Almost Crimes – Broken Social Scene

Imagining the story behind the song…

Almost Crimes

I get up to pee. It’s early still, the house is quiet.

I live alone. What changes from night to day. Is it outside noise—cars, birds, neighbours?

I realize I’m still sitting on the toilet for no reason, just lost in sound and silence.

I live alone, where does the sound come from?

I flush. Onomatopoeically speaking, flush is not particularly accurate. It’s too gentle for such a violent sound—rushing water gulping air, desperate for the return of calm.

I’ve broken the seal, sound floods in. Who says “onomatopoeically speaking” anyway?

I hear the furnace rev up, readying to deliver the day’s warmth. Heat is energy and so is sound. It’s more than just fan noise. In the cold there is silence, in the warmth there is sound.

My body is humming.

As if mocking my reverie, the music visualizer on my laptop is pulsing in an electric light show. Even in the silence there is sound expressed in light and shapes and flashes of darkness. I press the mute button and the sources of the vibrant show suddenly flood my ear canals.

… The Yukon keeps me up all night

Complications seize your best…

Drums punctuate guitar riffs, rolling and stopping, pacing the vibrations as if the drumheads themselves were plucking the strings. Voices exchange words and sometimes interrupt. It is a love song. It’s on repeat and I replay the night before.

The ache returns.


“I’m pregnant,” she says.


“Did you hear me? I’M PREGNANT!” She loses her temper, this is typical. God, how I wish he would just speak, say anything! Eucalyptus, platypus, there is no us, ANYTHING!

“I don’t know what to say,” he squeaks.

“Your silence is loud enough.” Her tone is biting. How fitting, she thinks, that seems to be our style, she smiles inwardly.

“This changes… things,” he says flatly, “What do you want to do with it?”

Two words reverberate against her eardrums. A tennis match assault, you-it-you-it-you-it-you… His distance couldn’t ring more clearly, this is a telephone conversation, an email exchange, a telegram transmission.

He’s standing right here, she reminds herself, “I don’t know,” her emphasis on “I” widens his eyes, he suddenly hears his own question.

“I didn’t mean you, I meant we, but I think you have so much more to… to…” he stumbles.

“To lose?”

“Well…” he grasps.

“Wow, when it’s time to step up, you really turn on your heels, don’t you!”

“Oh, for God’s sake, it’s not like I’ve had this conversation before, like I’ve rehearsed my lines, like I have a clue what comes next!” His defence is an artillery of phonemes shooting morpheme blanks that she is supposed to hear as messages that are… Intended to scare her? Intended to endear her? Intended to free her? She is deafened by the possibilities exploding in her mind.

“I’m having a shower.” She is confused by his agitation and needs some separation. He’s right, this is my problem, why is he so distressed about it. She turns to walk away. He catches her arm.

“Should I stay?” His eyes are frantic, he breathes in the staccato rhythm of his heart. He needs for her to think through his thoughts, for her to tell him what to do. Stay, she pleads in silence.

“Probably not,” she whispers. His hand drops from her sleeve and she hears the friction as it brushes against his side. Noise. Heat. Energy. Friction. They’re all the same. She disappears into the bathroom.

He’s alone, standing in the hall, his raincoat and boots dripping on the floor. He’s only just arrived and she has already invited him to leave.

Before stepping out into Vancouver’s cold, wet January evening, he flips open her laptop, turns the speakers on high, and sets Almost Crimes to repeat. He makes his retreat just as the line

…Help piss love before you leave

Demonstrations lack caress…

rips through the stagnant air of her space, her world, her life.


“I’m pregnant,” she says.

Silence. His lips are motionless. She is certain she hears a soft “pop pop pop pop” as his upper eyelids meet the lower with each blink. This silence is crazy making!

“Did you hear me? I’M PREGNANT!” She loses her temper, this is typical. God, how I wish he would just speak, say anything! Eucalyptus, platypus, there is no us, ANYTHING!

“This changes… things,” he says wryly.

His shift is palpable. She can see the pulse in his temple slowing its agonizing beat—bm-tsh bm-tsh bm-tsh—boom-tish boom-tish boom-tish—boomm-tishh boomm-tishh boomm-tishh…

She’s confused.

He cocks his head, “What did you expect? For me to run?”

“No,” she starts, “I just…” His lips mute her words.

Her body responds to his urgency, his gripping need, his whipping rhythm.

Not everything has changed, she grins, and her noisy mind succumbs.


I go to shut down my laptop and find a note on my keyboard. When did he have time to write this? Not in the mood to read it yet, I tuck it in the pocket of my robe and make my way to the kitchen. The sun has punctured the clouds, but it is anyone’s guess which of the two will prevail. Wouldn’t expect any different in this God-forsaken climate.

I put the kettle on. I turn it off again. Coffee. Isn’t that on the forbidden list?

I capitulate, plug the kettle back in, and unfold the notepaper.


The ache returns, with a vengeance. So, this is how it’s gonna be, is it? She moans as she heads to the bathroom again. God in heaven, the last time I was on my knees bent over a toilet, some stranger was rolling around in my BED not in my BELLY! She muses as she tugs her pyjama bottoms down, this time to sit on the toilet instead of in front of it.

Her fingertips are wet. Her pyjama bottoms are wet. Are you kidding me, incontinence already!

She looks down. It’s not pee.

The ache passes. She sits empty and silent.

…I wanted to stay there, I couldn’t (I fought it, naked boys dream so silent)

I know that it makes sense, but I got no way in here (children sleep with dicks)…

Live within limits without limiting life

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About ahemmayispeak

Environmentalist Egalitarian Engineer Writer There, I finally said it. View all posts by ahemmayispeak

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