CBC Literary Prizes

By-standing by Marina Wolfe

Marina Wolfe has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for By-standing.

2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Marina Wolfe is a writer based in Cochrane, Alta. (Matt Wolfe)

Marina Wolfe has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for By-standing.

About Marina

Marina Wolfe is the eldest daughter of a devoted family and a lifelong bookworm. She stayed in university far too long because she took classes for fun. She fuelled planes at a flight school, served hors d'oeuvres at weddings, sold cow tongues in a butcher shop and raved about words in English language academies. She uprooted herself, moved across provinces and worked hard to settle in my new home. Marina is a wife, a mother and a writer at heart. Most importantly she loves and is loved, and is very happy.

Entry in five-ish words

Motherhood, neighbourhood, responsibility and guilt.

The story's source of inspiration

"This story was inspired by the strange intimacy of city living, where we often fail to learn our neighbours' names yet memorize their work schedules, discover their marital problems and have front row seats to their daily habits. Sometimes this allows us to put them in the worst light and when lives spiral out of control it emphasizes our failure to foster community.  And it's inspired by that one apartment next door which saw a series of troubled tenants and was obviously cursed."

First lines

The snow is blowing sideways by the time I ease the car against the curb and put it in park. It's only 35 feet to my door, but I have six bags of groceries and the baby and the cold is biting. I don't want to make more than one trip. I clutch the keys in my hand like a knife and go around back to the trunk, where I lever all six bags onto one arm. I slam the trunk and hustle to the passenger side, where I unlatch the baby carrier and in one smooth motion lift it out of its base and out of the car. I slam the door with my hip and hurry down the sidewalk, arming the car alarm without looking back.

On my stoop I brace the carrier between my body and the wall and struggle to unlock my door. I can feel the fine hairs in my nostrils freezing and my un-gloved fingers are already starting to ache. I get the door open and barge inside, bags dropping to the landing as I tuck the baby carrier in the corner so I can close the door behind us.

About the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.


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