The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Voices

When I was 12, my grandfather, who we called Pépère, gave me a forest green binder. To any average 12-year-old, this gift wouldn’t seem very exciting, perhaps more of a burden than a gift, but to me it was one of the most meaningful gestures that I still cherish.

The wide eyes of panic, the slight tinge of betrayal in her shoulders; that’s what I remember.

I was sitting on a couch, leaning back into too-thin cushions: little back support. We were playing a tabletop game, our heads engrossed in one of my closest friend’s voice. I get up to get water when we take a break, the other’s voices jumbled words muffled by the kitchen’s tile.

I hear one friend say, “I liked that description of the witch, it was almost real.” I close the fridge door, walking slowly back towards them.

“Yeah, he did it perfectly.”

I realize my mistake immediately.

My aunt loves her Diet Cokes and always flatters me by calling me beautiful. Instantly, I tell her she is beautiful back. Sadly though, she is also a person who got unimaginably unlucky.

Due to wanting to protect her personal life, my aunt and her brother will remain anonymous.

My 62-year-old aunt suffers from schizophrenia and according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, “As many as one person out of 100 may experience schizophrenia.”