CBC Literary Prizes

She's All Right by Graham Arnold

Graham Arnold has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for She's All Right.

2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Graham Arnold is a Toronto-based fiction writer. (Yuko Arnold)

Graham Arnold has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for She's All Right.

About Graham

Graham Arnold works at a career college in Toronto. His work has appeared in The Malahat Review, Echolocation, Event Magazine, Ninth Letter, Asia Literary Review, Glimmer Train, Prairie Fire and The Puritan. He has an MA in literature and creative writing from the University of Toronto. He recently finished his first novel, Sea of Clouds, set during the 1923 Tokyo earthquake.

Entry in five-ish words

A headbanger loses his mother.

The story's source of inspiration

"I grew up in P.E.I. in the summers as a kid. I have a lot of family there and have a deep connection to the island. I wanted to write something from the perspective of the types of kids I hung around with when I was there, kids from small communities with a very distinct flavour of speaking and interpreting the world. I also have a friend who lost his mother to cancer when he was young. She died of a tumour on the left side of her brain, and he once told me his joke, that he figured this made her 'all right.' It was a small moment, but for some reason I remembered it over the years and always felt it said so much about how my friend tried to deal with his loss at the time. Somehow, it made me feel his pain even more than if he'd simply said he was sad. The marriage of the two, a local P.E.I. kid and my friend's loss, took root in my mind and this story is what came out of that."

First lines

Five months before she conked, around the same time me and Marcel Smollett got chucked out of Grade 11, Chardelle started going bonkers. Bill Lynch Fair come to Charlottetown and me and Chardelle were spinning upside down in the Orbiter. Her lips were the color of bee pollen from yellow marshmallow Peeps. She gripped my hand.

"We're space men," she says. "Loyn," she says to me, her son, Ricky, "Let's screw in a goddamn spaceship." 

On the ground, my step-arsehole Loyn swung a mallet at the Whack-A-Mole. Loyn had a gut with its own gravitational pull. There was something insulting to me about the way he carried that gut around, the way he eased it through doorways and into chairs, like it contained the kid he'd always wanted. I was the one he got stuck with instead. My cap read: MOTOCROSS. I squeezed the bill over my eyes and told Loyn I wanted to leave. He was holding a grease-soaked bag of chicken-fried bacon.

"Still gotta' ride the Teacups," he says.

Chardelle patted my head.

"You're OK, hun," she says. "You're just dizzy."

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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