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News & Features » August 2017 » “The Shade and the Pulp” by Ian Truman

“The Shade and the Pulp” by Ian Truman

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, will Ian make it past breakfast?

The Shade and the Pulp
by Ian Truman
Two and Seven

The task at hand seemed impossible yet every day he had to accept his fate and undergo the process. There was no way around it: this was Sisyphus’s stone and Jacob’s ladder. No! This was a fate much harsher and much darker. This was the fate of Prometheus, nothing less.

“They have to be toasted but still soft, alright?” she ordered him every morning.

So he bent himself over backwards trying to find the exact combination of spring pressure to apply in conjuncture with knobs that never seemed to make any sense and the stress of it was simply too much to handle.

He could see it from here: things were about to spiral into a disastrous whirlwind of pain, mayhem and destruction. He would fail again and she would snap and refuse to eat. That would send the otherwise quiet household into a frenzy, a fury, a rage for the gods to feel all the way to Olympus once again. He would ask twice, then twice more, to no avail, and use the almighty father’s stare at her and he knew exactly where that would lead them.

“NO!” she would say and refuse to budge.

That would put him exactly 287 seconds behind schedule which would mean he would miss his bus and his train and be late for work, again. He would lose an account, worse, lose his promotion, no, lose his job. Then a downward spiral of drinking too much and eating junk food was going to end his good streak at the gym and make him drop out of healthy living altogether. He would lose his house, his charm, this life he’s been building.

He could see himself three years down the road, screaming to the heavens, “Why couldn’t I make toast right?” But there was nothing to do at this point but wait and he knew it. The die was cast, the Rubicon was crossed, Alea iacta est! He simply stared into the abyss and accepted his fate as the red filament reached apex temperature inside this devilish machine.

And then a glimmer of hope. At least in his mind. “Nobody’s luck can be so bad for so long,” he thought. “Simple statistics alone could explain this one. There was an error somewhere, a standard deviation that would play in his favor only this once. Right?” And if science would fail, then he’d turn to God and pray. “Dear Yaweh! Let me have this one. Only this one. PLEASE!”

Then the noise came: the noise of springs releasing their pray. The noise, deafening in the otherwise silent kitchen. The popping of the bread, startling him as he slowly came to the realization that his entire existence stood in the balance of this one, simple, yet singular moment.

The toast flew up towards heaven and then right back down to rest in their infernal cradle and he shook his head in despair.

The result was stark, the performance, sub-par at best. The toast clearly was three shades of brown too dark to be considered acceptable in any way. He was going to have to resort to tricks he promised himself never to use again. He’d have to promise smear upon smear of chocolate spread to conceal the fiasco that really was his life now.

“To hell with a balanced diet,” he thought. The risk of running late outweighed the risk of his daughter dying of coronary heart disease at age six so he made the rapid, yet impossible calculation in his mind and went for the cupboard.

That’s when her voice was finally heard. “Can I just get some orange juice, dad?”

“A gift from the heavens,” he thought and a smile came to his face. His plea had been heard. There was good in this world. His spirits rose again, his grasp, reassured as his hand grabbed the fridge’s handle. He had gusto and verve, a little dance in the hips as he swung the door open to find the box of orange juice still half full.

There was good in this world.

But in an instant, the harsh, cruel reality of the human condition hit him once again. “Ah! The false illusion of hope!” he cried. He was smitten, struck by lightning. What had he done to deserve such punishment from the heavens? The humanity. The humanity? He cursed it all.

“What about the pulp?”  he shouted from deep inside of his heart. “God damn it. What about the pulp?”


IAN TRUMAN is a novelist, poet, and visual artist from the East-End of Montreal. He is a fan of  dirty realism, noir, satire, punk, hardcore and hopes to mix these genres in all of his works.
A graduate of Concordia University’s creative writing program, he won the 2013 Expozine Alternative Awards for best book in English (A Teenage Suicide). His laterst novel, Grand Trunk and Shearer is available now from D&O Books and he will be part of the upcoming Montreal Noir anthology, available soon from Akashic Books.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.


Posted: Aug 30, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , ,