Day 23 – Travel Warning by Chloe Burns

Hello to readers of day 23 of our run of Zine 2 submission posts. We’ll be posting each submission, as it appears in our zine. Day 23 features literature by writer Chloe Burns.

About Chloe Burns:
‘Chloe Burns is an English major at the University of Alberta. Her writing has most recently appeared in baldhip magazine, text lit mag, and The Chappess Zine. 

Follow her on twitter (
or on Medium (’

Chloe’s submitted a single piece, compiling four ‘entries’ into a form of travel diary, it’s such an addictive read, I wish I had more of her work. It has inspired to write more detail in my diary. I have a daily diary for notes and appointments but entry number 4 in particular has a sense of practicing mindfulness, it’s so visual and I imagine everything with the detail that is logged. I can’t champion this piece enough, I am so happy that she heard about the zine from all the way across the pond. Thank you Chloe, we’re lucky to have received your submission.

If you would like to buy a physical copy of Chloes work in our zine, click here:

If you haven’t had the pleasure of already reading The Chapess Zine, check it out here: They’ve just produced an entire book of entries to zines 1-9 called Gut Flora, looking at getting my hands on one of those!

Travel Warning

1. i’m going to cuba with my dad. i’m in junior high. in the car a couple weeks ago i said “mom do you know the feeling where everything feels like a dream” and she said no, chloe, i don’t think that’s a real thing. because my mom is Normal. we’re going to cuba because my dad is helping a friend set up an art exhibit. i don’t know a lot about cuba, and on the way to the airport my parents get in an argument. it’s about our neighbour and it doesn’t get solved before we get on the plane. it’s either very late or very early and when my parents fight it feels like the world is ending. my dad sleeps on the plane. we get to cuba and it’s bright: there are lizards on the leaves: we go to a resort with two pools as well as the ocean. nothing feels real. (i don’t tell my dad this). it feels like a huge dream, the biggest dream ever. my head feels swimmy. i don’t eat a lot, and at the resort there’s a performance group practicing for a show of the french musical notre dâme de paris, which we’re studying in my grade 9 french class, which makes it feel even more like a dream where everything means everything else. we drive across cuba in a rented car, down roads that aren’t actually finished yet and past signs we can’t read. i spend a lot of time on this trip picturing what will happen if my dad and i die, smashed on the highway, lost somewhere we can’t find on the map. no one knows who we are here, and how will they tell our family far away in canada. it’s a dream it’s a dream it’s a dream. i get sunstroke, there’s a cockroach in our bathroom and i feel like i’m dying.

2. when i turn 16 my mom takes me on a trip. i choose new york because it’s the obvious choice, because i can see broadway shows and go to the strand. because, i mean, it’s New York. two months before we go i’m at my sister’s dance recital and i an gun-shot struck with a picture of me and my mom forced down an alley by a group of mismatched men with ragged laughs. i stop breathing, i feel faint. it’s dark in the auditorium, we’re on a sloping balcony, on the stage the smallest kids i’ve ever seen tap dance carefully. a month before we go i reread my favourite books that take place in new york, including the weetzie bat series where weetzie says new york makes her “nerves feel like a charm bracelet of plastic skeletons jangling on a chain”. in new york my mom spills boiling water on her neck on our first night. for the rest of the trip she wears a strip of gauze taped & polysporined on her clavicle; we don’t take very many pictures of ourselves. because of doubly undiagnosed combination of anemia
and anxiety i feel sick almost all the time, sitting down a lot, tired and nauseous. the building go up and up and up and i’m trapped at the bottom.

3. the christmas after i’ve graduated my parents announce we’re all going to mexico. immediately, i am not excited, and guilty for not being excited. i start having visions, vivid and entirely a-propos of nothing, of myself in a huge white mexico hotel room: a huge white mexico bathtub where my wrists bloom red red red. for some reason that my brain’s made up, it feels easier to give up in mexico. (note: these images are so pervasive that a full year later, a year after the trip, when i’ve already been on anti-depressants for five months, i go to ikea with my mom and my sister and we pass a huge white bathtub in a facsimile bathroom and i am suddenly, violently, dizzyingly depressed). in mexico everything feels like a dream dream dream. i miss my person so much i cry in the small room with internet, where i’ve waited in line for forty minutes to send them a facebook message saying: i don’t have wifi and i miss you. i stand on the balcony right outside the room, trying to calculate what time it is back home, trying not to cry because i know i’ll cry in the ugly, empty way that means i’m depressed and that my parents and siblings haven’t seen yet. the scary way. i don’t drink very much, even though it’s an all-inclusive. i cry over small things. i walk very quickly through the open hallways where moths flit and spasm next to open lightbulbs.

4. in cuba my dad & i swim in the ocean and he pulls me in when the undertow starts to grip me. he lets me eat mostly ice cream and fruit. we stay in a tiny bed & breakfast with a little lady who makes us breakfast every day; pretty jams on toast and bowls of fruit. i write bad poems. i marvel at the weirdness of christmas trees and hanging icicles in 30 degree winter. we walk down the street to a marketplace that’s like something out of a fairy tale, booths selling hand carvings and stones and seashells. // in new york my mom and i go to the met and i write a poem. we spend a whole morning in the strand. we see beautiful musicals, i see james earl jones live. i buy pretzels and hot dogs and go to mcdonalds in times square, and the two-floor disney store. we stay in a tiny room and take melatonin and sleep well and go on the ferry past the statue of liberty. // in mexico, my sister & i run through a rainstorm. we see a family of baby coaties and go to a nature theme park where i sleep for two hours in a hammock garden. i write bad poems and reread the waves. i listen to a lot of lana del rey. we visit ancient pyramids and i join the french tour group, i wear a huge sunhat, we go to a pasta buffet every night. there are four pools plus the ocean. iguanas and a gang of cats that roam the resort pathways and colourful birds. // looking back: so many beautiful things.

By Chloe Burns



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