WYANDOTTE WINDOW Fall 2021 KANSAS CITY, KANSAS PUBLIC LIBRARY
KCKPL Staff Editors Alyssa Grissom Brooks Wyrick Lisa Cindrich Rebecca Grizzell Cover art by Krista Suter
The opinions in this journal are those of the authors. They do not reflect the opinions and views of Kansas City, Kansas Public Library or Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. We have tried to respect a range of differing ideas and opinions while also limiting gratuitous and/or derogatory language. Patron authors are responsible for their own ideas and editing. Special thanks to KCKPL staff and administration for assisting in this project and thank you to all patron contributors.
WYANDOTTE WINDOW Table of Contents
Kayla Huett Missouri River Queen................................4 Raziya Marks The Unbloomed Flower..............................5 Skyler Novak Untitled #1..................................................6 Welcome to the Pain Exchange..................7 Untitled #2..................................................12 Yuki-Onna..................................................13 Untitled #3..................................................14 Sarah Parish Climber in Rocks of Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs........................................................15 miceLLe Problem Solving.........................................16 Dear............................................................18 Roger Heineken Grocery Stories...........................................19 Lindsay Bartlett Rural Anonymity.........................................24 Untitled #4...................................................25 Stephen F. Jones Ranch House....................26 Reading “The Nutcracker”..........................27 Zach Palmer Porcelain Temple.........................................28
MISSOURI RIVER QUEEN Kayla Huett
THE UNBLOOMED FLOWER Raziya Marks Admire the Rose, Acknowledge the Cactus, Adore the Sunflower, Avoid the Ivy, Appease the Wildflower, Address the Weeds, Abandon Comparisons, Appreciate your Growth, Attend to your own Garden, and Applaud your journey as the Unbloomed Flower.
UNTITLED #1 Skyler Novak
WELCOME TO THE PAIN EXCHANGE Skyler Novak “Please sign here for your withdrawal.” I heard a receptionist tell a customer as I sat in the waiting room. I had heard that word passed around a couple of times as people had come and gone, it felt a little weird hearing the staff refer to their products as “withdrawals.” I looked down into my hand as I gripped one of the Pain Exchange’s brochures. I didn’t know why I was so nervous, it’s not like this was going to kill me. The wait was long but I finally heard someone call my name. I hesitated in my chair as my name was called again. “Riley Young?” I shot to my feet and walked up to the receptionist. She wore a blue polo with a name tag that read “Rachael.” She greeted me with a bright smile and said: “Welcome to the Pain Exchange, what can I do for you?” I stumbled over my words, “I don’t actually know. This is my first time here.” Rachael perked up at the opportunity to give her speech. “Well, there are two procedures we offer here at the Pain Exchange. The first one, a patient will come in and pay us to remove any ailments that may be causing them distress. From headaches to cancer, there is very little we can’t do.” She paused for a moment and pulled out a pamphlet bigger than my two-page brochure. It felt like she had rehearsed it at least a hundred times. My heart was pounding in my chest as she rattled off more information. “The second is what we refer to as contracts. It’s kind of like getting a loan at a bank, except instead of paying us back you take on one of the ailments we store here in our facility.” She started pointing at different charts. “The simplest is our class one, these are things people can heal in a matter of days; headaches, colds, 24-hour bugs, things of that nature. Class two takes a little more time, but the payout is more substantial. These are your broken legs, lacerations to the flesh, things tend to be a little more gruesome here. The third class is things you may never recover from, cancer, advanced stages of pneumonia, nerve damage. While these are the most severe class three has the highest payout of the three.” Rachael was sure to take note of the interest painted on my face while looking over the price ranges. “May I ask what it is you are trying to finance?” I looked up at her again, her smile had yet to wane. “My friends and I are trying to fund a ski trip up north.” Her eyes sparkled with excitement. “That sounds fantastic, well if I may make a recommendation, it would be a class two broken bone. It would take a few weeks to heal, but the payout should be enough to cover your finances.” I couldn’t tell if she was taking advantage of my naivety, but a few weeks wasn’t all that bad. Basketball practice didn’t start until next month, I should be fine. At worst I would miss out on maybe a week or two of warmups and drills. “Do you have any questions while I draw up the paperwork?” She asked.
8 “Uhm, how does this whole thing work exactly? Will I be able to purchase a cast and some crutches to help get out?” Her smile waned for the first time in this conversation. “Unfortunately we do not offer equipment for sale outright. We can either take it out of your final balance or we can offer you a care package.” I raised my eyebrow and my facial expression must have asked my question. “The care package simply states that if you agree to add a class one to your contract we will handle all basic medical attention for free.” I took a moment, I was a little frustrated at the fact that their system was filled with so many clauses, but on the other hand, the care package sounded like a deal someone wouldn't easily refuse. Rachael displayed the contract before me on the counter. “If you could please sign here for class two, and if you are interested in the care package please sign this second page.” I looked at the second page and felt bitter, to me it felt like she knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and that she drew it up in advance. When in reality they probably had copies of the care package in bulk at their station. Still, I lifted the pen she presented to me as if it was the most delicate object in the world and observed as black onyx ink spelled out my name, Riley Young. Her smile had returned at the end of it all as she said “Here in a moment, you will be shown into a doctor’s office. There you will receive your two products. Once the procedure has concluded and you’ve received your medical aid you will also receive your payment.” Before I could ask any further questions a man in a white lab coat approached me. He too was wearing a smile. “You must be Riley.” He said “News travels fast,” I responded as I stood up to greet him. “We try to be as accommodating as we can, my name is Dr. Beels and I’ll be your operator for today.” The lobby looked and felt like a hospital, but all the staff presented themselves cheery and helpful. It had a strange atmosphere that everyone coming in weren’t patients. They were clients. The doctor gestured for me to walk with him down the hall. “I heard that this is your first time visiting. How are you liking it so far?” I walked alongside him for a moment before I answered. “To be honest it feels a little weird. Ya know? Coming in to get sick in order to make a little extra cash.” Dr. Beels chuckled under his breath, “It is weird, but I’ve gotten the pleasure of helping a wide spread of clientele. You would be surprised at how many young people come in so they can get a leg up in the world.” His words made sense and the idle talking was calming my nerves. I remembered seeing advertisements on buses, billboards, all through the city. The Pain Exchange was marketed as a second chance clinic. We came to the room and Dr. Beels opened the door for me, and talked about service. Inside it was just like any other medical examiners room. There was that bed thing with the extra large toilet paper, a chair in the corner for your mom to sit while her baby gets examined, and a
9 sink where Dr. Beels was washing his hands. This was probably the most normal thing I have felt since walking into the building. The doctor finished washing his hands and put on some rubber gloves. “While we wait for your products, may I ask why you decided to come in?” He asked this while he sat down in the “mom chair.” “Well, I’m on the basketball team at school. Come to the end of the season we are wanting to take a trip up north. I’ve already started looking into it and ski trips are expensive, more so than I am able to raise at my part-time job. So, here I am.” There was a sudden knock at the door and I nearly jumped off of my seat. The small talk was a nice distraction, but the nurse walking in and handing the doctor a stainless steel tray with two needles on it snapped me back to reality. “Well, Riley, which would you like to do first?” She asked me before picking up any needles. I could feel my heart pounding and a lump formed in my throat. “Let’s get the tough one out of the way. I think the longer I draw it out the more freaked out I’ll become.” The doc nodded and opened the first container. He injected the needle into the top of the vial and drained out this crimson liquid. The contents of the vial filled about half of the needle and he paused as our eyes locked. Without saying a word I could tell he was making sure I was ready for what was coming. I gripped my seat and nodded. Dr. Beels sterilized a section of my arm. He injected the contents of the syringe into my shoulder. It was so quick that I didn't even realize he had finished. I let out a sigh of relief when the pain caught me off guard. Tears welled as I gripped my lower leg. Within moments, I watched as a bruise bloomed on my leg like an orchid. Taking swift deep breaths was all I could do to prevent myself from screaming. It felt like hours passed before the pain became manageable. The clock on the wall told me that only fifteen minutes had passed. Sweat formed around my brow and my heart was running laps. The doctor sat in the corner and took notes as my breathing steadied. “This is always the hardest part of the job,” he said as I was blinded by his flashlight. “You may feel drowsy as your adrenaline slows down. Do you have a reliable way home?” I nodded in between deep breaths. “Yeah . . . I have a friend picking me up.” I tried moving to readjust myself into a more comfortable position, but any attempt to move my leg was met with an electroshock of pain through my body. Another moment passed before the doctor asked. “Ready for the care package?” He was being nice in making sure that I was ready to continue, but the timing plastered an expression on my face that probably read, “Are you serious?” He took my silent expression as his cue and prepared the next injection. Once again he sterilized my arm with a cold cotton swab and injected the contents into my bloodstream. The
10 first shot didn't feel like anything, but I swore this one stung. A sting to remind me of how illprepared I was for this. We continued our conversation from before as he outfitted me with a cast and measured my crutches. By the time the doc got to handing me my payment, my nose was stuffy and I had an itch in the back of my throat. I had walked in with a clean bill of health and am leaving with a broken leg, a cold, and a check for $3,000.00. I made it outside and didn't see Scott anywhere, so I sat down on the bench. I watched as people walked in and out. Exchanging their cash for health and taking pain for cash. An obnoxious honk rang from the circle drive, I could see Scott waving from the driver's seat. I situated the crutches under my arms and made my way over to him. Scott waited outside with the door opened. He helped me get my crutches into the back and made sure I was situated before closing the door. “So, I gotta ask.” He said hopping behind the wheel. “What was it like?” I knew he was going to want to know. “I mean I've yet to go in, but I've heard talk around school about people walking away with hefty sums of money.” We pulled out of the circle drive and I could see how excited he was to know someone who had actually gone. “Yeah, it was alright,” I said, mostly to tease him “Alright? Is that really all you're going to give me?” “I would like to think the results speak for themselves.” I held up the check and Scott glanced over at it as we merged onto the highway. He kept side glancing and each time his face dropped farther and farther to the floor. “Three thous-..? Are you kidding me? Just for a broken bone?” “And a cold,” “A cold?” “It was this care package thing that allowed me to get the cast and crutches.” “Still, not a bad deal. I may go in some time, myself.” I could see Scott beaming with excitement. Some time passed in silence and we drove past a billboard with an ad for the pain exchange. “Yeah, I may go back again myself if I ever need it.”
11 After a couple of sneezes, Scott asked, “Do you think you'll be healed up before the start of the season.” I shrugged. “Dunno, doc said I’ll be healed in a little over a month. At most I may miss the first week or two.”
UNTITLED #2 Skyler Novak
YUKI-ONNA Skyler Novak The evening is a brisk one. A light jacket over your shoulders, thick denim jeans and a scarf for good measure. You ask yourself why on earth you picked the graveyard shift, at a graveyard. At the time it was the only job hiring, but with the expansion of the city you actually have a chance at building an actual life. Finally, you can take those skills you have stored in the garage and try to make a name for yourself. However, "Why should I put myself out there? I’ve got a nice job and it pays decent." is a thought that comes to mind more often than it should. You sigh. As a bitter wind stabs into your eyes you wince from the icy daggers. Raising the lantern in your right hand you survey the surrounding area. You notice a figure in the distance. "Excuse me! The graveyard is closed!" You yell at the figure. Only another gust of icy wind responds to your words. Now frustrated, you swiftly sift through the snow towards the figure. You hear the crunch of the snow over and over beneath your boots. Calling out to the figure again, your voice is cut off by the howling air itself. When you finally approach the person, you start to hear the cries of a woman. Her sniffing and weeps cut through the suddenly silent graves. Again, you lift your lamp to get a better look. The woman before you is pale with black hair and a white dress. She weeps at a gravestone, and you notice her frozen tears falling into the snow. You carefully lower your foot as you try to quietly walk up to the woman and softly say "excuse me ma'am, but we are closed for the night." As the words leave your mouth you notice that the wind is at a stand still for the first time in weeks. You extend your hand to help the woman up. When she turns to take your hand you feel a sharp pain in your chest, as if the air is being stolen from your lungs. You collapse to the snow and the darkness begins to grow in your vision. Thoughts flood through your mind; friends, family and the lost chances that you wish you could have taken. With your final gasp for air your wish that you could have one more chance. Finally the darkness consumes you and the final thing you see is your own name on the tombstone in front of you.
UNTITLED #3 Skyler Novak
CLIMBER IN ROCKS OF GARDEN OF THE GODS, COLORADO SPRINGS Sarah Parish
PROBLEM SOLVING miceLLe We all ponder. What's for dinner, what to wear, where to go, why am I here. It is time to ponder an impossible, to spend time casting our brain into a realm beyond our capacity, stretching our ability to communicate. We have heard of horse whisperers, cat whisperers and Ann Sullivans. It is time expand. This is not a test, this is a thought to ponder, to jump beyond and above while staying on the ground. Could you describe the sound of the breeze blowing through the trees to someone who does not know sound. Would you describe color to someone who does not see. Is there a texture, a weight, a lightness, a sensation to capture the freedom of the wind with the flexibility of the leaf as it dances on the branch to the music of the air. Can it be painted with a finger on the on a palm with a gentleness of flight to convey the freedom of a weightlessness that does not exist, or a strength that moves a leaf without destroying it. Can an unhearing person hear the sound of the crackle as two leaves meet in a dance that no one sees.
Is red a hot color as it is often described, can someone feel a red different than the yellow of a warm sun, or the cool of the blue ocean, can touch communicate a color, as it flows into a fabric, does a red shirt feel hotter than a yellow or white shirt, is a red shirt heavier than a blue
17 ribbon. Let us describe the color of a hand, cool or warm with arthritis, wrinkled with age, or soft with youth. Does experience change the beige or produce a gentleness of the softest silk. Can one feel emotion in a hand, has emotion a color one can feel. Is a laborers hand the color of time and the density of intent. If we close our eyes can we feel the colors of the emotions of a lifetime in a hand.
A not hearing person can see the breeze blow the leaves can they sense a vibration of the air rocking imperceptibly the branch with the dancing leaves. As can a not seeing person judge the weight of a color as it is brushed across the skin. Each can enjoy the sensation of the action of a smile as well as the weight of a tear, both having color and sound a communication we can share with those who neither see nor hear.
DEAR miceLLe Dear We've been picking up our mail along the side of the road so I don’t know if you've been getting my letters I am writing because I want you to know that I am thinking of you and want to know how you are The weather here has been winter hope you are experiencing spring We all here are fine weathering the storm thinking of you hoping you are warm glad you are not here and wishing we are there please take care for us you are dear see you maybe in another year
GROCERY STORIES Roger Heineken “Hi…Mr. Davis. This is Bill Rogers. Today is your oral history day.” “Yes, Bill. I’ve been looking forward to it.” “I’m glad we were able to meet before this pandemic social distancing thing. It helped me prepare. I’d like to go ahead and conduct our interview by phone.” “I’m ready, if you are.” “As I explained, I’ll be recording this interview to assure the accuracy of the final transcript. The History Center archives needs this kind of information on the local food business. I appreciate your time to help us collect your insights.” “I’ve done a lot of reminiscing and making notes, Bill. I’m ready.” “Okay. I’ve got the recorder on. Let’s begin. Tell me your full name and life story.” “Charles Landis Davis. Friends call me Charlie. I was born at home on Congress in 1928. I was the youngest of three brothers. This October I’ll be 94. I’m part Welsh, English and German. The Depression was hard on my family. My dad was a painter and wallpaper hanger. People were not redecorating for years after the crash. Mother was a homemaker. As soon as Andy, Everett and I were old enough to do odd jobs, we found them. All of us had a paper route at one time or another. I began working after school at the grocery store giving up the paper route because I could make more money. Andrew and Everett were several years older and enlisted as soon as they could after Pearl Harbor. We were all fortunate to finish high school. Andy decided to make the military his career. He retired from the Navy and settled on the West Coast. Andy died in 2004 and is buried here. Everett came home after the war but died in a car accident in 1947. He survived the war only to leave us here back home. Our folks were never quite the same after we lost Everett.
20 I worked at the grocery store throughout the war. As I grew older, I was given greater responsibilities. I liked the job and the social nature of it all. It was a great place to work and, as young as I was, I felt valued and part of the Rosen’s business. “I have a note that the food business was different before the war. What can you share about that?” “Yes, very different. When the last neighborhood grocery store closed in the 1980s, the newspaper story said there had been 54 stores all over town. Few families had cars back then. People just walked a block or two to the neighborhood store. These groceries were quite small and stocked the basics. Most carried cold cuts and some meats. People did scratch cooking and baking back then. There were storefront butcher shops and bakeries downtown. Dairy was delivered to most homes in glass bottles. Ice was still delivered for the iceboxes. Very few people had electric refrigeration back then. We had area truck farmers who sold seasonal produce door to door. They also supplied the various neighborhood groceries.” “We’ll get back to this. You served in the Army. Tell me about it, Mr. Davis.” “Call me Charlie, Bill. Yes. The war had ended by then. I was finishing high school and working part-time. I felt I needed to follow in my brothers’ footsteps, so I enlisted in the Army. I served in Europe during the post-war operations. I was told my job at the grocery would be waiting for me when I got home…and it was.” “Tell me about your return home.” “My folks were so happy when I returned. Everett had died the year before. They needed me to be close and I was glad to be back. Andy was over occupying Japan that year. I took a week off, then started back at the grocery full-time. So much had changed. Rationing was over. The economy was coming back. The town population was growing. The store stocked so much more than before I left. While I was gone the Rosens had expanded into the adjacent storefront. We had been one of those neighborhood stores but were on main street. It made sense to grow bigger. People wanted greater variety and were willing to drive across town to buy it since gas rationing had ended.”
21 Finally, I had a steady income. Evelyn Wheeler from high school and I began to get serious. We married in 1951. We had two children and they gave us five grandchildren. The kids are retired now and live in the Kansas City area. Evelyn died twelve years ago after 57 years of marriage. I miss her. It is just me and Sport now, but we get by. I still live independently and for that I am grateful. Sport likes all the attention he gets.” “You received a promotion. Tell me about that.” “Yes. I think it was June 1954 when Abe Schmidt retired. He managed the produce. I was offered his position and was happy to get it. Things were booming back then. We moved into an old auto showroom building farther north on main. We became a supermarket in a better location. This was the trend happening all over America. Veterans were starting families. Everything was booming. Refrigerated and frozen foods exploded. Remember the TV dinners? There were more and more pre-packaged foods. Homemakers wanted convenience and increasingly could afford the modern kitchen appliances. Families had more leisure time and backyard cookouts became popular. All of this was so different than before the war.” “When we first met, you talked about seasonal foods being available most of the year. Tell me more about that.” “Being the produce manager, I saw many changes by the time I retired. Demand changed food in the U.S. First rail, then refrigerated trucks and the developing interstate highway system brought produce from greater distances, places with different seasons. Now, produce comes in from other counties. You can have melons and more year-round. There are still a few orchards around, but we don’t have the truck farmers like we did before 1940. In the spring, we would get vegetable and bedding plants from area nurseries. We didn’t handle plants before 1960. People had to go to the local greenhouses. Today, you can get star fruit and jicama…fresh herbs, things never available here before I retired.” “Tell me more about your retirement.”
22 “I retired at the end of the 1993 Christmas season. The store was hopping, and I agreed to run-out the year. For a while after I retired, I would fill-in to cover vacations. I was glad to step back into the job I enjoyed. I miss the people today as much as back then. Tom Cooper became manager when I retired. He is gone now. Not sure who followed him. I don’t get to the store now as much as I did. The Rosen’s sold the store and all the people have changed. I mostly read, watch a little TV and take Sport for a walk.” “What were some of your favorite things about the grocery business?” “I mentioned the people, both staff and customers. I have to say sweetcorn season. When we sourced locally, the first sweetcorn created a real frenzy. Also, the first tomatoes and melons. Another favorite was pickle time. Most households had a small backyard garden and grew cucumbers to eat fresh and to put up. I always had bundles of fresh dill for pickling. The aroma filled the store. I can smell it now. Bill, Sport is telling me he needs to go out. Can you give me a few minutes?” “Sure. Let’s take a break. I’ll call back in a half hour. I want to get back to rationing during the war and credit issues during the Depression. Also, the evolution of soda and beer sales. I have a whole list from our first meeting. Like the tornado take-covers during store hours, when the mental hospitals were closed, and the Gypsy story. Also, the fraternity toga party, and when cars jumped the curb hitting the storefront. The JFK assassination and when your supermarket promoted an in-store Santa. Oh…and the boa constrictor story. I’ll call back at 3:00 and we’ll start session two.” “Hey, Charlie. I’m back. Ready to continue?” “Bill, I thought of another story while I was letting Sport do his business. Many hippy college students had dogs. Most didn’t follow leash laws, if we had them back then…don’t remember. The dogs would follow the students to school and hang out on campus until classes were dismissed. As you know, my store wasn’t far from campus. Well, one time this dog in heat was being chased all over town by a pack of four or five dogs in all shapes and sizes. Our supermarket had automated doors then. You guessed it… The pack of dogs shot past a customer exiting through the door. We had dogs
23 running through the aisles, weaving around customers. It took the manager, me, and several stock boys to chase the pack back out the door. Makes me laugh now thinking about it.” Bill and Charlie continued the oral history project by phone through five sessions producing a 82-page transcript. With things opening back up, Bill had hoped to hand deliver the transcript to Charlie for his review and approval when he learned that Charlie had died. As it turned out, Charlie’s neighbors heard Sport barking and barking. When they checked in on him, they found Charlie had passed sitting in his easy chair. His death was determined to be of natural causes and not the pandemic. Charles Landis Davis was 93. The neighbors adopted Charlie’s beloved Sport. Charlie knew produce, and for the History Center archives, shared many incisive grocery stories.
RURAL ANONYMITY Lindsay Bartlett On the prairie grain elevators dot the land like push pins on a map, marking all the places I haven’t been. On these western Kansas plains, cattle and stone posts are more common than people. Where Kansas is associated with Dorothy and that witch from the west. My hometown boasts of its barbed wire fame. The stuff settlers used to divide up the vast prairie in order to make a living from the good earth. In a place where at night they could look up and see the night sky, the same sky we see a little less clearly now. Those of us who have stayed, called these plains home taken what anonymity we could in their vastness
UNTITLED #4 Lindsay Bartlett
STEPHEN F. JONES RANCH HOUSE Lindsay Bartlett
READING “THE NUTCRACKER” Lindsay Bartlett A single dad and his three-year-old daughter live in the duplex next to mine. A laundry room a shared space. On any given night there will be sporadic knocks at my door from a little fist. Followed by the patter of tiny feet as she runs to hide. I open the door and pretend to search. Grin at her squeals when she sees me, “Lindsey, come play with me!” she says. Tonight, we read “The Nutcracker” sitting on the wood floor, her elbow against my knee. I’ve watched her grow, just a few months ago she would not have cared about this story. Now she sits fascinated, stopping me only to point out pictures of girls in pretty dresses. Otherwise, she lets me read, you can see her absorbing the words, three-year-old brain like a sponge. I don’t know how much I can give to her, but at least I can share a love of stories and words; the things most important to me. One day, maybe, they will be the same for her.
PORCELAIN TEMPLE Zach Palmer Cold, gray days seemed to slow time to a crawl. Oliver waited patiently for the days to pass but the cold was too fierce to play outside and Dad needed the computer for most of the day for work. Oliver wheeled himself to his bedroom window, the cold metal of the chair nipping against his fingertips. It wasn't fun being sick and at the age of 8, none of the other kids in the neighborhood seemed to understand why he couldn't play or be part of their games. Oliver sometimes struggled to understand it himself. Christmas was only 3 days away and Oliver could hardly wait, he just wished he had something to pass the time or someone to talk to. His father stayed in his office working most of the day and his mother, well she wasn't around anymore. Oliver never met her but he spent many afternoons wondering what she must've been like. The most conversation he got out of the day from his father was at breakfast and dinner where each day he would ask his dad how work was and his dad would respond by asking what Oliver did for the day. Most nights were meals from a box but Oliver didn't mind because his Father let him out extra parmesan cheese on it to taste better. A few days before Christmas, Oliver's father had asked him a new question: what he would like for Christmas? “A friend to play with.” Oliver responded between obnoxious coughs. They were ever-persistent these cold days. His father grinned, having an idea in mind from a recent ad he had seen online. Christmas day came and presents were all bundled under the tree for young Oliver. He excitedly tore open all that he could get a hold of, his proud father sitting on the couch in a blue bathrobe and sipping lukewarm coffee. The last present, and certainly the biggest sat in the center of the room. Oliver leaned over as far as his wheelchair would allow in order to pick up. It wasn’t as big as him but it was pretty close. The packaging gave way to blonde curls and bright green eyes and a grin as wide as the sunrise. It was an old Shirley Temple doll, although Oliver was too old to know who that was beyond late night advertisements for CD soundtracks. He loved it. He loved her infectious smile more than anything. Oliver found himself smiling right alongside Shirley that morning, the biggest smile he had been able to make in a long time. Oliver and Shirley played all day long together. That night, things began to change. Oliver’s father tucked him into bed nice and tight, not that he could really go anywhere otherwise. Shirley had been leaned up in a chair near the bedroom door. The lights were turned off and the door closed shut. A soft green hue took over the room. Oliver looked over to see and it was as if Shirley’s eyes had been painted over with a glow in the dark paint. He stared at the glowing green eyes, something about them in the dark unsettled Oliver to his core. The smile, no longer infectious, at least not in the way it was before. The light coming from the eyes faded as Shirley’s eyelids shuttered. Oliver could do nothing but hold the covers even tighter.
29 Emerald glow soaked the room once again, but the source was no longer in the chair. Now she was on the ground, her head still tilted towards Oliver’s direction. The eyelids shuttered again, slowly closing off the source of light. No sound was made. Oliver could neither see nor hear anything. But as the light returned, Shirley had made her way a few inches closer to the bed. The piercing green eyes now beacons of terror. Oliver tried to scream for help, but no noise would bravely escape his lips. As he tried, his bedsheets grew damp. The eyes slowly blinked once more, drowning the room in darkness once again. A few seconds went by, feeling closer to minutes, longer than any of the previous times before. Oliver became frantic, no longer forming cohesive thoughts. He softly shook in his sodden sheets, unable to move, unable to even breathe. Green light filled the interior of the room once more. Resting at the foot of Oliver’s bed was the Shirley doll, grinning ear to ear. Her head was tilted at an angle as if she was asking “What’s wrong Oliver?” He sat there frozen, his eyes wide as petri dishes and unblinking. Her eyes slowly began closing once more, this time she was close enough that Oliver could see the eyelids moving. He could see the grievous smile fading from her lips. As the thick, near unnatural blackness saturated the air once more Oliver let out a small, noiseless gasp. When Shirley’s eyes opened once more, all Oliver could see was the bright green light of her eyes staring directly into his. His mouth erupted into a silent scream. She took that opportunity. Oliver’s mouth was horrifically expanded beyond its limits as Shirley forced her way into his throat. The lips cracked and severed at the corners, forcing a twisted smile to tear open across his face. His throat widened to unnatural proportions as Shirley slid down to rest inside Oliver’s stomach. The lips resealed, but the smile remained. The next morning, a Christmas miracle occurred. Oliver could walk once more. He was constantly smiling, wide enough that others who saw it couldn’t help but smile along. It was almost as if the disease that plagued his body had simply vanished overnight. Oliver’s father however, couldn’t help shake the feeling that Oliver’s eyes had never quite been that bright green before.