Compression Scars

Compression Scars

Kellie Wells
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n58j
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  • Book Info
    Compression Scars
    Book Description:

    The eleven stories in Kellie Wells's debut collection cover a wide range of eccentric characters--from a young girl experiencing her friend's strange demise to a set of opposite-sex conjoined twins. Forced to deal with the debilitating confines of the physical world--usually manifest in some kind of deformity or affliction, from compression scars to mysterious blue skin--Wells's characters struggle to transcend their existential disappointments and find some way and someone to love. In the title story, Ivy and her best friend Duncan struggle to understand their mortality as Ivy learns of his potentially fatal internal scarring caused by a moped accident. As Ivy says, "Things can get so strange so fast," and they frequently do in Wells's stories. But Ivy and Duncan help each other escape their frightening, difficult world, if only momentarily, through imagination, good humor, and closeness. "Godlight" addresses most specifically the questions that are evident in all the stories: Do you believe in God, and do you believe in reincarnation? Jonas, the Hyatt Regency Hotel's live-in light bulb replacement man, encounters two different characters--a child who lives in the hotel and a woman who claims that her identity has been altered for the Witness Protection Program--who ponder these questions. Meanwhile, Jonas is left wondering what has really become of his missing daughter, Emma. The physical world is brought into question frequently in this collection, and in "My Guardian, Claire," we see what can happen when someone tries to transcend it--and succeeds. During a séance to reach the narrator's late mother, Claire reaches the spirit world and never truly returns. The narrator tries desperately to retrieve Claire through a hilarious trip to the Exotic Animal Drive-Thru Paradise. Compression Scars is an eloquent and original collection that vibrantly captures the oddities of both the everyday and the out-of-this-world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4209-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[xii])
  3. Compression Scars
    (pp. 1-22)

    The summer the bats came, Duncan began wearing only blue and my breasts grew a whole cup size as if I were feeding them better. The day I first noticed the bats, I had gone outside to watch the Roto-Rooter men dig up the Dorsetts’ backyard. Mr. Dorsett paced back and forth as the muddy men lifted parts of the lame septic tank out of the hole. I admit I was sort of glad about it. I could tell the whole thing embarrassed Mr. Dorsett because he was stinking up the entire neighborhood. It was the end of May and...

  4. Blue Skin
    (pp. 23-38)

    Clancy is watching the Oprah Winfrey show. There is a woman on who insists that the male Y chromosome is directly responsible for war and high interest rates. Her lips quiver as she speaks and she shakes clenched, white-knuckled fists at the ceiling. Her gums are completely visible.

    Clancy prefers the straightforward sensationalism and sleaze of the Geraldo Rivera show. He especially likes it when Geraldo gets down on bended knee and squeezes the thigh of the sobbing guest. Yesterday on the show, there was a man whose wife had been slain by a woman driven mad by infertility. Despite...

  5. Godlight
    (pp. 39-55)

    Jonas unscrews the burnt-out light bulb carefully, as though it were something he was going to plant and nurture, a tulip, an onion. This is what he does for a living. He works for the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and his sole occupation, the chore that fills his working days with purpose, is replacing darkened bulbs with sparking ones. He brings light. When a Sylvania soft-white reading bulb crackles its final current, it is Jonas who bears the replacement. He lights up itinerant salesmen’s transient lives so they may distinguish brown socks from black; he brightens the shadowy corners of conventioneers’...

  6. My Guardian, Claire
    (pp. 56-73)

    When I was six years old, a ring of shingles wound around my mother’s waist like a belt, and she stopped breathing when the ends met. Dr. Avery Schoenfeld’s Bedside Guide to Good Health says death by a girdle of shingles is a myth. It says it is a superstition dating back to the early Greeks. Evidently it is a myth in which my mother believed.

    Claire took me in when disease cinched my mother’s shrinking waist. Claire lived by myths of her own making.

    I hope my mother felt no pain as the skin scabbed round her middle. I...

  7. Star-dogged Moon
    (pp. 74-93)

    I wasn’t always as I am now, ugly, distorted, features I culminating in a disordered aspect. Wasn’t always deserving of the averted gazes that carom off my own straight-ahead stare. Sometimes I catch only the end of the movement, the head arcing away, but it is as familiar to me as my hands—the part of the body a person sees most, clasped or dangling so often in the vicinity of one's distracted stare, a strikingly fine feature amid the mess of me— and I am past trying to see the repulsion as a random gesture ungrounded in me, my...

  8. A. Wonderland
    (pp. 94-108)

    Alison is blonde and thirteen and avoids eating red A meat. She once read about a man who led an art movement and demanded that his followers eat only green food because green was his favorite color. His followers complied. Alison imagines that at least these people must have gotten the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. She has decided to name her first child, whether male or female, André after this man. She is glad that André’s favorite color was not red. She thinks with a name like André, the child would be bound to excel under any circumstances....

  9. Cassandra Mouth
    (pp. 109-113)

    It was a day painful with sunshine when I said Dog and I one appeared in my garden, lumbering out of the foliage like time-lapse botanical evolution, plant to animal in a matter of minutes, the time it takes to name the outcome of a foregone conclusion. It was a mastiff ropy with brawn, weaving in a way that said it was spoiling for a scrap with an obsequious lap dog. I knelt to claim it, be claimed by it, held out my hand, smaller than its paws. It sniffed the grass then wagged its sculpted haunches, loped toward me....

  10. Swallowing Angels Whole
    (pp. 114-132)

    In the beginning, there was the Word, and the word was me, and I was a baby. As I got older, I saw there were others, but still I suspected it was all about me. It wasn’t until I realized that I might be the other myself that I began to feel a vague discomfort, like a hand-me-down sweater a size too small. One day at Sunday school, looming in the dusty night sky of the chalkboard was a giant white eye, unblinking. White lashes, white pupil, and outline of iris, it was upsetting. “God sees you,” said the teacher....

  11. Sherman and the Swan
    (pp. 133-148)

    Sherman likes mayflies, admires them for their courage, their quick impulse to propagate, in the face of their brief life span; they are sudden and fleeting things. Sherman dislikes firearms. He cannot understand how something clearly intended for wounding or killing can have its own national association and how the president of the United States can belong to such an organization.

    Sherman’s parents used to worry about Sherman’s likes and dislikes, though they worried from a distance. They believed it unwise to get too close too fast. This is what they told Sherman. When he tried to hug them or...

  12. Secession, XX
    (pp. 149-174)

    On the thirteenth day following fertilization, “we” found “ourselves” with three X’s and a Y to work with, so it didn’t take brain surgeons, or even budding geneticists, for the excessive zygote we were to figure out how best to assemble ourselves. We were the thwarted hermaphrodite splitting defiantly down the middle, reconciled to sharing intestines, a bit of pelvis, perhaps a spleen, but not everything. We knew enough each to claim an X, and then I said Girl and yanked the other X out of the communal The biological impossibility of our zygosity proved no deterrent to my sister....

  13. Hallie Out of This World
    (pp. 175-192)

    I was born of an indiscretion. This is how my father tells it. One night he lost his head. He was all body. Hands, penis, stomach, butt. With no head. It rolled away and left him to grope, the headless horseman without the horse. It was a bowling ball in search of pins, a cantaloupe in search of mouths. When he finally found it again, it had a baby to think about, anchoring it to its neck.

    My father says after I was born, my mother came to his parents’ house. My father was home from college for the summer....

  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-194)