We recently published Kristin Tenor’s aching “I Am the Chrysalis Waiting for You to Break Free.” Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) I love the use of allusion in this piece, how it evokes The Scarlet Letter and various fairy tales all at once. Was this something you had to work to convey, or did the allusions just flow with the story?
This past winter I had the privilege to participate in one of Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash workshops, which, by the way, I highly recommend to anyone searching for a generous and supportive workshop environment. As far as I’m concerned, it is one of the best. Anyhow, during the workshop we were prompted to write a mosaic where the fragments were built from images cultivated both from dream memory and moments of reality. I’m not sure why, but the first image to come to mind was that of myself sitting on the couch in the therapist’s office. (Yes, a version of that encounter really did happen in my life.) Then, came the girl with the scarlet letter sewn upon her chest, finally the blackbird. I wish I could say that by some genius I had planned the placement of those allusive moments, however, they flowed into the piece rather organically. The story really told me how it wanted to be written.
2) The scene with the therapist is so poignant, “call me Mary,” I can just imagine a therapist saying that. You say so much in such a tiny scene here — did you ever consider making this portion longer?
Thank you for your kind words, Cathy. As I mentioned earlier, the incident in the therapist’s office is rooted from personal experience, a quite painful and confusing experience for an eighteen-year-old mother-to-be. No matter how hard I tried to convince the therapist, who was seven months pregnant herself, that the baby’s father and I were prepared to parent our child, she threw statistic after statistic in my face, assuring me we were doomed to fail. Our daughter is now married and has two beautiful children of her own, and my husband and I are still very much in love. Could I have woven more of this backstory into the scene? Perhaps. However, I sense everything I needed to say is already there.