“Breathe” appears in a UK-based magazine called The Island Review, which its editors say “is an online magazine dedicated to great writing and visual art that comes from, is inspired by, celebrates or seeks to understand the extraordinary appeal of islands, as places and as metaphors.”

Breathe

By Ruth Edgett

My baby brother may die today, but my parents say there are still chores to attend and customs to be kept.

Mother is making butter, because Monday is always the day she makes butter. She is at the churn next to the kitchen stove, which has been moved from the summer kitchen to the dining room for the winter. She has just begun to work the dash and I can hear its faint squish-and-shush from my seat nearby at the big table where we take our meals. I am in Mother’s chair facing the window. I can see Father outdoors at the wood pile moving snow, lifting logs, heaving the axe, and puffing great clouds of steam into the bright morning air. I don’t know if we need that much kindling.

We are barely three weeks into 1933 and bound to our lighthouse island by the ice and winds over St. George’s Bay. We children cannot attend school on the mainland in winter, so we are being educated according to the Nova Scotia Correspondence Program for Outposts. I, Grace Mitchell, am twelve and in grade seven. My next sister, Rose, is ten-and-a-half. Colin is eight, Elizabeth is six and James, if he makes it, will be two next month.

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