Written in 33 flash fiction narratives, Jenny Ferguson's prairie noir
Border Markers (NeWest Press) tells the story of a suburban family shattered by an accidental death that opens up the preexisting cracks of their seemingly-banal life. Take in the secrets and gritty realism of this debut with an excerpt below.
“Is it not the nicest final resting place?” Juan-Aarón asked. “Do you like it? Families housed for eternity together.”
“Better than most I’ve seen.”
“Do you believe in ghosts?” He took Poppy’s hand.
He smiled. One side of his mouth rose higher than the other due to a hardly noticeable scar running through his upper lip. “So do I. My, ah, mother she is with me always,” he said, placing his free hand on his heart dramatically. “Perpetually.”
They stopped in front of a mausoleum with a tarnished gate and the family name inscribed in the stone archway. The gate was locked. Inside Poppy could see porcelain vases topping flat stones on the floor, a plush teddy bear, old and well-made.
“I saw my grandfather the night he died,” Poppy said as the sun slid behind one of the clouds beginning to form. The rain was coming. “He came to see me. I was just a kid, sleeping on the couch in my basement on a school night, the television playing late night infomercials for some kitchen appliances that you only needed one hand to operate. I remember him looking at me, looking at him. I think my dad bought a jar-opener from the TV after I told him that.”
Juan-Aarón raised his eyebrows as he nodded. “Yes. Yes, I have heard of such things. I very much wish my mother would come to me.”
“No you don’t,” she said. “The other one, a high-school-aged boy my brother killed, he follows me. He creeps after me. It’s not nice.”
Juan-Aarón laughed. “You are kidding me, Poppy! No?” He dragged the “o” out unnaturally.
“I’m kidding, yes.” She dropped his hand to move closer to the mausoleum. Poppy lifted her sunglasses to the top of her head. Inside, in the shadows, next to the patriarch’s gravestone, she could see the boy’s wispy, dull blonde hair, covering what she knew were slightly puppy-like ears. She could smell familiar aftershave mixed with the dust.
She waved, this slight movement, was her acknowledgement, her little hello, her welcome back. She wondered if he spent time stalking her brother too.
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Métis, an activist, a feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD. She believes writing and teaching are political acts.
Her first book, Border Markers, a collection of interrelated flash fiction stories, is out now with NeWest Press.
She lives on Osage territory and teaches at Missouri Southern State University. She also teaches at the University of British Columbia through their Optional Residency MFA program. You can reach her on Twitter where she tweets at @jennyleeSD.
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