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WINNER OF THE 2020 EGGTOOTH EDITIONS CHAPBOOK CONTEST
Emma R. Collins is an MFA candidate in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing at Emerson College. Her short stories have appeared in the online magazine The Worcester Journal. Originally from a small town in central Massachusetts, she now manages content for an EdTech company in Boston. She lives with her blind-in-one-eye rescue cat, Finnegan.
Excerpts from Snow
Mama was having one of her bad days.
“You take ‘em! I won’t do it anymore!”
The pretty girl officer had blonde hair the same color as an autumn hay. I knew this must’ve been the first time she’d ever seen someone so angry, because her eyes were as wide-open as a harvest moon. Her face was clean, like the way faces are before they start to notice all the ugly things in the world. It was probably her first day. I liked the way she smelled.
It’s things like that I remember when I remember the day Mama took us to the police station. Hair and eyes and faces and smells. Not really voices, because you don’t remember much of what anyone else says after your mother screams like that and you know she’s talking about you.
“I won’t do it anymore! I won’t! I don’t deserve this. I deserve to be free. Free!”
I snuck my way downstairs and out to the back, but I stopped at the screen door. I was shivering, even though the air was still warm and the crickets still chirped. I held my breath waiting for it.
The long, ghostly sound rose and wailed, and then faded away. It made my body feel cold. I put my hands on the screen door and I remember slowly, quietly, pushing it open. I walked down the couple of steps and onto the hard-packed earth of the back yard. I scrunched my toes under, shivering.
She was standing out by the paddocks, wearing her white nightgown. Her long, red hair hung down her back. I could see it shimmer like quiet fire under the moonlight. It was a half moon, but it was bright. She made the world seem like a dream and for a second standing there, I thought maybe it was.
When I heard the wolf cry again, I ran to Mama and grabbed her arm. She startled a little but just laughed and hugged me tight.
“It’s alright, Mary,” Mama said. “There’s nothing to be scared of with stars like this.”
I looked up at her pretty face and she was smiling in a distant, dreamy way. She had started looking more and more like that now, and I didn’t know what was happening to her back then. Sometimes, she would do things like this, go out at night and just stare up at the great, big black sky. And then, other times, she would never leave her bed.
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