Repeated Mistakes

Here’s the story so far…        

Some sugar-induced courage

  “See, I told you he wouldn’t be in.”
Dayne looked around the empty department nervously. Natasha didn’t get much out of him on the car ride there. Only that Professor Winters was still helping his wife cope with her cancer, and still being “needy for attention,” as Dayne put it.
       “Do you want to leave him a note? You know, to show your concern.”
       “I don’t understand how you can be so cold, Dayne.”
Natasha had already made a mental note to ditch Dayne as fast as she could. He kept scratching his neck and breathing heavily in annoyance, as Natasha pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled down her number.
       “Jesus, don’t you think he’d be a little freaked out? Call girl stalking his office?”
Natasha ignored him and proceeded to slide the note under the door.
      “What’s it say?”
Dayne was visibly irritated, searching around as if hiding from imaginary students. The halls were completely deserted. Natasha sighed.
      “It says, hope you feel better – call me whenever you need someone – love Dayne.”
His face glowered in resentment and he grabbed Natasha’s arm quickly while leading her away from two students, far down the hall, who were casually strolling toward them.
      “Oh my God, I was kidding Dayne.”
They rushed the narrow steps of the university’s main entrance, Dayne pulling up his coat hood on a clear night. As they reached the car Natasha continued to cross the street.
     “Where are you going?” Dayne yelled, an elderly woman pausing mid stride to watch the commotion.      
     “You just don’t get it, Dayne.”
Before he could make another excuse for her to ride with him, she stepped onto a cross town bus.
         
Natasha had avoided the topic with her father since after the funeral.
He didn’t want to talk – or maybe she didn’t – but either way, the delicate balance maintained itself with ease; each person dancing to their own beat and pretending it was alright to think about her all the time, and never say her name. Natasha had to try.
     “I wonder what mom would say about us eating spaghetti left over’s four days.”
He didn’t move his eyes from the TV. Some hockey game played vibrantly on-screen and he sat defeated from exhaustion. He never really bothered with Natasha’s life anymore; after all, Kirk hadn’t called or seen her in a while, and she didn’t spend much time at home.
Natasha left it at that. Her father coped so well with the situation at the time, smiling and sending well-wishers to his wife’s bedside. He never asked for anyone to console him, Natasha knew what he was going through and was lucky to have Kirk for the late night crying. Cancer’s a bitch.
      “I’m sure she’d be happy to know we enjoyed her cooking so much.”
Natasha cleared the plates, as her father fell asleep in front of the television.

     “Okay, let me get this straight, you’re telling me you broke J&S policy?”
 Mariel chewed loudly on week old gum balls. Natasha gnashed on hard taffy. The two stood casually in Mariel’s stuffy office, now laden with surveys and a few badly hidden McDonald’s wrappers. They hadn’t bonded over sweet treats for some time and it had been a while since Natasha ventured a floor below for candy, but today required some sugar induced courage.
      “Mariel, you’ve got to understand. Mr. Winters is, he’s –
     “A figment of your fucking imagination. I don’t care about breaking policy – hell I do it all the time.
Natasha couldn’t help but stare at Mariel’s crocs, now on their last legs from overuse.
      “I just don’t get your fascination with old strangers.”
      “Mariel, his wife is dying of cancer. It just seems, it seems like I need to be there.”
      “But you don’t. Oh and why the hell did you tell me about this?”
      Natasha was already leaving for the door.
       “Because I’m going to do it again.”
     
      Natasha called once a day for the first four days and twice on the fifth.
     Maybe he didn’t notice the note on the floor. I should have stuck it to the front. Should I call reception?
    
When she tried that, the office said he was teaching and to leave a message. But she wanted to get him. Over a week passed when Natasha decided to leave it for a while. Maybe he wasn’t calling because he was caring for his wife? Perhaps Natasha could meet her before things got too bad, before she was too weak, before the final days set in –
     
“Uh, Tash. Mr. Elder is on the phone.”
     
She picked up before realizing Mariel was referring to Dayne.
     
“Hey Natasha, how are you?”
      “Just tell me what you want; I’m certain you don’t care for the answer.”
She couldn’t help it. The infatuation she felt for Dayne, her handsome and charming literary kindred spirit, was lost when he opted to only care when he had the time. And for a single man with not much on his plate, he had very little.
      
“I know what I said was wrong, and you probably won’t believe me, but – Kevin spoke to me about you.”
Natasha’s throat seized, she caught herself nodding for him to continue – then let out a groggy whimper. “Kevin?”
      
“Professor Winters. Anyway, he said he’s interested in meeting with you”
        “Great!” Natasha squealed a little too enthusiastically.
       “But, he wanted to wait until after the funeral.”
She stopped. Mrs. Winters had already gone? Was Natasha even ready to help someone else pick up the pieces?
      
“When is it?”
       “It hasn’t happened yet.”
Natasha let out a sigh of relief, but Dayne’s breathing got heavier.
     
“Don’t you see? He talks about her like she’s already gone, like he wants her gone!”
      “The man is hurting. It’s clear as fucking day.”
The pause was necessary, Natasha grabbing her raincoat while Dayne shuffled about his office or home – she didn’t know either.
      
“Just promise me one thing, Natasha.”
       “I can’t do that Dayne.”
        Another heavy breath.
     
“Just leave him until he calls you.”
After he hung up, Mariel stopped by Natasha’s desk to drop off surveys for the following day.
      
“I take it Dayne didn’t handle the news well.”
       “I didn’t tell him.”
Mariel rolled her eyes, but waited for Natasha to gather her purse.
      
“Are you sure you really want him to teach you?”
       “Mariel, Professor Winters is going to love me.”

Day in the life of a Soldier

This past weekend I was given the fabulous opportunity of waking up early and heading out to try being a soldier for the day. The article below was published in the Sunday Free Press and tells the story of big trucks, big guns, and big awesomness.

Day in the life of a soldier.

Pants on the Ground

I was feeling a bit stressed on what to do for this blog entry.  Being a little sleep deprived, I started mumbling about my writer’s block, when one of my friends exclaimed

“Did you just say you don’t know how to put on pants?”

 Just like the old game of telephone, where you start with I like to ride my bike and end with purple monkey dishwasher, the message was confused – but spawned an idea.  Here you have it – Cre.ature Feed’s How to Put on (your own) pants.

Step One: Finding pants

You’ve made it this far without your own pants so I can only assume you’ve either been home schooled your whole life or you only wear skirts. In either case this will be a much needed change.

You cannot go into a store without pants. But no worries, if you can’t borrow someone else’s pair – and have them help you into it – stay at home in whatever attire you currently adorn, and shop online. There are some great pants here.

Step Two: The Rest Position

Once you are holding your very own pair of pants, admire them for a moment. In a few minutes these will be wrapped around your virgin legs.

Putting on pants can prove to be a balancing act. If you’re not a yogi, or into balancing games on the wii, park your keester on a solid surface. I will refer to this as the rest position. Don’t be embarrassed if you need to return here throughout the process.

Step Three: The First Leg

A confusing diagram

If you don’t know top from bottom, the top has one large opening while the bottom splits in two – caressing each leg individually. While in the rest position, slide one leg into the corresponding side of the pant. Note: the front of the pants may be hard to locate if it’s an elastic waist; however, if there is a small metal line, commonly known as the fly, that indicates front direction. (Excluding bad 90’s fashion where some flys were backwards.)

Step Four: The Second Leg

Follow the same steps as above. Do not stand up yet. Take a moment to slide your tush into the rest of the pant and then (depending if there’s a fly) zip it up. Pause and breathe to stabilize yourself. Get ready to stand up.

 
 
 

Pants like to hang out in groups, get some friends

Step Five: Standing up in Admiration

 Finally, make your way to standing. Take a few steps in your own pants and go for a little walk to a nearby mirror.  Admire yourself and be proud of your accomplishment – and get yourself out the house.

For more information on how not to wear pants, watch below

Aquatic Escape

I realized something absolutely scary. Not only am I a slave to the clock, but also a diagnosed zombie.

I have spent most of the week running around, skipping lunch for mac lab magazine work, driving to and from Brandon Manitoba within less than an evening, and waking up the next day to do it all again. By no means is this complaining, this is merely indicating how little time I have to write creatively. I miss it, the few cereal posts I’ve done are my only escape.

And that’s when opportunity came. My wonderful creative writing instructor Karen Press invited me to do a reading of some of my creative work, most likely a short story, along with poet, memoir writer, and international author Jonathan Garfinkel (I’m really excited to hear him read!).

The reading will be held on
Wednesday, April 6
7 pm
Aqua Books 274 Garry.

If you can’t make it to our duo reading, please consider taking in Garfinkel at noon the following day, April 7, at RRC Roblin Centre at the Exchange District Campus Room A104.

If you are interested in knowing more, and showing your attendance, there is a Facebook event here. I’ll be posting more on my creative project adventures – as soon as I remember what six hours of sleep feels like.

Old Man Winters

Here’s what’s happened so far.
At the start of our Cereal here, Natasha met an interesting man through a survey call. He was only known as Mr.Winters, and after an hour long call, he touched her heart – but did he feel the same? …

“She straight up comes up to me and gives me a God damn hug!”

Natasha found herself screaming erratically into her phone, while Dayne quietly took in her rant. After the accident, she was introduced to Kirk’s charming new girlfriend, Gabrielle, who begged “Tash” to “please, call me Gabby.” It was the most awkward passing of license and blame.

“Yeah I’m so sorry Tash, I totally wasn’t looking, Kirk was tickling my leg…”
“So you’re paying my damages then.”
“Um, yeah I guess so eh”

The rain didn’t cease.

“And then she giggled Dayne. Giggled!
“Sounds like an interesting night Tash.”
“ And you sound tired, what were you up to this evening?”
“ Watched a new episode of House, and I definitely fell asleep in the process. I’m sorry love, I would’ve picked up your calls.”

All fifteen of them. Tash’s father was out with the guys and unable to drive, and Mariel didn’t expect her trusted employee to lie, especially about weeknight dinner plans. Well Mariel should have known, Tash could only compliment her dry homemade muffins for so long. And so the call was made.

“You’re fucking with me Tash, Kirk’s GIRLFRIEND?”
“I wish it was some lame ass prank on myself, just come get me.”

The ride home was suffocating. Mariel couldn’t stop bringing up the “irony” and the “way the world works, eh.” Natasha couldn’t fathom morning rides to work with her, but didn’t turn down the offer.

“Good episode of House?”
“Huh? Yeah, it sure was. I’m just such an old guy, I passed out.”

***

The morning car rides with Mariel gave Natasha the stage to rant. She went on about “who is this Gabrielle girl?” and “how the hell could she call me Tash!” But she couldn’t help it, nothing else was going on for her – really. 

“Mariel, I’m actually freaking out. Did I blow it? I shouldn’t have brought up Kirk.”

It was day 15, she had stopped calling after day three. This was not going to be another desperate attempt. She did nothing wrong – it wasn’t her fault that Kirk interrupted her perfectly acceptable coffee dates with a perfectly respectable and sensual older man…

“Tash, I’ll let you head out early to stalk your elder prey. Just get your calls done please.”

Natasha had been dealing with autopac and telling the story to everyone she knew, that even her easy job was suffering. In truth, she didn’t know what Dayne was to her, a boyfriend? Sure they shared a lovely dinner together, but after that it was all on-the-fly coffee shop chatter. But she needed that; it was something Kirk could never do.

“Good afternoon, may I please speak with Mr. Winters.”
“Speaking.”

Natasha froze. It couldn’t be who it sounded like.

Dayne?”
“I’m sorry, who are you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry sir, my name is Isobel from J&S Market Research. You’ve helped us on a previous survey regarding local arts programs. Do you have a moment to answer a short questionnaire on downtown nightlife?”
“I’m sorry Isobel, but I couldn’t give a shit about so-called downtown nightlife.”
“Have a good rest of your day, sir.”
“And I hope you never call me again.”

The man hung up. Natasha knew the name, and started searching through her desk drawer, finding the paper. The last time she spoke with Mr. Winters, Mariel left a note on her table; Natasha had written clearly,

 If you think your day is bad, his wife is dying of cancer. Things can always be worse than having a douche-bag ex.

She dialled out.

“Did you seriously just call me back? You dumb, little –
“I remember you Mr. Winters. Your wife, how is she?”
“What? How do you guys find this information?”
“Sir, you don’t remember. My name is Natasha and we had a conversation while you waited in the hospital.”

Natasha was sweating. She had just infringed on company policy – she called back a number that had asked to be removed from the list. She had to play nice with Mr. Winters.

“Natasha… You sure sound a lot like Isobel.”
“I lied. Look, Mr. Winters, I’m not trying to get you to do the survey, I’m genuinely asking how you’re holding up.”

There was a pause on the line. Natasha could hear background chatter and multiple footsteps, but it wasn’t a hospital. Then she heard in the distance, “Dr. Winters! I need to ask you about Monday’s mid-term …”

“Well Natasha, it’s not going well. I have to go, I’m sure you’ll forget all about me soon enough.”  

He hung up again. Natasha picked up her stuff and walked out.

She waited at the bus stop for fifteen minutes, the wind cool for early June.  Mariel would give her shit no doubt, but Natasha was so rattled by Mr. Winters cruel tone, was this the same man? She knew that his wife was dying; he was without any support, and… he was a professor. Winnipeg is small, she could find out soon which university he was lecturing at. And it would be easy enough; he was doing intercession courses.

Just then a car pulled up in front of her, a smiling Dayne in the driver’s seat.

“Natasha!”
He smiled from ear to ear. As though this reunion was an event he never imagined possible.
“Hi Dayne.”
“Hop in, I’ll give you a ride home.”
“I’m not going home. I’m going to the university.”

 Dayne got out the car, and walked around to open the passenger door.
“Just because chivalry is dead, doesn’t mean I want your lame attempts at CPR.”
“Stop being so stubborn Tash. Just get in. I can drive you, whether home or to the university – which one is it by the way?”

Natasha had no idea where to start for Mr. Winters. Or whether what she had heard was even accurate.

“Do you know a Professor Winters?”
Dayne’s face froze and he looked hard at Natasha.
“Tash, he is a horrible man. What do you want with him?”
“Forget it.”

Natasha could hear the bus waiting at the lights before the stop. Dayne needed to move his car.

“Get in the car.”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“I bought a bus pass and I intend on using it.”
“Tash –
“It’s been fifteen days and I’m supposed to just drive off with you?”
“If you get in the car,” Dayne sighed heavily, “I’ll answer your questions about Mr. Winters.”
Just before the bus reached its stop, Natasha got into the passenger seat.

*

Notes of the Sticky Variety

1.

Mr. Chad Rutter
used to live in a gutter
eating dirt
but boy was he a flirt
with all the other
gutter
girls

2.

Of all the places
of which to meet a girl
Jean Olinkin found it opportune
on the side show tilt-a-whirl
She spun around him
hair let loose with the sway
He’d ask for another round
perhaps offer her some pay
But as the ride
came to a limp end
Jean Olinkin walked off with
 a saddened small head

3.

Mr. Chad Rutter
had a very sorry stutter
not being able to s-s-speak
without spitting from his b-b-beak
girls would scatter and run
for being drowned is not so much fun

4.

There once was a little boy named Chad
oh what a peculiar life he had
for he was really
quite abnormally slippery
as a half man/
half fish
he would make a tasty dish
if he ended up on the table
Oh what a sorrowful fable!
The poor life of mer-man Rutter
His fin does flutter
wildly, as I chop him up
To make sushi in a cup!

5.

Once faced with uncertainty
Mr. Olinkin had to confess
“yes my dear friends,
it was I in that dress”
No one laughed
for they secretly agreed
Jean looked damn hot
in a skirt made of tweed

6.

As a final curtain call
Ms. Tulle took the stage
but down in her mouth
A bicuspid took its rage
Pain and tears
rolled down her cheeks
soon she transformed,
sporting a beak.
The crowd went wild,
completely absurd!
for they expected some poems
but came out with a bird.

*

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