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Read by Cadence Allen

Cady is a versatile performer and director whose many theatre credits include work with Shakespeare by the Sea, Theatre Aquarius and Theatre Orangeville. Some of Cady's television credits include Murder in Paradise, Miracles: Decoded, Close Encounters and Canada: The Story of Us. She recently directed the Hamilton Fringe Festival production of Much Ado About Nothing, which took home Best of Fringe honours. In addition to her work as an actor and director, Cadence is the founder and principal of StageCoach Theatre Arts, a part-time performing arts school for kids ages 4-16 in Toronto's East End. She is represented by Alix Kazman at Fountainhead Talent Inc. 

Melanie Excerpt

The premise behind Bargain Basement! is that home owners get free labour on a finished basement and design advice from Matilda. She comes up with a plan for the space and gives the couple swatches and a list of items they need to achieve the look. Then they look at five high-end furnishings and, if they can stay under budget, they win some or all of them. At the end of the show they flash a ridiculous formula—9/10 items under budget = 4 pieces—but if you look episode-by-episode, it’s totally arbitrary. Any kind of sob story = they get it all. Today we’re filming Katja and Robin’s design segment in the morning and Dan and Jordan’s in the afternoon.

The beats that I have for the first couple are: tech entrepreneurs in need of a home office; tired of staying on a pull-out when the parents visit from Vancouver; design newbies ready to embrace DIY culture. We’ll be coaching them off-camera to show how amazed they are by Matilda’s vision. Once we see what they’re like, we’ll be able to massage the melt-down scene. We had a great one last season, where the man holds up a hot glue gun, trying to make a curtain valence, and burns his finger on the tip. His wife steps in and tells him to run his hand under cold water. While he’s still in the bathroom, she completes the item. Cut to the closing shot when they win all the furniture and he starts crying, saying he never knew how hard crafting stuff was and how he wished he’d been more encouraging all these years.

When we get into the store, Matilda is sitting on an off-white pony chair while one of the design assistants adjusts her makeup. Anka, the owner, extracts herself from her clients to join us. She’s so slim and the cut of her dress is roomy enough that it’s not until she turns to kiss the air over Matilda’s cheek that I see it. A bump. It catches me like a slap. Two months ago tomorrow would have been my due date. She must be in her mid-forties, forty-three at a minimum. Three columns farther on the risk charts.

Then, the couple shows up. Also pregnant—six or seven months along. They’ve baked shortbread and make a point of introducing themselves to everyone as they circulate the tin. That’s what it must be like, I think, to be past all the tests, full of generosity for the world. They might as well be levitating.

“Be careful, ladies,” Matilda says to her retinue. “This type of thing is contagious.”

At least once a week over the past seven months I’ve had the same nightmare. I’m holding a baby and trying to feed it. First its head is too floppy to latch onto my nipple. Then, the whole body starts shrinking, ending up no bigger than my little finger. After the termination I started lactating. Even now, if I press very hard, a bead of colostrum will spring up.

The nurses, of course, had witnessed these procedures before. They brought a constant rotation of warm blankets in the seven-hour wait for the pessary to ripen my cervix. All of them offered happy endings they’d seen in friends, patients. Healthy pregnancies six months later. Surprise twins. One nurse rubbed my arm in the chill of the operating room as the anesthetic took effect. Thinking about it now, it’s nice to be reminded that compassion can be so freely given.