“Matriarchy” (Short Story)

“Matriarchy” (matriarchy.pdf) was a pleasant surprise…and a revelation. It was originally written as sort of an exercise, three or four pages of text which I then filed away. But I never quite put it out of my mind, there was something that stayed with me, the voice of the main character, the notion of these vile, old women controlling and manipulating and intimidating him.

Last summer (2007) I was, as they say, between projects and chafing at the inactivity. I recalled “Matriarchy” and thought I’d dig it out and have another crack at it. The tale came together remarkably quickly, at least for a plodder like me. I read it aloud to my wife and sons and their reaction was gratifying–I knew I had something. God bless Kelley Jo Burke, producer of the CBC Radio arts program “Sound XChange”, for thinking enough of the tale to pick it up. It was broadcast the end of October–on my birthday, as a matter of fact.

Here it is, a heart-breaker…and a gem. Enjoy!


  1. kevmoore

    Cliff, I liked this very much. It created a lot of powerful imagery in my mind, white clapboard churches and brittle old women in fluttering black, hovering around the main character like crows around carrion. It really showed the nasty white underbelly of a family, that sadly all too often rears up in death. I’ve just recently heard of a friend’s family where such unseemly jockeying for position in the will took place. Life imitating art imitating life? Oh yeah!

  2. mywritingmentor

    I scrolled down and saw your work space. I am impressed! Mine is strewn with books, papers, note cards, and various tools of the trade. The coffee cup with fuzzy contents could be my next source of inspiration! Yuck!
    Anyway, I love your workspace and your blog. Keep up the great work and try and honor your inner slob with a wee bit of clutter on the table.
    Warm regards,

  3. lazytypea

    I love it when stories come out naturally! It almost seems like cheating though if you don’t struggle for a while with it. (And to clarify on my blog, the prof wants us to find our own voice and helps in that journey and she doesn’t force anything on us, except the due dates.)

  4. learning2rite

    Thanks Cliff! I liked “In My Room”–looks like a really cool place! Love your writing! L2R

  5. Litlove

    I didn’t come across this in time for the latest edition of the Best of New Writing, but may I have an option on crossposting it for the next edition, please?

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