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Evie, the Baby and the Wife by Phyllis Rudin


Evie Troy has a tendency to overcomplicate things, and that can get her into trouble.

When her dying friend Jean-Gabriel cons her into carrying out his last wish, delivering a monetary mea-culpa to his ex-wife Amélie, Evie decides she knows better. In a fit of misguided generosity, she appropriates his cash to help set herself up as a surrogate mother on behalf of the barren Amélie, a plan she keeps so secret not even Amélie has an inkling a baby is headed her way.

Evie’s pregnancy scheme pops so many holes at the seams that she’s forced to enlist the aid of her estranged mother Marilyn. Back when she was Evie’s age Marilyn lit out on the Abortion Caravan, a cross-Canada road trip whose final blow-out demonstration in Ottawa brought the work of Parliament crashing to a feminist halt. Marilyn can’t fathom her daughter’s daft determination to saddle up her womb on spec, but she agrees to come on board and the two of them head-butt their way through every step of Evie’s program, from arm-twisting Mr. Right into coughing up his sperm to staging the flimflam that will relay the newborn to the oblivious Amélie.

But will Amélie accept the baby they’re offering up gift-wrapped?

Played out against the backdrop of the fight for women’s reproductive rights in Canada, Evie, The Baby, and The Wife is the boisterous tale of a mother and daughter at odds, struggling to reconnect across a uterine divide.



On Pesach of the year of her twentieth birthday, Marilyn was nowhere near a seder table. As close as she could calculate, looking back, she was probably somewhere on the outskirts of Wildrose, Alberta, although to city girl Marilyn it was hard to distinguish the outskirts from the inskirts. Oh what a hoo-hah her parents kicked up when she phoned them from a gas station along the way. It wasn’t enough that their daughter had lost her mind and set off on this cockamamie adventure, stealing from her father, skipping town, consorting with strangers (at least they were all women, thank God), but to miss Pesach. At that point in the rant Marilyn’s pocket conveniently ran out of dimes to feed into the coin slot and the call cut out.

In her mind though, Marilyn saw the Caravan as a Passover celebration of sorts. A re-enactment in a way. What was it after all but a trek through the wilderness, leading women out of slavery? For all Marilyn knew, she and Eliahu had crossed paths that first seder night when he was out doing his rounds of Jewish doorways in the Alberta foothills. She just didn’t recognize him in his cowboy hat.

It was only in the fullness of time that this analogy came to Marilyn. Out on the road she was far too busy to give any thought to the Jewish holiday calendar. Whether it was the month of Nissan or the month of Sivan or the month of Brumaire, who knew, who cared?

The roughing-it part Marilyn didn’t mind. It all had a summer campish feel to it. She’d been shipped off to a cabin colony in the Townships enough times as a kid to learn all the backwoodsy skills. She could portage a canoe and braid a lanyard with the best of them. But here the curriculum was more eclectic, branching out into fields of study her old camp had never thought to list in its advertising brochure; anatomy, psychology, elocution, celestial navigation, and tire changing, not to mention passive resistance and posting bond.

The new recruit liked to think she knew her way around a campfire. Her repertoire of spooky stories was vast as befitted a summa cum laude graduate of the Vindow Viper Academy, Lake Massawippi campus. But by her fellow Caravanners she was outclassed. They had melted their s’mores over the bonfires of hell. Their blood-drenched stories were more terrifying than hers could ever be because they were true; tales of women scarred, women damaged, women dead after botched coat-hanger abortions, women turfed out by their families and left on their own to take whatever hara-kiri measures were within their reach.

Marilyn couldn’t help but wonder what her own parents would do if she were to come home in the family way. The easiest part of the scene for her to visualize was the initial explosion, a blowup of Nagasakian proportions. But after that she was a bit hazy. Would they zip her off to a willing doctor for a quickie scrape-scrape? Would they press her to give birth to the child and then give it up? Or maybe, like so many others before her, she wouldn’t have the nerve to confide in them and would take matters into her own know-nothing hands. It was all idle speculation. She was certain the occasion would never arise, but then that’s probably what all those thousands of dewy-eyed girls in maternity smocks had figured when they obligingly hiked up their skirts just that once.

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Inanna Publications