Rebee Shore's life is fragmented. She's forever on the move, ricocheting around Alberta, guided less than capably by her dysfunctional mother Elizabeth.
The Shore Girl follows Rebee from her toddler to her teen years as she grapples with her mother's fears and addictions, and her own desire for a normal life. Through a series of narrators--family, friends, teachers, strangers, and Rebee herself--her family's dark past, and the core of her mother's despair, are slowly revealed.
The Shore Girl is a mosaic of Rebee: of her origins, of her past and present; from darkness and grief, to understanding and hope for a brighter future.
About the author
Fran Kimmel was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. After graduating from the University of Calgary with a degree in Sociology, she worked an eclectic mix of jobs including youth worker, career counsellor, proposal writer, and a ten-year stint as a VP for a career consulting firm. Fran’s stories have appeared in literary journals across Canada and have twice been nominated for the Journey Prize. Fran currently lives in Lacombe with her husband and overly enthusiastic silver lab. The Shore Girl is her first novel.
Excerpt: Shore Girl, The (by (author) Fran Kimmel)
Stay on the bed, Rebee. And you are not to cry.
My eyes are wet. I don't like this blanket. It's scratchy and green and I like blue. My nightie is blue with stars and the yellow moon.
Mommy went out the door. On the outside is a blinking pink light with letters and I stare at the blinking through the flower curtains but my eyes are blurry. I rub with my arm but the blurs get bigger.
I can wiggle my finger in the pillow hole and pull out the feathers and I got a pile in my hand and they feel soft like bunny's ear. I want bunny. Bunny's beside my backpack on top of the hangers. Bunny's too high. I'm not sposint get off the bed.
There are noises on the other side of the wall and they are in a party and making funny sounds with their mouth and jumping on the bed and it goes thump, thump. I want to jump up and down and make the thump, thump but I stay on the bad blanket and make the aah, aah, aah noises with my mouth. But quiet. My mouth needs a drink. Mommy says, No more, Rebee, you'll pee the bed, but I'm a big girl now. I go in the toilet.
The girl and the puppet went away. Now we sing pound puppy one and only puppy love. Blue is my best colour but not where you pee. I already did a pee but I didn't like the blue in the hole. It's only coloured water, Rebee, to keep the toilet bowl clean. And there are Kleenexes that come out of the wall and I stuck my finger in and brung a Kleenex to bed but now I can't find it in my mixed-up green blanket. I'm thirsty and I want a different Kleenex.
I don't want to sing. The world looks mighty good to me, cause Tootsie Rolls are all I see.
The rug is pink and some brown spills and I can see the toilet but not the blue water and not the glass with a white hat beside the soap. I can run, run, run and take off the hat and make a drink.
You do not move off this bed. You stay on the bed and wait. I'll be back soon.
I'm not sposint get off the bed. My teeth are thirsty. I can stay quiet and stop my sniveling and run, run, run, and make my drink and go back on the bed.
I don't like the scratchy blanket. I want Mommy to put me in my car seat with bunny. I want to drive on the highway with Mommy and see stars and cows. Where is she? I want to see Auntie Vic. I want to put barrettes in Auntie's hair, black like Snow White.
My legs don't want to run. But I got to have a drink really bad. It's a prickly rug and I don't want to step on the brown spills with my toes. Mommy forgot to turn on the light in the bathroom. I don't like the dark. It's dark in the bathroom. I want my drink. I cover my eyes. The little table with the telephone on it bangs my tummy and my feathers are lost. My eyes are blurry and my nose too and my tummy hurts. Mommy, Mommy. You are not to cry. You have to stay quiet. But I can't make my snivelling stop.
I crawl on the rug and it smells like poo and I cough and my nose tickles. I'm a big girl and can get a drink by myself. My hands are on the bathroom floor, cold and sticky, and there is a black crack and a spider in the corner sleeping. Spiders are our friends. I'm a big girl and I climb on the toilet and I climb on the counter and I can see my yellow moon in the mirror. Hello, Rebee. Hurry, hurry, Mommy will be mad. I take the hat off and I turn the tap and it's too hard, Try harder, Rebee, and the water squirts out, not blue. Faster and faster. Use two hands, Rebee, so you don't spill. I use two hands. I want cold to drink but it's not. It's hot. It's too hot. It hurts my fingers. I don't want to let go or it will spill. I want my drink. I can't make it cold.
I cry as big as I can. The party lady bangs on the wall and yells shut up in there. People do bad things, Rebee. I scream louder and that's all I can hear. The water hurts. Use two hands, so you don't spill. But my glass falls down, down and I can't make it stop. Water splashes my moon. It's hot on my tummy. I squeeze my eyes shut so I won't see it broke.
Rattling. The door under the blinking light with letters. Mommy. I hold my breath to stop my noises but now I got hiccups. I'm not sposint get off the bed. Mommy has a key with a red board. And now the pee comes in a gush and it's hot on my legs. I pee in my nightie. And I can't breathe. My stars are all wet and there's sparkly glass, all broke, and I'm sposint stay on the bed.
And I hear her shoes coming and feel myself go up, up, and my legs drip and Mommy says, Shuuush, baby, it's all right, I'm here. Mommy's not mad. She turns on the light.
Mommy holds me like a baby and I'm all wet.
It's all right, Rebee.
And I lift my head off Mommy's shoulder and see her face in the mirror and she's crying. I cry some more cause Mommy's crying. Blood's coming out of her cheek. Her cheek is too big. It's blue, but not the pretty blue. Mommy looks scared.
We have to go, baby. Now.
Mommy rushes around. Clean up, clean up. She carries me to the bed and I climb out of my nightie and I smell like pee and I wrap myself up in the green blanket. I feel itchy on my belly button. Mommy sticks her candles and her black shirt and her panties in the bag with the secret pocket and she opens my backpack and pulls out my frog pyjamas and throws them at me and they land on my head. I laugh but then I see Mommy's blue cheek. Put these on, Rebee. Hurry now. Frog pyjamas have green feet and I can't curl my toes. I want a drink but I don't tell. Mommy drops my toothbrush in the pocket and the zipper gets stuck. Mommy is mad. Bad backpack. Rebee, put on your pyjamas. Now. I want my blue baby-dolls, but Mommy lifts my arms and frogs go over my head and she lifts my bum and my toes get stuck in the green feet.
A baby feather is on the green blanket. I put it in my hand. I want to tell Mommy, but she bends down and picks up the bags and a red drop from her face falls on the pink rug and she looks at that drop and a sound comes out of her mouth. She yanks on my hand too hard and I fall off the bed. I want to cry but I'm a big girl. Mommy lifts me up and we go outside under the blinky light. She throws the red key and it hits the tv and bounces on the pink rug and the door closes all by itself.
The van's got a big bash. It's all crumpled at the front like a Kleenex box when you kick it. My car seat smells like apple juice. I want a drink. I want a drink but I don't tell. Big girls can wait.
How did the van get broke? Mommy won't talk. Mommy is quiet. We go bump, bump, bump. There are bad noises under the van. Shaking my car seat. The trees whoosh. Then the trees go away. Fences. A big barn, maybe for chickens. Mommy's teeth chatter. Mommy's cold. I give Mommy my yellow blanket but she says no.
Turn on the lights. I can't see the cows. Mommy, turn on the lights.
The headlights are broken, Rebee. We're invisible. Lay back and close your eyes.
Mommy is sad. Are you sad, Mommy? How did the headlights get broke? How did your face get blood on it?
Go to sleep now, Rebee. Be a big girl. Close your eyes and dream about cows.
I have a feather in my hand. It's soft like bunny's ear. Bunny. Where's bunny?
Shit, shit, shit.
Can I have bunny please?
Sorry, baby, bunny's gone. We left him at the motel.
Go back. Go back. I want BUNNY!
We can't go back, Rebee. We can't ever go back.
And I cry and cry and cry.