Recycling Day

Translated by Ellen Warkentin

The day had gone on forever, but finally I was home. Now, all I had to do was climb the three flights of stairs up to number eight. Walking by, I picked up my recycling bin from its place on the sidewalk with the other empty bins. It’s easy to tell which one is mine.

It’s already been stolen once. It reappeared the following week on garbage day, filled with someone else’s cardboard, glass and aluminum. I’d dumped it out onto the sidewalk and went and wrote my address on it in black permanent marker. I was so angry I wrote my name on it too, followed by a string of exclamation marks. Like at grade school, when you have to mark your name on every pencil, every eraser.

I climbed the stairs and placed the green bin on the landing. I unlocked the door and leaned down to pick up the bin. There were a few papers in it, probably thrown in by passers-by after the recycling had already been picked up. Flyers, an electricity bill. One sheet caught my eye. It had been crumpled up, but I could still make out the handwriting.

I smoothed out the creases. It was a letter.

You prick. You ruined my life. I have no idea how you go on living, after what you did to me. I want to kill you. But before I do, I’ll make you suffer for a long time. A very long time. You’re a complete asshole.

There was a few lines where the writing turned into scribbles and I couldn’t read it. And then: I’m going soon.

I turned the sheet over. On the other side there was a recipe for banana bread.

I went inside and closed the door, leaving the bin on the landing. I placed all the listed ingredients on my kitchen table and followed the recipe. Meticulously. I followed each instruction to the letter. Later in the evening, I ate a piece of banana bread, sitting on the floor in front of the television. I didn’t bother to turn it on. The banana bread was still hot.

The next day, I put the letter up on my fridge.

It stays there, held in place by a magnet shaped like a carrot. I stop sometimes and read a few words, before opening the fridge door to grab the milk.

Originally published as “Audrey apprend à recycler” from her short story collection Les enfants moroses
(Éditions Marchand de feuilles, 2011)

Ellen Warkentin is a Montreal-based translator with a translation degree from Concordia. She has collaborated on many translation projects for screenplays, novels, and plays.  

Born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richilieu, Fannie Loiselle works as a subtitler and volunteers as a reader for literacy organizations. She has a Masters in literature from the Université du Québec à Montréal.