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Eden Mills Writers' Festival 2012

By clarehitchens
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tagged: EMWF, festival
Books by authors reading at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival on September 16, 2012. If a book/author doesn't appear it's because I couldn't find it on the shelf. See www.edenmillswritersfestival.ca for complete details on the festival.
The Juliet Stories

The Juliet Stories

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award: Fiction and selected as a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book

Juliet Friesen is ten years old when her family moves to Nicaragua. It is 1984, the height of Nicaragua's post-revolutionary war, and the peace-activist Friesens have come to protest American involvement. In the midst of this tumult, Juliet's family lives outside of the boundaries of ordinary life. They've escaped, and the ordinary rules don't apply. Threat is pervasive, danger is real, bu …

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Writing the Revolution

Writing the Revolution

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

A collection of journalist Michele Landsberg's Toronto Star columns, where she was a regular columnist for more than twenty-five years between 1978 and 2005. Michele has chosen her favorite and most relevant columns, using them as a lens to reflect on the the second wave of feminism and the issues facing women then and now. An icon of the feminist movement and a hero to many, through her writing and activism Michele played an important role in fighting for the rights of women, children, and the …

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The Grave Robber's Apprentice

The Grave Robber's Apprentice

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Hardcover Audiobook (CD)
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Hans is on the run from his adoptive father, a grave robber who found him as a baby hidden inside a wooden box that washed ashore. Now fate has introduced Hans to Angela von Schwanenberg, a young countess fleeing the evil forces of Archduke Arnulf, who has chosen her to be the next in his long line of brides, and the dreaded Necromancer.

Together, Hans and Angela gallop through dark forests, treacherous lands and secret passageways on their quest to uncover the truth about Hans’ shadowy past an …

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Drummer Girl

Drummer Girl

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : sexual abuse
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The Taming

The Taming

edition:Paperback

Katie likes to believe she’s invisible. It seems so much safer than being exposed as who she is: shy, poor, and vulnerable. So getting up in front of audience as the lead in her school’s production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: “My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! Invisible Katie became visible Katherina.”
 
Evan is, as …

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The noises in my head got louder. It was like I was a walking construction site. Metal crashed into concrete and a relentless hammering pounded “Run, Katie, get off the stage, freak, hide, hide.” Instead I clutched my script tighter. I was projectile sweating. I knew from auditions last week that gripping the pages with my wet hands would end up moulding my script into a rock-hard and useless bow tie. “Cut and run, Katie. Go!
 
I focused on my most important audience member. Ms. Cooper smiled at me like I’d just discovered penicillin. “That was lovely, Katie. Nice tone and perfect clarity. I’m sure our director would agree.” Travis nodded and gave me his signature A-OK sign.
 
We were in the middle of our first read-through in our first script meeting. Travis hadn’t taken over the reins from Ms. Cooper yet. That would happen in first rehearsals, starting tomorrow. It should have been more reassuring that the director was an actual friend. Thing is, Travis was just as surprised as I was that I got the lead. So how was he going to save me when they realized the massive mistake they’d all made when they gave me Katherina, the shrew, the lead role? It could get ugly.
 
Ms. Cooper flipped through her manuscript. “Katie, page thirteen of your script, please. Everybody else just pay attention to Katie’s rhythm here. I want you all to think about her pitch and near-perfect feeling for the language.”
 
Oh dear God, why would she say that? Now they were all looking and would feel compelled to hate me. Even I felt compelled to hate me.
 
I didn’t unfurl my mangled Taming of the Shrew script. I knew the speech she meant. The rest of the cast, including Josh, my Petruchio, sat and faced me. I searched for signs of contempt and couldn’t find any. It was confusing.
 
“Centre stage, dear. Josh, pay attention,” Ms. Cooper said.
 
I stepped forward into the key light and prepared to respond to Ms. Cooper’s reading of Petruchio’s lines. Josh looked like he’d rather be performing surgery on himself. Everyone said that Josh had been tapped for the lead because of his physical presence, which, in all honesty, was significantly smouldering. I think Ms. Cooper and Travis both hoped that Josh would magically develop actor chops through rehearsals. At the moment, our dumpling-ish, five-foot- nothing, pastel-wearing drama teacher was a more convincing Petruchio than Josh was. And Josh knew it.
 
“Ready, Katie?” she asked.
 
I nodded and listened for my cue. This part was bad, the waiting for my cue part. The construction noises stopped just in time for my new obsession to take over. I scanned the stage searching for the horror-movie machinery. This was where the vat of pig’s blood would tip over and drench me and my colossal actor pretentions and everyone would hoot and laugh and . . . wait a minute. What pretensions? I hadn’t asked for the lead. I was never gunning for the part of the fiery and crazed Katherina. I was going for costumes and crowd scenes. It was Ms. Cooper who’d insisted I read for Katherina on the last day of auditions. I’d wanted to die, kill her, and blow up the school, in that order . . . until I read that first speech out loud.
 
Standing in the middle of the stage, under a spotlight, facing a motley audience of our future director, Travis, and Lisa, two of my best friends—okay my only two friends—plus a few teachers, six detention students and a couple of straggling stagehands all with their eyes trained on me, waiting . . .
 
And my head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! I was someone else, but as that someone, I was heard and I was seen. Invisible Katie became visible Katherina. Every nerve ending fired and I came alive. You’d think I would have choked and screwed up my speeches. But I didn’t, not once. Unbelievable. I liked being up there, and it immediately became very, very important that I stay up there. Somehow I was more me on that stage than I was anywhere else. I didn’t understand it, but there it was.
 
The first miracle was that when the cast list was posted yesterday, Katie Rosario had been picked for Shakespeare’s shrew. The second miracle was that no one laughed or rolled their eyes when the list was posted. Josh was really pissed. Not at me being picked as his Katherina, but at his being picked for Petruchio.
 
“No offence, Katie, you’re brilliant.” He shook his head. “But you’ll be dragging my sorry butt from one end of the stage to the other.
 
I apologize in advance. I just needed the credit. I don’t know what the hell Cooper and Travis were smoking.”
 
The most popular boy in the entire school, a star basketball player, not only saw me, but he was asking forgiveness for as yet unspecified crimes. I may have been in a fog, but I was clear enough to recognize that my life had just been turned on its head.
 
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied. “You’ll be a perfect Petruchio, Josh.”
 
Now Ms. Cooper was prompting me. “Anytime, Katie, starting at line 280.”
 
 “Call you me daughter?” I spat.
 
It was the speech that a furious Katherina throws back at her father. She knows her father doesn’t love her and is only interested in getting her off his hands. I got that—just exchange my mother for Katherina’s father.
 
Now I promise you.
You have showed a tender fatherly regard
To wish me wed to one half lunatic,
A madcap ruffian and a swearing Jack
That thinks with oaths to face the matter out.
 
I spaced out again for a bit while Josh fumbled for his response. He had real trouble following the language. I don’t know why I didn’t, but I didn’t. Shakespeare made sense to me. From grade nine on, I’d been reading the plays in secret. I loved the way that Shakespeare’s words felt on my tongue, and I trusted him. I got him, and now look where that had got me. What would be the price I’d have to pay for this? There was always a price.
 
As soon as my lines were done I was Carrie in the Stephen King movie again, the 1976 one with Sissy Spacek, not the 2002 poseur version. I’d been YouTubing the pig’s blood scene ever since I got the part. Red rivers of blood stream daintily down Sissy Spacek’s stunned face until it eventually obliterates her shoulders, her arms, her prom dress. Poor thing, she thought her life had changed too.
 
“Katie?” It was Travis, our, my, director. I turned to him.
 
“Remember that by the time you get to ‘I’ll see thee hanged on Sunday first ’ you have to have established yourself as loud, crude.
 
Katherina is a wild animal that has to be tamed. Give Petruchio something to tame.”

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The Dead Kid Detective Agency

The Dead Kid Detective Agency

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is new in town; short on friends and the child of a clinically depressed science teacher, she spends her free time in the Sticksville Cemetery and it isn’t long before she befriends the ghosts of five dead teenagers, each from a different era of the past. Using October’s smarts and the ghosts’ abilities to walk through walls and roam around undetected, they form the Dead Kid Detective Agency, a group committed to solving Sticksville’s most mysterious my …

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October Schwartz is not dead.

 

Now, there are plenty of dead folks in this book (you read the Title before starting the book, right?), it’s just that October Schwartz does not happen to be one of them. That said, it was her first day at Sticksville Central High School, and she sort of wished she were dead.

October had moved to Sticksville only a month earlier, and she didn’t know anyone yet, unless you counted her dad and maybe the Korean lady who sold her gum at the convenience store. She’d spent the month of August reading in the cemetery behind their house and working on writing her own book. So her first day of high school was even more nerve–wracking than it was for most of the students at Sticksville Central. The way she figured it, everybody was going to hate her. They certainly had in her old town. Why should this one be any different?

There were plenty of reasons for the average high school student to hate her: she wasn’t chubby, but she wasn’t not chubby, which, to those naturally inclined to be unpleasant people, meant she was fat. Also, she wore more black eyeliner than most — barring only silent film actresses, really. Add to that the natural black hair she’d inherited from her mom and her affinity for black clothing, and she was like a walking teen vampire joke waiting to happen.

Plus, she was a little kid. Due to the advanced state of middle school in her former town, a futuristic utopia of almost 40,000 citizens — most of them employed by the town’s snowmobile factory — she’d been allowed to skip grade eight altogether in Sticksville (only three hours away geographically), straight into the teenage Thunderdome of high school before she even reached her teens. She was twelve and headed into grade nine, where most of her classmates were well on their way to fourteen if they weren’t there already. This part was to remain a secret from everyone, if she had her way. But even if her classmates didn’t know, October was sure they could smell the tween on her — the stench of Sour Keys and Saturday morning cartoons.

As October pulled on a black T–shirt, she began to imagine burgeoning extracurricular clubs founded on the members’ communal hatred of October Schwartz, its members wearing T–shirts emblazoned with hilarious anti–October slogans.

October’s dad — Mr. Schwartz to you — taught grade eleven and grade twelve biology, as well as auto repair at Sticksville Central, so it was sort of his first day, too. But somehow, October doubted her dad was anxious about what people would think of his clothes and hair.

She left for school early that morning, because she was cautious about that sort of thing. About other sorts of things, she wasn’t very cautious at all, as you’ll see. She shouted goodbye to her dad, who was still busy shaving in the washroom. He didn’t respond, but he was kind of concentrating, blaring music by Fleetwood Mac or some other band from the 1970s.

She walked into the backyard and out to Riverside Drive using the cemetery that bordered their backyard as a shortcut. Mr. Schwartz had been uncertain at first about purchasing a house so close to the town’s lowly cemetery. Not that he believed in ghosts, but there was something unseemly about it to him. However, the price was good and he wanted to find a home before the school year started, so he dismissed his uncertainties. October liked it. She smiled crookedly as she passed through the wide expanse of decaying stone and forgotten names on her way to the first day of the rest of her life.

The air was crisp and a bit cold for early September, like a Granny Smith apple left in the freezer by accident. October lived only about twenty minutes from Sticksville Central, so it wasn’t long before she pushed her way through the double doors of the school’s entrance. She opened her bag and unfolded her schedule.

Evidently, October wasn’t the only student concerned with arriving early. A veritable gaggle of other kids could already be seen congregating, conversing, and giggling inside the main corridor of the school.

One of these students — a tall one with auburn hair and a belt the width of a small diving board, who was standing with some friends beside the vending machines outside the cafeteria (spoiler alert: she’s a witch) — caught sight of October Schwartz and pursued her like a fashionable, but very silent homing missile. October, who was attempting to avoid contact with anyone and everyone, hurried past her. But she wasn’t quick enough to avoid the belt enthusiast’s loud slur:

"Zombie Tramp!"

Mortified, October made a sensible, strategic retreat to the girls’ washroom, which was thankfully empty. She gripped a porcelain sink and stared dolefully at herself in the mirror. Two minutes into high school and things were off to a horrible start. But, above all else, October was determined not to cry at high school. Ever. She was still twelve, but she wasn’t a baby.

She tried to fill her mind with thoughts different from her new "Zombie Tramp" status: her birthday, her dad, and her new classes. What did Zombie Tramp even mean? Why Tramp? Why not Zombie Floozy? Yet, because she was staring into a mirror, her mind kept drifting back to her big, stupid face.

Her dad often told her she was "darn cute," because he was related to her, but October never believed him. Her dad was no prize himself; how would he know what cute was? October did a quick self–analysis in the mirror. She might have overdone it with the eyeliner today, and maybe she should have taken more effort with her hair. Around her neck, she wore a gift left behind by her mom, a silver ankh necklace. It was probably the eyeliner and all the black that was encouraging the Zombie Tramp comparison.

 

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Yesterday's Dead

Yesterday's Dead

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged :

It is the end of the First World War, and thirteen-year-old Meredith yearns to become a teacher. But she must leave school to help support her family, moving to the city to work as a maid in a wealthy doctor's home. As the deadly Spanish Flu sweeps across the city, members of the household fall ill one by one. With the doctor working night and day at the hospital, only Meredith and the doctor's children, Maggie and Jack, are left to care for them. Every day the newspapers’ lists of “Yesterda …

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Practical Jean

Practical Jean

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook Paperback
tagged : literary

This eagerly awaited new novel from Trevor Cole combines the humour and sharp observations of contemporary life that he is known for with an irresistibly twisted premise, for fans of the quirkily macabre Six Feet Under and Dexter, and readers of Paul Quarrington, Miriam Toews, Jonathan Franzen, and, of course, Trevor Cole.

In his first two, GG-shortlisted novels, Trevor Cole proved himself a master of drawing us into the shadowy side of human nature with sharp observation and warm wit. In Practic …

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Chapter 1
 
 
The sun was shining on the whole of Kotemee. Spangles trembled on the lake, shafts of gleam stabbed off the chrome of cars lining Main Street, and in Corkin Park the members of the Star-Lookout Lions, Kotemee’s Pee Wee League team, swung aluminum bats that scalded their tender, eleven-year-old hands. But for Jean Vale Horemarsh, there was no light in her life but the light of her fridge, and it showed her things she did not want to see.
 
A jar of strawberry jam, empty but for the grouting of candied berry at the bottom. A half tub of sour cream, its contents upholstered in a thick aquamarine mould. A pasta sauce and a soup, stalking fermentation in their plastic containers. A crumpled paper bag of wizened, weightless mushrooms. The jellified remains of cucumber and the pockmarked corpses of zucchini and bell pepper in the bottom crisper drawer.
 
In the kitchen of her sun-warmed house on Edgeworth Street, Jean bent to the task of removing each of these abominations. The jam jar was tossed into the recycling bin. The putrid liquids were dumped into the sink. The zucchini, cucumber, and mushrooms became compost. The mould-stiffened sour cream would not budge from its tub, so Jean scooped it out with her hand. Anything suspect – a bit of improperly wrapped steak, a bottle of cloudy dressing – was presumed tainted and excised without mercy from the innards of the fridge. It was three o’clock in the afternoon and Jean still wore the black jacquard dress she’d worn to her mother’s funeral. She had not found the will to take it off, although she had undone several of the buttons. So as she worked, erasing the evidence of time, destroying all signs of decay, her dress hung open slightly, exposing the skin of her back to the refrigerated air.
 
Watching her from a corner of the kitchen, Milt, Jean’s husband, confessed that he should have cleaned out the fridge weeks ago, while Jean was still at her mother’s. But it was a revolting chore, he said, and he kept putting it off; he didn’t know how she did it.
 
“I have a strong stomach,” said Jean.
 
It had been three full months since Jean and Milt had lived together. Marjorie had made it clear that in dying she required Jean’s full attention, which left Milt to mind himself at home. Now, as Jean bowed and stared into the cool, white recess, he came up behind her. He reached over her for a jar of peanut butter and, with only a slight hesitation, touched his fingers to the unbuttoned region of his wife’s back and began to draw them lightly downward.
 
“What a terrible, terrible idea,” she said.
 
“Sorry.” He retreated with the peanut butter and screwed open the lid. “I just thought, we haven’t . . . I think it was snowing the last time. But you’re right, bad timing.” He set the jar and lid on the counter and reached for a bag of bread. “If you’re hungry, I could make you some toast.”
 
Jean straightened at the fridge, summoned tolerance and forgiveness, and gave her husband a sad, sheepish look. She folded her arms around him and set her chin on his shoulder. It was more a lean than a hug. “Poor Milty,” she said. “Poor, poor Milty.”
 
“Milty’s all right.”
 
“You can squeeze my breast if you want.”
 
“What, now?”
 
“Nothing’s going to happen because of it. But you can do it if you like and then disappear into the bathroom or something.”
 
“Well, I don’t think that’s necessary.”
 
“Suit yourself.” She began to separate from him and before she did, he slipped a hand in and latched onto her left one, just holding it for a moment as she waited. “There,” she said finally, and patted his cheek as she left him.
 
“I could take it out right here,” he said from the kitchen.
 
“Don’t.”
 
He headed past her, toward the powder room in the hall. “It’s not like I haven’t.”
 
 
A few minutes later, slumped on the matching green velour living room chairs in a room invaded by the late-afternoon sun, they stared at Winter Leaves, which Milt had set on the coffee table in honour of Jean’s return. A clutch of hydrangea leaves ruined by frost it was meant to be.
 
“That looks nice there,” said Jean. “Thank you.”
 
“Thought you might like it.”
 
She pushed herself out of the soft cushions and leaned forward, squinting. “Is that a crack?”
 
“Just a small one. I glued it.”
 
“There’s another one.”
 
“Only two, though. Don’t keep looking.”
 
With a sigh Jean slumped back in her chair. “It is impossible for anything beautiful to last.”
 
“But you made something beautiful. That’s the point.”
 
Jean stared at Milt. “That is the point, isn’t it?”
 
“Absolutely.”
 
She nodded and let her chin rest on her chest. Never had she been so exhausted, and yet so relieved. The exhaustion and relief seeped through her muscles and bones, a bad and good feeling all at once. This must be the way athletes feel, Jean thought, after they’ve run a thousand miles and won the game. She let the sensation slip through her like one of those drugs that young people take and allowed her mind to drift backward to the funeral at First United Presbyterian. Everyone had been there: Jean’s brothers, handsome so-and-so’s in their dress uniforms; Andrew Jr.’s silent wife, Celeste, and their two grown children, Ross and Marlee, sparing four precious hours away from their busy young lives, thank you so much for your sacrifice; her own good friends, most of them anyway, full of sympathy and support; and a hundred Kotemee folk who’d known Marjorie Horemarsh as the best veterinarian they’d ever brought a sick spaniel to, and not as a mother who’d praised only marks and commendations and money and prizes and never beauty . . . never, ever beauty for its own sake, and not as a patient who moaned in pain seventeen hours a day and smelled like throw-up and needed to be bathed and fed and have her putrid bedsores swabbed and dressed . . .
 
“It was nice to see your friends there,” said Milt. “Louise looked good, I thought. Or –”
 
“Louise looked good, did she?”
 
“Well. So did Dorothy. We should have them all over some day.”
 
Jean stared at the ceiling and sighed. “What’s the point, Milt?”
 
“The house has been pretty quiet. You could play bridge, like you used to.”
 
“No, Milt, I’m not talking about that. I’m saying what’s the point of anything?”
 
“Oh.” Milt tossed his head back against the chair cushion as if to say, Wow, that’s a big one.
 
“Exactly,” said Jean. “You know, you think about a lot of things when you’re taking care of your dying mother.”
 
Milt leaned forward in his chair. “Do you want a drink?” He rose and steadied himself. His tie was askew, and the end of it rested against the mound of his belly, a little like a dying leaf against a pumpkin, Jean considered.
 
“I will have some white wine.” She lifted her voice to talk as Milt made his way to the kitchen. “You think about things, Milt,” she said. “You ask yourself questions.”
 
“What sort of questions? No white, I’m afraid. Red?”
 
“Fine. Big questions, like, what’s the point of anything?”
 
“Right.”
 
“You live, and then you die, Milt. And whatever you had is gone and it doesn’t matter any more. Nothing matters for ever and ever.”
 
“Wow,” said Milt on his way back with the glasses.
 
“So what is the point?”
 
He handed her the wine. “You want me to answer that?”
 
“I don’t think you can answer that. I don’t think anyone can.”
 
“I think the point is to live the best life possible, for as long as you’re able.”
 
Jean, still sunk into the cushions and drugged with exhaustion, sipped her wine and picked at the threads of ideas and formulations and fantasies that had occupied her mind for the last couple of months, while she’d fed her mother unsweetened Pablum, while she’d stared at her thick, unweeded garden, while she’d kneeled alone in the en suite bathroom, cleaning the dried spray of urine from the floor where her mother had slipped.
 
“Beauty is the point, I think.”
 
“There you go. You answered it yourself.”
 
“A moment of beauty, or joy, something exquisite and pure.” She made a face. “I hate this red wine. Did you open it a week ago?”
 
“About that.”
 
“I’m not drinking it.” She set it on the coffee table. “That’s it for bad wine.”
 
“Did you want me to drive and get some white?”
 
“Yes, but not now. Not while we’re talking.” For a while she stared at the coffee table, at the wine yawing in the glass, at Winter Leaves, without really seeing any of them. “More than once, Milt,” she said. “More than once, when I was feeding Mom in bed? And she would lay her head back and fall asleep? I thought about pinching her nose and her lips closed and just holding them like that. Holding them tight.”
 
“Until she died?”
 
“Until she died.”
 
“Wow,” said Milt. His eyes went wide as he shook his head. He looked, Jean thought, as though he were really taking it in.
 
“Because what is the difference?” She shifted to the edge of the cushion. “Whether you die now or die later, it’s the same thing, but one way has less suffering. They do it for animals. My own mother did it. I watched it happen.” Even now her mind filled with bright images, sudden whites and reds. In the very early days of her mother’s career, when she’d had few clients and couldn’t justify the cost of a clinic, Marjorie had used their kitchen table, spread with sheets of white plastic, to perform operations. She had allowed little Jean, who was the oldest of her children, to observe – this was real life, she said, no need to hide it – as she sliced open neighbourhood cats and dogs to pluck out their ovaries or spleens, or to reattach bloody tendons. Many times before she was seven Jean had watched her mother stick a hypodermic into the fur of some aged or diseased animal, watched her press the plunger and wait out the quiet seconds until its eyes closed. That was the simplest act of all, and the kindest, it now seemed to Jean.
 
“It’s called ‘mercy,’ Milt. That’s what it’s called. Don’t let a living thing suffer. I should have done it. I hate myself for not doing it.”
 
“Don’t hate yourself, Jean.”
 
Jean stared at Winter Leaves and lost herself in a scene that had come to her several times before, projected like a movie against the backs of her eyelids while she slumped in the chair in Marjorie’s darkened room, listening to her mother breathe. She saw her hand reaching down – in her imagination it was always morning, daylight filled the room, and everything was a pale pink – and squeezing her mother’s soft nostrils between thumb and forefinger, the way you might seal the mouth of an inflated balloon. With the other hand she held her lips closed, too. Then the image changed, and she was pressing down on her mother’s mouth; yes, that would work better. Squeezing her nostrils, and clamping down hard on her mouth. It wouldn’t have been difficult; her mother was weak, and Jean’s hands were muscled tools from years of working with clay. Marjorie’s eyes would open, she’d be terrified, staring up at her daughter, fighting for her life, not realizing Jean’s way was so much better. But it would only last a moment, that struggle, unlike the pain of her lingering disease. And afterward there’d be no recriminations, no feelings of betrayal, no abiding resentments. There’d be nothing, because that’s what death was.
 
“I should have killed my mother, Milt.” Jean felt the tears puddling in her eyes. “I should have killed her before she got so sick. Then she wouldn’t have had to suffer at all.”
 
He came to her and put his hand on her knee. “You were a good daughter to her, Jean. You took care of her.”
 
“Not like I should have.”
 
She reached into her sleeve for the tissue she’d tucked there and used it to dry her eyes. Though it was painful to believe that she had failed her mother by not taking her life, her conviction in that belief was, in an odd way, comforting. Certainty energized her. She took a deep breath and looked into Milt’s sad, grey eyes. Such a sweet man.
 
“If you wanted to screw me,” she said to Milt, “I’d be game.”
 
Milt looked down at his hand on her knee, and off to the powder room. “I don’t think I can now.”
 
She sighed. “That’s annoying.”
 
“I can try.”
 
“No, never mind.” She patted his hand. “I’d be just as happy with some white wine.”

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