grapefruit fanta

I slept for most of the flight here because it was early last Saturday morning. But when the cart came by for last call, I saw the woman in front of me order a tomato juice.

"Tomato juice please," I said.

"Juice? We have orange, apple, cranberry or tomato. Or grapefruit fanta."

I still had my ear plugs in but yes, that's what he said.

"Sure, I'll try one of those."

"If you don't like it I won't be offended, but I stand by my word."

Turns out when you mix apple juice, orange juice and tonic water, it tastes like a grapefruit soda.

"For twelve bucks, I can make you a wicked cocktail."

The attendant gave the same pitch to the guy behind me. And the recipe for the cocktail: add a bit of rum, vodka and grand marnier. A splash of cranberry makes it ruby red.

Then I took a bus to Banff and have been in the Writing With Style workshop all week in the building pictured above.

This afternoon, I climbed Tunnel Mountain, a 1.8 km hike. A struggle in places because the snow is melting and it was mucky and wet. It was sloppy and icy but there were trees to hang on to and they've put railings up near sharp drop offs. I thought I might slip and fall. But I made it to the summit, and from there, I could see the the other side. I saw it for what it was - a completely different point of view.

Vast, expansive, endless.

It might be a struggle. It might be mucky and sloppy, and I might slip and fall. But I have new knowledge, lots of ideas and plenty to read. I've got a lot to hang on to. And I am open to the possibilities of things I haven't thought of on ways to approach my work.

I mean, who knew apple, orange and tonic would taste like grapefruit?

The possibilities are endless.

Drink up.

bad behaviour

Another entry to CBC's Flash Fiction contest.

Theme: Bad Behaviour

Are writers naturally inclined towards wickedness? Do we have wilder lives than other people? Is that why we have so many stories at our fingertips?

In addition to bad behaviour, I would file this under: mean, inappropriate, frustrating, spiteful and judgmental.


The middle seat on a charter flight is a gamble.

Passengers file onto the aircraft like blood cells traveling to an aorta. Husband on my right stares out the window occupied with all things aviary.

Here she comes.

White hoodie, shoulder length brown hair, pretty face. She shoves a bag into the overhead compartment and maneuvers her black sweat pant clad hips into the aisle seat. Her bulbous thigh touches mine.

“I can’t believe the vacation is over already,” she says.

My smile is false. I shift closer to Husband giving me less room in an already cramped seat. We all opt for Shepherd’s Pie over pasta. She eats the brownie first. I want more wine.

Two hours later, after the half funny movie, Fatty continues watching Ugly Betty reruns. Her head is four inches from mine. A chubby cheek now full of gum. I insert earplugs but still hear her chewing. Her fleshy arm against me is like warm glue. I fondly remember the chatty fellow on the outbound flight who asked too many questions. I exhale in puffs. Husband covers my hand with his.

Later still, she snores. A sleeping giant beneath the hoodie. It smells like damp sweat and peppermint foot powder. I stretch the muscles in my face keeping my mouth open in the position of a scream. FAT!

On our descent, she asks me to repeat the announcement she missed about donating to the charity of the airline’s choice. I pretend I can’t hear her.

pineapple express

Another postcard competition, another story under 500 words...


You coast along Pacific Ocean Highway in your rented gold Lancer sipping a latte. Twisty roads through stunted brown hills take you to your destination. For once, you are not lost and find the address on the first try. A satellite truck is parked in the driveway. You are here so Dave Thomas ⎯ the non-Wendy's one, of the Mackenzie brothers’ fame ⎯ can do live interviews with Canadian entertainment reporters for a Red Cap beer promotion. It is mid-May and Bob and Doug’s 24th anniversary. He is laid up in an easy chair because of recent surgery on his Achilles tendon. This, he says, is something he wishes on no one. A blonde woman wearing yoga pants and a hot pink T-shirt makes brief appearances to bring him orange juice.

The event takes a turn for the worse because⎯ you learn five minutes before the first interview⎯Verizon does not provide an analog signal in these rolling Malibu mountains. The truck operator panics. Your cursing trumps his as you trouble shoot your way through the unforeseen mess that is beyond your pay scale. You take the cameraman’s suggestion of the scenic route back to your hotel in Santa Monica.

You buy a pint of strawberries from a fellow on the side of the road. He writes his phone number on your map. You are flattered, not bothered. He too, is looking for adventure this afternoon. You thank him for the berries.

You take Topanga Canyon Road and stop to call your sister. She didn’t know you were in California and you enjoy a quick chat because you were both huge Six Feet Under fans – addicts to be precise—and you are near to where Aunt Sarah lived in her wooded, artsy make believe home.

LAX is the only place you have ever seen cinnamon Tic Tacs. You buy six boxes. Your flight is delayed. You dip into your travel snacks early. A recyclable Whole Foods container filled with brussel sprouts, orzo, roasted garlic, walnut bits, dried cranberries.

On the flight you watch The Bucket List. During the part in the movie where they go skydiving you are flying over the same exact place. You also, are a skydiver. You think, what are the odds?

You land safely back in Vancouver and pass through customs unscathed. He is there waiting for you, holding a pineapple. No time to buy flowers, he says. He will cook catfish for dinner and grill the fruit to go with it.

You already knew that.

As you cross the bridge on the drive home you think about how you like to travel. How even the muddled trips where jobs go awry have a curious appeal. You run a hand around the back of his neck, touch his hair and smile. His eyes soften. You like to travel. But you love to come home.