Boondocks

Nora stood at the edge of the woods and looked back toward the drab barn, the sagging garage, the stoic white house, illuminated by the moon. She imagined her grandmother, Elizabeth, standing there sixty years earlier, looking at the Channels farm for the first time. Rustic boondocks, even then, compared to the bustle of Chicago. Chicago, the big city of the 1940s, where Elizabeth had worked on the sales floor at Marshall Field, gone dancing, skipped town on the El. Nora imagined clubs that sparkled with postwar hopefulness. Sidewalks that glittered under street lamps as Elizabeth trudged home in the early morning rain. Train cars that glowed with the warmth of the bodies of young men returned stateside after too much time abroad. The rain slipped down Nora’s bare arms and the mud spread out beneath her Chucks. The moonlight made her shiver. Everything seemed so clear, and yet the shadows trembled. In the moonlight the edges of the farm whispered their secrets, and Nora didn’t want to hear. 

 

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Malapert

Nora stomped down the stairs. The anger that seethed in her chest pressed against her ribcage, a surging wave that filled her lungs. She tried to funnel the energy into her legs so that her chest wouldn’t crack open from the pressure, but the anger was unwieldy and wet so that even though her feet slammed against each step with the force to crack the boards she couldn’t breathe. The anger drenched her throat and her sinuses, crushing her cheekbones and thrusting her tonsils into her ears. It flushed through her veins and pounded, wave after wave, at the crest of her fingertips, a torrent of outrage that made her cry.

“Nora,” her grandmother called, her voice clear and even in the face of the storm.

“Nora, act your age,” her father said, his voice thin and cold.

At her age, she might have been malapert, impudent, but instead she was soaked with rage, indignation, and fear.