Armadillo

Connie cries for hours, the tears welling up. She’s an endless fountain and the words that I offer are not the least bit effective in making her stop.

I feel like I am really not here while she is doing this: breaking up and down. I make the necessary gestures, go through the motions that someone in my position should—a touch on the shoulder, a reaching out for her hand—but really, my actions are all orchestrated, rehearsed even, as I have been through this thousands of times before. My sister, the drama queen. She has the uncanny ability to think only of herself, particularly at times of extreme distress and emotion. I contemplate whether my presence is actually of any comfort to Connie. If I ran out to get a coffee would she even notice?

“I have to work in the morning. Early.” I try to emphasize the word “early.” I get up and hope that I can make my way to the door without any objections from Connie.

“Don’t go.” Connie says, as she continues to sob. I try to avoid the balls of tissue strewn across her living room floor.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 3. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“We join the lineup for taxis. ‘So where are you going? ’ I ask her. I shock myself. A sudden burst of boldness. ‘Home,’ she pauses. ‘I live in the west end. In Parkdale.’ . . . ” —Parkdale

“There are only close to a hundred Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and I am tempted to make a sarcastic comment. For my own sake, I hold my tongue . . . ” —Chinatown