Birthday Girl

A Story

by Evelyn Walsh

Good story, Evelyn. I smiled at the end and chuckled a little, recalling moments from my own childhood that seem today so absurd. Perhaps they shouldn't be dismissed as such. One should not judge the past by the standards of today.

A fascinating exploration, not just of the indoor playground, but of a mind, an outlook, and a whole atmosphere in which most of the assumptions current in the outside world seem to be suspended. A smart, self-aware woman is ready to embark on a complicated, exhausting, socially dangerous and morally dubious undertaking to retrieve a plastic necklace that might be her daughter's. What is so scary for her about "a big scene on the way home"? I wondered at the beginning. A few paragraphs later, I knew that this kind of question doesn't belong here, in Dante's Purgatorio.

I enjoyed reading your story. It captures so well the minuscule dramas that make up the big drama of life. I found the ending very powerful and touching because it shows how mothers are often torn between teaching ("a lesson, a lesson") and caring (protecting, loving), and how disjointed the two can be.

I enjoyed the story. Having been in those kinds of situations myself, I've felt every feeling the mom in the story feels: the hesitancy to approach the birthday mom; the fear of the scene on the way home; the weight of the importance of that piece of molded plastic; and the end when she steps on it and in that second destroys and creates the beast. Perfect.

If I may offer one comment which may seem negative but is really just an observation, in the first paragraph I was distracted by the description of who the other woman is, and I don't know what it does for the piece. It is not until a later paragraph, when we are introduced to the necklace, that I understand the mother is only there to hear the discussion of the necklace. Well, no matter. I loved the story. I hope to read more of Walsh's work.

Though I am not a mother, I enjoyed the story. I can appreciate all the neuroses of overthinking situations, of how little dramas take on a life of their own despite your warning signals not to let them. Those feelings are universal, and they make a good story.

Beautiful story. Such honesty. A mother's concrete action despite wavering doubt. We do act on behalf of others, especially when we deem them unable to do so. Choosing who we will champion is key. This mother is so conflicted, yet she dares not hesitate. This is quite a complex telling and I think it will stay with me a good while. Thanks for sharing it.


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