A Canadian Literary Journal
Agnes and True: a Canadian online literary journal dedicated to providing a place for the work of Canadian writers, both established and emerging.
A Canadian Literary Journal
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Bad Luck and Big Ants
In the darkness, Ella swats the side of her head before lifting it from the pillow. “Fucking ants,” she says and fumbles for the switch. Bedside lamplight blinds her, but soon she can see that the dog on the floor beside her is awake—alert and ready to do whatever is needed. Maybe that’s where the ant landed.
His back to her, her husband mutters, “Wha…”
There’s the ant. On the duvet pulled up over her husband’s shoulder. It’s a big one. Four front legs drag a mutilated abdomen. Ella pats the scar on her belly.
Being awake in the middle of the night still makes her feel uncomfortable. Her thoughts tend to the negative—like how bad luck comes in threes, but she’s already up to four. Not counting the ant infestation. That’s a mere nuisance.
Her cancer is the fourth. Did that reset […]
by Beth Goobie
Riley locked her bike to a NO PARKING sign and surveyed the storefront forty feet in from the sidewalk, behind a small parking lot. Four months ago, she had started volunteering at The Good Intentions Emporium, a local thrift store, in the hopes of earning a job reference. At twenty-seven, she was The Emporium’s youngest volunteer, and she had quickly learned that her good intentions were not to manifest in helpful suggestions, no matter how […]
That Woman I Know
by Imola Zsitva
I saw her every morning at eight fifteen on the corner of Avenue de L’Épée and Fairmount. First to emerge from the electric car were the black, high-heeled boots and blue skinny jeans, followed by the green wool coat. It didn’t look warm, but it wrapped around her figure in sheer elegance. Like a movie star who always looks immaculate, even when she pops out for groceries. Her hair was blonde (as you would expect) […]
The words fly down the hospital corridor like precision missiles homing in on Maggie, their fleeing target, piercing her on impact.
“Keep her away. She’s abusing me!”
Maggie presses palms against ears as she escapes her accuser, the screeching woman in the corner room.
Indifference is everywhere—in lab coats, with stethoscopes, or arms laden with flowers, moving with unflinching eyes, looking ahead or downcast, but never back in the direction of the desperate cries—the wails just white noise […]
The Broken Village
“It’s your fan belt,” the mechanic says. He has dirty hands and clean hair, a lopsided smile and good teeth. He charmed the older sister, Odelia, when he leaned over the engine and raised his pale green eyes. Young and cute—so cute he doesn’t have to be tall or rich. Odelia squeezed among the tools and grime, clearing a place for her pleated skirt. Now she sits on the counter swinging her feet, watching his […]
Looking at my sister’s Instagram makes me feel hollow inside, but I can never stop returning to it—the same way I ran my tongue over the spot from a missing tooth as a kid. I tell myself I should cut back, but it’s a harmless vice, no worse than my occasional late-night drink.
Esther worships Audre Lorde, provides commentary on Beyoncé that verges on the Talmudic. These “yas queen” posts are interspersed with self-portraits of joyful […]
Antler Handle Magnifying Glass Late 1800’s, Good Condition
by Emily Hunt
My memory has changed everything about you. It thinks you’re perfect. I buckle under the druggy weight of the lie, sometimes. Press awkwardly against the ground, happy and stupid beneath it. It thinks that when you first walked into my shop—collapsing your umbrella between us in slow revelation, careful amongst the worthless antiques—it was love at first sight and not, in fact, aversion. My memory forgets that. Forgets that I tried to resist, first. So […]
Cyril hands me a plastic package bound with duct tape. It’s heavier than I expect. This feels like a clandestine drug deal might. My giggle is stopped short by Cyril’s quizzical look.
“Sorry,” I say. “This is a first for me.”
“Me too.” He clears his throat. “I’m pretty sure it’s flour. With maybe some gravel and a few chunks of chicken bone for good measure. In the urn, I mean.”
I nod. Nonna would have made it […]
Any Time After Now
When Anna was a teenager, she would look at her mother and cringe. To Anna, her mother was ancient. She had wrinkles beginning to bloom in the corners of her eyes; her hair was permanently dyed a chestnut brown to hide the grey strands that had started to sprout at her temples; her breasts drooped a little lower each year, and her waist thickened. Anna vowed that she would rather be dead than be like […]
There were no vacant benches in the park, so I leaned against a tree. I watched the masked parents riding herd on their unmasked little bandits—no way were those kids safe-distancing on the playground equipment. I was glad Bridget hadn’t suggested a coffee shop where I’d have to take off my mask between sips of coffee. Bridget was not in my bubble.
Never in the past twenty years, had I expected this rendezvous would happen. […]
The Ideal Swing
I’ve always wanted a porch swing. The kind that you would sink deep into, and your feet wouldn’t reach the ground. They would dangle. You’d twirl your ankle, clap your flip flop to your foot, and critique the pedicure you got last Wednesday from Perfect Nails downtown. The swing would be white and hang from chains that rattled when you got off and rattled again when you sat down—this time with a cappuccino in hand. […]
Let’s Say I’m a Tree
by Angie Ellis
And here I sit on a chilly, pine needle morning—the trees cut black against the watery
tangerine sky. Poetic .
I’m mentally going over my speech. No, my proposal. A statement of deeply felt resolution.
“Don’t be mad, but . . . listen. How are you feeling about this?” (Gesture between us.) “Remember when we fought about which seedy bread to buy for sandwiches in Tofino? What a stupid life, right?” (I’ll laugh here because it’s stupid in […]
by MJ Malleck
Liz knows the tattoo from one covert glance at her phone. She knows how the butterfly’s blue feelers wind around Ronnie’s wrist, how they circle the little knob bone. In the video, it seems her daughter is waving a full wineglass at the camera. If Matt’s texting her, it’s not good.
“Sorry mum, I knew she was on Twitch, but I thought she was gaming.”
Liz can’t just leave the meeting, can’t turn off her webcam to […]
Lesbians Living Alone Lonelier
by Valerie Free
Esther Rose was in the dressing gown that she didn’t change out of until “elevenses”—her homage to Belinda—when “Lesbians Living Alone Lonelier” loomed on her screen.
Her private pain wasn’t unique, but how much more forlorn and friendless was she than those widows, say, whose husbands swelled the morning obituaries? She double-clicked and down the Internet’s rabbit hole she hurried, her coffee tepid before she tumbled upon a new ministry for people just like her.
Before, Esther […]
by William Wren
He wondered if he had ever been happy. As the morning sun washed over the wooden deck, and over him as well, he thought he must have been, though he couldn’t recall when.
It was not that he was unhappy. He didn’t feel that. Apathetic is how he felt. However, Bronson also felt grumpy. He wondered if that was unhappy in a mild form.
He was sure it was the clock that made him that way. Ever […]
Doctor Knows Best
by Renee Lehnen
The fluorescent lights in Dr. Katherine Southey’s examination room illuminated difficult truths. Their glare lit the sallow skin of the bottle-a-day wine bibber who purported to enjoy a glass or two on social occasions, the amber stained fingernails of the only-with-morning-coffee smoker, the bruises of a child who’d “fallen” onto a fist. Secrets tumbled into the antiseptic-infused air of the windowless room as matters of routine. A few years ago, Gordon Bigelow would’ve been fascinated […]