Close-Ups

Close-Ups

Sandra Thompson
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 116
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n5t8
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  • Book Info
    Close-Ups
    Book Description:

    Sandra Thompson takes us inside the lives of women struggling to find their places among lovers, husbands and ex-husbands, mothers, and children in relationships where old rules do not apply and new rules have not yet been set. Thompson's characters live in a world where dreams often supersede reality and things are not as they seem. Her style is sophisticated and subtle, and we experience her stories almost by osmosis. They stay with us afterwards to question their own realities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4207-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[x])
  3. One
    • Horror Show
      (pp. 3-9)

      My brother, soft palms and knees moving silently across the carpet, approaches me lying above him on the bed, unsuspecting. It is his favorite game, “Ribs.” He is the character Ribs, and I am me. He raises himself to the height of the bed, rests his chin on it, level with my body, and as he makes his ascent up the side of the bed, the trip from the foot of the bed to where I am lying near the pillows, he mutters, “I am going to kill you.” At five his enunciation is crisp and he knows how to...

    • Close-Ups
      (pp. 10-17)

      The Number One Idol is dead. His face in the obituary: white hair on white paper. He is smiling, and his eyes veer off the page. I recognize the gaze. I had tried to follow it there, to some sad, precious thing. I try to follow it now, but I stop short, my eyes remaining on the page.

      I hadn’t seen him in twelve years. I hadn’t spoken to him. We didn’t write. Had he lived twelve years more, I wouldn’t have seen him. He never left Ohio, and I wouldn’t go back there. So much is made of death;...

    • Notes
      (pp. 18-30)

      Sally looks up at Barry. He’s wearing a pair of white ducks that are ripped all the way up the crotch. He likes loose clothes, clothes several sizes too big for him. He doesn’t like to button or zip; things are more comfortable that way. He opens his mouth big and wide, leans over Sally wide-eyed and expectant, waggles his tongue at her, and hums: “Ahhhhhhhhh.”

      Sally stands before him, pleading. She feels her jeans have grown too tight. Her streaked hair looked brassy this morning. Barry said it did. At least he agreed with her. Now he is looking...

    • L.A.
      (pp. 31-48)

      I know it’s a mistake when I get off the plane in L.A. The plane isn’t late, and it isn’t early, so there’s no reason for Ben not to be here. He isn’t here. I get on a moving sidewalk that takes me to the baggage claim. I see Ben, but he doesn’t see me. “Ben!” I call out.

      At least, I think it’s Ben. When we were in New York together he didn’t have his black hair rolling down past his shoulders, and he wasn’t wearing a Stetson.

      The moving sidewalk drops me at his feet. “Ben!” I cry....

    • Ashes
      (pp. 49-56)

      My mother died. She was fifty years old. She had so many times told me how she would choose to die: as her own grandmother had died, at the age of ninety, in her sleep, after digging the whole day in her own garden.

      My mother did not have a garden.

      When I was a child our family spent the winters in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. On shop signs and beach towels, everywhere, there was a fat, smiling sun radiating blazing rays. On days when there was no sun at all, the newspaper was given away free. We could take...

  4. Two
    • The Baby in Mid-Air
      (pp. 59-63)

      As she sees the baby in mid-air, her brown head falling toward the floor, her legs and red shoes above it, the mother—too far out of reach to catch her or even to break the impact of he fall—feels the moment at the base of her womb, its sides contracting with a sharp pain as though the child were being born again. There is a light thud as the small body hits the floor. There is a cry, a deepening in the color of the baby’s face from ivory to red, the baby’s placid face scrunched into a...

    • Snow
      (pp. 64-69)

      It’s been snowing for thirty hours. The cat is restless. She whines to go out. A four-foot drift blocks the back door. She leaps to the windowsill, her body splayed across the pane like a flag. Her claws paw the glass.

      I am a city person. I don’t trust weather. The little match girl went to sleep in the warm warm snow. My great-grandmother rode home in horse and carriage through a blizzard. The baby on her lap suffocated in so many blankets. It was somewhere in Ontario.

      The eleven o’clock news says electricity is out in Boston. Fuel supplies...

    • Mother’s Day
      (pp. 70-78)

      I’m afraid to walk the dog alone at night, so I ask my husband to watch me from the window. I go out into the street with the dog and look up at our parlor window. It’s dark there; it doesn’t look like anyone is home. I yell to my husband from the street. Not as loud as I would yell if I were being attacked, but loud. There is no answer. No one comes to the window.

      In the Village, on the same street where I lived, a girl was murdered. The stabs took less than ten seconds. From...

    • Memoir, Cut Short
      (pp. 79-83)

      My ex-husband always had blondes who did everything for him. I was a brunette who didn’t like to do anything for anybody. Even after he’d found a blonde heiress who grew tomatoes in a window box because he hated the yellowish ones in the supermarket, and who knitted him a thick woolen stocking cap because he shivered whenever the temperature dropped below 70, it was our understanding that she and the rest of the blondes were inferior to me. That’s what he told me and I pretended to believe him and to agree with him.

      I dyed my hair blonde...

    • Montauk
      (pp. 84-93)

      It’s a long drive back to the city from Montauk. I’m sitting shotgun next to Norton, who is driving his mother’s Cadillac. My husband and my two-year-old daughter, OD’ed on sun, are asleep in the backseat. The Doo Wop Shop is on the radio. Those oldies but goodies remind me of you. The songs of the past bring back memories of you. Norton and I are singing along with the oldies but goodies. We know the words of almost every song. I grew up in the Midwest, so I don’t know some of the regional hits. I try to pick...

    • The Birthday Party
      (pp. 94-98)

      September 26, 1980.

      It is my daughter’s sixth birthday.

      We are sitting in the back of Burger King, waiting for the party to begin. Our section is roped off, red crepe paper tied across the aisle, echo of pews decorated for a wedding. Each place is set with red and blue and yellow balloons sitting like giant Easter eggs inside gold Burger King crowns. My daughter has brought her own party hats, especially chosen: stand-up crowns of pink cardboard with pink confetti and silver glitter spelling out happy birthday. The price stickers are still on the backs: 49¢, Woolworth.

      She...

    • The Don
      (pp. 99-104)

      Standing alone at the end of St. Petersburg Beach, a strip of white sand that curves into the Gulf of Mexico, a mammoth Spanish structure, the Don Ce Sar Hotel, splashes unabashedly pink against the blue sky. It is a building that so captures the imagination that thirty years ago it inspired one woman from Georgia, seeing it for the first time, to return home, pack up her kids in the family Ford, and, without leaving a note for her husband, drive south to fulfill the first dream she had ever had, or at least the first one she could...

  5. Back Matter
    (pp. 105-106)