Smoldering smoke. Blinds my eyes. I feel him move. Away from the paneled walls, the cobweb-covered chairs. Soot encircles me. The naked doll. My eyes clear. I wipe thick tortoiseshell owl glasses. Shove them on quickly, quickly. No time to lose. Time must not be lost. He has young gray hair. He is evil. Evil. Why? Why is he here? Here in a 1950’s tuxedo trimmed with black braid; his belly outlined by a blood red satin cummerbund. I circle three times. Three times I walk the perimeter. But I cannot. I cannot see his face. I am a lost waif who has wandered into a living room that sucks all the life out of me.
Why do I have no one to claim me, love me, embrace me? At birth I was abandoned. Left to live or die. It didn’t matter to her. Her of the extra shots of vodka. Her of the empty face. Arms that folded like a paper doll. Not real. Not capable of holding anything. A child. A drop of water. Nothing. I am nothing. Better to be a drop of water and evaporate.
“Who have we here?” he boomed. “Come here, daughter.”
No. No. No. I was not his daughter. Never ever. I was the leftover excrement from a boozy night in Salinas, Georgia. I was the Balkan balling’s that caught up with her. This man was nothing, no one to me. He was insane and I must close my eyes and evaporate.
Having resided on both coasts and in between, Judith Speizer Crandell has happily landed in Milton, Delaware. Solitary walks along the Atlantic beaches soothe her soul. Sharing these with her husband, Bill, a fellow writer, and their rescue dog, Windsor, enliven her soul. Proximity to the ocean fuels her creativity. An award-winning writer and teacher of fiction and nonfiction, she’s received residencies at Yaddo, A Room of One’s Own (AROHO), as well as selection as a semi-finalist in the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards Competition. Judith is listed in the Poets and Writers Directory. She attended writers’ conferences at San Miguel Allende, the Joiner Center/University of Massachusetts, Mendocino and Byrdcliffe. The Maryland State Arts Council granted her their Individual Artist Fellowship for her novel, The Resurrection of Hundreds Feldman. Her new home state chose her to attend the Delaware Division of the Arts and the Delaware Arts Council 2018 Seashore Writers Retreat. She’s read from her work at venues such as the NYS Writers Institute, the NYS Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington, DC and Milton, DE Library readings. Her general background includes print journalism and speechwriting. The Woman Puzzle, published in 2019 received the DE Women’s Press Association 2020 first prize novel category.