I read my first story for the challenge this morning and I realized this is going to be great, because I was able to finish the story during my bus ride. What satisfaction. I started with Dorothy West’s “The Baby.” I don’t know too much about West, but it seems that she was a prolific writer. She was the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance and she wrote her second novel at 85. Ah, so I still have time. My window of opportunity for becoming an astronaut may have come and gone, but I could still be a writer! I enjoyed West’s writing. It was simple but poignant and she managed to say a lot with a little. The story is about a young girl who’s family takes in two babies, because their mother has to work. The story also deals with race and the issue of passing. But, the way she handles it is so subtle you might almost miss what’s happening. It’s almost a secondary issue, but it develops into the main issue. The more I think about it the more I realize how tightly she crafted the story. I loved the following passage because it reminds me of Eavan Boland’s memoir Object Lessons. Boland always seems to be on her porch looking out at dusk. If I wasn’t chasing someone around the house or working, I think I would be staring out at the stars at dusk, too.
The back gate and the back door were always left open for us children, and the last one in was supposed to lock them. But since the last dawdler home from school had no way of knowing she was the last until she was inside, it was always Mother who locked them at first dark, and she would stand and look up at the evening stars. She seemed to like this moment of being alone, away from the noise in the house.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Mom that I like that passage. Did I say that I nearly cried will sitting on the bus with all the people who work at Target and the Mall.