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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Excerpt of a short story: Living in Two Worlds

(Two Worlds: image courtesy of
Excerpt of a short story I’m working on:
By: Christine McFarlane

“Where the hell have you been?”
Startled, Michelle looks up, almost losing her balance in the process. She sees her mother appear in the doorway between the living room and the front hall entrance. Her mother's eyes are squinting, her hair tousled from sleep and her nightgown stretched to its limit across her ample chest and stomach.
Michelle feels her heart go into her throat, and after a minute of silence manages to stutter
“I was…  I was with Lee.”
“You know it’s a weeknight and that you should have been home two bloody hours ago Michelle,” her mother yells. Glaring at each other, Michelle’s mom, as if waiting to see if Michelle would yell anything back throws her hands in the air and says
“Damn it! I’ve had enough of you and your antics. You never think of anyone but yourself, don’t you know the stress I’m under at work?” She turns around to go back into the living room.
Michelle’s face, already blushed from the drinks she's had, feels her face burn up even more. She bursts into tears, and runs for her room. “I hate you!” she yells.  “I wish you were dead!”
After slamming her door closed, Michelle looks around briefly. Her room is her safe haven. A place she hardly leaves when she’s at home. She looks at the posters that adorn her walls, the picture of her and Nokomis, her collection of stuffed animals and her warm and comfy bed. She walks to her bed, and lets herself drop. She feels the tension in her shoulders, as she pulls off her t-shirt and undoes her jeans to get into her nightgown.
 She grabs a teddy bear, that’s so worn that the fur is coming off in patches here and there, and wraps her arms around it. She pulls back her duvet and after gathering it around her, starts to counts 1…..2…..3… This helps her calm down and she finally she falls asleep.
BEEP….BEEP…BEEP…  Michelle jumps out of a sound sleep. Her hand gropes around to find her alarm clock and hits the wood surface of her night table. Swearing under her breath, Michelle’s fingers scramble to turn off her alarm.  She swings her legs over the edge of her bed and sits up. Her head’s hurting. She looks at the light emanating from her clock and sees that its not quite 9am, she listens carefully for sounds of her mom being up. Her heart beats faster as she recalls last night’s confrontation. Her mom had yelled at her again and had told her she had had enough.
The tension in Margie and Michelle’s apartment is as thick as dark clouds about to rain down in a monsoon. It had been like this for quite awhile. Margie and Michelle being barely able to contain their frustration with each other.
 “I’ll be good today,” Michelle thinks.  “I’ll come home early, and I’ll do my chores.” She hurriedly throws on some clothes. Just as she is opening her bedroom door, and stepping into the hallway she hears the hushed whispers of her mom on the telephone and her saying.
“Mom, I just can’t take it anymore. She doesn’t listen to me, she is very disrespectful and most of all, she doesn’t understand that her behavior just makes things worse for me!”
Michelle’s heart constricts, and she stops in her tracks. Leaning on the wall for a few seconds, she knows her mom is talking to her Nokomis. The two of them are early birds, and probably didn’t think that Michelle would be up. She tries not to make any noise as she walks down the hallway to the bathroom. Her feet shuffle upon the carpet. Just as she reaches for the doorknob, the talking ceases and she hears her mom say
“I think Michelle is up. Did you want to talk to her now?”
Michelle starts breathing so fast that she is almost gulping. “Oh no,” she thinks.  The day hasn’t even started, and I am already in trouble.” She knows she won’t be able to get away from talking with Nokomis. There’s a scribbling kind of sound as though her mom is writing something down and then she hears
“Michelle, come here, your Nokomis wants to speak with you.”
“Just a minute! “I have to go to the washroom!” Michelle yells
“Come here, right now!” her mom yells back.
“Mom! Come on!” clenching her fists in frustration Michelle shuffles down the hallway from the bathroom and into the kitchen. Her mom’s stern face greets her.
“Your Nokomis wants to talk with you,” handing her the phone.
Gulping, she grabs the phone from her mom’s hand and says
“Um.. Hi Nokomis”
After a few pleasantries of how are you, how’s your friends etc, Nokomis gets right to the point.
“Michelle, I hear there’s trouble between you and your mom. Your mom and I have talked. What do you think about coming to live with me on the rez?
“Um… I don’t know Nokomis,” Michelle replies.
“Well, you can come live with me but life on the rez will be different than living in the city and you will definitely feel like you’re living in two worlds.” Nokomis replies.
“Um, can I think about it Nokomis?” Michelle says softly. She twirls the telephone cord around her fingers as she listens to Nokomis tell her
“I think its best if I come and pick you up right away, Mich”
“Um, okay.” Michelle says.
Her heart drops to her stomach. There’s a fluttering in her gut and her hearing grows muted. She is barely able to discern hearing Nokomis tell her that she only needs to pack a suitcase and a few of her favorite things to bring with her. Michelle hangs up the phone and looks over at her mom.
Her mom is refusing to look at her. She is busily straightening things on the kitchen countertop as if all of a sudden, the order of the cookie jar, and other assorted canisters is important. Michelle sighs, “aah” and leaves to go back to her room. Forgetting that two minutes ago, she had wanted to use the washroom, she walks from the kitchen to her room. It seems like the walk down the hallway will never end. She holds back the tears that are threatening to fall. She can’t believe its come to this-leaving her mom and going to live with her Nokomis.

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