Prairie Girl

Regina… it always sounded like a bad word no matter how she pronounced it. She knew the origin, named for the Queen of England, Regina, another word for Queen. But why not have used Queenstown, like Australia, or just Elizabeth. So much nicer she thought. Her mind wandered aimlessly to the crunching sound of the nylon and rubber winter boots on the layered mixture of ice, snow and slush.
She was passing the house where they had left the partially dissected frog in the mailbox last spring. Why that house? She couldn’t remember, must have looked sinister or something. Maybe it was too perfect with its faux columns and red door. A bit fancy for Claymore Park, this ten year old suburb that had wiped out another farmer’s field.
She sniffed and considered the “bread basket” identity of Saskatchewan. She had never lived on a farm, but spent many good and bad times on them. Still considered herself a prairie girl, even though the locals from the small towns and farms would not have owned her. “City girl” they would think of her on sight, with her burgundy leather purse with the goldtone buckle. It was the first purse she had owned and it was leather. She had burst with pride when they gave it to her at the Avon Ladies meeting. It was also the first time she had been called a lady.
At 14, when every girl needs extra money, she was tired of babysitting. Inevitably she fell asleep and had to deal with the embarrassed disorientation of being woken up by concerned employers. They were usually somewhat forgiving, but she knew they were pissed and would have liked to pay her less. She just couldn’t keep her eyes open past 11pm when the house was so quiet. She hadn’t discovered caffeine yet.
Mom’s friend Sharon had suggested she sell Avon. “You get lovely samples to keep for yourself, perfume, lipstick, and it’s fun to get to know the people in your neighbourhood,” she pursed her lips, drawing my attention to their frosted colour.
She thought, why not? And, after a few months of selling in her neighbourhood, Sandra wanted in on the action. Her friend Sandra was a perfect candidate for the job. More of a girly-girl than Margo, she had a white and pink “girl’s” room. She was going to be a fashion designer. Her hair was usually perfect and she loved makeup. Sandra also had that motherly quality which added an air of maturity that was sadly lacking in Margo’s sales presentations. She could tell that her prospective customers had trouble taking her advice on which foundation would work best for dark circles or crows feet.
The night of the meeting, Margo was nervous. She always was, but this was worse. She had to “present” Sandra to the other Avon Ladies. She would have to be the centre of attention for a few minutes at least! It had turned out okay. They had given her the purse as a thank you for bringing Sandra. She wondered if it was because Sandra was so perfect, or if it was what they always did. Either way, Margo was pleased with the purse and Sandra was pleased with her new job and identity. Margo quit being a Lady soon after, but to her knowledge, Sandra had continued on and was doing fairly well.
She side-stepped her way carefully up the side of a three-foot triangle-shaped snow snake that followed both sides of the road. These were created over time by the snow-plows. Margo walked along the crest of it for awhile following the footprints of the kids that had gone before and minding that she didn’t slip. How embarrassing it was when this happened, worse than the danger of falling in front of a passing car.
Crossing the street to the school yard of her old elementary school, Princess Margaret, a flood of memories hit her like the cold, wind-chilled air. Yvonne, her stringy blond hair like a fringe, hanging down from her inverted body on the monkey bars. She always impressed the girls with her pert, upside-down bottom filling out the standard terry-cloth gymnastic shorts and wearing her deep purple t-shirt. She could hang upside down the longest, her round face grinning in crimson victory. She flipped around and landed on her feet with gusto. We called her the Purple Bomb. It made her blush with pleasure. Yvonne didn’t hang with them anymore. She was with an older group that she had met while working at the Y. She smoked now and avoided sports.
Margo crossed the school yard toward the townhouse complex where Tish lived with her mom. Now that Margo’s parents were divorced, they had even more in common.
As she crossed the common area, she saw her classmate Lana waving from her doorway. Lana also lived in the complex and was holding something. Margo trudged over to her and discovered that Lana had a tiny black puppy in her hand. It was no bigger than her palm and its eyes were barely open. Margo was mesmerized as Lana told the story of the birth. They were toy poodles and their hair was wavy and sleek, not springy and coarse as it would be in a few more weeks. She decided that she must convince her mother of the need for one of these creatures as soon as possible. She felt it like an ache. These tiny babies needed homes and how excited her sister and brother would be. Lana offered icing on the cake saying they were free to friends and wouldn’t shed. Margo placed all of this information on a special shelf in her brain, ready to be retrieved later when she launched the argument with her mother.
She rang Tish’s doorbell and kicked off some of the snow and dirt from her boots. Tish answered breathless, “Sorry, I was downstairs, I got the new Platinum Blonde album!” Tish was her best friend and she was closer to her than anyone in the world.
“That is so rank!” Margo exclaimed.
Her father hated this latest teen-word they had adopted. “It just means something is rotten or smells bad,” he said.
“Not if that’s not how you use it!” They responded with exasperation. Parents would never understand.
Margo then rattled off the story of the perfect puppies as she shed the layers of heavy winter clothes.

Prairie Girl


Langley, Canada

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Artist's Description

Excerpt of a novel I am working on. Welcome comments and critiques.

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