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The Leaving: Stories

TitleThe Leaving: Stories
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsWilson, Budge
DescriptorsAging; Diaries; English Language; Families; Friendship; Nova Scotia; Short Stories

This book by Nova Scotia author Budge Wilson is a collection of short stories about young women growing up, leaving childhood, and learning their own strengths. The stories are set in Nova Scotia and include "The Metaphor", "The Diary", "Mr. Manuel Jenkins", "Lysandra's Poem", "My Mother and Father", "The Leaving", "My Cousin Clarette", "The Reunion", "Waiting", "Be-ers and Doers" and "The Pen Pal."


Nova Scotia

Age Range


Author Profile: 

The Leaving is a collection of eleven short stories about girls and women from Nova Scotia. In the title story, “The Leaving,” a mother of modest education is influenced by Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, and leaves with her 12-year-old daughter on a three-day hiatus from the obnoxious men in their family. When mother and daughter return, small but positive changes manifest as a result of their absence. Other stories in the volume deal with the power of language and the written word as certain characters reap the rewards and sometimes consequences of literary success. Still other stories focus on the family and the struggles embedded in forging or breaking the relationships that define us.


“She took me with her the day she left. ‘Where y’ goin’, Ma?’ I asked. She was standing beside my bed with her coat on.
‘Away,’ said Ma. ‘And yer comin’, too.’
I didn’t want to go anywhere. It was three o’clock in the morning, and I was warm in my bed.
‘Why me?’ I complained.
I was too sleepy to think of any more complicated questions. In any case, there were no choices and very few questions back then when we were kids. You went to school and you came home on the school bus. If your father wanted you to shovel the snow or fetch eggs, he told you, and you did it. He didn’t ask. He told. Same with Ma. I did the dishes and brought in the firewood when it was required … But at 3:00 a.m., the situation seemed unusual enough to permit a question. Therefore I asked again, ‘Why me?’
‘Because yer the smartest,’ she said. ‘And because yer a woman.’
I was twelve years old that spring.’” (“The Leaving” 83)

“I began [my metaphor]: ‘My mother is a flawless modern building, created of glass and the smoothest of pale concrete. Inside are business offices furnished with beige carpets and gleaming chromium. In every room there are machines—telex machines, mimeograph machines, and sleek typewriters. They are buzzing and clicking away, absorbing and spitting out information with speed and skill that is not normal. Downstairs, at ground level, people walk in and out, tracking mud and dirt over the steel-grey tiles, marring the cool perfection of the building. There are no comfortable chairs in the lobby.’” (“The Metaphor” 4)