“The first rule,” Joanna says, “is make sure nobody’s watching.” She tells me that because she wants me to be ready for anything. “It’s pretty obvious.” She rolls her eyes.

Make sure nobody’s watching. I say it three times in my head. I know what obvious means.

Joanna is five years older than me. We have the same mother but we live in different houses. She has a boyfriend named Peace. He’s waiting in front of The Bay because he can’t smoke inside. We’re walking around the mall looking for a store that looks easy for my first time. The mall is shaped like an L, and we’ve already passed every store. Joanna is chewing gum and blows little bubbles, over and over.

            “Can I have some?” I ask. “Gum?”

            “None left.”

Joanna stops in front of a store called Girl Thang. She tilts her head, staring into the store, and blows another bubble. “This is good,” she says.

As we walk through the entrance she whispers, “Just be normal.”

Just be normal, just be normal, just be normal.

I follow Joanna over to a table covered in T-shirts. Just be normal, just be normal, just be normal. I try to lean on the T-shirt table in a normal way.

Joanna glares at me. “Pick something to try on,” she says, in her fakest friendly voice. I look for things that don’t have a plastic tag on them, just like Joanna told me. I find two blue T-shirts that remind me of water and the sky and a sweater with a panda bear on it. I walk back over to Joanna but she motions for me to follow her and goes into a changeroom. Make sure nobody’s watching, make sure nobody’s watching, make sure nobody’s watching. I look around. The only person in the store is a girl at the cash register. She’s biting her nails from the sides.       

            “This is good,” Joanna says in the change-room. “It’s expensive.” She shoves the panda bear sweater into my backpack.

            “What now?” I ask.

            “We have to buy something,” she says. “You always buy something.” Joanna chooses a cheap T-shirt she didn’t even try on.

We walk up to the counter and the girl smiles at me. “You didn’t like that bear sweater? It’s adorable.”

Joanna smiles. “She has bad taste,” she says. She takes her wallet out of her coat pocket and there’s a stick of Juicy Fruit in foil stuck to the outside.

We don’t want the receipt.

Joanna slips the gum between her lips and I make the foil into a swan and when you pull the tail the wings flap.

At night, I sleep with the panda bear sweater. I fall asleep.

word by Leah Mol

colour by Vincent Viriot

the artist


Before Bre and Adam walked into the house, the realtor gave them a warning: Some things would need to be changed.

“You might not like it much,”

“Why are you showing it to us then?”

The realtor shrugged. “It’s in your price range. There are two bedrooms. Just try to imagine the rooms looking the way you’d want them to look.”

The house was a house. None of the rooms had doors. There was no kitchen sink. The second bedroom was where the living room should have been. Adam had to go down to the basement by himself because there were two broken stairs and he didn’t want Bre to fall. He’d been wary of everything lately. He came back upstairs, stuffed his hands in his pockets and shook his head, sighing.

“Who’s ready to see the bathroom?” the realtor said, clapping her hands in a show of enthusiasm.


When they stepped into the bathroom, it took Bre a minute to realize that’s where they were. Everything—the walls, floor, sink, toilet, bathtub—was covered with pictures of something. It made it seem like the room was empty, fixtures blending together until they all became one thing.

“What are they?” Bre asked.

“I don’t know. The man who lived here before was an artist.”

The realtor whispered the word, as if it explained every little thing that was wrong with the house.

“They’re lucha libre masks,” Adam said. “Mexican.”

“It certainly seems cultural,” the realtor whispered.


They hadn’t thought finding a place would be so much work. Adam had shelled out money for the cheapest realtor. He’d told Bre that having someone on their side would lessen the stress.

“So, what’d you think?” Bre asked.

“Are you fucking kidding? It was terrible, and the rotten cherry on top of the pile of shit was that bathroom.”

“At least it’s interesting,” Bre said.

“I don’t want to settle for interesting.”

“We’re going to have to settle for something. Isn’t interesting better than nothing?”

Adam looked straight ahead, but he found Bre’s hand with his as they walked into the wind.


Adam had grown a beard, and Bre was seven pounds heavier, but the house looked the same. When the movers dropped the first boxes in the front room, the house sighed.

That first night Bre couldn’t sleep, so she had a bath. She sat in the hot water and looked at her body, the size and shape of her belly seeming as absurd as the masks staring up at her through the clear water.

She tried to name all of them, but didn’t get far.

The two towels they owned were still packed in a box somewhere, so she left puddles as she stepped out of the bathtub. She looked at herself in the mirror – her face was just another mask, just another part of a whole. She closed her eyes and the child inside her knocked three times. 

Not yet, she thought. Please, not yet.

sdb 2

word by Leah Mol

colour by BauBo