Like Joyce and Daphne before her, Selena was desirable. Not as pretty, she nonetheless possessed the physical attributes that attracted the attention of more than a few New Village boys. There was something about her demeanor, though, which suggested she needed one or two of her mental screws tightened. Not that it mattered to the boys; they were not interested in any serious relationship—just a quick romp or two. Under the influence of her mother, whom everybody credited with passing on the loose screw gene to Selena, she initially resisted their unpolished attempts to rid her of her chastity.
Selena and her younger sister, Martha, lived with Mister Lawrence Quinlan—called “Law-Law” by those who knew him— and his family in a modest wooden house that boasted a small shop to serve the needs of the community. The girls’ stay at the Quinlan home was an arrangement between “Law-Law,” and the girls’ mother—whose real name nobody knew or remembered, but who answered to the strange, Asian-sounding name of “Tee-Ay-Say.” This wasn’t the first such arrangement between Law-Law and rural-dwelling parents who wanted to give their children the opportunity to make something of themselves in Castries. Tee-Ay-Say had only recently moved from Canaries to Castries, where the backbreaking task of caring for four kids had made her readily accept Law-Law’s proposition. All the girls had to do was help his wife with the housework, and he would see about getting a job for Selena while Martha went to school.
Tee-Ay-Say visited the girls almost every day; she wanted to be sure the contract was being honored by both parties. If Law-Law told her the girls were not pulling their weight, as they ought to, she would give them such a tongue-lashing, Law-Law himself would intervene for fear her anger would escalate into violence against the girls. Tee-Ay-Say didn’t mind, however, that as the days and weeks and months went by, Selena remained jobless; she considered that for someone like her daughter who didn’t even have a secondary school education, a job would take time. Her daughters were being fed and cared for, Martha was attending school, they were staying out of trouble, and she didn’t have to spend a cent; a job for Selena would just be icing on the cake. She would find out in due course that Selena was not adept at staying out of trouble.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story “Paternity test” from the novella, “New Village”, now on Amazon Kindle.