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  • Susan Stoderl

Experiment | A Forgotten Novel |Prairie Dust, Chapter 1, Excerpt 2

Grass plains with run down cabin.
Cabin on the Prairie

Louie watched his father getting ready to leave through the tiny window. His overbearing, philandering father had laid down the law. Uprooted from his sixth-grade class in Nebraska, Louie's father forced him to ship out among the horses, mules, and farm equipment to be an unpaid farm hand to his father and brother. He’d be damned if he’d give his father one inch. Louie would escape this god-forsaken wasteland no matter how long it took and what he had to do. His father's and brother's only goal? Become the most prominent figures in Colorado.

Louie knew he would not be returning to school in Colorado. His father and brother often bragged about ending their formal education with sixth grade. His mother was furious that Louie could not even finish the school year. Louie was an outstanding student, despite often being absent because of farm work.  The rift between his two parents was wide and growing.

Louie’s father was self-educated beyond sixth grade and had no problem with book learning. However, Louie’s dad thought he was a mama’s boy, as his father was fond of saying. He’d heard his parent’s fights on the subject often enough. The more Flora indulged Louie’s introverted bookishness, the more his father thought him a “damn sissy. Get your nose out of those books and start learning to become a successful man—not end up like your Ma’s brother taking on odd jobs to make ends meet.”


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