guilt and trashy magazines (chapter 9)

Frida Kahlo Bathtub Homage

(image courtesy ally oxen free)

Wayne slides one admiring hand across the Lilien’s antique maple liquor cabinet and swings the doors open: “Ta dah!”

“That’s a lot of booze.”

“Here’s a forty-year-old bottle.  Want a taste?”

“No thanks.”  Drew is still woozy from her lunch with Mae and sick with the thought of how she blathered on and on.  Her head hurts and when she closes her eyes, visions of every cool girl she has ever known flit across her interior screen. Close-ups of blasé faces:  the elevation of an eyebrow, the curl of a mouth, a sudden surfeit of white in the eye, deep sighs and monosyllables, all the minute clues Drew is always too busy leaning forward and acting clever and trying too hard to notice until later, when it’s too late.

Drew’s decline started when, pulling triumphantly away from the restaurant, she looked in her rearview mirror and saw the woman from the car behind  get out and wave.  She was an older woman, pretty, with curly black hair and dark sunglasses.  She looked familiar, very familiar, and suddenly it clicked:  It is her.  It’s her!  It’s my mother.  Walking up to the driver’s side of my car.  It’s her.

Drew could only grip the steering wheel and wait.

She had often wondered if her mother had run off to Hollywood.  That’s what she had loved most after all, watching the old movies they’d show every afternoon on television.  For years after her mother disappeared, Drew had stared at the little screen in the den hoping to find her mother in the commercial for laundry detergent or trying on shoes in the background of a sitcom, in the studio audience or as a game show contestant.  Like the tingling of a ghost limb, her mother’s face is always there– the peripheral blur, the shadow in the background–and Drew is always finding her in store aisles and dressing rooms, staring until the waitress (or ticket seller or clerk) opens her mouth to speak and Drew registers the too-small nose or the olive tones in the skin and drops once again into the ordinariness of the moment.

So wouldn’t it be spectacularly perfect to run into her in Los Angeles?  Hollywood-perfect.

Drew opened her car door and slid out to meet her.   “Hi.”

The woman just grimaced. “Should we call the police or just exchange information?”

Drew’s laugh was verging on hysteric.  “What do you mean?”

“You just backed into my car.”


A large portion of this chapter has been deleted.

To read more, contact me and we can discuss publication. (!)

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. gail

    it’s good enough that i would enjoy being able to just sit and read it.

  2. 2&4 then 9 then 7. This is really one of your better ones.
    The first time any non-mae chapter has trumped a Mae –
    Drew and Wayne really shine here. I feel like I’ve gotten
    to know them on the strength of this conversation alone.
    Thank you so much for choosing to perserve the mystery
    of Drew’s mother, and finally making it crystal clear that
    Drew is currently staying at the Lilien’s – I assumed she
    was staying at the Lilien’s, then chapter 5 threw me off,
    and someone made a comment that threw me off further –
    (I may have been voodooed into thinking it was more
    confusing then it was – power of suggestion and all that.)
    The crash got my attention and now I really feel for Drew.
    It’s terrible to be allowed to stay in such an extravigant
    place and then damageing something – ie – the car. I’m
    biteing my teeth here and hopeing she can get it fixed
    without the Lilien’s noticeing – I find myself making plans
    to remidy a situation I’m not even in. Good Job. Great
    clarity – very professional.

  3. Anna, I stopped back to this chapter because it had the smallest number of comments so far (that I found in my 5 seconds of research). Once in a while my co-workers will read some of my stuff. Not often enough to worry about, but I don’t think any of them will follow me here, so this is a safe place to tell you that I wrote that one story in an hour or so in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon, while at work, in my quiet little corner of the store. It’s my slow season, so I don’t feel bad about it; I work my butt off during the busy season. But they don’t need to know that that was a way better use of my time than looking busy would be.

    Anyway, this chapter? I love this chapter. What “R” said about Drew and Wayne is so right-on. I also marvel at the sheer ability to create that writers like you have. I would stumble forever on just a name if I didn’t just grab onto the first one that came to mind.
    Like Drew, I do like to rewind the day sometimes–I’m a lot more suave in the rewrites.

    • Hello! See, if you were on Facebook, it wouldn’t be this convoluted. I think it’s funny that my people with real day jobs have more time to write than me, home with kids. That just doesn’t seem fair (but I’m glad you can do it). Can’t believe how fast you write. For me, writing is like untangling a dreadlock. I hope you’ll post your rewrite.

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