11 Chapters
Medium 9781552452585

Wanted Children

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub

Wanted Children

DID YOU SEE THIS? Paul cocked his head to the side then skewed it aggressively towards his laptop, which he had perched on a pile of old newspapers on the kitchen table.

See what? Beth refused to turn from her careful work at the counter. The naturopath had said six drops of the kava-kava root tincture and three of the impatiens, star of Bethlehem, cherry plum, rock rose and clematis. In spring water. She squeezed the top of the dropper delicately. Two drops, followed by a narrow quicksilver dribble. Could the dribble be considered a drip? How many drips in a drop? How many snowflakes in a snowbank? There was a joke in there somewhere. The precision of it all, the crucial measurements and ratios, the equilibrium and relative concentration and dilution – it was doing her in. But the naturopath had said it would help her regain a sense of her place in the world, settle her nervous system, her overactive mind and frequently, inappropriately aroused nether regions. She would feel better, centred, the healer had promised.

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Medium 9781552452585

Dingbat

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub

Dingbat

DAD DIED IN FEBRUARY of my seventeenth year, in the backyard, while feeding the birds. Mum found him flat on his back, looking for all the world as if he were napping on the soft pile of snow he had just cleared from the space beside the feeder. When I got home from school, the ambulance had not yet arrived. Mum would not let me in the front door.

Go back to school, she said, her face white as bone.

When I kneeled beside my father, I was cheered by the fact that his eyes were closed. Dead people stared blankly into some unfathomable beyond. I laid my hand against his face. The skin was not warm, but it had a tender elasticity to it. I pulled his toque down over his forehead. There was a tiny curlicue of wax sitting like a hardened spot of Dijon mustard inside his ear. He was not dead.

Dad? I said, and leaned down close, so that he could hear.

A paramedic shoved me to the side.

Mum and I sat on the steps of the back porch and watched the uniformed men work. And it was work. They pushed and prodded at him, blew into his lungs, shocked his heart. We could see our breaths in the air, but sweat soaked their baby-blue shirts into navy. They did all that they could do. Still, they could have done more.

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BriannaSusannaAlana

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub

BriannaSusannaAlana

AT THE TOP OF THE STREET where Brianna, Susanna and Alana lived was a parkette in the form of a teardrop turned sideways. The parkette had a slide, two sets of swings (one for babies and one for big kids) and a climbing frame in the shape of a rocket ship. Brianna, at six, was not a baby, but still gave the big-kid swings the respect they deserved. Susanna, at ten, loved the big-kid swings, and had the soar-and-smash scars to prove it. Alana, at nearly thirteen, was so over swings of any kind.

Just above the parkette was a used-car lot, and next to that, an apartment parking lot, and next to that the apartment building itself, a brownstone of moderate proportions. Surrounding the brownstone was a well-manicured lawn that had been sectioned off in the northwest corner by yellow police tape. The police tape had been there for eight days and now appeared slack in places, fatigued.

From the observation pod at the top of the rocketship, Susanna had a good view of the goings-on around and inside the police tape. She observed, then reported her findings in urgent bulletins to Brianna and Alana. The former received these bulletins eagerly, if indiscriminately, jumping up and down below the pod, while the latter sat on one of the rungs of the slide yawning and peeling back the petals of skin around her fingernails. Still, whatever Susanna could tell them could not in any significant way diminish or augment what they already knew. The reason for the police tape was that somebody had been murdered.

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No One Else Really Wants to Listen

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub
Women in an online chat group share (and overshare) their anxieties and personal histories.
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Medium 9781552452585

Geraldine and Jerome

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub
A chance encounter in a waiting room tests the ties that bind us.
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