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Fiction Coming Of Age

Egg Island

by (author) Sara Flemington

Publisher
Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2022
Category
Coming of Age, Small Town & Rural, Friendship
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781459749351
    Publish Date
    Jul 2022
    List Price
    $22.99
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781459749375
    Publish Date
    Jul 2022
    List Price
    $9.99

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Description

Two laconic teenage runaways plunge deep into backcountry, farther and farther away from civilization, searching for an extraordinary place that may or may not exist.

On the move for who knows how long, Julia, age unknown, walks into a gas station. There, the tall, ominous kid with a studded belt and crusty eyebrow ring who’s stocking the fridge stops his work and leads her out back to the restroom. What happens next is technically grand theft auto.

Egg Island is the peculiar and darkly humorous story of Julia: a runaway in search of the elusive locale known as Egg Island, a place where, she has been told, the sky breaks the exosphere and the path to a new home will be revealed. Julia’s journey is the story of the shy camaraderie between two bruised teens, stretching beyond roads, forests, and outer space, as they learn to reconcile their histories with the big, open future.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

About the author

Sara Flemington’s stories have appeared in several journals, including subTerrain, The Humber Literary Review, and The Feathertale Review. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA program. Egg Island is her first novel. Sara lives in Toronto.

 

Sara Flemington's profile page

Excerpt: Egg Island (by (author) Sara Flemington)

I

By the time I arrived at the first gas station my shoulders were rubbed raw from the straps of my backpack. My t-shirt and bra all soaked through with sweat. The old man behind the counter asked where I was headed and why the heck I was walking to get there on a day hotter than heck.

I answered, “Because I have feet. Can I use your washroom?”

He pointed past me where a tall kid about my age with messy brown hair and a studded belt stocked dripping cans of Sprite into a fridge.

The old man said, “Colt, show her the washroom.”

Colt looked over his shoulder. He looked me in the eyes like he was going to love me then murder me, then spend the rest of his life building a shrine for me.

“This way,” he said.

He led me out back and around the corner to a busted white door with a hole at the bottom. Kicked it open, just above that hole. I stepped past him and let the door shut behind me. There was no lock. I held my breath, rinsed my face and armpits in the sink, ran some water through my hair, then pulled my shorts to my knees and squatted over the toilet. Colt kicked at the gravel outside the door. I hovered, waiting. Then he started humming. I started to pee, and he hummed louder until I’d finished. The only toilet paper there was laid sideways and unrolled across the floor that’d probably at some point also been white.

I stuck my foot through the hole to pull the door back and exhaled. Colt was crouched over his heels, tossing stones out into the parking lot. He stood once he realized I was behind him.

“I was guarding the door,” he said.

“Thanks.”

I walked toward the entrance of the store. He followed.

“Hey,” he said.

I turned around.

“What’d you say your name was?” he said.

He pushed his hair back from his face. It caught in his eyebrow ring.

“I just forgot,” he said.

“I didn’t tell it to you.”

I turned back around. He ran in front of me and blocked the door, either smiling or grimacing. I couldn’t tell which.

“Tell me,” he said. “You know mine.”

“Could you move, please?” I said.

He didn’t.

“It’s Julia,” I said.

“Julia,” he repeated.

Then he turned inside, went back to his fridge. I walked to the counter, dumped some change from a plastic sandwich bag on top of the scratch tickets, and asked the old man for a jelly donut.

Outside the gas station, I sat on a curb licking every last trace of powder and purple goo from my fingers. It was the first thing I’d eaten all day. I could have eaten seventeen more.

“Julia.”

I turned sideways, looking way, way up, to the spotty stubble beneath Colt’s chin. He held out a can of Sprite.

“Wash down that donut,” he said.

I didn’t move.

“Take it. It’s on me. Well, the gas station. Which way are you going?”

I pointed.

“I could drive you,” he said.

A tornado of dust and cigarette cellophane blew up in front of us, then settled back down as fast as it had started.

“I mean, some of the way,” said Colt.

I cracked the can and sipped.

“Are you going somewhere?” I asked.

“I wasn’t.”

“Are you going to kill me?”

He made that weird face again.

“Do chickens fly?” he said.

II

Farms rolled out like sleeping bags on both sides of the road. Every time we passed sheep I’d say, Sheep. Every time we passed cows, Colt said, Milk.

“Is this your car?” I asked him.

“Is now,” Colt answered.

“Did you tell your boss you were leaving?”

“He’s my grandpa.”

“Did you tell your grandpa you were leaving?”

“He’ll see I’m not there.”

He picked some crust from around his eyebrow ring, wiped it on his shirt.

“Do you have a grandpa?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Okay. And, what are you doing in my car right now?”

“You offered me a ride?”

“But, what are you doing? Where are you going?”

I pointed at some horses coming up on the left.

“Horses,” I said.

It was quiet for a moment.

“What about allergies? Do you have one of those?”

“I don’t think I do.”

“You should know if you have an allergy.”

“Well, I don’t know.”

“Can you eat peanut butter?”

“Yes.”

“Can you walk up to pretty much any kind of flower and smell it?”

“I think so.”

He nodded his head as if there were music playing, which there wasn’t. Drummed his hands on the steering wheel.

“Do you smoke cigarettes?” he said.

“No.”

“Me neither,” he said. “Not for real.”

Hours passed. The sun went down. The forests on either side of us grew thicker, and the roads turned rocky and began to wind more and more. There were no houses or streetlights for miles. Or McDonalds, or pit stops. Just headlights and black road, and some increasing carsickness. I thought of all the times I’d been told there was nothing more dangerous than a teenage boy. Except, of course, a teenage boy with a car. Yet, here I was. Alone in the middle of nowhere with both.

Then the signal began to click. Colt pulled to the curb. He turned off the ignition and turned toward me. Mouth agape, a black hole, hair falling over his eyes. He looked like a frightening muppet. I held my breath, holding the seat belt buckle.

“Gotta piss,” he said.

He opened his door and jumped out. I let go. Glanced up at the rearview mirror. At the back end of the car, he faced the ditch and unzipped. I looked away, out to the road ahead curving sharply out of sight. They couldn’t all be bad, I thought. Maybe he’s a nice boy.

Then a sudden smack against the window beside me. Colt had both hands pressed to the glass. I screamed. He screamed back.

“Please don’t,” I shouted, hitting the lock on the door.

“You don’t,” he shouted back.

I struggled with the buckle. Colt laughed.

“Don’t be scared,” he said. “Be normal. I just wanted to tell you something.”

I moved over to the middle of the car. Locked the driver’s door, too. Colt had backed away now, was standing in the ditch, bent slightly to wave at me through the window.

“If I wanted to hurt you I would have opened the back doors by now.”

I held my beating heart with one hand. Rolled the window down a crack with the other.

“Did you go?” I said.

“Yes.”

I rolled it down a little more.

“So, let’s go,” I said.

“Come see this first.”

“See what? It’s dark.”

“Just come.”

I waited. Then finally, unlocked and opened the door.

“There’s probably like, wolves or coyotes, or witches out here, watching us right now,” I said.

“I’m not afraid of animals,” said Colt. “Or witches.”

He held out his hand. I took it, and he helped me down into the ditch beside him.

“This way,” he said, leading me around to the back of the car.

“You want to show me your piss puddle?”

“No.”

Then he turned around and grabbed hold of my forearms. Was trying to pull me onto the road. I screamed and pulled back.

“What are you doing?” I shouted. “You gonna throw me in front of a truck?”

“No, of course not. That would be morbidly insane.”

Headlights lit the trees as a car towing a trailer sped around the curve. I pulled back harder, and we both fell into the damp ditch.

“See?” I said.

“See what?”

I stood, wiping the dirt from my back side.

“I better not have landed in your piss puddle.”

He stood up, too, then looked both ways and ran out to the centre of the road on his own.

“Okay, come,” he said.

“No.”

“Come see,” he said.

I stood there for a long time, it seemed. Waiting for something to change. Nothing changed. Eventually, I took one step onto the road. Once I’d done that, he ran back over to me, grabbed my hand and pulled me further out.

“Let me go,” I said.

“Just look, Jules.”

Dark was pressing from all sides, but up. So I looked up. A pool of Milky Way beamed between the tree tops, orange, yellow, and white like the end of a bowl of marshmallow cereal. I reached up my other hand, like it was instinct, to touch it.

“Wondrous, right?” said Colt.

Editorial Reviews

Flemington’s first novel is a quiet success... a pleasant reading experience with likable characters.

Booklist

Flemington reads like a novelist several books into her career in her first outing. She writes sharp, stark, angular prose that will have you laughing, underlining, shaking your damn head. I loved this strange book and can say that Flemington has gained a reader for life.

Alex Higley, author of the books Old Open and Cardinal and Other Stories

While this is ostensibly the story of Julia and Colt’s relationship, it’s also about connection: the ties that bind us to other people, to places, and to things.

The Clock Strikes 13 blog

An utter charm bomb of a novel. All the best road trips are more about the journey than the destination, and every unplanned pitstop on Julia’s way to the eponymous Egg Island is a mini tour de force, a funny-sad adventure within the adventure.

Zsuzsi Gartner, author of The Beguiling

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