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They sent messages to each other through Claudia and me: Tell your father/Please inform your mother.
These messages were angry or heartbroken or flirtatious. Usually, Claudia and I forgot them entirely, or forgot the most important part of them.
She went to concerts in people’s basements and all-ages shows at Little Fernwood. “Very convincing.” * Dad went as far away as he could on fifty dollars. That was one thing Claudia hated about The Separation: she’d lost her tyranny of the telephone.
She moshed and stage-dived, and spent so much time thrashing around with other dirty, sweating kids that once she got scabies. ” “I think she hoped her hair would annoy you.” “But I think it’s cute. He took the Greyhound up-island, as far north as it would go. Had my mom answered the phone, he probably would have spoken triumphantly: “I’m in Port Hardy. Mom was always talking to her sisters, women friends, and anyone else who was up for a little schadenfreude.
Then Claudia stomped into the room, with her purple hair and her boots that left marks on the lino. My homework still consisted of memorizing how to spell difficult words, like friend and people. In her twenties, she came to understand how to really get to our parents, and her techniques became much more sophisticated.
She heaved the fridge door open then slammed it shut. But when I was eleven, I didn’t understand how young and stupid she was, so I copied everything she did. I coloured my hair with markers from school, so that my head looked and smelled like blueberries.
Then she came back and my dad stayed in a hotel for two days.* Our parents were awed by the latest catastrophe they’d created. They didn’t seem to notice that, separated, they were more married than ever.Each obsessed over what the other was doing, or might be doing.Our dad was a ceramics artist who sold cups and bowls at the local farmers’ market, had lost most of his short-term memory, and never got any of the big commissions that the tourist board gave out.As young children, Claudia and I were encouraged to be wild. The neighbours complained because our parents never mowed the lawn, believing that children should have high grass to play in and dandelion seeds to blow.