“Anna’s Wings” a short story by Angela Jackson-Brown

2015/02/img_54081.jpg(For week 8 of the Deal Me In 2015 short story reading challenge, I drew the queen of diamonds. In addition to being part of my short story reading challenge, this post is another “reading local” post for me. In 2015, I’m trying to increase my reading of local authors and/or books set in my home state of… Indiana.)

 

“I’m disappearing, Leo,” she had said once Leo got her settled in his car. “I’m not going to let you disappear, Anna,” he had said, stroking Anna’s damp hair. But if the truth be known, Anna was disappearing and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Little by little, piece by piece, segments of Anna’s personality were slipping away, like birds during the onset of winter. ”

“Anna’s Wings” is a gently poignant story about a man, Leo, and his wife, Anna, who is suffering from mental illness and in rapid decline. Maybe “fading fast” would be a better description, as it fits in with her notion of “disappearing” in the passage quoted above. However you decide to describe it, the horror of watching a loved one – or at least watching that part of a loved one that makes her unique – disappear is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Anna’s illness manifests itself in several ways: Forgetting where she is or where she is going, forgetting to pay for goods at the Winn-Dixie (fortunately Leo is the town sheriff and can make things right in the latter case), and a fascination with a family of ducks that has settled in a pond Leo and Anna’s property. Leo can find her “somewhere near the ducks” most days when he comes home. Since the ducks seem to make Anna happy, and since Leo fears the potential impact their flying away might have on her condition, he clips their wings as a pragmatic – if temporary – way to “treat” her symptoms. Anna’s not so far gone, however, as to not notice that the ducks never seem to fly any more and learns what Leo has done:

“How could you, Leo? How could you clip their wings?” she had cried hysterically, pounding her fists against his chest. “I didn’t want them to fly away from you Anna,” Leo had said to her, as he’d tried to pull her close to him, but she jerked away. “What about me, Leo? Is that what you’ll do to me?” she exclaimed, her eyes shining brightly with tears. “When it’s my time to fly away, will you clip my wings too? Will you? Will you, Leo.”

Will he? You’ll have to read the story to find out…

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Above: American Wigeons (the ducks featured in this story) – picture from website (with more info about them if you’re interested) http://www.birdsasart.com/bn188.htm

I own this story as part of the Indy Writes Books anthology (order online at http://www.indyreads.org/indy-writes-books/ ) – a local project of which Bibliophilopolis is happily a “first edition sponsor.”

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(For my Deal Me In 2015 short story reading challenge, I’ve reserved my diamonds suit for the short stories included in this volume, but it also includes poems and non-fiction pieces and even a puzzle or two. My complete list of stories I’ll be reading for Deal Me In this year is here. Many other bloggers are doing a form of the Deal Me In challenge this year, and links to participants’ blog’s may be found on my sidebar.)

 

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The above picture (taken by me, thus explaining the poor focus and quality) is of the author reading from this story at the book’s launch party at the Indy Reads Books bookstore in downtown Indy last fall. Angela Jackson-Brown teaches English at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She also writes an excellent blog which may be found at http://www.angelajacksonbrown.com/

5 Comments

  1. Paula Cappa said,

    February 22, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Great post.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      February 24, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Thanks, Paula. I’ve already read my week 9 story too – a wild card titled… Beyond Castle Frankenstein.🙂 Really enjoyed it.
      -Jay

      Like

  2. February 23, 2015 at 8:58 am

    […] Jay at Bibliophilopolis (that’s me!) “read local” again, posting about Angela Brown-Jackson’s story “Anna’s Wings” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/annas-wings-a-short-story-by-angela-jackson-brown/ […]

    Like

  3. hkatz said,

    March 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I love well-written stories about mental illness, so I’ll make note of this one. One reason it’s good to read them is that I get frustrated with a lot of modern discourse about mental illness, reducing everything to biology. I’m not saying biology or brain chemistry isn’t important to the understanding of the mental illness – it’s just that observing different levels of neurotransmitter, for instance, doesn’t necessarily get to the complex causes of a mental illness or what continues to exacerbate it. It also doesn’t get at people’s own experience of their illness. It’s a part of the picture, but not the whole of it, though researchers and doctors sometimes talk about it as if it’s the whole. (All right, that’s all I’ll say here – this is just a topic that’s close to home.)

    Like

    • Jay said,

      March 6, 2015 at 9:26 am

      You’re so right. One of the things I liked about the story was the “more human” approach to Anna’s illness.

      It’s a topic close to home for me too. Truth told, I edited out a couple paragraphs of this post regarding some personal experience I have had along these lines since I couldn’t effectively articulate it.

      Like


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