So Are They All by Mitchell Toews   

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Rosa Amelia Zilkie, the eldest of eleven children, was born in Canada in 1903. Her father was born in Poland, her mother in Romania. She married Cornelius F. Toews, in 1920 (at the age of 17) and took on his three young sons – he being recently widowed. Grandma raised his children and added ten of her own. Once her children were grown and out of the house, she took in disadvantaged boarders – Down’s Syndrome, polio victims, the elderly and infirm, and transient relatives – of which there was a plentitude!  Grandma passed away in 1985. 

This story was inspired by Rosa Amelia Zilkie

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My friend Leonard Gerbrandt was wiry and tall for his age and he had big dimples and a giant Adam’s apple. His mom worked for my parents at our little bakery and she was an elegant beauty reminiscent of the movie star, Hedy Lamarr. She was dark haired and slender with high, rouged cheekbones and large brown eyes. I was just a little kid, but I felt weak when she was near; the scent of her perfume confusing me through a kind of permeating intoxication, although I would never reveal it. Especially to Lenny, who was as tough and unyielding as a Manitoba March storm.

The Gerbrandts were made of stern stuff. Lenny’s older brother was gaunt and menacing – his unblinking stare was like a violent shove. Their dad was an ex-cop. Mr Gerbrandt had been a good baseball player and was a big rugged guy, like a young Robert Mitchum. Mitchum married Lamarr and they begat sons and daughters, including Lenny, who, in later years, taught me how to roll a corn silk cigarette and do a catwalk on my bike. Lenny’s dad was the town cop but then joined the army and when he came back, he was not the same anymore. He had run out of whatever it was that made him Robert Mitchum, the big raw-boned cop who got Hedy Lamarr. Instead, he sat alone in the Hartplatz men-only beer parlour and got quietly loaded every day.

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Forbidden Voice by Nyx Bean

Her name was Aika and Christian had been obsessed with her the moment she transferred to Willowbrook High. In the first week, he managed to hear every hint and rumour there was to know: her second name was Hisama, people were sure she’d moved straight from Japan, and she hadn’t spoken a word to anyone. In the beginning, students thought maybe Aika wasn’t great with English, but those looking to cheat in class saw she wrote fluently. In fact, she appeared to be some form of prodigy, always having the correct answers. During lunch hours Aika spent her time in the library with her head ducked down over a Japanese language novel, and she made a point of being in the classroom before anybody else. Her physical appearance only served to magnify these oddities; her skin was pale, and her long hair hung down to her waist. Kids took to calling her Samara like the girl from that creepy horror film, The Ring. Except never to her face. Strangely, in a school notorious for its bullies, Aika maintained a wall around herself.

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Linoleum by Deidre Jaye Byrne

 

“You could eat off her floor,” Miriam often said in a half envious way, if Dora was present, and in a half mocking way when she was not.  “I drove her home that day when her car wouldn’t start and honest to God, you’d think that floor had never been stepped on.  I mean, it was like a mirror it was so shiny!”    But what Miriam and her coworkers did not know was that Dora actually did eat off her floor.

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The Grave Digger’s Lemonade by Michael Grant Smith

Cliff’s grandfather built Hook Run Farm on forty-two acres thirty miles east of the city, a half-hour’s easy drive most days. Now, when dirty winds shifted at night to flee the west, Cliff lay beneath beige-gray sheets and sniffed a once forgotten childhood memory: a decaying mouse he’d found inside a discarded soda pop bottle. Borne atop the newly bloating stink of Grandpa’s barn and paddocks, this recollected scent visited every evening. Rich, sweet, corrupt, ageless.

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