Michelle Morouse

October 2013 Writing Regimen Contest Winner

At the end of every month-long writing regimen, participants are invited to submit up to three of their best regimen-inspired pieces for a chance at publication in SER Online. After sifting through the many excellent submissions from this October’s run, we managed to select just one piece to display. We are proud to announce that Michelle Morouse is our most recent winner.




 

Michelle Morouse, October 2013 Winner

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Michelle Morouse is a Detroit area pediatrician, and she serves on the board of Detroit Working Writers. Her work has appeared in Oxford Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Shark Reef, The Rose and Thorn Journal

 

Michelle on her winning piece: “Everyone Is” was inspired by the prompt regarding the use of humor, and by my childhood in a small town, where I listened to, and participated in everyday gossip. Of course, the world outside of Clarkston, Michigan wasn’t much different. I think people tend to create their own small towns, wherever they live.

Everyone Is

 

     Sarah grew up in a shaded colonial, on a quiet street, save for the roar of young children, snow blowers, and lawn mowers. The former owners were a bubbly cheerleading coach and a hunk of a history teacher. They dressed as retro celebrities when they handed out candy: Sonny and Cher, Pat and Dick, Dale and Roy. They left without warning, after midnight, one August. A third party handled the closing.
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     Sarah’s mother made her own bread, and bought organic, when affordable. A disappointing nurser, Sarah started life on pumped breast milk. Sometimes, when she failed to drain the bottle, her mother used the remainder in her coffee.
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     Her Uncle Bill married a Mennonite, who grew corn right up to the back deck of their two acre southern Ontario plot—steaming, creaming, grilling, pickling, freezing, soufflé-ing it—the kitchen floor sticky with the juices all summer. He stood at their second story bedroom window one day and a cluster of stalks waved at him. His wife soon emerged; his bowling buddy a few minutes later.
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     Dad was a fastidious man, but he disliked using tissues. At night, his nose whistled, and he’d remove the crusts. Once, while changing the beds, Sarah found flakes at the edge of her parent’s box spring, like crushed amber.
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     Andrew, a cheerful, incipient evangelist, persuaded Sarah to visit his father’s mega-church, and then asked her to the prom. Why not? It was time to quit pining over bad boys.  But his ex, a thin tuba player who wore sweaters year round, said “He gets what he wants.” Sarah faked a stomach virus.
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     Sarah’s parents bought her a ticket to Florida for her first college spring break, but only to visit her grandma. There’d be no predators with cameras, or libations finding their way into unnatural orifices. Sun streamed in as she ate her Cheerios, and drank her coffee. Aunt Mary said “I like that Matt Lauer. He could put his shoes under my–”
     “Matt Lauer again,” said Grandma, “He seems nice, but you don’t know him. Everyone’s weird, once you get to know them. Well, I’m taking Bandit for his walk. He needs it. When they say ‘lazy as a pet raccoon,’ they’re not kidding.”
                                        *
     Sarah learned that Grandma was right, and with every new face, she awaited the appearance of that person’s certain something—the comptroller who needed his dogs in the room when he made love, the roommate with a silicone fetish, the boss captivated by Dick Cheney. “Everyone’s weird, once you get to know them” became an expectation, a talisman against the shock of revelation, against a rush to judgment.  She learned to sort out the unsettling from the everyday grotesque. Some things are truly untenable. Everything else is just a little breast milk in the coffee.