Monday, September 02, 2013

Reader's Diary #1056- Jane Gillies: The Bedclothes Baby

Reading Jane Gillies' "The Bedclothes Baby" triggered so many childhood memories, I eventually decided that I couldn't possibly share them all here. Still the one about my cousin and I (presumably after watching too many episodes of Remington Steele) being convinced that our cookie-baking, church-going grandma had bags of cocaine in her attic is too good not to share. Or how a certain other old relative, who shall remain nameless, scared the crap out of me because she reminded me of Miss Gulch/ the Wicked Witch of the West.

It's a wonder how I could pay attention to Gillies' story at all given how my mind kept wandering to the past. But it was through Gillies' rich sensory descriptions that she was able to make so many of her protagonist's experiences and feelings so identifiable. Take this passage:
I remember how one of the braces on that swing set would shudder and lift right out of the ground with a ka-chunk, ka-chunk when we went too high. Somehow it never tipped over and the pole always managed to make its way back down into the hole again.
I was so impressed with this particular piece of writing (loved the "ka-chunk") and amazed to recall the exact same experience as a child— an experience I'd long since forgotten— that I just had to share it with my wife. Lo and behold, she remembered her childhood swing set doing the same thing. What a well-described observation that turned out to be. What a blast from the past.

I should, however, note that "The Bedclothes Baby" not a warm and fuzzy glance back at old family photos. There's some dark stuff going on there. Let's just say that whereas my grandma turned out not to be a drug dealer and the other relative didn't threaten to take away my little dog, the family secrets revealed in Gillies' story turn out to be at least as bad as the child's imagination— and with repercussions.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

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