203 Slices
Medium 9781771870023

Ten Reasons to Blame Your Mother

Worrell, P.J. Thistledown Press ePub


With my thanks to . . .

Thistledown Press for sending my work out into the world, The Saskatchewan Arts Board for two Independent Artists’ Grants,

The Banff Centre, St. Peter’s College, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, and The Munster Literature Centre (Cork, Ireland) for educational opportunities,

Connie Gault, for introducing me to Short Fiction during the 2009 Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Mentorship Program,

Seán Virgo, for extending invitations for me to imagine scenes more fully ,

Sarah Selecky, Jessica Grant, Lynda Monahan, Dave Margoshes, and Yvette Nolan for generously sharing their knowledge and experience,

Prairie Quills, my writers’ group in Swift Current, Saskatchewan,

Elizabeth Withey, my daughter and writing comrade, James Worrell, my love.

Versions of the following stories have been published previously:

“A Bit of Bother”, Spring 2013 “Mary Had a Lamb”, the Nashwaak Review 2012 “Lunch At The Empire State Building”, the Prairie Journal online 2012 “Liam the Leprechaun”(excerpt from “Mary Had a Lamb”) broadcast on CBC Radio SoundXchange 2012

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Medium 9781771870023

Windy Height

Worrell, P.J. Thistledown Press ePub

Windy Height

AMELIA O’DEA HAS LIVED SEVEN LIFETIMES on the wild and craggy tip of the Beara Peninsula, so long that her spirit has fused with the landscape. She is the old woman of Beara, An Cailleach Beara.

To Amelia, the need for a cable car to Dursey Island is a mystery. It is Ireland’s only cable car and attracts tourists following the Ring of Beara. While they wait for their ten-minute ride, they snap photos of the sign: “ATTENTION. You may be required to relinquish your seat should a sheep from Dursey Island be in need of a veterinarian.” They board the cable car and dangle over Bantry Bay until they reach the more-or-less-uninhabited Dursey Island (Population: 6). Those who have the good fortune to share passage with a sheep and a shepherd never mind the stench. It is a tourist’s dream, photos to show friends back home how quaint and old-fashioned Ireland is at the end of the twentieth century.

To Seán Quinn, the cable car to Dursey Island is a paycheque and a means to remain on the Beara Peninsula, unlike his classmates who have emigrated to Australia or Canada to find work. Seán drives twenty minutes from Castletownbere each morning to perform his duties as the operator of the cable car. And each evening, he returns home to his perky bride, Josie, who smothers him with kisses, runs his bath, and tickles him under the bottom edge of the towel he wraps around his burly self.

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Medium 9781771870948

Amanda's Weekend

Altrows, Rona Thistledown Press ePub


Friday night

AMANDA HASN’T KNOWN DAVID LONG but the fact that he belongs to a Communist cell arouses her. He tells her that the members of his cell study Marx, but do not get involved in political activity, because action leads to compromise and compromise leads to corruption.

“What drives you, then?” she asks, and he says, “Purity of intent.”

Amanda has to know what motivates a person. She has learned that the best place to find out is in bed.

It’s good to have David in bed tonight. He is a bookish boy and tonight he looks especially pale and reflective. It’s as though she were sleeping with a cloistered monk, another idea that arouses her. She herself is reclusive — the reincarnation, she believes, of a medieval religious scribe. She takes quiet pleasure in hand-copying striking passages from books. She and David are like brothers sharing a moment. Besides, his dedication to inertia contrasts nicely with Kevin’s agitation. She is tired of rallies, tired of the rants against the sinister military industrial complex of the United States and its war of aggression in Viet Nam. She is tired of worrying what will become of Kevin and her brother and all her male friends of draftable age back home in New York.

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Medium 9781771870689

Toy Soldiers

McLellan, Don Thistledown Press ePub


THE BODY OF THE REBEL DARCY CORRIGAN had been dumped outside the armoury, a signature of the new provost. Keep it up, it said, you could be next. The provost prances through the village surrounded by a security detail, medals swinging from his lapels like a mighty pair of breasts.

The rebel leadership decided to hold the memorial service in a derelict farmhouse on Cobble Hill. Its tenants had been run off or jailed, the sheds torched. An ideal location, it was thought, for a safe house.

In the days leading up to the service rebels trickled in from every direction. A few — McCabe and Joyce — were grandfathers, men of strong views and loyal hearts. But most, like the deceased, were schoolboys. In another time and another place they might have passed an evening such as this one practising knots for a Scouts badge or corresponding with pen pals. Darcy had never kissed a girl.

His mother, an empty shell of a thing, keens behind a veil. She is accompanied by an elderly priest who has huffed and puffed his way to the summit, the reason for their tardiness.

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Medium 9781771870641

The Pickup Man

Hobsbawn-Smith, dee Thistledown Press ePub


TODAY WE’RE GOING TO SEE THE chucks in the desert near Drumheller, at the best small-town rodeo in Alberta. To celebrate, Clarisse is wearing a pink straw cowboy hat, clutching its satin cord around her neck as she spits cherry pits out the open window. I’ve been teasing her about that hat ever since we rolled outta Calgary, working hard to get a smile out of her, trying to keep her from fretting on our destination. “Lookin’ for a cowboy, Clarisse?” I say now. “You, a buckle bunny?”

Before we left Calgary, I promised her that we’d bypass downtown Drumheller. She don’t ever want to drive down Main Street. Their house has too much of her blood in the floorboards for her to ever want to see it again. Just before the land dips down into the coulee and we turn east at the water tower above the prison, I see her shiver. I dunno if it’s concern for Aidan, facing the dangerous temptations of teen life, or realizing every man locked behind those bars has a wife or mother who’s watched his fall. Or knowing Gavin’s there in the slammer for a good long time. Looking at the water tower, I feel a river of regret, missing the Gavin I knew as a kid, the big brother who protected me from Dad’s fists. That’s not the Gavin Clarisse lived with, and she ain’t likely to believe me if I describe him to her.

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