Nicole Chin on Shooting the Bitch
I began writing Shooting the Bitch last year on an especially long train ride from Oakville to Ottawa. It was summer, and I was on my way to visit my boyfriend at the time. He lived in the rural area of Ottawa on a farm with his parents and their two dogs. I was raised in the suburbs, so visiting that farm became a novelty that I relished.
It was one of my travels to Ottawa that inspired the concept of Shooting the Bitch. I was on the train looking out the window as we approached Fallowfield, watching the houses whip by. I saw a boy, probably no older than thirteen, standing in his backyard as the sunset behind him. He was standing in the opposite corner from a golden retriever in the backyard. Their shadows were melding with the shade of a tree. The screen door to their house had been left open. The boy was standing in a position with his shoulders rolling forward in a way that made him look incredibly morose. That image seared itself into my brain. I don’t know why. It wasn’t special and it happened in probably half a minute. Yet as soon as it happened, I began to write what would be the first half of Shooting the Bitch.
When I arrived in Ottawa, my boyfriend picked me up and drove me to the farm. When we got to the farm, I found out that my favourite of their dogs was having difficulty walking and eating. My boyfriend told me that the dog was going to die soon. I remember being surprised at how he had said that in such a detached, nonchalant way. I know he felt sad, but he didn’t show it.
My boyfriend and I were approaching an emotional speed bump when I finally got down to finishing Shooting the Bitch. I had been struggling with the ending for a while, but I had to submit a piece of writing for a workshop in one of my creative writing classes the next day. I had tried to write different endings before, but none of them had ever felt right. When I began to work on the story again, I was in a different emotional place. It was the beginning of my fourth year, and at the end of the summer I had seen my estranged father for the first time in five years. The experience had been especially hard on me, and it had made me reflect on my own relationship with my father. When I began to work on Shooting the Bitch again, it fell into place within the afternoon. The ending didn’t feel like something I had to think about or figure out, but it felt more like a reflex to what had happened recently. It was the culmination of those two events, as well as that one train ride that sparked what would become the final ending of Shooting the Bitch.
— Nicole Chin
Short, sharp, and unexpectedly disturbing, “Shooting the Bitch” is the award-winning story from newcomer, and former Anansi intern, Nicole Chin.