Dark Side

Night Photography in Virginia

Schreier and Son Window Display, Norfolk, Virginia, 1915

Harry C. Mann (1866–1926) Schreier & Son Window Display, Norfolk, Virginia, 1915

Harry C. Mann (1866–1926)
Schreier & Son Window Display, Norfolk, Virginia, 1915

 

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11 Responses to “Schreier and Son Window Display, Norfolk, Virginia, 1915”

  1. Kim Drew Wright says:

    Helen Matthews clutched Minnie’s forearms and hoisted her into the back of the kid hack, as she had done every day of school for as long as she could remember. A pang stitched her side. She gathered her skirts and sat on the bench seat that ran the length of the vehicle. Minnie fell jerkily into place beside her. The other children continued their teasing and swatting at flies without looking at the sisters. Their jeers had dissipated through the years, but Helen knew their scorn still clung to them like dirt from their parents’ farms. She would rather walk to school like the rest of the town kids, but the five short blocks might as well be a hundred for Minnie, so she’d better be grateful for the ride.
    “Mary Whithers got a letter from Tommy. Looks like he’s finished basic and startin’ his pilot schooling.” Margaret Townsend leaned over Minnie, aimed a smirk at Helen. “You heard from him lately?”
    Helen rolled the closest window’s canvas flap up. The stench of manure and mules mingled with the cloying smells of bodies slick with sunrise chores, but the slight breeze caressed her cheek just the same. “Of course.” The hack moved in stiff, awkward bursts as the driver whipped the mules then alternately reined the harnesses taunt.
    Helen thought about her last three letters that had gone unanswered. She shouldn’t have asked Tommy for the dollar. They made the right turn onto Grace Street and she let the canvas slap back into place. She didn’t want to see those tight corsets in the Schreier & Son window display; the mannequin standing, serenely slender-waisted, like there wasn’t a care in the world. She had found herself drawn to the window a foolish amount of times in the past six months. Ever since Tommy’s boyhood excitement over Ely’s takeoff from the USS Birmingham had turned into manly what ifs when 1914’s assassination of Austria’s archduke sparked the Great War. She shouldn’t have let a boy’s grand ideals of defending a nation catch hold of her; she had plenty to defend right here at 253 Full Maple Lane.
    She looked at Minnie slouched and squeezing her palms together, trying to keep her arms quiet. Mama’s clockwork assault, over eggs and toast, to send Minnie to the State School for the Feeble Minded had triggered Helen’s refrain, “Her mind’s clear, she has Little’s Disease is all.” Helen smoothed the fabric of her dress, her mama’s words banging in her head, “Why couldn’t God of just made her deaf and dumb? They got schools for mutes.” She pushed down on a swell in the fabric. She had mended her corset a half dozen times; but the baleen casing was now gapped, the two sides left reaching like illicit lovers denied an embrace. She suspected too much time had passed for it to be fixed.
    In twenty-eight days she’d be a graduate of Norfolk High School. She needed that diploma; she couldn’t leave Minnie to Mama. She couldn’t leave much to Mama. She would concoct one of her home remedies to take care of it, turpentine and pennyroyal stinking up the house. How many times had Aunt Clara whispered over tea that her mama’s home remedies were the root of Clara’s own poor constitution and, of course, Minnie.
    If only Tommy hadn’t gotten stationed in Charleston. Two years later he could have stayed in town, when 474 acres were purchased and construction started with purpose on the Norfolk naval base. The land now was just a pretty spot to go fishing or whisper what ifs, watch the sun’s fading reflected. Tommy’s first letters came frequently with wild descriptions of the Cooper River at sunset and how it reminded him of home and the flow of her hair. His letters had dulled, eventually dried up, like they’d been left out in the sun too long.
    Tommy wasn’t going to save her; he was too occupied saving the Country. She had to get that diploma, and the corset was the only way. She had scrimped, gone without even fifteen-cent meals and hid some of her sewing money from Mama. She had the dollar price for the corset in her pocketbook and after she deposited Minnie in her training class she was feigning womanly ills. Only a certain silhouette would guarantee graduation, which in turn would help secure a salesclerk position at six dollars a week. She prayed it would be enough for room and board for Minnie and herself, and whatever came along. Thank goodness preacher Watkins clamored against tightlacing from the pulpit with the fervor of a sergeant commanding his regiment, and waistlines were gradually expanding throughout the city. Helen had given up on God rescuing her from her predicament, but fashion trends and the Rational Dress Society’s battle cries to “Emancipate the waist!” still might.

    The Great War died with a piece of paper in a mirrored hall, five years to the day it was consummated. The World’s labor pains birthed American women’s right to vote, although it would take half a century more before they won equal education and pay. Helen received her own hard won piece of paper while whispers about her shape spread through the aisles of capped classmates, like a rain-swollen river flooding its banks. Ten million military men were killed in the war; one of them was Tommy. He never got a chance to fly in and save her, and she had long since rationed the energy for wishes into working nine-hour days at the five-and-dime, fighting for Minnie to go to school, and playing “Bring Back My Daddy to Me” on the landlord’s victrola until he told her he’d rather hear crying than that song one more time.

  2. Kim Drew Wright says:

    I forgot to add my title! It is “Tighter”.

  3. Phil Ford says:

    Milliner’s Bow

    Alfred’s touch with the ribbon was as delicate and supple as the fabric he held in his hands. A good milliner required this dexterity. It was important to the design, it was the heart of the craft. The ability to lightly manipulate the wiring that held the bow in place was not a simple affair; a great deal of deception was involved in order to keep a bow from looking mussed. Alfred knew all of this when working with hats, but he felt this was especially true with undergarments.

    He finished the rosette on the décolletage of the mannequin in the center of the window display, adjusting the faux stem and broadening the sepals so they accented the shadows of the overhead lighting.

    “Parfait.” Alfred smiled and stood back from the dummy, satisfied with the setting. It was the finishing stroke to the arrangement, his pièce de résistance here at Schreier & Son.

    Placing undergarments on public display had been a hard sell to Mr. Schreier, but he eventually acquiesced. These items were a necessity for every fashionable woman. Plus Roth & Goldschmidt’s gray floral line for 1915 was unmistakably going to take first place this year as the color in the market. And as Mr. Schreier always said, “When a color is very strong, everybody wants it and nobody has it.” Well, we will have it, sir, and they will come.

    This window was his stage to the people of Norfolk. These dressings, the undergarments, the bows – all actors in his play, a dramatic scene based on his own life. The dark tones of the back wall were a drape that held his secret for so long.

    To most people, Alfred was merely that queer young slender fellow who knew everything about the fine art of fabric and bow, the milliner who kept to himself and took care of his sick aunt. Even she, ill with consumption, never truly understood him.

    He walked outside to view the window from the street. Evening had arrived. Two youths passed by, giving him the once-over. They looked at each other, and then laughed loudly continuing down the sidewalk. Being such a slight and effeminate fellow, he had come to accept that sort of behavior over the years; the whispers on the street, the not so subtle stares at the corner grocer. It usually bothered him, but not today, not anymore.

    Alfred crossed his arms as he scanned the hourglass figures in the window, recalling the first time he put on his Aunt Josephine’s corset. Not long after he had moved into her apartment, she had fallen asleep in the parlor after supper one evening. While he was packing old clothes into a steamer trunk to send to her sister in Albany, he pulled out a white corset. The fitting was gorgeous and clean, worn only once, on her wedding day at the age of seventeen. As he smoothed out the pan bow in the back, crushed from the years of storage, the inclination inspired him. His hands trembled as he tightened the herringbone coutil around his torso. The fabric gave him goose bumps and his heart raced as the busk pressed into his abdomen. It was not an excitable fear of being caught, but an exaltation of joy as the soft cotton touched his body, an extension of his soul. He walked over to the full length mirror in his Aunt’s room and saw the corset on his svelte frame, the way the contours accented his figure so eloquently, an almost perfect fit. He sighed as he slid his hands down his waist and over his hips, feeling a connection to the woman who wore this before, now a distant memory. Alfred felt like he was becoming her.

    “Say fella, are you the one that did this?” a man called to him from down the sidewalk. He held a cumbersome tripod in one hand and an oversized leather case in the other. He looked a brown and tattered mess.

    Alfred raised a hand to his chin, rubbing it a little.

    “It is.”

    Somehow this fellow managed to poke a hand out to shake.

    “Harry Mann, commercial photographer. I’m taking photographs of the lighting system here on Granby. Would you mind if I took a picture of your display?”

    Alfred was elated at the proposal. There would be no need to consult Mr. Schreier, he was certain of that. Mann was a noted photographer.

    “Absolutely.”

    As Mann set up his equipment on the sidewalk, the street hummed with the hanging electric lights that connected the buildings across the cobblestone and rail, the odd number with the even. Each building was attached by modern invention, turning the city of Norfolk into one long electric bolt of energy. Watching him wrestle to balance the camera on the tripod, Alfred wondered if this gentleman took as much care in his craft taking photographs as he did curving the ribbons of a bow.

    Finally the photographer spoke. “So tell me, what got you into all these dresses and things?”

    Alfred mused over the question with a smile. The moment hung in the night air, as if the mannequins in the window were going to shout out the answer in a celebrated chorus of identity. A streetcar bell clanged in the distance. Mann stood there, waiting.

    “Well, I would have to say the love of the idea of the possibility of becoming and sharing it with the world.”

    The photographer scratched his head.

    “Interesting answer. Still, a nice bit of work there in the window.” He set to taking pictures.

    “Merci.” Alfred replied, taking a small bend forward toward Mann, as an actor would after a play. Then he swiftly walked back into the Millinery and locked up for the night.

  4. Megan Cisne says:

    Window Gossip

    Look at them. They come in here to try on the very dress I am wearing. You can come in here and try on this dress and this hat but you won’t look as fresh and beautiful as I do. The other models don’t look as stunning as I do, either; they’re short and shaped funny. Empty-headed, mindless girls with no intellect. Oh, wait, they don’t have heads at all!

    Look at me. I am so beautiful in these clothes. I love this hat and the flowers that spill down the bodice of this dress. Mr Schreier put me here to make you believe that you can achieve perfection. I am warning you not to stare for very long for you will be blinded by my beauty.

    You know, there was this one time a woman and her husband stopped by on an evening walk. He said he loved the dress and that should try it on the next day. What do you know, they showed up in the morning as the sun was coming over the trees. I could see her out of the corner of my eye waiting for Mr. Schreier to come back with a dress that would fit her.

    Oh, she almost danced into the dressing room to try it on. We waited and waited for her to come out of there. He asked her if anything was wrong. She called back to him that she was fine and did not need his assistance. She sounded out of breath.
    She came out annoyed and told him that he must have misunderstood when she told him her size. He replied,”Ma’am, this is the size that you told me you needed.”
    “Impossible!” she huffed.
    “You didn’t tell me that you take a bigger size, Ma’am,” He said in a matter of fact tone.
    “Don’t you think I know what size I wear?” She asked. Her face reddened as she cut her eyes to her husband. He looked at the floor. This was getting better and better.
    “Apparently you need a bigger size. We don’t carry bigger sizes. I could take your measurements and-”
    “Take my measurements, my foot!” She said.
    She turned from red to purple. I thought it was so funny. I thought my face would crack.

    Then there was another time this young woman came in with a hat that had such a wide brim that it completely shadowed her face. Schreier went over to her and asked how he could help her today. Well, she said that she wanted to be fitted for the very hat that I’m wearing. So he asked her to take her hat off as he had to measure her head. She took off her hat and there was an audible gasp from him that made a couple of other customers gasp, too! She had a nose that spread almost all the way across her face and her eyes were placed too close together and they were perpetually turned outward. Her front teeth crossed each other. I know he wanted to ask her to put her hat back on! He managed to get control of himself and proceeded to measure her head. His eyes popped out of his head when he pulled more and more measuring tape to go around her head. When I heard him say, “I measure twice,” I thought I would lose control of myself.

    Oh, I feel so ready to go into the world but I have to stay here. Oh, you see there? Did you see those two men? They’re going to go home and tell their homely wives that they should come in here and try on this dress and get fitted for this hat! I hope Mr. Schreier has enough material!

  5. Megan Cisne says:

    Oh, did I tell you about the time the Unibrow Ugly twins came in here for a fitting? They got into an argument outside. “I saw it first,” said one. “So what? It will look better on me,” said the other. Neither one was correct in my view.
    “It will not. It will look better on me,” the first retorted. So in they came talking over each other, raising their voices, to the point where Mr. Schreier decided he would wait for the tempest to die down before he said another word. “Ladies, how may I help you?”
    “We want to get fitted for that dress even though it should be perfectly obvious that it was made for me,” said the first twin.
    “You are wasting Mr. Schreier’s time,” said the second, “he is an expert in the fashion industry so I would think he knows that is a stretch.”
    Then they turned to Mr. Schreier. “Who would look better in the dress?” They asked at the same time.
    “It seems plain to me,” he began, “that the two of you are twins.”
    “Yes, identical,” said the second.
    “Except I’m prettier,” said the first.
    “No, you’re not,” said the second.
    “I am, too. I’m the original; you’re just a copy.”
    “More like the roughdraft,” quipped the second.
    “I think I know who will look better in the dress and the hat,” Mr. Schreier said.
    “Who?” They asked.
    “I’ll tell you the day you try them on,” he said.
    “I don’t want to wait,” said the first.
    “Neither do I,” said the second. They started towards the door.
    “I know I would look better,” said the first.
    “No, I would,” said the second.
    “I don’t think so,” said the first when they got outside.
    “Yes, I would and you know it,” said the second. I could hear them down the street.
    “I know that I would look like that mannequin in it and you wouldn’t,” said the first.
    I gasped when the words came out of her mouth. No, she wouldn’t. Neither of them would or could ever look as good as I do in this gorgeous dress.
    Do you know that the second twin came back the next day? “Don’t tell my sister that I was here,” she said. “I want this dress and this hat so bad, I thought about it all night. I couldn’t even get to sleep. I was up all night thinking about this dress and my mean old sister who has it in for me, you know. She’s so jealous of me because she knows I’m the pretty one. There’s always a twin who’s prettier. I think it’s funny that she thinks it’s her.” She talked while she was being measured.
    “Mmm-hmm,” was all Mr. Schreier could say. I thought that was funny.

    Whom should come in the very next day, but the first twin. “Don’t tell my sister, but I couldn’t stand the thought of not getting measured for the dress! I stayed up all night thinking about the dress and the beautiful hat while my evil sister snored away in dreamland. You know, my sister can really saw them off, too. My goodness, she deforests in her sleep! Who can sleep with all that racket?” She said while Mr. Schreier took her waist measurement. “Ooh, that tickles,” she said.
    Mr. Schreier muttered an apology and rolled his eyes.
    “Oh, and do you carry parasols, too?” She asked. “I want a parasol to go with the hat and dress. Won’t that make my sister turn green with envy? So do you?”
    Mr. Schreier said he could order one for her.
    “Thank you so much. I can’t wait to see my sister’s face,” she said and left.
    When the clothes were ready, Mr. Schreier wrote them to let them know and that he preferred that they actually try on the clothes in the store so he could make any necessary changes to the garments.
    The second one breezed in and he presented her dress and hat. She kissed him and once again I saw his eyes pop out of his head. She disappeared into the dressing room. Not five minutes later, the first twin came bounding through the door and he presented her with her dress and hat and twirled the parasol as she squealed with delight. She disappeared into the dressing room and he raised his eyebrows to his son and assistant.
    Two minutes later both twins emerged from the dressing room. “Oh, I love it, love it! I love the way it looks on me, I love-” they stopped in the middle of the sentence when they turned from the mirrors situated beside each door to the dressing room to see their images again. The first girl with her added parasol to the mix. “What are you doing here and in my dress?” The first one asked.
    “What is that in your hand?” Asked the second one. “And it’s not your dress! It’s my dress!
    Mr. Schreier raised his eyebrows again. “You both look absolutely beautiful,” he said. “You both will be the envy of the whole room at the ball and I can see the men lining up to dance with you.”
    “You can?” Said the second.
    “He meant me,” said the first.
    “He did not,” said the second, “he was talking about me, not you. Everything’s always about you. In this case it’s not.”
    “When did you come back to get fitted for this dress?” Asked the first.
    “When did you?”
    “I asked you first.”
    “So? I asked you second.”
    “It’s none of your business!” They both said.
    They left the store. Mr. Schreier breathed a sigh of relief and turned off his lights and turned mine on for the night. I stared at my reflection all night.

  6. Carolyn S. Parsons says:

    Exposed

    The camera sees into the night
    Revealing on glass, the female plight.

    No Right to Vote; no Choice of Wear
    Constrictions, limitations everywhere.

    Tightening, pulling at her waist and soul
    Bounding her every dream and goal.

    “Shape and support,” Roth and Goldschmidt demand.
    But the feminine spirit is not at their command.

    She will picket and protest
    And march for what’s best.

    She will fight for fair pay
    And be equal one day.

    But tonight in the dark, 1915 is the year.
    World War I beckons, and women’s rights are unclear.

    Her role is to smile and hide her dismay.
    Victory will be hers, but on a later day.

  7. Samantha Dorr says:

    The Black Night Reflects

    Why am I here in the middle of the night,
    Staring at ladies who have no sight?

    Bosom and bodice for all to see.
    A lace and dress form menagerie.

    Does she see me, the lady so white?
    Like a ghost of a forlorn socialite.

    I have stood here for hours, lost in my mind.
    My wife and child passed, my heart’s gone blind.

    I want to become her, the lady in white.
    Oh to be pretty, but hollow inside.

    No beating heart to melt into sadness;
    No coursing blood to grow cold in madness.

    But here I stand, on still trunk and legs.
    A crust of a person, my body remains.

    Why am I here in the middle of the night,
    Basking in this new electric firelight?

    Why does she vex me, the woman who stares?
    Can I crawl in her world, curl up in her hair?

    To be her companion, to see but not feel;
    To greet all the strangers who think I am not real.

    No more sorrow or tears, no more neighbors to call.
    Because feeling self-pity is not feeling at all.

    Why am I here in the middle of the night?
    I have no more guts, I have no more fight.

    I stand in this light with heels to the dark,
    The black night reflects on lady so stark.

    “Surrender,” she says. “Turn into the pain.
    For this void existence is nothing to gain.”

    I close my cold eyes and hang heavy head;
    I fall into darkness – with feeling, I tread.

  8. Elizabeth Ballou says:

    THE GAME

    “Oh,” said Dorothy, the small slope of her nose inches away from the shop window. “Oh. That’s my new favorite. Look at the lace along the edges of the bodice.” The perfect, pink circle of her lips fell open. “How much do you think it costs, Martha?”
    “Every dress becomes your new favorite.” Martha kept one hand on the small of Dorothy’s back as if protecting her, or maybe holding her back. “And what does it matter? You already have five dresses for every occasion I could think of.”
    “Play along, won’t you?” Dorothy caught Martha’s thin fingers in her own. Even at the end of the day, when the sun had set and department stores lining Main Street were flicking on their new and brilliant displays of electric lighting, she still reminded Martha of a sunbeam. “You’re smiling. You don’t mean it after all.”
    “Of course not. I’ll play, if that’s what you want.”
    Dorothy slipped her elbow into the crook of Martha’s arm. “Oh, good. What do you think of that one, then? The one with the empire waist and the cream silk bustle…”
    They wandered down another block this way, Martha riveted by the dove-like cooing of Dorothy’s voice. She imagined what others would think, seeing them: two women in shirtwaists with fashionably tight sleeves, masses of neat curls piled at the nape of the neck. They could have been cousins – Dorothy the younger one, Martha a little older, taller, and plainer – out for an evening walk. Kendrick, Martha and her husband’s chauffeur, had parked by the edge of the street in their new Model T. He eyed them protectively every few minutes from beneath the gleaming black hood, then returned his attention to his cigarette.
    “Did Edward come to see you today?” Martha asked suddenly.
    Dorothy’s smile spread across her face slowly, like ripples in a lake. “Are you jealous?”
    “Of course I’m not, I-”
    “Well, he did.” Dorothy sighed. “Mother thinks I should marry him and have done with things.”
    “And what do you think?”
    She pursed her lips at a Thalhimer’s display across the street. “I think I don’t understand how you did it. Married John, I mean. Had William.”
    Martha fussed at a few dark ringlets of Dorothy’s hair that had fallen loose. “I did what was expected of me. There’s much worse out there than John. And William was – is – a gift.”
    “Oh, he’s darling. I just can’t imagine…marriage.” Dorothy broke away from her grasp then, pressing herself against the window of Schreier and Son. “Look. The one with the roses at the bust. That’s my favorite. Promise I won’t change my mind.”
    “You’d look lovely in it,” Martha agreed. She stared at the way the electric lights brought out the russet streaks in Dorothy’s hair, her breath in her throat. “Should I buy it for you?” she said, feeling like a glass someone had filled until it overflowed. “Tomorrow, when they open?”
    “Yes,” answered Dorothy. She stared at the mannequin’s shadowed eyelids, her posed arms. Something had lit up her eyes. “Can I ask you something else, Martha?”
    Martha felt herself flushing. “Anything, of course.”
    “Would you go away from here with me?”
    “What?” She glanced back down the street. Kendrick was still waiting for them, his head in his hands.
    “We could go to California. Or Paris. Or Argentina, even. Somewhere for people who -”
    “But you’d have to give up all your pretty clothes,” said Martha, desperation coloring her tone. Her voice sounded rusty and old.
    “Play along, Martha.”
    “No.”
    Dorothy put her hand to Martha’s face. “I’m nineteen. It’s obvious what I have to do if I stay here. To keep up appearances.”
    She felt her body begin to warm. “I have William. And John.”
    “John would remarry,” said Dorothy, careless.
    “What would William think if he discovered that his mother had-”
    “Shhh,” said Dorothy, gliding her fingers down Martha’s throat, playing at the sensible fabric of her sleeve before slipping her arm back into Martha’s. “We’ll walk some more, and think about it, and talk about it again when you take me to buy that dress tomorrow.”
    Martha opened her mouth to speak, then exhaled the words into the cooling night air. They did not talk for several minutes. The heels of their shoes against the pavement now seemed loud and mechanically regular, like the clicking of typewriter keys. Eventually the thrumming of an engine crept up behind them, drowning even that noise.
    “Miss Hartley?” It was Kendrick, beside them in the Model T. He mopped his face with an oil-spotted rag, sweating even though it was October. His eyes flickered between the two of them. “It’s almost eight o’clock. Mister Hartley will be wondering where we’ve gotten off to.”
    “Of course,” said Dorothy, and flung her arms around Martha like a little girl. It amazed her, sometimes, how Dorothy could change her whole character like robes to be slipped on and off. “Oh, what a grand walk! Drop me off on the way back to Martha’s, Kendrick?”
    “Of course, Miss Wilson,” he said, shifting his weight back and forth. They climbed into the car, their noses filled with the stark scent of motor oil. Kendrick put his hand on the gear and they began to glide down Main Street. The night was filled with the shock of the brightly lit windows. Martha turned her head to glance back at the dress with rosebuds in the window of Schreier and Son, but it was already a blur. She let her eyes close. Her fingers found the patch of seat next to Dorothy and rested on it, soft as the gray light of the morning that hadn’t yet come.

  9. Melanie Griffin says:

    “Fancy Ladies”

    The boy tottered to a stop in front of the plate glass. They had passed a lot of windows, he and his mother on their first real outing since the hospital, but none so grand as this.

    “Mama!” he said. He said it loudly; though she was right there holding his arm so tight her knuckles glowed white, he couldn’t feel her grip and so forgot her for blocks at a time.

    She rustled next to him, stirring up the reassuring scent of vanilla from the folds in her skirt. “I’m here.” She reached to touch his head, the only part of his upper body that wasn’t encased in a plaster cast that crudely approximated his longjohn undershirt at its dirtiest.

    But he turned and tipped forward before she could reach him. For a breathless second, she saw him fall to the sidewalk and crack like an egg – but his wire collar, protruding in stiff, closely symmetrical spokes, caught the wide window ledge and held him until she managed to right him properly in front of what he wanted to see. He had given her so many scares that now she brushed her terror to some unknown place without a second thought.

    She had learned how to do that in the hospital after his accident, sitting beside his iron bed and helpless to watch the doctors try to still the pain that yawned and screamed across his face.

    “Look, Mama,” he said now. He tried to point forward, but the plaster held his arms in a T’s crossbar. “Fancy ladies!”

    The cast was the last step, the doctors had reassured her. It would hold all of the bones close enough to heal. The doctor with the beard spilling down his chest had been most vehement about six weeks’ bed rest.

    “Do you understand?” He had squinted up at her rather more closely than she preferred, but she had been exhausted, and there was a divan already made up for her broken son next to their radiator that he liked to pat when the apartment got cold.

    She had inclined her head and taken their glass bottles of medicine. Six weeks and one day later, they needed more.

    “Mama can I go?” he had asked like a skipping gramophone, through the morning and the porridge she spooned into his mouth around the words. “Can I go? Can I go?”

    But he had slipped away to sleep when she had prepared herself in the afternoon, so she whispered a quick plea to Miss Johnson to watch him while she got the medicine alone.
    Coming back inside, she had looked at him trapped in his own body, and she had hidden the shopping bag as she waited for him to open his eyes again.

    Staring into the window, he smiled at the fancy ladies. “Mama, they look like you.”

    The fancy ladies didn’t move. Their smiles were painted on and their joints were stiff. An extra leg with its boot and knee stocking freshened stood by. As they watched, she savoring the bit of breeze biting at her chin and he in expectation of movement, a rectangle opened in the wall behind the fancy ladies.

    The fancy ladies remained still as a young man in coveralls climbed into their window and produced a screwdriver. A few practiced turns of the tool dismantled the fancy ladies, who lay scattered without protest along the deep red carpet of their home.

    The boy’s mother colored a bit in her cheeks and had a vague sense she should protect him from – what? Something was vulgar about this, but before she could think of what, the young man had screwed everyone back together again.

    “He fixed them.” Her boy tried to clap. The young man saw and made one of the fancy ladies wave her hand before he disappeared through the back wall of the window.

    “They’re fixed,” she said, leaning down to take his plastered hand. He threw the fancy ladies one last look before letting his mother lead him home.

  10. Shannon DeHat says:

    Moved

    My stiff and unmoving eyes looked upon the busy street: men dressed in fine suits, woman in flashy dresses and short haircuts, sleek black cars parking and driving by. A life that I could only peer at through a small window and my unmoving eyes, only to keep them stilled on one part of the street making me unable to see out of view. I was wearing what I could only assume was a light lingerie outfit, as I could only see a slight refection from my large window to the outside world. Though whatever it was it must have been dashing, as it made eyes wander towards me when they were walking down the street. I even made a few stop and stare, then wander into whatever the place was inside. Inside, oh how pretty it was. It was on those rare occasions that I would be moved and carried in to be changed that I would go inside.
    Inside was different each time I was taken through it. It had people of every kind. There were others like me wearing dazzling outfits that everyone looked at. Intricate black and white lacing surrounded by folded versions of themselves. There was such an interesting layout, and the colors would change each time I would go through it. Making the place itself a colorful maze, filled with fabrics and people. I was taking a peak at everyday life every time I was dragged through it. I tried to smile in memory, then sudden frustration when I couldn’t. I tried to squash the other thoughts that bubbled to the surface, knowing that they were just a pipe dream, but to no avail. Oh, how I would love to walk around and speak to people! Look outside, and see something called a ‘park’, pet a dog and breathe. How I would cherish that feeling, breathing! What I wouldn’t do to feel the air of the world and feel the beating of my own heart. Feel, what a strange concept. It wasn’t that I couldn’t feel, but the feeling of something moving and working inside of me. That is strange, and yet it seems that people on this small patch of street pass it by. As if it is not a revolutionary feeling, something that someone like me would do anything for.
    But as much as I wish, it can never come true. For my lips don’t move, so I cannot tell someone my hopes or dreams from this shell of plastic. If I could cry this thought would bring tears to my eyes every time, that crushing feeling of not being able to do something. How I relished it, I’m never able to shake it, or prove it wrong. I’m stuck, in one place and in one shell with no one and nothing to prove otherwise. While my thoughts were falling upon me like heavy stones something in the corner of my vision caught my eye. A-a, I didn’t know what it was. It was like a small sun suddenly appeared and disappeared. I tried to move my eye to see it, that ‘something’ that had caught my eye! ‘What. What was it?! ‘
    I tried again, ‘just move eye! I didn’t need both to move just one! Please! What was it! What was it!’ I was desperately screaming in my head for my eyes to move just an inch, a tiny bit. I want to see what it is! There was another sun appearing and disappearing. ‘No! no please! I want to see what it is! What is it! Hurry before it goes away!’
    It was as if in all the years I had wished to move, someone finally answered my prayers! They moved! If only A bit that’s all I needed, there it was! It was a large black box with a strange rough looking texture, with what looked like a badly folded skirt popping out of it, and half of some glasses attached. It was standing on a strange arrangement of legs. I wasn’t sure ‘what’ it was. Now that I was looking at it, it did it again. A small sun appeared and disappeared. It blasted the small room full of light and created an unbearable glare against my window to my outside world. ‘Wow, how did it do that? How did it make a sun so fast? Why was it doing it at me? What did I do to deserve a small sun appearing?’ I stood as I always had thinking inside my own head.
    It was the only time my prayer was answered! When the sun appeared! Maybe that’s what it was! I looked at it again. I paused, Looked? I ‘looked’ again. I could move them! After all this time! I could move them! I was also aware that I could not cry, sadly. I felt as if I was glowing as I ‘looked’ again. There was I man in clothing I had never seen before. He was black and wore nothing I had ever worn. He began to pack his large wish making box. I was ecstatic; I couldn’t help but move my eyes back and forth all night. I could ‘move’!

  11. Riley Slate says:

    One Moment More

    We are alone, yet we are united. We want to be self-reliant, but we still need to lean on each other. We count on the love we feel from others. Some people spend their whole lives searching for their place in the world, the reason they were put on this Earth. It only took me seventeen years to find my purpose. I was meant to save a life.
    The story starts at my birth. My mother was Catholic and my dad was an Atheist from Panaji, India. Weeks after they got married, I was born, and they got divorced when I was two.
    Living in Seattle with my dad was easy, carefree, normal. And I’m guessing that you’re waiting for me to say, And then it all changed. Well, it did.
    I met a girl. Dark hair, dark eyes, a tattoo on her neck at the age of sixteen. Loua was her name. She started going to my school, but we didn’t have classes together. She didn’t make any friends but I didn’t know why. We found ourselves sitting next to each other on the bus one day. She looked at me and stated, “Your hair looks fake.”
    “Your tattoo looks fake.” I answered. The corner of her mouth twitched like she was trying not to smile. We talked the whole bus ride, and all I learned about her was that she lived with her uncle. She didn’t elaborate on that.
    On Monday, Loua came over to my table in the cafeteria and plopped down with her lunch tray. The first thing out of her mouth was, “I don’t think your hair looks fake, you know.” She reached out and pulled her fingers through the length of my hair. My friends gasped together, and I scrambled around in my head for a response.
    “Thanks.” I managed. She nodded and started to eat her lunch. My friend launched into a story and Loua didn’t speak for the rest of lunch period. Later that day, she caught me outside the school in the parking lot.
    “Hey, I didn’t mean to embarrass you in front of your friends.” She told me, her eyes downcast.
    “You didn’t embarrass me.”
    Her eyes moved up from the asphalt to my face and her nervous hands stopped clutching each other.
    “Great.” She breathed, relieved.
    “For the record, your tattoo doesn’t look fake either.” I responded. She moved her hand to the side of her neck and touched the heart tattooed there.
    “It isn’t.” She informed me. It was silent for a couple seconds, and then she said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
    “Okay. See ya.”
    She joined me again at lunch the next day, but said nothing. I watched her eat her lunch out of the corner of my eye while my other friends buzzed on. When I went to return my tray at the end of lunch, Loua followed me.
    She said my name, and I turned around to face her. She reached behind my head and guided my lips to hers. It wasn’t a long kiss; it was the kiss of teenagers who’ve never kissed anyone before.
    “You have beautiful hair.” She murmured after our lips separated, flexing her fingers that were still behind my head.
    “I’m beginning to think you just like me for my hair.” I whispered. She smiled hugely at me, the smile of a person who’s just won something they expected to win.
    “See you later.” She left me in the cafeteria with butterflies in my stomach. When I got home that afternoon, my dad asked me how my day was. Like usual, I said, “Great.” But this time I meant it.
    In high school, if you kiss someone often, and you hold hands, you were dating. Loua and I dated for three months, and I lost a lot of friends in that time. They didn’t understand what drew me to her. I’m not sure I did either. She was beautiful, she was complex, but I could tell she was in pain. I would get to her house sometimes and she’d be crying and wouldn’t tell me why. She didn’t share herself with me; she didn’t share herself with anyone. I think that was her downfall.
    She knew I’d visit Ancient Doug that morning. We nicknamed the tree that hung over the rippling waters of the lake behind the church Ancient Doug because it was a Douglas fir and Loua loved small pleasures in life. I visited this tree almost every Sunday at dusk because it looked so magical in front of the sunset. I almost didn’t go that night, but something told me that night would be special. When I got to the lake, I spotted Loua straddling one of the highest branches of the tree. Her hands were gripping something around her neck.
    “Loua? What are you doing up there?” I called up to her. She removed her hands and I saw a rope with one end wrapped around her neck and the other end wrapped around the tree branch. My hands flew to my mouth and I held back a string of profanities I wanted to scream out. I settled on, “Loua, what are you thinking?!”
    “I hoped you wouldn’t. I don’t want you to see this.” She said, leaning over the branch and eyeing the ground warily. I threw off my jacket and climbed up into the tree as quickly as possible.
    When I got to the branch, I grabbed her around the waist and bathed in the absolute elation I felt from the fact that I had gotten there before she had jumped. She leaned back into me and closed her eyes, exhausted.
    “Don’t worry. I’ve got you.” I whispered while I pulled my phone out to call the police.
    I’m sure you want me to tell you everything that happened to Loua from then on, but I’m only telling you the good part of the story.

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