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  from Emma Emerging by Shirley Holder Platt

Chapter 1

Have you ever experienced that slurping, sucking sound as air filled the void left by your boot when trying to extract yourself from wet, boggy mud you’d stepped in? It’s like you know that if you pull your foot too hard and fast, your boot will stay, and your next step will be one of the worst and messiest of your life. Well, that was the sound I was waiting for my life to make. I wanted to extract myself from my mother’s orbit, and I didn't care how crazy it got. I just had to figure out how to keep the mess to a minimum. I was seventeen years old. My given name was Myrna Alonti, and everyone (except my mother) called me Emma back then. Stay with me, it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride. I remember throwing my clothes into a box in a hurry when I heard my mom calling from the next room.

“Myrna, we’ve got to go NOW,” she said with an emphasis on “now” that I’d heard at least ten thousand times before. She was like a broken record, always saying things like, “Myrna, it’s time to wake up - NOW; Myrna, I need you to tell me how this glass got broken - NOW; Myrna, get those dishes washed - NOW.” Mothers can be so bossy. It was always the same urgency with Mom. She never did anything with a plan, she was what you’d call a real seat of the pants kind of gal. I was a teenager who loved planning and order. She irritated me to no end. I hated her then as only a teenage girl can hate a mom. Even back then I knew that hate was not a good thing, but give a girl a break. Who names their child Myrna when everyone is naming their kids Ashley or Brittany? My name is one of the reasons I hated her, but it’s not the only reason, you’ll understand that later.

My name caused me grief as far back as I can remember. For instance, my first day at a new school was always painful when the kids found out my first name. Take first grade as an example. I was so excited to be going to school. That meant that I was a big girl. I was co...

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