Ah, the letter Q. The enemy of anyone who has ever traveled playing the alphabet game and banking on the fact that in one small Texas town on the way to Abilene, there is, in fact, Patrick Quince, Attorney at Law. A hero, no matter how well he practices law.
I searched online and in my short story anthologies and found two pseudo Q stories, Amy’s Question, by TS Arthur (1868) and Barbie-Q by Sandra Cisneros. In my effort to read more diverse writers, Ms. Cisneros is the choice.
Barbie-Q is the story of two sisters and their love for their Barbie dolls. Cisneros grew up in Chicago in a family led by her Mexican-born father and Mexican American mother. Judging from the age, I would bet money that the Barbie dolls mentioned in the story were blonde, blue-eyed. There were not many other types back then, in the sixties. The family is out at a flea market when they come across a vendor selling all kinds of Barbies and clothing. Apparently, a local toy factory caught fire. Hence, Barbie-Q.
This story brought back memories of my own smoke-fragranced toys. My second-generation Italian family also managed to get toys from “fire sales” and from things that “fell off a truck”. So I had Barbies and Mrs. Beasley that we never could get the smoky smell out of, and we had literally hot toys. The perks of being an Italian family in New Jersey, right? And also, the idea of using the toys to feel more “American” in some ways. It was the Italian side that insisted that we get these things, collect all we could. The Irish and Polish sides (Dad’s family) had been around a bit longer. (Dad was 3rd generation) so didn’t have to work so hard.
I love Cisnero’s writing in this story; it brought back all the emotions I had at six years old trying to understand when my parents tried to explain: “Of course your toys smell a bit smoky – Santa had to bring them through the chimney!”
We did not have a fireplace.
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This month I am participating in the A to Z blog challenge. http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/
The challenge involves 26 posts in April, all somehow connected to the alphabet. My theme for the month is short stories. The Story Factory needs market research, of course, so I will be reading a short story for each letter of the alphabet and trying to learn some new techniques for my story writing. My lacks seem to be characterization and emotional experience, so I am mainly looking for stories to teach me those things. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments if you know of an amazing story. Another component of the challenge is the blog road trip, where we visit each other’s blogs, leave comments, etc. While I would like to visit a couple of blogs every day, it is more realistic to do Road Trips on Sundays. (Of course, my ongoing, 52 bad story challenge is still on, as well as the 2021 creative hours in 2021.