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"What's Your Story?" 2017 Obpo Writing Contest Winners! Part Three: North York

North York

For the third edition of the 2017 Ontario Book Publishers Organization's and North York Arts’ What's Your Story? writing contest, we are presenting brand new, original work in three genres, exclusively here on Open Book. These texts - in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry - are from the winners of the North York region of the competition, and you don't want to miss them. 

This unique writing contest asked authors across the city to draw inspiration from their life and experiences in the city, with a focus on neighbourhoods that don't always get starring roles in Toronto literature: Etobicoke, North York, East York, and Scarborough.

We've already posted the Scarborough winners and the East York winners, and today we're very excited about these exciting pieces from the North York winners. Stay tuned to Open Book in the December for the final crop of winning texts, from the Etobicoke region. 

For the 2017 North York competition, the Established author category winner is Toronto Book Award, ReLit Award, and Trillium Award-nominated author Elyse Friedman, and our winners for the Emerging category are Jennilee Austria, Robyn Hamilton, and David Stokes.

Don't miss the chance to read new, free, fantastic writing from these four talented authors.

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Established Writer Category winner, North York region

Two Poems by Elyse Friedman 

North York

Elyse Friedman

A certain kind of man

In a certain kind of car

Summer, after dinner

A certain kind of light

A middle-aged man

in a short-sleeved shirt

A 1930s Deusenberg

A certain shade of red

Detached houses 

Wide   streets 

Bony boulevard trees

An arm draped out the window

of the shiny car

Washed that afternoon

A certain kind of pride

The red parading slowly

A giant surprise candy

The children chasing it

 

Bleeding & Laughing at Pineway & Cummer

I fell out

the back of

a van once,

wearing high heels

and an evening gown

Grade nine prom

don’t you know

Color My World

and Bohemian Rhapsody

didn’t do it for us

It was airplane bottles of vodka

and Colombian flower tops

behind the school by the tracks

Then into Hinkley’s

rust bucket love nest

with my grass-stained

royal blue velveteen number

and Melanie and Steve,

John Bean and Paul Ryder

 

We tore through

the suburbs

with radio blaring

Max Webster

Black Sabbath

Led Zepplin

Deep Purple

teetering high

on my spikes

off balance

and howling

dizzy with spring

and spirits and speed

and Ryder’s rough

arms circling around

my blue waist

then

Hinkley hits brakes

too hard

for a cat

and we pitch forward

across metal into seats

and someone screams

Hey! What the hell are you doing?

then

Hinkley hits gas

and four fly backwards

spill onto concrete

stunned and tangled

a porch light comes on

and I can hear crickets

a father steps out

says

Marion, call an ambulance

and the stars are shining

three dogs are barking

the lawns smell good

I am bleeding and laughing

 

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Emerging Writer Category winners, North York region

Belonging at Bathurst and Wilson by Jennilee Austria

“Today, we’re gonna learn a big concept! This word is gonna blow your minds!”

Mr. Bluett’s booming voice jerked me out of my afternoon nap.

“You may not believe this, but race, class, and gender are all linked,” he said. “Depending on who you are, these can work together to pull you way up, or to push you way down!” He wrote PRIVILEGE in huge red letters across the chart paper. Satisfied that we had read the word, he tore it off and threw it on the floor.

“Waste of paper and waste of time,” muttered the Filipino boy next to me.

It was my second day in Canadian high school, and I could barely function. Everything was upside-down — and not only because my body was still on Manila-time.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that reuniting with Mama in Canada was a huge mistake. She left me behind when I was only three years old. For the past fourteen years, she had worked as a caregiver in Hong Kong and Toronto, taking care of other people’s kids, but never me. We barely knew each other.

My feet were crushed in my new school shoes because she didn’t even know what my size was. And when I complained that the shoes felt cheap, she snapped, “Just be grateful, Delmar. Caregiving is never easy money!”

Mama worked for a family in Ledbury Park. From our rusty balcony, I could see the big houses with chimneys, landscaped yards, fancy cars, and swimming pools. Their neighbourhood was just on the other side of Bathurst Street, but it was an alternate universe compared to the depressing one-bedroom apartment I shared with Mama, where she slept on a stinky old couch in the living room.

The boy turned to me. “I’m Apollo,” he said. He pushed his hair out of his eyes. “Hey noob, you look kinda rough.”

I stifled a yawn.

“You bored?” he asked, smirking. “I always make social studies interesting.”

“All Canadians are privileged,” said Mr. Bluett. “You have access to the Internet and electricity and clean water. You guys are so privileged and you don’t even know it!”

Apollo sat up straight. “Our moms came to Canada as mistreated, underpaid, slave-labour nannies and you call us privileged?” he called out.

Most of the class was Filipino. We all shifted uncomfortably.

“Now w-wait a second,” Mr. Bluett spluttered. “My sister hired a caregiver for her kids and we treat her like gold. She’s become part of our family. W-we even let her eat at the dinner table with us.”

“It’s so nice that you don’t make her eat under the table with the dog,” Apollo retorted. “Gosh, I’m sure she feels real privileged.”

“Let’s bookmark this conversation for another day,” Mr. Bluett said quickly. He dimmed the lights for a video titled Intersectionality and You.

Apollo leaned over. “Hey noob, let’s get out of here. Lemme show you a real intersection.”

I’d never walked out in the middle of a lesson before, but I’d also never seen a student talk back to a teacher like that. I figured that these must be normal things to do in Canada.

I followed him out of the room.

***

As we walked out of the school, Apollo stretched his arms wide.

“Welcome to Bathurst and Wilson!” he called out. “Toronto’s very own ‘Little Manila’!”

I stared at the ugly signs covering the discoloured brick buildings. “This is nothing like Manila,” I said.

“Sure, but you can’t deny that it’s Filipino,” he said. He pointed across Wilson Avenue. “See FV Foods? A few years ago, that used to be Marky’s, a Jewish restaurant. All of the Jewish folks — like the serious kind with the black skull caps— would go there. But now it’s a Pinoy grocery store and restaurant.”

Apollo sauntered across the intersection. “Basically, white people used to own this neighbourhood, but then we started taking over with our karaoke places and turo-turo restaurants. Now, Bathurst and Wilson belongs to Filipinos.”

“Is there a Jollibee?” I asked breathlessly. My stomach ached for some familiar fast food.

“Jollytops,” he corrected. “Not the same thing.”

I followed him inside and saw that he was right: the cramped restaurant didn’t have a bee mascot, Chickenjoy, or anything jolly at all. Customers were eating alone, their tired eyes staring at the television, where an actress was kneeling outside of the airport and screaming, “Don’t leeeeeb me! I’ll lub you por-eber!”

Apollo snorted. “My mom’s obsessed with Pinoy teleseryes. What about yours?”

I thought of the Santo Niño statue beside Mama’s couch. “She’s more into praying,” I said.

Apollo sniffed. “Lemme guess: ‘LORD, SEND ME MONEY! MY BODY HURTS! I’M TIRED, LORD!’ We have a crucifix above the door and my mom howls at it every time she rubs on her arthritis medicine.”

“Arthritis medicine?”

“She’s a PSW for seniors. A Personal Support Worker. She lifts old white folks all day and it wipes out her muscles. Been doing it for seven years now.”

“Seven years?” I blurted out.

Apollo raised an eyebrow.

“Sorry — I just thought that after that long, she’d want to work in an office or something.”

“Noob, you have a lot to learn,” he said. “First lesson: forget what Bluett said about privilege. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be us.”

He walked into the parking lot. “Look at this neighbourhood. There’s ads for survival jobs everywhere.”

“Survival jobs?”

“Jobs that pay just enough to keep you alive. Jobs that work you so hard that you’re too tired to look for something better. Jobs that keep you sane and insane at the same time. Use your eyes. You’ll see.”

I scanned the tops of the buildings where billboards advertised Rolexes and theatre shows. But before I could speak, Apollo tilted my head down. “The billboards aren’t for us. Those are for white people driving by on the overpass. Read what you can see on our level.”

I lowered my gaze. “Western Union … MyRemit … Personal Support Worker School …”

Apollo nodded, satisfied. “Now look even closer.” He stopped at a bus shelter where papers were taped to the glass. “Get hired ASAP! Up to fourteen bucks an hour! Bakery workers! Mixers! Forklift operators! Sanitation officers! PSWs!” he read aloud. “Bathurst and Wilson is covered in these. Restaurants, grocery stores, offices, even the TTC stops. You don’t see ads like this in any other neighbourhood. Not in Koreatown or Chinatown. Definitely not in Little Italy or Greektown. It’s like the whole world thinks that Filipinos are only good for jobs that barely pay anything.” He tore a caregiver advertisement from the glass. “Our moms don’t come to this neighbourhood wanting to be in survival jobs forever. But after they live here for a while, they forget that there are other options.”

I watched as he crumpled the paper and tossed it onto the asphalt.

“Now you know who’s really privileged here,” he said.

***

That night, I sat in the kitchen as Mama made dinner. Her friends had come over to meet me. They were also caregivers, and with their thinning hair, worn polo shirts and faded jeans, they all looked eerily similar to one another.

“Mama,” I asked, “before you left Manila, you were a teacher, right?”

“Yes, I loved that job,” she said, poking a crucifix into the rice with her serving spoon. “Making lesson plans, teaching students to read …” Her voice trailed off.

“Can you become a teacher in Canada?”

“I used to dream about it,” she said. “Not anymore.”

Tita Ami planted herself between me and Mama. “Ayy, Delia, Canadian students would never respect you with your accent.”

Tita Gina crossed her arms. “And you’d have to go to school again. Tuition would kill you. At least with caregiving, we’ll always have money.”

“And Toronto probably has too many teachers,” added Tita Lorna. “You’d have to leave Bathurst and Wilson for God-knows-where.”

They all nodded.

I looked out the window at Ledbury Park, a world that was tantalizingly within reach. “But teaching would pay better,” I said. “And wouldn’t it be good to leave Bathurst and Wilson?”

Mama’s friends fell silent.

She raised her eyebrows. “What are you saying, anak?”

“That maybe you’d find better opportunities somewhere else.”

Tita Lorna snorted. “He just arrived in Canada and he’s already opinionated!”

“So ungrateful!” added Tita Gina.

“Wait, maybe he’s right,” Tita Ami said. “Delia, why not become a PSW? My friends are doing it and they’re making fourteen dollars an hour. There are classes at the Toronto Health School above Jollytops. I’d come with you!”

“At least the school is close by, so no need for TTC tokens,” Mama said.

“And almost all of their students are Pinoy,” said Tita Gina.

“It’ll feel just like home!” said Tita Lorna.

I clenched my fists. “But Mama, why do you want another survival job? Do you really want to be stuck at Bathurst and Wilson forever?”

“Who taught you these ideas?” she snapped. “That’s enough!”

“But Mama, please —”

“We need to pray.” She closed her eyes. “Dear Lord, thank you for finally bringing my son Delmar to Toronto. Make him understand that he should be grateful for what we have. Teach him to accept that Bathurst and Wilson is his new home, and that this is where we belong.”

“Amen,” everyone said.

Except me.

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North York Gothic by Robyn Hamilton 

“I’ll bet the people in that house could host a proper Thanksgiving. Their kitchen will be big enough.” The house Oksana meant was an unfinished monstrosity ten lots down, construction stopped dead for eight months now.

“Yeah, I wonder what happened there.” Sean was washing the dishes. Oksana refused to do any work in their house’s construction area, so he had cooked dinner, too.

“I think they got a divorce, and it’s tied up in court.” Their own house was one of the small bungalows that were being torn down, one by one, across the neighbourhood.

“Ran out of money,” Sean said.

“Why did you ask me if you already had your own idea?”

“I wanted to know what you thought.”

“Still, Thanksgiving,” Oksana said.

“You hate cooking.” As an architect, Sean clearly thought counter space and cupboard doors were all that mattered. The cupboard doors, currently in boxes in the (tiny) dining room, didn’t have windows. The floor tiles lacked drama. There would be no centre island. And the countertops wouldn’t be polished granite.

“I hate cooking in this kitchen.” There would be no new appliances in this reno, just one oven and a stove that sat right on top of it. If Oksana wanted to make a turkey and a pie, she would have to cook them one at a time. It meant they would never host Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter dinner at this house, and she’d have to go to her sister’s house in the suburbs and help out, rather than being in charge of the meal herself.

“Have you ever cooked a turkey?”

Oksana watched Sean’s body clench at the sink, and whatever dish he was holding broke. She decided not to care. A nice kitchen should have nice dishes. “I’ve never had occasion to. Why would I do that just for dinner?”

“To see what it’s like. Have you ever cooked a whole chicken?”

“There are two of us, Sean. It would go bad before we could eat it all.” She didn’t really know, but it felt true.

The broken dish was a mug, and he threw it in the trash. “Those little hens they serve at banquets?”

“It’s not the same. I’m sure it doesn’t scale.” She didn’t know for sure, but he didn’t know that. “It’s not about my cooking, it’s about this kitchen.

“This is what we can afford.” As he walked into the dining room, Sean punched the dividing wall, leaving a dent.

“We could get a loan,” Oksana said.

“You could get a job,” Sean said.

That wasn’t going to happen. “You don’t appreciate all I do around here.”

“You could do more.”

“I could do less.”

“Not much.”

“I could do nothing.”

“I’m getting a coffee.” On her way out the door, Oksana grabbed her keys and cellphone.

It was getting dark. The May air wasn’t exactly warm to start with, and without the sun a sweater was barely enough.

In addition to all the old (small) and new (huge) houses, ten single-home construction sites stood between her house and the coffee shop, all different styles, from modern boxes to Victorian piles. One finished rebuild with a flat roof had a tendency to spew water onto its lawn. When the lawn was saturated, the water ran over the sidewalk towards the storm sewer. In the winter, this stretch of sidewalk was an ice slick. In spring and summer, it grew moss. None of the original houses had this sort of problem.

In the near dark, Oksana didn’t notice she was on that patch, and her right foot slid out from under her.

She didn’t fall down, not really. Her hip hit the ground and then she was back up and trying to brush the slime off her jeans.

She got her foot under her again, and her other foot, and stepped past the slime.

She stopped and shook her foot to work the kinks out.

It would stop hurting in a moment. Walk it off, they always say, right?

After about ten very limping steps she stopped again, and shook her foot again.

It didn’t feel broken.

She looked off into the distance and took another step flapping her arms a little to keep her weight off the foot. There was no way she could make it to the coffee shop like this.

Another step, a new goal: she would just get to that abandoned house at the corner, have a look at what a proper kitchen might be.

The cars that drove by must think she looked ridiculous hopping on one foot, but no one stopped.

The gate was locked at the front of the house, but the security fence provided a good support so she could hobble around to the back. Where the yard sloped back towards the ravine, she could climb right under.

There was a lot of mud and some overgrown privacy bushes. The portable toilet had disappeared weeks ago. No windows, no doors, just turrets and gables. Oksana hobbled right in up the back steps.

The builders hadn’t left much stuff. She held up her phone as a light to look around. This ran the battery down really fast, so she wouldn’t have to take Sean’s calls or texts. Let him worry.

She could guess which area was meant to be a kitchen by the way the holes for plumbing were cut, and where would be a washroom, and the living room and dining room. There were only hints of walls, and not even very many of those.

There would have to be an island in the middle of the kitchen. It would have a rack suspended over it festooned with pots and pans and ladles. Oksana had at least ten pots and pans, but she always used the same three. If she had a kitchen like this, she would hire a chef for dinner parties. How often could these people host dinner parties? There wasn’t parking for more than a few guests, and if everyone was parking on the street all the time the neighbours would complain. Oksana would complain.

She could imagine her and her sisters here cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Her sisters’ children would be set to tasks like chopping vegetables and arranging cheese and crackers on trays. Oksana would have the ingredients all purchased, the recipes chosen, the schedule all planned out.

Her sisters would take over, dictating that the pies couldn’t go in until the turkey was at least half done, and the beans needed to be trimmed just so, and amaretto in the cranberries was so overdone. Not that Oksana cared. She wasn’t really interested in the taste of food.

They would send her to the other room to set the table while they checked the pies and turkey, not let her see what spices they used on the potatoes, and leave her unaware about the wine pairings.

It might be Oksana’s kitchen, but she wouldn’t be in charge. They would tell her how nice it was, but when she left the room they would make snarky comments about how many months it would be before she and Sean lost the place.

Her ankle hurt. She couldn’t face the walk back to her house right now. It wasn’t that cold. She curled up on the floor, out of the wind, where a counter might be someday.

There was a rustling outside, maybe a raccoon.

Oksana tried her cellphone, but the battery was well and truly dead, so no light there. The house had no electrical system put in yet, so no light there either. Night had fallen completely and there was no way she could explore the rest of the house in this dark.

There was the rustling again.

The kitchen was huge, with nothing to hide behind. The whole open downstairs had that problem, really.

It was too dark for squirrels, maybe a skunk. Oksana sniffed the air. There was nothing like wild animals to ruin Thanksgiving.

Except improperly cooked turkey, of course. The rustling could be a wild turkey.

It was time to leave.

Oksana moved as fast as she could, on one and a half legs out the gaping hole where there wasn’t yet a front door. There would be no going under the fence this time. She hauled herself over and took her time walking home.

Sean sat at the kitchen table surrounded as ever by drywall dust. The wall between the kitchen and the living room, the wall he’d punched, was a pile of rubble. He had coffee in one hand and a crowbar in the other.

“This kitchen is fine,” Oksana said. “No one could possibly want a bigger kitchen.”

“Too late,” Sean said. “There will be room for an island now.”

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A Fish in North York by David Stokes (non-fiction)

Since the reigning culinary trend in Toronto rates eating local as the highest good and best accomplished with a lot of love in the kitchen, then our city’s culinary heroes are Afshin and Elahe. Afshin is a fifty-year-old construction engineer and he showed up at my house in paint-splattered jeans around 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. I get in his Toyota and discover that he drives crazy, honking and swerving.

Previously, I’ve only met Afshin while walking after dusk in the ravine near my house. I didn’t expect to see anyone out in the dark, let alone a plump man silhouetted behind me with a strange contraption. I was so startled I screamed. And then I was intrigued: he had a fishing rod and a murky Ziploc bag containing a few small fish. Fish? Here? The creek is tiny, not more than a foot deep. I grew up beside it and thought I knew its secrets. But Afshin told me he catches fish here regularly, and eats them with his family. I never would have suspected this tiny creek to have apparently delicious fish. Not only wise to this, Afshin was also avuncular, jolly through his thick Persian accent. And is there anything more exciting in Toronto than meeting interesting people who do unexpected things, on the fringe, in the dark, probably breaking some law? We arranged to meet again and so here I am careening towards North York’s G. Ross Lord Reservoir, where he usually has his best luck.

We arrive and Afshin immediately declares his excitement, yelling over the water, “Hello, fish! We are coming for yooouuuu!” The fish live behind the dam put here to regulate the West Don River and protect mansions downstream in Hogg’s Hollow — built foolishly at the bottom of a ravine — from getting flooded during storms. For a lake that exists to serve mansions, a Muskoka this one is not. Two hydro towers hum within it, and its waters are so brown they look like Tom Thomson rinsed his brushes in it. Its water softly ebbs up against mud shores dusted with garbage. To the west and north is a swath of industrial lands, and some of the water here has surely run through the cemetery located right beside it, never mind the bodies occasionally pulled from it after suicides, murders, and accidents. A sign warns: “Water Polluted, No Swimming.”

This is one of those Toronto places where you realize we are settlers here, sloppy and tasteless ones, who created a lake for utility purposes and didn’t plan to use it or love it. But there’s a different society here too: I notice a bunch of men sitting lazily on folding lawn chairs around the lake, well spaced out from each other, smoking and drinking tall cans, each with a fishing rod, and one guy napping between two. Ignore the traffic sounds, and the image of a man on a cooler in a patch of sunlight by some trees looks lonely warm and rustic, like a scene out of cottage country. And as planes fly loudly overhead our national identity can snap into focus, this place mixing up pastoralism with industrialization, with thoughts of First Nations fishing rivers for food beside these Iranian, Chinese, Caribbean, and European immigrants. Forget the cottage; these bored sons of bitches have here an outlaw town of escape and rusticity, relaxation and the hope for a bit of sport.

 

A fish jumps out the water, exposing its white belly. “The fish jumped the water to show me the finger! It thinks ‘You’ll never catch me!’ But I get fish,” Afshin says with conviction. “I get fish.” He taps a finger on his forehead. “It’s a mind.” He casts two lines over the water and puts each rod in a holder.

Now there’s nothing to do but wait and talk. He came to Canada five years ago, and his wife and two sons joined him two years ago. “I love Canada, but it is not my home. But if I have to stay in another country, my first option is Canada. It is so beautiful, so multicultural, if you are here you are not foreign, everyone is here.”

Afshin and I stand silent for a while, just chillin’, until he asks, “You are the clean boy?” I look over, perplexed. He raises an eyebrow. “You are the clean boy?” I tell him no, I’m not a clean boy. He happily pulls out cigarettes. And then a bag with Budweisers. And a bottle of tequila. Drinking, Afshin now talks about the love of his life. In Iran he used to go fishing with his wife, back when they were dating. They married twenty-three years ago and were friends for five years before that. Laughing, he tells me about the time his parents almost caught them in his bed. They stayed motionless on top of each other under a blanket for an hour, trying not to breathe.

Right then Elahe calls. Over speakerphone I hear laughter and talk in Persian. “She love me,” he translates. “She says ‘you are drunk?’ I say, ‘No!’” He winks. I ask Elahe if she thinks Afshin will have luck today fishing and Afshin butts in, “I’m not lucky for fishing, I’m just lucky I get my wife!”

Elahe laughs and one of the fishing rods jangles. “Excuse me!” says Afshin urgently, tossing me the phone he goes off scrambling to the line. “Oh, whoah! Yes! We got fish! Hello, baby! Come on! Woo-hoo!” The line is teardrop-shaped as Afshin brings it in. There is frantic splashing at the surface of the water and then a small fish, less than a hand’s length, gets pulled out. It glints and glistens, slithers and slaps. “All for you! All for you!!” Afshin says, handing it to me. The fish takes a long time to die inside a grocery bag, and every time I think it’s dead it jumps again.

 

An hour later we get a small catfish-like fish. Apparently it’s not tasty and they’ve bitten him. Ashfin asks the Chinese guy near us, who hasn’t caught anything, if he wants it. He doesn’t want it, either. We almost catch one more fish, which falls off the line. “It was a big one. Shoot!” yells Afshin. It gets darker, Afshin talks about his love of Ernest Hemingway. I tell him that Hemingway lived in Toronto for a bit. Yesterday he caught two fish, and two days ago he caught five. After a little bit longer without any bites, it’s dark, and time to go cook.

We go to the nearby apartment where Afshin lives with Elahe and their two sons, playing video games in a Plexiglas-covered balcony that’s become a bedroom. Elahe is happy that Afshin had a little luck fishing, because her friend had broken her leg that day, and her son hurt his finger. “My friend was like, you need to do something to break the cycle of bad luck, so she gave me a dollar to give to the poor, and as I crossed the street to give the dollar to a man on the road, a car hit the person where I would have been.” She tells this story as she scrapes off the fish’s scales. Then she cuts the fish open and pulls the guts out. Salt and pepper get sprinkled inside, the outside is dusted with paprika, and it’s popped into a cast-iron skillet of bubbling hot oil.

Afshin watches Elahe cook and says, “Everything in my life is her.” They kiss. Elahe, who laughs as much as Afshin, but is less silly and more witty, is a hairdresser in Toronto and taught English in Iran. “His house was an half an hour away but he got to mine in like, ten minutes. He was crazy to come over and see me. The moment he saw me he was in love with me.” Afshin laughs and they kiss again. She takes the fish from the bubbling oil, perfectly fried. Elahe also cooks two fish that Afshin caught yesterday. The fish is delicious, delicate and sweet, with just enough fat and melted bones. I understand why people all over the world are always trying to get hold of fresh fish. I eat all of it except the eyes. Elahe, who loves watching Rachael Ray, serves the fish with a pumpkin-seed cranberry salad, a tapenade of jalapenos and olives, and broad beans. Dinner talk is family, the Iranian nuclear deal, poetry, movies. Afshin bungles a long joke, which only makes it that much funnier to him so he’s slapping his knees. Dessert is tea, and nuts with sugar. We all have many shots of a Persian liqueur. Elahe pulls me into the kitchen and opens the freezer: it is filled exclusively with Afshin’s catches. They eat a few each week.

Elahe says, “I told him don’t get the really small ones anymore.” Sharing a cigarette, they wash dishes together, and Afshin tells me that he plans to go fishing again tomorrow.

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Stay tuned to Open Book for the original texts from the winners in the regions of East York, North York, and Etobicoke over the coming months!

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The OBPO and Open Book gratefully acknowledge the support of The Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Toronto Arts Council, Arts Etobicoke, North York Arts, East York Arts, and Scarborough Arts in making this contest and these original pieces possible.

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Elyse Friedman has written three novels, a book of short stories and a book of poems. Her work has been shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, the Toronto Book Award and the ReLit Award, and has a won a gold National Magazine Award for fiction.

Jennilee Austria has worked in North York as a settlement worker, public speaker, and education consultant. As the founder of “Filipino Talks,” she builds bridges between teachers and Filipino newcomer youth. She is a Heritage Toronto tour guide for Little Manila, and is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers.

Robyn Hamilton is a technical writer living in North York. She writes short stories that may be Fantasy to others, but are horrifying to her. She attended Viable Paradise in 2009. When she’s not writing, she’s at karate class or circus school, or on Twitter at @Robynettely. Beware, she’s very quiet.

David Stokes - I write a blog about interesting people and places at thebigland.org. I also try to write poetry, a play, occasional short stories, maybe make a short film sometime this week, make furniture and I really want to make more visual art. Aaaaaaaaaaa!