About the Author

Anna Maxymiw

Books by this Author
Dirty Work

Dirty Work

My Gruelling, Glorious, Life-changing Summer In the Wilderness
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

The first night in the back cabin, the four of us don’t stay up to chat. Instead, we lie in our bunks, silent and still. When I shift my gaze upward, I see that the names of all the female employees who have lived in this cabin throughout the years are written on the ceiling in permanent marker, along with inside jokes, nicknames, their coded wishes and hopes and upsets—all there, quiet graffiti watching over the rookies. I try not to think about the people who came before me; instead, I shift around on my mouldy mattress, listening to the other women. I’m pretty sure all of us are lying awake, trying to slow our breathing to make it sound like we’re slipping into sleep. But none of us is; we’re not even close. I’m thinking about my choices, what led me here, what led these other women here. What we might be running away from. What I’m running into. The fauna. The flora. The forest behind me, looming outside the little window at my head. The branches are just a few inches too short to tap against the glass; they fold and sway with the wind, casting shapes on my pillow. Every crack, rustle, lick of the wind makes my eyes fly open, but I don’t have the guts to lift my head, turn around, and peer out the window into the darkness.
 
I lie there for a long time. My thoughts race; mostly I feel worried, a greasy knot in my gut. It’s entirely possible that I’ve  made a gigantic mistake, sacrificing my privacy, my body, maybe even my sanity for these sixty-seven days. Still, the fluttering breathing of three other worried souls surrounds me, almost soothes me. Somehow, already, I feel vaguely connected to these women, we, the new ones, relegated to a falling-apart hut, sent to the woods. Already, the four of us are absorbing one another’s pheromones, idiosyncrasies, fears, and desires. Desire that the summer will give us what we need—except not all of us know what we need, and most of us have no idea what we want. But we’ve thrown our lot to the North, and all we can do now is hope that the North reciprocates.

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