Summer Reading Excerpt #3

This week’s summer reading excerpt is taken from One Year Commencing. In Chapter 4, Al is trying to figure a way out of doing what a court order has said she has to do – stay at her dad’s for a year, and after that decide whether to stay with him or go back out west to live with her mom again.

One Year Commencing
… “Paddle boats today or bikes?” her dad asked.

“I don’t care. You decide.”

“Whatever makes you happy.”

To go home like usual at the end of August. That’s what would make me happy. “Paddle boats,” she said.

Maybe today she could tell him. After a couple of hours, when he was more relaxed. Daddy, you know what? she could say. I don’t really need a whole year to decide. I want to go home now.

“One paddle boat for two hours,” her dad told the young woman at the rental counter. He pulled a twenty dollar bill from the wad in his wallet to leave as a deposit.

Al’s mom never had money like that, not even at the beginning of the month. Sometimes she even had to put groceries back when she got to the checkout, because she’d run a little short. No wonder she complained all the time that he never sent enough.

They pedalled lazily through the lagoon and under bridges teeming with people. Ducks played hide-and-seek between the branches of trees that dipped to the water’s edge. On the shore were kids playing Teddy Bear games. Around a quiet corner a couple lay in the grass feeding each other pieces of mango.

“I like it here, Dad.”

“We can come over in the off-season this year. It’s nice without the summer tourists.”

“I’ve been thinking . . .” She watched her sandals pushing the boat pedals, up down, left right, up down.

Her dad reached over and squeezed her hand. “There’s lots we can think about doing this year. Isn’t it great not to feel pressured by our usual time limit?”

“Yeah. But — ”

“We should go pick out paint for your room sometime before school starts. I would have had it done before you came, but I didn’t want to decide on a colour without you.”

Al nodded. “Thanks.”

“Sorry, honey, you were going to say something.”

It’s unlikely you will find it at your local bookstore, so if you’d like to purchase a copy of One Year Commencing, your best bet is probably Or you could try your local library.


  1. Janet Barclay on August 19, 2016 at 8:37 am

    This is such a short excerpt, but it really captures what it feels like when you want to bring up a difficult topic with someone – it's painful at any age!

    • Kathy Stinson on August 22, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      You're right, Janet. And writing these painful moments is definitely more fun than living them. 🙂

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