For years I’ve been interested in Menacing Hedge, which identifies as “a quarterly journal of poetry, fiction and artwork, which is committed to fostering access to emerging and experimental poetry and prose.” This month, I”m excited that Menacing Hedge is featuring my 11th published piece of fiction, a short story called “Miss Brompton Falls 1938.”
I’m not really sure if this story is a feminist fable, or an old-timey stew of sex and violence. Maybe you can let me know. Either way, it’s my third published piece that originated from my participation in the NYC Midnight online challenge, which requires you to concoct a story within a limited time frame based on a number of parameters that are arbitrarily assigned.
In this case, I was given drama for my genre, a beauty pageant for a setting, and a cash register as an object that had to be included. Sometimes it’s really difficult to incorporate all these elements, but in this case they came together in a fairly organic way.
The cash register suggested a general store, and that made for an odd but interesting setting for a beauty pageant. I hit on a Depression-era setting, which brought with it associations with economic desperation and the era’s fascination with outlaws. As I continued to revise the piece, the original parameters became less important, and the story took on a life of its own.
I had fun writing a period piece, trying to make sure the slang and the cultural and consumer references were as true as possible to this era. Mostly, though, I was concerned with the idea of portraying a woman whose inner state is in deep conflict with the situation she finds herself in, although circumstances make it impossible for anyone but the reader to understand why.
Click on the picture above to read it. You can also choose to listen to the audio file of me reading the story.
My thanks to Menacing Hedge, NYC Midnight and a number of loyal writing friends, including Alice Hatcher, Bryn McFarland and Renee Bibby’s Writers Studio Master Class, who provided invaluable feedback that helped me fully develop the story.