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Snazzy pauses at the corner of a brick building at the edge of Moss Park. The ground reeks of pee and puke. Looking upward, she sees the tip of the steeple on the old stone church. The doctor’s office, where her mother had taken her as a child, is located directly across the street from it. Wiggling her nearly frozen toes, she wills her feet to keep walking.

Christmas wreaths, lit by small red candles with yellow plastic flames, hang from lampposts. Their light mutes the stars. Between contractions, Snazzy counts the ornaments, and the city blocks, to her destination. Each time a new pain, sharper than the last, threatens to buckle her knees, she stops, massages her lower back and breathes deeply.

When she steps off the curb and out between parked cars, a driver leans on the horn and swerves to avoid hitting her. She crosses the street, shuffles up the walkway and peers through the glass in the front door of the doctor’s office. Except for a sliver of light in the hall and blinking, multi-coloured Christmas bulbs in the front window, the office is dark. She tries to open the door anyway, but it is locked.

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

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“Snazzy pauses at the corner of a brick building at the edge of Moss Park. The ground reeks of pee and puke . . . ” —Moss Park