In Somewhere I Belong, we meet young P.J. Kavanaugh at North Boston Station. His father has died, the Depression is on, and his mother is moving them back home. They settle in, and P.J. makes new friends. But the P.E.I. winter is harsh, the farm chores endless, and his teacher a drunken bully. He soon wants to go home; the problem is how.
A letter arrives from Aunt Mayme announcing a Babe Ruth charity baseball game in the old neighbourhood. But Ma won’t let him go. P.J is devastated. The weeks pass, then there is an accident on the farm. P.J. becomes a hero and Ma changes her mind. He travels to Boston, sees his friends, watches Babe Ruth hit a home run, and renews his attachment to the place. But his eagerness to return to the Island makes him wonder where he really belongs.
This excerpt is from a scene where PJ and Uncle Jim hitch up Big Ned and go off on a rescue mission. There has been a violent storm and the old man across the road hasn’t been heard from in days.
From behind Uncle Jim, all I could see was Big Ned’s huge hind end lumbering forward and show blowing all around him. Beyond us lay a stark, freezing whiteout. I know our route headed due east. But I wondered how we could navigate blindly and find the open gateway at the end of the drive without the horse getting a hoof snagged in the barbed-wire fence.
Uncle Jim guided Big Ned along what remained of the path we had dug across the yard the day before. When the path ended, he slapped the reins and urged the horse into deeper snow. His pace slowed, but he kept pulling us. Snow kept falling over him, sticking to his thick, winter coat. His legs seemed to sink into it as he pressed onward. I huddled under the blanket, my arms hugging my chest, my head bent behind Uncle Jim, shielded from the wind. It was like sleepwalking, it felt so directionless.
My uncle said Big Ned’s blind obedience was the Percheron’s nature. But there was something in the way he pushed steadily onward, in the way his ears perked forward, his neck straining and pumping, that said there was much more to him than that. There was a sense of urgency about him. It was as it he knew we were on a rescue mission and he was an important part of it. I’d never before thought of animals as being smart, but this one surely was.
Uncle Jim and that big old horse must have made that trip a thousand times. We reached the end of the drive, turned right onto Northbridge Road, travelled about a hundred yards, and then took a short left turn. Soon, we found the path that connected the old mans’ house to the road. Uncle Ed had managed to shovel it clear. Show-laden branches of evergreens brushed us on each side. We entered a clearing. A lone, leafless apple tree stood to the right, covered in ice. To the left, across the yard, posts of an open gateway to Mr. White’s field poked from a drift. Beside it, the outline of the barn was barely visible. I knew Mr. White’s tiny, slope-roofed house was somewhere nearby, but I couldn’t see it. The snow swirled so hard, it was difficult to tell field from sky.
About the Author
I am a writer, editor and indexer who lives in historic Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. A true Maritimer, I was born and raised in Nova Scotia and my Prince Edward Island roots hail back to 1830. My short stories have been published in Jilted Angels: A Collection of Short Stories (Broad Street Press), and Riptides: New Island Fiction (Acorn Press Canada), the latter which was nominated for best Atlantic book of 2012 and won the 2013 Prince Edward Island Book Award. In addition to placing first in the 2014 Atlantic Writing Competition’s literary non-fiction category, I received a mentorship from the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia to study under award-winning writer, William Kowalski. I am also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, where I studied novel writing under two-time Governor General Award winner, David Adams Richards. My first novel, Somewhere I Belong, is based on a true story and was released on November 1, 2014 by Acorn Press Canada.
As a published author and fiction writer, I offer developmental writing services, coaching, and copy editing, structural editing to emerging writers of fiction and non-fiction in short-story, novel or book format. As an editor, I revise scholarly works written by academics whose first language is not English and who wish to complete their master’s theses, PhD dissertations, or publish in English-language academic journals. I also completed an indexing course at the University of California at Berkeley and index books on economics, politics, history, and topics of general interest.