Dust in the Shadow of the Sun by Elisa Bandy
Holly looked down on the scrawl that had passed for art when she was a child with contempt. A blocky 'painting' of a clown with physics-defying hair and matching garb smirked at her, mocking her for the lack of preternatural talent that she'd mistakenly thought she'd had. The thought was ridiculous, but after years of being told that you were one in a million, only to finally realize that you were just like every little Jack and Jill in the neighborhood... it was disheartening, to say the least.
The portrait captured nothing of the woman that her mother had been, not one scrap of her charm, nor her wit. There wasn't even a single shred of her beauty, but at the time, Holly'd thought that it had been even better than the photographs that had once lined the mantle in radiant sunlight.
Now only an ancient photograph of Holly when she was five remained as the sole inhabitant of the room above the fireplace, on display as a testament of all the wonderful things that her father had expected her to live up to. Unsurprisingly, she'd failed to become any of the things he'd hoped she'd be by now. China tended to crack and break beneath immense pressures, leaving amidst the fragments only Daddy's Little Disappointment, as she liked to call herself. A part of her suspected that he thought the very same thing; they were more alike than he cared to admit aloud.
She went down to the fireplace and picked up the photo, a chronicle of the last time she'd felt truly happy. Holly set the painting down on its rightful throne on the mantle. A smirk crossed her mouth and mutated it. She picked the beaten-down suitcase up from the floor, the measure of an entire life packed securely inside it with heavy, brass locks. On the table, she abandoned a single wild-flower, long since withered, next to a simple note she knew that he'd be too furious to read. It didn't matter to her; she was going to be a star, because being anything away from here was a success in her mind.
After all, she had been born to be Holly Wood.
The door clicked shut and her keys made a jingling sound as they hit the pavement of the drive. The smirk on her face had by this time ballooned into a full-on, honest-to-God grin. For the first time in a long, long time, the light at the end of the tunnel was fatefully warm, and death would be a glorious, true adventure.
I would love to crawl inside of all your heads and figure out what is going on! I guess these stories gave me a little glimpse. I was struck by how a portrait of a little girl for the majority of the authors took a melancholic and sometimes a really sinister turn! Several dealt with the children’s anxieties and conflicts several others shared the common thread of how we all have fears for our little ones.
Although I enjoyed reading them all (I don’t think there was a bad story in the group) I favored the most positive story “Dust in the Shadow of the Sun” by Elisa Bandy.
“Mommy Knows Pest” by Momo Approvesco is the most sardonic. Ooof Momo. This sounds just a little too real to be made up. I think Momo been standing at the window too long and staring at the neighbors. I know that you all want to put the needs of Holly before your own so please read your neighbor Paula’s letter.
Two really great stories had a realist anecdotal quality. “Radio Daze” by Royce A. Ratterman and “Rink a-dink a bottle of ink. . .” by Helen Chapman, were stories that had a universal quality. I remember experiencing some of the same things with my friends when I was small. I think these authors share in my own fears for my neighbor’s kids who I babysit for.
Other stories were really powerful gut punches! Patrick Nelson went for the “Boxing Helena” angle. His story at first had the legs to go the distance but through a sinister turn of events the wheels of misfortune sometimes people just fall to pieces. . . (Sorry.)
Some stories delighted in playing up the “Mommy Dearest” angle. Weiss and DeVault really made some clever allusions to both the characters of Holly Wood and The Hollywood. A little bit Christina Crawford and a little too close to my own biography. No, I didn’t live in a trailer but someone I know does. (Shhhh, mum’s the word.) Sharing some blood in the same vein is Dee Turbon’s “Shoes that Pinch.” Turbon’s story was less Joan Crawford’s then Shirley Temple but still made me wonder “what happened to Baby Jane?” Turbon’s character seemed to reference a “child actor” in Dicken’s “Nickolas Nickleby.”
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