It's a testament to Rebecca Rosenblum's skill that her words stick with the reader long after they've put her book down. Over the past few months, I keep circling back to a line from her gorgeous debut novel So Much Love, “She doesn’t owe it to anyone—not even her husband—to fan out all that past pain like a hand of cards.” For me, the line magnifies the bravery of the women who have been coming forward to share their stories and is a reminder that not everyone can share their experiences, that no one is entitled to someone else's trauma.
In addition to being a finalist for the Amazon First Novel Award for So Much Love, Rebecca won the Metcalf-Rooke Award for her first short fiction collection, Once. Her second collection, The Big Dream, came out in 2011 to much acclaim.
She has been on both sides of the Journey Prize Anthology—both as an author and as a juror. Her work has also been shortlisted for the National Magazine Awards, and the Danuta Gleed Award, and has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She blogs at http://rebeccarosenblum.com/. We're so happy to present her work as part of The Oddments Tray.
An earlier version of this story appeared as part of The Litter I See Project, a benefit for Frontier College’s literacy programs. Please spend some time on their wonderful website and consider supporting the cause.
He waited at the stop for a while, trying to read a copy of the free arts weekly he’d shoved in with his groceries, but the wind kept yanking at the pages, rattling them until he stepped into a doorway to get out of the wind. He put the bags at his feet, knowing that he was no longer really at the bus stop, that if the bus came he stood a lesser chance of it stopping for him back here, but it was a cold day and he was tired.
The cover story was about a band he hadn’t heard of called the Simpletons. They were local too, started out playing together at some high school on the Danforth, branched out to east end bars, signed to Arts & Crafts. It made his throat hurt, dry and burning like an approaching cold. He didn’t resent their success—god knows, anyone who could escape the Value-Village-sweater life was a good omen for the rest. But the fact that he’d never heard the Simpletons, not at a fest or a showcase, hadn’t run across an EP or had a friend mention them, that felt like a bad omen. Like he wasn’t in the main circles anymore, like the acts who had new sounds were playing at bars he hadn’t even heard of. And who could he even ask about what bars, what neighbourhoods? It felt like everyone he had in his phone had gotten a job in marketing or teaching something, was spending Saturday nights trying to fix leaky taps and taking toddlers to the emergency room because they’d eaten an egg of Silly Putty.
A stronger gust of wind yanked the paper out of his hands—maybe he wasn’t trying that hard to hold on to it. The pages separated: most skittered east in the direction the bus would eventually take him, some flying up above his head until he lost track. When he glanced at the ground, he saw the page he had been reading, the baleful pride in the photo of the Simpletons, but he didn’t bother to pick it up. He saw the blue lights of the bus flash in the distance, and bent to gather his sacks of waffles and salad dressing.
(written by Rebecca Rosenblum, read by Chioke I'Anson)
That rad music you hear at the end is by Tigerrosa. Buy their debut album here
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