A fictional novella by Sandy Webster about women in a southern town
A note from the author:
“A friend pointed out, correctly, that I seemed a bit uncomfortable when in the company of a group of women. She was right. Groups of men are easier for me. There is something so familiar about them from my childhood. A comfort that drove me to write and do artwork about much later in graduate school.
She was not only right, but I was being unfair by staying away from women in groups. One on one I was fine. I thought of women as being more honest when singled out. In groups their personal stories changed to fit some desire to be “one of the girls.” Or so I thought.
I really needed to pay better attention. I needed to not be so sure that, “Being in a hardware store with the low rumble of men’s voices was so much better than being in a beauty parlor with the chattering of more than one woman.”
So I took my yellow dog pad of paper to a private place here on our property. I wrote down seven women’s names. Next to the names I wrote an age.
And one at a time I listened to what they had to say. I gave them one fictional day only for me to care about them. And even the ones that took on a less than favorable light, I gave second chances. I listened to each one and made a place for them in my story.
When I finished writing what was later to be titled, Kind Gestures, I realized that some of the women did not even like my company, let alone the company of others in the book. And I wonder what it was about them that made me put them in the background and on the periphery of what was happening that day in August.
I actually miss them. I miss listening to them. They are so much more than I shared in this short novella.
Louise Penny who wrote the captivating stories about Three Pines, a small imagined town in Canada, said in one of later ones that while living with her husband’s dementia, Three Pines was a place she could go to. I think she went there because as a writer, there is a control that might just not be in our daily lives and we need to feel that something can happen by just our saying so.
Oliver, North Carolina might be my very own Three Pines. I have wanted to go back there and see more of these women and the lives they live.
When I wrote the story I thought like most writers that I might try to get it published. First by some famous publishing house, then maybe even self-publishing. But I have lost interest in doing that. It takes time and one hell of a lot of self-promotion that is not anything I have time or interest in.
But I did feel that unless I let these women’s stories out, I could not go back to see how they are. My time with them in that one day might be all there was.
So here they all are in the story titled, Kind Gestures. By putting the story on my website, I can do just what they and I wanted….a place for them to be seen and heard.
It is just a story. The kind of story that if you had a series of Saturdays in a bar and a comfortable stool and just one person to listen, it would be enough. Saturdays and bar stools are far and few between for me at my age, so this will have to do.”
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