Gracie goes to college!

Jul 20, 2012

Some of my characters stick to me like flies to flypaper. Gracie, who shows up in my story called “Laundry Day,” is one of the stickier ones. We find Gracie in a ratty Laundromat on Christmas Eve trying to get the dog hair out of the bed sheets before her long absent boyfriend gets back. This leaves her with hard choices.

When people read her story, they always say poor Gracie. Gracie says thing like, “Deafness comes with an on-off switch, otherwise we’d go crazy listening to what we’re not meant to hear – all that thudding and cracking and pleading.”

It’s not as if she’s a real girl, but from her inception I’ve cared deeply about her future. (I haven’t thought once about her nasty boyfriend, good riddance.) She was just a preemie when I first sent her into the world. She came back to me several months later – rejected. But I didn’t give up on her. I spruced her up, cheered her on, and sent her right back out again. Room Magazine in Vancouver gave her space in their Winter 2010 issue and then generously passed her along to theJourney Prize folks in Toronto. We all crossed our fingers, waiting breathlessly to see if she’d make the cut and into the 23 anthology of The Journey Prize Stories.  She did.

This would be a fitting end to Gracie’s journey. But I’ve recently learned, quite by accident, that she’s since gone on to college. Apparently “Laundry Day” was one of three reading selections chosen by the Quebec Ministry of Education for the English Exit Exam, compulsory for all students in English Cegeps before obtaining their diploma. They’re given four hours to read the text and write a 750-word essay, analyzing the story’s theme and the literary techniques and devices used. This means that on May 16, 2012, hundreds, maybe thousands, of students spent an afternoon with Gracie. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. I would have liked to chat with those students and ask if they were rooting for her, too.

Now that Gracie’s been nicely settled, it’s Rebee’s turn to meet the world. Let’s hope our Shore girl fares as well.

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