Beautifully written with striking imagery, broken water revolves around a mother (Elizabeth) and her 28-year-old daughter (Ellie). Through the interweaving of their stories, we see that Elizabeth sadly and tragically denies truth, while Ellie is unable and sometimes unwilling to see all the things that would connect her to others and herself. As the cycle progresses, Ellie is slowly opening up to the possibility of these connections as she approaches her own truth, her own rebirth. The effects of these characters and their lives ripple throughout the stories, affecting all of the family members on different levels.
Six of the ten stories have been published independently in literary journals and magazines. Now the stories are brought together in the cycle, the way that they were conceived and created. While the stories resonate on their own, in the cycle they now reverberate as they illuminate the characters, themes, and imagery on a whole new level.
"Sometimes wry, sometimes sad, sometimes moving, broken water is about many things, but most of all it is about family: the tragedies, the misunderstandings, the confusion, yet also the love that is sometimes lost beneath all the hurts. As an entry in that unique art form, the short story cycle, broken water is more than a collection of individual stories each of which would stand well on its own. The carefully and meticulously forged links of shared imagery, character, and motifs connect one story to the next and provide the discerning reader a rich, four dimensional experience that engages the mind and touches the heart."
My eyes bounce around the room as I hear Mom open and close the oven door over and over and over again. The kitchen and the living room are really one room with a half wall dividing the tile from the carpet. The kitchen table is a card table with a linen tablecloth, and the chairs all have my grandmother's embroidered cushions on them to soften the seat. A green velvet couch takes up the whole wall under the only window, and two antique end tables shine cherry red in the bright light. Mom polishes those tables every night when she comes home from working at Kroger, as if her being gone has somehow dulled the finish. A black and white TV sits alone on a stack of milk crates facing the couch, but I don't think it's been turned on in years. The whole room is about as big as my bedroom when I was growing up.
I finally allow my eyes to focus on the walls. For reasons unknown to me, when Mom moved here she started collecting calendars and sticking them on the wall with multi-colored thumb tacks. Not just a couple of calendars here and there. They cover the walls. There's July 1972 with a Labrador panting in an Uncle Sam hat. November 1965 with a snow capped mountain in the Alps. January 1990 with slender babes in bikinis at Waikiki. Little calendars with a whole year on one page and a stamp from Harry's Hardware on the bottom, and long thin calendars with Chinese characters on each month that reach from the floor to the ceiling. Calendars with strangers' writing on random dates from forgotten years. Calendars on top of calendars, overlapping dates and years and memory and history. Not one of them is of the current month or year or even one of Mom's own. All old, all tossed out with the new year. I just don't get it. I never have asked Mom about this. I don't think I want to.
Paula Martin Morell, MFA, is the recipient of regional, national, and international awards for her short stories and poetry. Her work has also appeared in publications such as Short Story Journal, New Works Review, Outsider Ink,Southern Hum, Foliate Oak, Passport Journal, Quills and Pixels, The Double Dealer Redux,The Little Rock Free Press, The Arkansas Women's Journal, and Word Salad. Three times she has been featured as an emerging writer at the International Conference on the Short Story in English. She is the co-founder and Creative Director for A Way With Words Writing Workshops (www.awaywithwords.org) and is listed on the Arkansas Arts Council Arts in Education Artist Roster.
Paula lives with her husband Jason and their daughters Annaliese and Sophia in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she writes, teaches creative writing workshops, and teaches college writing online. She and Jason also own and operate Starving Artist Cafe' in Little Rock.
"It's so immediate and heartfelt, simple and ordinary yet surprising in ways only real life can be. It feels like a page out of the human heart."
Laura Parker Castoro,
author of Crossing the Line
"Morell's characters in broken water not only seem believable, but they feel like they're in the room with you. The characters are brutally honest, and take the readers on an unexpected family journey through a series of connected vignettes. This is a novel you won't want to put down, even after you reach the end."
author of Burning Tulips
"Paula Martin Morell's broken water is a collection of memorable stories, giving us glimpses of lives we know with the insight of art."
Dan Wakefield, author of the novels Going All The Way and Starting Over.