mona's front door.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Casual Fridays: Parenting your artist child

Hi guys. It's Britt.
The sun is shining and I want to go out and play. But my Mom won't let me.

Not my actual Mom, see, but my inner Mom.

As creatives and freelancers we occasionally have to parent ourselves. Cause our inner artist children can sometimes get a little...um...distracted. 

Every now and again I need to give myself a good talking-to. It goes something like this:

"Young lady, you will sit in that chair and write. No more facebook, no more jumping up to water the plants, or make coffee, or pick lint off the carpet, (gha! I wish I was kidding). You will write until you have said everything you need to say, and then you will write a little more. I do this because I love you." 

Sometimes Momma artist does know best. She's tough, but fair. And the best thing about Momma artist, is that after some really hard work, she knows when to say: "who wants ice cream?"

p.s. When I was an actual kid, I got grounded a lot.
xo Britt 

Monday, May 21, 2012

story inspired by a ripped scrap of paper I found on the ground. 

I notice things that other people don't see. Details. In front of me is a man with three white hairs jutting from his left nostril. His stomach is straining against the fabric of his checkered shirt and I can see the buttons wanting to pop. On his feet are scuffed orthopedic sneakers. 

"You are 56 years old," I say into my microphone, "And 253 pounds."

The man's face flushes and his wife claps her hands. I hear laughter and cries of amazement from the crowd. "How does he do it?" they say about me. "He's right every time."

I'm Win, of "Winston's Weight and Age Guessing." I've got a booth at the Toronto Exhibition Place. I'm especially popular with the U.S. tourists. And they're right, I've never been wrong.

But then she walked up. She wore yellow cotton shorts and a shirt with birds in flight printed on it. Sunglasses on top of her head held back her curly chestnut colored hair. "Let's see what you've got," she said, passing me a folded twenty and stepping onto my platform.

First, I circled her. I swear she smelled like soap and green grapes. There was a birthmark on the back of her bare calf the shape of a thumbprint. I felt a trickle of sweat run from between my shoulder blades all the way down my spine. She had freckles on her nose that made me want to shout with delight. "This is the woman who will undo me," I thought.

I've never done this before but I reached up and lay my palm against her blouse. She moved back, surprised. I let my hand drop, but not before delighting in the curve of her waist.

"Well?" she said, finally.

I raised my microphone and I swear my hand was shaking.

"You are 28 years old and 122 pounds," I stammered.

Her smile widened.

"Wrong," she said.

Everyone laughed and clapped, and I passed her back her twenty dollars. Then she slipped away from me, into the crowd.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Casual Fridays: Lilacs and petty crimes

Hi guys. It's Britt. Today I want to talk about assumptions. But first, let me tell you something. In the spring, when the lilacs are in bloom, I steal them. I pick them from people's yards, from libraries, schools, churches--wherever.

Now, if you came across this blond girl swiping your flowers, here's what you might assume:

This girl is a real jerk.

But what you wouldn't know, is that I only ever take a few stems, and that I do it because when I was a little girl, my sisters and I used to steal lilacs from the neighbour's tree to bring home to Mom. And though she told us it was wrong to take them, our trailer filled with the sweet smell and we knew Mom was secretly touched.

Every day, people around us do assy things. They cut in front of us in line, they take the last remaining seat on the streetcar, they talk too loudly when we're trying to read. And it's easy to be frustrated or angered by their thoughtlessness. But we can't make assumptions about where they're at. I'm not advocating for bad behavior, just suggesting that people's stupid moves are not really about us.

And it's best not to assume. Anything really.

Have fun this long weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 
Britt xo

Monday, May 14, 2012

When the air was warm enough, I bought packets of seeds from the garden center. Calendula. Yarrow. Morning Glory. I didn't know what they were, but I liked the names.

I bought some dirt. Too much dirt, I realized later. The bag was almost as big as a child. Still, I hefted it onto my shoulders and wobbled home. 

I forgot to get pots. No matter. Anything can be a pot. I rifled through the kitchen cupboards and gathered together a brown mug with a chipped lip, a red plastic bucket, and a blue soup bowl. I carried my collection into the backyard to the spot by the wooden fence, and got to work. 

When I opened each of the packets, I was surprised at how unassuming the seeds looked. Little brown husks that were almost nothing, they were so small.
I don't know the rules of planting. I poured the contents of each packet onto the soil and covered them up. I dumped water over the top.

Then I went inside the house and cried. I'm not a wimp, but I can no longer control or predict when I'm going to bawl. It's like a valve inside me has broken. I'll be in the shower with my hair full of shampoo, weeping. One moment I'm at the deli ordering 200 grams of pastrami, the next, I can't see to pay through the tears.

Crying in public makes people uncomfortable. Try it. Next time you're standing in line at the bank, release a little sob. Let the sound grow into keening. Let that become a wail. Then watch the people around you edge away, as if sadness were something they could catch. 

My seeds did sprout after all. When I saw the hopeful green shoots poking out of the soil, I was glad. Those little seeds were realizing all their potential. And I'd helped them along.

Was it enough to save me from the tears?

Yes and No.

The day I ended my life, I wrote an apology first on the fence with a stick of chalk. I don't know who those words were for, but I wasn't here to see my Morning Glory bloom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Casual Fridays: Cactus Heart Press

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
I wanted to share something fun with you. Recently, a piece of flash fiction I wrote was featured on a cool site called: "Cactus Heart Press." Cactus Heart is a e-literary journal devoted to "spiny, succulent writing & art." They've got these "flash fiction Fridays," and last Friday they shared one of my stories! Whoot. If you wanna check it out, click the link HERE.
You'll have to scroll down a bit till you get to it.  
Keep it succulent this weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

I'm a pylon who's still got it.
Look at me. I'm bright and sturdy. I used to be irresistible. Females would be toppling over just to get at me. Yes, sir. I'm not just some old tired piece of plastic who Barbara abandoned. My wife hitched a ride on the back of a truck, first chance she got. Floozy.

"What's a floozy, Dad?"  

"Never mind, you weren't supposed to hear that. Eli, straighten up." 

"Dad, I'm bored. Can we go home?" 

"Margo, you know the answer. We go home when the job's done." 

"Dad! Chester's too close to me!" 

"That's it. I don't want to hear another word outta you three kids. From now on, we're playing the quiet game." 

Do you know how hard it is for a pylon to get a date at a construction site? The stop signs are always such snobs, the drills are irritating, and the backhoe...well, I don't need to say it, do I? And then, I'm a single Dad, taking care of these kids day in and day out. As if I didn't have dreams for my life. As if I didn't want adventure or travel. Sometimes I think I should just leave it all behind...

"Hey, kids, what's that squealing sound? Eli! Look out for that car. Eliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!
Oh, no. No, Eli. You're so dented. You got dragged under the wheel of that car. Eli? Can you hear me? Son, come back. Don't go towards the light." 


"Eli! Thank god you're alive." 

"Sorry, Dad." 

No, I'm the one who's sorry. I should've been watching you. I love you so much. Listen, you kids stay close to your Pop, alright? You're everything to me."  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Casual Fridays: These breaths I take.

Hi guys. It's Britt. I've missed you!! 

There's this quote:  “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." -unknown 

And as cheesy as it might be, those words have always kinda struck a chord with me. I've always read them and thought: "Hell, yeah. I want to have lots of those breathtaking moments." I've tried hard to live my life in a way that welcomes them.

And I had one recently. As some of you know, my Dad died a couple of years back. Not too long ago, my sister Rachel got engaged. She asked my other sister Aly and I to walk her down the aisle. I think she felt it was almost like having him there. And then just two weeks ago, she was married. 

So there we were, in this beautiful tropical paradise, hiding around a corner while all of the guests and the groom were waiting down on the beach. The wedding started. Mom and our stepdad, Stewart were first down the aisle.
Then our youngest sister, Sophia.
Then Chloe, the maid of honor.
Deep breath. 
Out we went, into the dazzling sun, me on one arm, Aly on the other.
 The music was playing. The groom was standing at the end of the aisle.
And here was this gorgeous bride on my arm. A sister I love fiercely.
Can I tell you what I felt next? My Dad all around us. I really and truly did.


That moment absolutely took my breath away. 

What about you, story-makers? What are some of the magical moments in your life when the air was snatched straight from your lungs? 

xo Britt

p.s. What a beautiful bride, eh?