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TWO STORIES

ONE

My wife, you don’t have to buy her jewelry, nothing like that. My wife loves when I take photographs of her. This is in Morrocco I think. My wife, she likes for me to photograph her when she is in water. My wife, she is simple. My wife, when we went to Morrocco, she said it was one of the best holidays we’d had together. And I agreed – it was sunny and lovely. My wife bought a velvetish swimsuit in Morrocco, with patterns of blue and green butterflies. My wife said it was one of her favourite swimsuits when we got back home. As we were unpacking she said you know I really like that photograph you took of me in the water. And I agreed it was a lovely photograph. And later I gave it to her and I wrote a little note behind it too. My wife, she’s happy. When we got back from Morrocco, my wife, she decided to buy tagines and spices. She said she wanted to start cooking new things. She said, my wife, do you like lamb Andrew, I’d like to cook some lamb for you. So I said I like lamb and I don’t really know whether I do or not. My wife, she bought a little cookbook with new recipies in it. It’s got some really nice oriental patterns on it. She sits on the sofa and she puts her glasses on. They’re scaled in hues of green and blue. She sits by the lamp. My wife, she places the book between her thighs, and she licks her finger before she flicks pages. And when she’s picked one she likes she slips the photograph in, as if it was a bookmark. This way, she says, I see it all the time.

Story by Anna Lounguine

TWO

Montreal winters used to get me down. Especially after Herb passed on. Cold that seeped through your bones into your soul. ‘Miami’, my hairdresser said. ‘Fly south. Join the snowbirds’. So I sold our house, cashed in Herb’s life insurance and bought a place. Nice little condo with a communal pool. Year round sun in an ice cream city. I play a bit of bridge, drink gin cocktails, read. And swim in the pool. That feeling of warmth and weightlessness, like being back in the womb.

You might think I’d avoid pools after what happened to Herb. Though things weren’t always easy between us. He had a temper on him. Used to drink, Canadian Club mostly, and sometimes he’d hit me. But he always said sorry. We never had children. Herb had no time for them. And I couldn’t get pregnant. That time he punched me in the stomach, they said might have had something to do with it.

Anyway, we had a pool in the back garden. Herb complained about its upkeep. Never liked swimming. One late autumn day, he was trying to clear leaves from the water. Lost his balance and fell in. It was frosty. Treacherous underfoot. Anyone could have slipped. Somehow, he became entangled with the pool cover. I saw the whole thing from the kitchen as I was pressing an ice pack to my temple. We’d had another row. About some younger floozy he’d been seeing. He said he was leaving. ‘You’re nothing but a dried-up old bitch, Margot,’ he yelled. And then he slapped me and stormed into the garden. I heard his cries and saw him thrashing. Water churning. The ice pack felt cool on my face. I turned away and went into the living room. Mixed myself a large gin cocktail. The police called it an accident. ‘So sorry for your loss, Mrs Beausoleil’.

I feel much calmer now, living here where the sun always shines. It’s been fifteen golden years. I’d heard the people who bought our house filled in the pool. Superstitious types. Something about a man drowning.

Story by Cath Slessor

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