Heidi W. DurrowHeidi W. Durrow

An Excerpt from The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

In my diary I write: this is Day 2. Second day at Grandma's house. I wish I could go back home. Home to before Chicago. To back in Germany when there was me and Robbie and Mor and Pop. And everything was okay. Even though there wouldn't be an Ariel, that would be okay too.

Aunt Loretta makes pancakes special for me even though she has no business in the kitchen. Two pancakes and not-enough syrup is what she gives me. Syrup that makes a stain in the pancake middle, gone so fast like the pancake is thirsty. I eat exactly what she gives me.

Aunt Loretta eats only one pancake. And Grandma none because her teeth don't set right. There is something dangerous about pancakes because Grandma watches us eat. "How you gonna catch a lizard with your backside loading you down?" Grandma fusses at Aunt Loretta. I am smart and know that when she says lizard she means husband. That is called learning the meaning from the context. Because Grandma says it and she touches Aunt Loretta's face at the same time. That means she's talking about being pretty and being worth something and making it count.

Aunt Loretta laughs. And so do I. They are happy that I am laughing. It's the first time as the new girl.

"I don't need a lizard, mama."

When Aunt Loretta says Mama, I think of saying Mor and how I don't get to say it anymore. I am caught in before and after time. Last-time things and firsts. Last-time things make me sad like the last time I called for Mor and used Danish sounds. I feel my middle fill up with sounds that no one else understands. Then they reach my throat. What if these sounds get stuck in me?

I laugh harder, but the real laugh feels trapped inside too.

More Excerpts

Download an excerpt of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, originally published as "He Runs," in The Literary Review, Winter 2007. [PDF]