Excerpted: A Reluctant Mother by Deirdre Simon Dore

What happens when the supposed child of Frida’s husband shows up on her doorstep? We see the first inklings of the dark family drama A Reluctant Mother (Ronsdale Press) Deirdre Simon Dore has concocted in this riveting excerpt from the novel.

The cover of A Reluctant Mother by Deirdre Simon Dore. A woman's face is glimpsed through the outline of an antlered stag.


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Chapter Two, from A Reluctant Mother

I ushered the pair into my house and pointed to the guest bathroom, into which the child and her mother disappeared. I ran through a litany in my mind of what they would find in there. Lavender-scented soaps. Embroidered hand towels. A plastic spray can of Febreze. Where the hell was Blake?

On cue, he stepped through the door. About to apologize for being late, until he saw what I was holding and stopped.

What are you doing with that gun?

I had barely begun my explanation when, from the bathroom, a flushing sound.

Who’s in there? Blake asked. Whose van is that? What’s going on?

A lady and a kid, I said. I shrugged. She hit a deer.

Where? Here? What’s going on? Is it dead?

It is now, I said. I think I told him to relax, that I had taken care of business, though I felt far from relaxed myself. In fact, in the aftermath of that killing, I felt fully alive. More alive than I had felt in years.

At that moment, the bathroom door opened and the woman, naked shoulders on display, poked her head out to ask, Do you have any bath towels?

Behind her, a sloshing.

Under the sink, I said.




I turned to Blake to roll my eyes. This is unbelievable, I whispered, pretending nonchalance I suppose, though a tingling had started under my skin as if my flesh was aware of something that my brain had yet to decipher.

The colour drained from his face and he nodded, then went upstairs to change into his costume, and before long our guests of honour arrived, the gallerist and his wife.

Joel was a tall round-shouldered man, good-looking enough in a middle-aged way, dressed smartly in a cashmere sweater and grey slacks. And his pretty wife, Marguerite, short, petite and several months pregnant. As I greeted them, the gallerist’s eyes darted to the gun I was somehow still holding.

Is that loaded?

I nodded.

From the gun, his gaze travelled to my breasts.

For a moment I basked in his admiration until I looked down and saw the blood splatters on my white blouse.

Ummm, is the safety on?

Yes, I said. I put the safety on and set the gun down in the corner.

He turned to his wife. I told you this would be fun.

Want a drink? I blurted. Got any kids?

Yes to a drink, and yes to the kids, Joel said. Two, from my first wife.

And one on the way, said his second wife. She giggled.

He took his phone out to show me pictures, boys in hockey gear.

From the bathroom came the sound of water running in the bathtub.

The other guests began to arrive. The sheep farmer, the rancher, the coffee klatch women with their husbands.

* * *

A photo of Deidre Simon Dore. She is a light skin toned woman with long grey hear, standing on a beach with the water in the background.

Deirdre Simon Dore is a Canadian writer. Her short fiction has won, among other awards, The Journey Prize and has been published in numerous journals and translated into Italian. Her plays have been produced in Vancouver and Calgary. Originally from New York and a graduate of Boston University, she has an MFA in creative writing from UBC. After homesteading on a remote island in BC, she moved inland where she acquired a woodlot license on which she planted trees and learned to use a chainsaw. She lives near a large lake in the interior of British Columbia with her husband, black lab and assorted livestock. She has two children.