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Mark Foss

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The Guest House

“My unavailability attracted you, Murray,” she’d said afterwards. “That’s why you don’t want to move in with me now. It’s too easy.”


The petty politics, backstabbing and poor decisions were getting to me. I had come to see that Friends of Africa was, to use one of Paulette’s favourite words, dysfunctional.


Lisa shakes her head. She wants to leave, but doesn’t. Brie’s gravitational pull is too strong. Finally, Brie is finished. Her eyes say, “So go ahead then. You’ll be sorry.”


“I went home once, about 15 years ago, with my ear pierced. It traumatized my father. I think it unleashed pent-up feelings of loss about his best friend who’d been killed in World War II. He never talked about Ted until then, and now he doesn’t stop.”

Channel Markers

There’s an arrogance about these people, the way they tear down cottages and put up permanent homes, how their docks extend farther into the river than anyone else’s.


She slips out of her sandals and lets the incoming waves sweep over her feet. The water must be cold, but she stands there still, as if frozen. An invitation. Or not.

Kiss it Better

We were alone so she pouted, looking my way because I was the man, the one supposed to know about things. I didn’t. In matters of home repair, we were both equally incompetent. But, because I was the man, I refused to let on.


“We got the go-ahead for a new fundraising campaign on female genital mutilation. They also agreed to send me to a conference on FGM in Montreal in February so I can get a feel for the issue.”

“They’re sending a man?”

“It’s my job. I’m writing the package and co-ordinating the launch of the campaign next fall.”

“It’s not a spaceship. It’s a human rights issue.”

Circumcision through Words

I walk out of the bedroom and sleep on the futon, knowing my distance is more terrible for her than words.

Spirit Speak

“You’re trying to be your dad’s best friend. You’re trying to replace Ted. And, my god, think of your dad’s message today. You’ve done it. He thinks you’re Ted.”

Games We Play

While the sand slipped through the glass, we searched the jumbled letters for meaning. In the three minutes allotted, we would see different words. We always did.

Closing Up

When he opens my door, I blink from the light. A sound leaves my throat.

“Are you laughing or crying?”

I don’t answer, but hold out my arms like a child. His body envelops mine, and this time I don’t pull back.

Planned Giving

“Yes, well, as I said, this death has hit Murray very hard. He’s not himself.”

“So who the hell am I, then?” I shouted the words, and my voice cracked.

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