The first time, and the only time, a story of mine was published was in the Writer Center's literary magazine, Flying Island, back in 1832, or sometime before its second Phoenix. I still have several copies of that edition at home: one is in my desk, another in my, er, second office, and yet another somewhere else (I think in a safe buried under twelve feet of solid gold). Oh, wait. That one I gave to a friend who was Post-Doc-ing his brains out at STARK Neuroscience. His whole lab was welcomed to read it. I must have thought they would since Andre's lab mates were rather cultured as far as us science geeks go, and they also seemed to like me. Honestly, I never saw the magazine moved from Andre's burdened desk. Maybe I should have left it under the bed of gold.
Of those who did read my short story, their first impression was one of did you really write this? Hmm... You would think the story was written in a voice alien to my own. Was it smarter than they thought I actually was? Sexier? Deeper? Or was it the subject matter?
The story was about a young, gay man toiling away the long night in the parlor, expecting a visit from his lover to his little village home he shared with his mother. Not such a major issue in today's world (Wow! I can really say that!), but not quite the norm in late 19th Century England. And things would go quite well for the protagonist - a lovely night in the arms of his lover will surely go quite pleasantly, if not end too quickly - if his mother would just, well, GO TO BED! She decides to knit for hours on end, tucking her feet under her son's stony legs, as they share a family moment on the settee in front of the crackling fire. The only fire he wants was of a different nature!
He reads a boring book. She knits a difficult weave.
Ah! But the knitting knots up, and his mother finally does retire, and he is left alone with his romantic thoughts stoked on anticipation and the thrill to defy those who would trample his true nature. Tick, tock, tick, tock. As he waits for his lover to sneak in, his mother's clock keeps him in check of 1887. His anticipation gives way to uncertainty as the minutes grow with no sign of his lover. His pride, too, drains to have failed at such a union, and so miserably. Doubt eats away at his essence. How could he have shaken his fist at society like so and to have planned such an affair right under his mother's bedroom - Guilt!- to have disappointed his late father - Fail! - to have disrespected his grandfather's staunch Catholicism -Shame!- and to not commit to his country like his uncle who went off to war in India - Kept!
A fire dies if it is not fed continuously. His kind of fire can only be fed in spurts and only in late hours of the night and only in-between knitting fits and teeth clenching, squeak-less closing of doors, if not windows... Huh? What was that he heard just now? A turn of the knob? Or, was that just the frigid wind?
Flying Island gave me a new voice.
Maybe that's why my friends and family did not immediately recognize it.
I remember being blown away when I read that story and was so proud to include it in Flying Island. When are you going to submit again? :)ReplyDelete