Plan to Make Do

—“Ow . . . yo, that hurt.”

A young woman jams her elbow into my chest shoving me out of her space. Her distracted exit from a department store propels her small pod of friends askew. My chest hurts, not in a call-the-ambulance kind of way but in a startled unexpected physical-contact-with-a-stranger kind of way. People simply don’t get that close, that fast, unless they’re force-fed onto public transport during rush hour and get stuck with a driver whose foot is as heavy on the gas as it is on the brake.

My squeak of protest enlists her friends, who now want to pick a fight—with me.

I get shoved. I know better than to shove back.

“Yuh must be making joke.

“Yuh want tuh fight me, after yuh almost knock mih ass down?

“But cross my stars. Chile, don’t let me go an’ find yuh mudder,” my finger wagging in the air like dragonfly wings.

But that would be small island talk. And I would have to look like a mother to make any such threat. A fifteen-year-old lost his life last week over a bus ticket. Instead I yell, “Why is it everyone is so ready to fight? ”

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 2. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“She knows she belongs. I can’t help but smile at my city with its small pockets of community about—Kensington Market, Little India, weekday afternoons in Chinatown . . . ” —Chinatown

“Today, a man bound tight in his navy blue suit, oblong tie and perfectly creased trousers—stands in the middle recess of the 501 Queen East . . . ” —Queen Street

“He exits at Victoria Street gripping his briefcase tightly in one hand and his take-away coffee in the other. His voice is tense as he negotiates with someone on the other end of his wireless headset in a lingo I don’t get . . . ” —Victoria Street

“My clothes are damp and I feel miserable. I rearm myself. And with my ball cap pulled low, brim arching my eyes, I stride through the newly renovated one-stop-shop of Gerrard Square. There is an uneasy swell of anticipation in the pit of my stomach . . . ” —Gerrard Square