Breakin’ (Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us)

I slept extremely well last night; my sleep has been better lately. It also rained last night, which didn’t hurt. Our bipolar weather is humid and in the sixties this week, heavy sigh, but it’s going to get cold again this weekend, of course. I have a three day holiday this weekend, so I am hoping to get a lot accomplished. Saturday is errands and cleaning and reading and some editing; Sunday and Monday will be primarily devoted to writing. I am sooooo behind, Constant Reader, sooooo behind–but I am not allowing it to cause me the stress it usually does. Instead, I am going to not worry about it, make to-do lists, and go from there, which only makes sense. If I focus on getting things done and ticking them off on the list, they’ll get done, right? And then I will feel accomplished.

Huzzah! Always try to find a positive way to look at things; that way you won’t get overwhelmed.

The Short Story Project continues, with yet another story from Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives, edited by Sarah Weinman. Next up in the book–which I can’t seem to either put down or step away from–is “Louisa, Please Come Home” by Shirley Jackson.

“Louisa,” my mothers voice came over the radio; it frightened me badly for a minute. “Louisa,” she said, “please come home. It’s been three long years since we saw you last; Louisa, I promise you that everything will be all right. We all miss you so. We want you back again. Louisa, please come home.”

Once a year. On the anniversary of the day I ran away. Each time I heard it I was frightened again, because between one year and the next I would forget what my mother’s voice sounded like, so soft and yet so strange with that pleading note. I listened every year. I read the stories in the newspapers–“Louisa Tether vanished one year ago”–or two years ago, or three; I used to wait for the twentieth of June as though it were my birthday. I kept all the clippings at first, but secretly; with my picture on all the front pages I would have looked kind of  strange if anyone had seen me cutting it out. Chandler, where I was hiding, was close enough to my old home so that the papers made a big fuss about all of it, but of course the reason I picked Chandler in the first place was because it was a big enough city for me to hide in.

Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite writers, as Constant Reader is undoubtedly–or should–be aware of by now. This story, which I’ve not read before, is strange, as all her stories are strange; interesting and unusual and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Louisa tells the story of how she ran away; how she planned it carefully, and how she actually accomplished it, and did it all on the day before her sister’s wedding. Jackson lets us know what Louisa is like by showing us; that Louisa is painstaking and careful, and she also leaves parts of Louisa mysterious. We never know why Louisa decided to run away from her family and disappear; only that she did and how she did it, and how she very carefully created an entirely new life for herself in another city. She doesn’t miss her family, has no desire to go back, has no interest in how her disappearance may have impacted them. She is a method actress, in a way; the most interesting thing about Louisa is that when decides on a part to play, as she does every step of the way as she disappears, she becomes an entirely different person, to the point where her appearance even changes slightly. Someone from her old life eventually catches up to her, and this is where the Jackson macabre touch with a twist comes into play; the ending of this story is so real yet so bizarre and unforeseen that it stands as yet another example of Jackson’s genius.

And now, back to the spice mines. Here’s a hunk for you:

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