The Professor & the Coalpot Maker, or the Courtship of Nikki’s Parents

Excerpt from Oh Gad! – the novel whose 2012 release birthed this site. Published by Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster (USA)

Her hands kept going, shaping the clay, even as she tilted her head at me, as we locked gazes. She might be uneducated, but she knew when someone was pushing her buttons. She wasn’t stupid.

I knew this, as I knew that goading her was playing with fire; yet that’s just what I was doing.  I just found her life to be so frustratingly unexamined.

Her gaze stayed locked on mine, holding me, and her next words, though casual, had bite and bitterness. ‘Dreaming ah for people like you,’ she said.

My annoyance grew, as she’d no doubt intended.

‘We are more than mere hewers of wood and drawers of water,’ I said,  sounding self-important even to myself.

I wasn’t surprised when she laughed, gaze steely.

Her reluctance to meet my eyes at our first meeting notwithstanding, she had a way of staring a person down. I’d seen her do it with more than one of her children since I’d been there; and they’d always hopped to it, whatever it was.  It worked with neighbours, too. With her non-verbal vocabulary being as evolved as it was, it was no wonder she didn’t speak much.

She had words enough for me now though.

‘Smadee must draw the water, smadee must chop the wood,’ she challenged. ‘You think me ‘fraid you an’ your word an’ dem, boy?’

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