Selfish

Ah it’s a long stretch of road through these woods, damp and dusky. She don’t want to be on that road, no siree, she wants to be playing cards with her friends at the back of the schoolyard, dealing out hearts and clubs and gossip. But her aunt needs her books and so she goes, trudging down the dirt path all them feet have worn thin.

Selfish old shrew. She says that out loud all the way through the woods, hoping to say it to her aunt’s face, so maybe she won’t have to go no more, so her mother or grandmother can trudge down this road while she plays cards. Their blood is thicker than hers anyway, and the books are heavy.

She’s all the way up to the porch now and she says it, she says “Selfish old shrew” one more time before she rings the doorbell.

“Ah, you’re here, oh how glad I am! Come in, come in, there’s tea and I have biscuits.”

She is thin as a rail with brown, weather beaten skin. 20 years her sister’s senior, the first in a line of five. She’s the first one who came here, who came to Canada, before her sister and her mother, first out of all the five. She sweeps her niece into her arms, and all the harsh words muttered in the silence of the forest are forgotten.

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