Annie and Freda

Freda blows back into town on a Sunday. Annie is facing away from the counter when the door opens, her sleeves rolled up, elbow deep in a batch of chilled coffee mix. She’s concentrating on stirring steadily, with enough force to dissolve the sugar but not enough to take it over the edge. Annie doesn’t like making messes.

“Hey pretty lady!” Freda drops her heavy backpack with a thump and slides onto the vinyl barstool directly behind Annie. “Still doing favours for the management? ”

“Freda.” Annie says it before she turns, taking a second to stifle the smile that’s spreading across her face. “You’re here.”

“I’m here.” Freda reaches into the bin of biscotti, ignoring the tongs. She pops a chunk into her mouth and grins at Annie while she chews. “Here I am.”

Annie turns and leans against the counter, arms folded, eyebrow raised. She watches Freda for a while before breaking the silence. “So? ”

“So what? ” Freda bites off another chunk. “So it was fun, and now I’m back. Mind if I crash for a while? ”

“Of course not. Are you back for good? ”

“Maybe.” Freda widens her eyes and shrugs, as if the idea is new to her.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 6. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“They’re too drunk to bike home, but they do it anyway. On the way back, Annie’s front tire goes flat. They turn off the main road and come to a stop at a dead-end street overlooking the valley in Riverdale . . . ” —Riverdale

“What seemed like silence before is now truly silence, the city on pause, the city holding its breath. Above her, from the back roof of a lowrise fronting on College Street, a sound emerges like the shaking of a jar of rice . . . ” —College Street