Writing | Rage | Mercy Manor

Two teenage BFFs on the cusp of drifting apart break into a long-abandoned home for unwed mothers. One has something to share, the other something to hide, and neither is comfortable with the truth.

Story Origins

Mercy Manor

Mercy Shelter (rechristened Sundale Manor) was an orphanage in Chatham, Ontario which was later converted into a home for unwed mothers. By the time I'd almost become a teen and discovered it, the building had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. My friends and I used to sneak inside what we thought of as a haunted house just to scare ourselves. However, we weren't the only ones to brave the derelict building and I remember graffiti covered many of the walls--some of which bore the names of people I knew. While the real Sundale Manor's fate was different from my fictional Mercy Manor (it was torn down in the late 1980s to put up apartments), in essence they are the same place.

I also believe certain teen relationships--especially those of platonic best friends--can be very intense, and in some ways I think they're just as intimate as a marriage. In "Mercy Manor," Janie and Crystal are, or rather were, that close, and they both agree to a night-time fright trip for very different reasons: Janie to reconnect while Crystal (who has had just about enough of Janie's shit) to keep a secret.

Throwing a deadbeat boyfriend, a fear of ghosts, pre-marital sex, a lot of lying, some light shoplifting, and a mickey of vodka into that mix gave me a story which brought back memories from a time when I was beginning to learn who I was.

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