Below is the entry I didn't submit to CBC's Flash Fiction contest. I'll publish my submission after January 29th if iI don't win the Sony Reader.

Current Theme: Unusual Childhoods

Funny, outrageous, heartbreaking true stories by Canadian writers.


When I got my driver’s license in our small prairie town, it became my responsibility to buy Grandpa’s groceries. Once a week my mom gave me a twenty-dollar bill to go the Co-op and said, keep the change.

The list was always the same: oatmeal, brown sugar, MacIntosh apples, oranges, potatoes, tea, skim milk, bran, chicken pieces (bone in), 100% whole wheat bread, peanut butter. I would also buy cigarettes with this money and lose the receipt.

His kitchen table was covered in sawdust from the lathe permanently attached to it. This drove my mom crazy. Anyone who came to visit received a wooden pencil holder inscribed with his name and date on the bottom.

I unpacked and put away the goods in his tiny subsidized bachelor apartment. I respected the sawdust and left it alone. If The Price Is Right was on TV, I’d sit and watch it with him. He would tell the same stories in rotation. His lazy co-workers at the sawmill in Quesnel. The time cousin Kenny stole his bike. When he caught my uncle smoking behind the barn at nine years old. He never once spoke about his wife.

Anna died from a hole in her heart when my mom was three. Their wedding photo hung in the apartment until the day he died. A black and white portrait of the couple holding hands in a field of wildflowers. They were tall and poor and squinting at the sun.