Little Girl From Oshawa

Fiction Winner:

Little Girl From Oshawa by Wren Handman

They teach soldiers to withstand torture.

Name. Rank. Serial Number.

Name. Rank. Serial Number.

They don’t teach little girls from Oshawa. I think the idea is, the pattern shuts down your brain, so you won’t have the urge to tell them whatever they want to hear, just so that they’ll as a different question. The monotony of language is infuriating.

I try, Name. Address. Social Insurance Number. I know it isn’t what they want to hear, but I keep thinking this time, it will be enough. They ask the same question, served back and forth like a game of tennis at Satan’s country club. They say the definition of insanity is performing the same action and expecting different results. So which of is us crazy, them or me?

Leftwing, liberal nut jobs say the problem with torture is that you’ll say anything they want to hear, just to make the pain stop. That’s not the problem with torture. The problem with torture is the way that the pain stops reWhat good do your debates do me now/gistering. You disappear from yourself, leave your body behind because it’s such an unwelcoming home. It’s betrayed you, worse than what they claim you’ve done to King and Country. So the torturer has to get more and more creative, do worse and worse to your terrorist body, which only drives you further and further from the truth.

Rightwing, conservative pigs say desperate times must therefore call for desperate measures; and anyway, it’s not torture if it’s performed on foreign soil. My blood doesn’t make mud of Canadian dirt, my screams don’t haunt the Whistler ski hills. No one hearing my cries would understand the language of my pain. And doesn’t every perfect society, every utopia, rely on a thousand unseen slaves, and on the neighbours willing to wage war for a smattering of golden coins?

Name. Address. Social Insurance Number. We all have secrets we’d like to hide. I would tell them the truth if I could remember it, but I’ve lost it somewhere in this sand, these bits of rock so hot they’re almost glass. In the plane trips and the camel rides, the nights spent huddled under too-small tents, the black bag that covered my head and the stale sell of my own breath. I lost the meaning of truth.

This little girl from Oshawa grew up and got lost, stopped playing cops and robbers and started hoisting signs and fighting for other people’s causes. This freedom fighter fell headfirst down the slippery slope that ethics teachers rant about and stoned college kids imagine looks like a Slip ‘N Slide straight to hell. What good do your debates do me now? Talk about torture in Parliament ‘til the NDP have a majority government. Prorogue and insinuate, investigate and block, feel good about yourself because you’ve taken a stance. You’re pro, you’re con, you’re a thousand miles away and I will say the words.

Name. Address. Social Insurance Number.

They don’t teach little girls in Oshawa to withstand torture.


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