- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. I'm also working on two novels and a short story collection. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
"The Sky Isn't Visible From Here" by Felicia C. Sullivan
Once in a while I read a book that brings me to my figurative knees. This is one of those books. Felicia writes of growing up in the shadow of a fiercely protective (at times), careless (at other times), seductive, larger-than life, drug-addicted mother who disappeared from her life when Felicia graduated from college. Amazingly, she survived the dangerous situations in which her mother placed her, but not unscathed. Like the generational cycles that occur in many families, Felicia found herself battling the same alcohol and cocaine addictions her mother had. Only, Felicia's story, her life, is much, much different.
"You accepted these things as fact: Normal people shot heroin in their arms, in the spaces between their toes, in their neck. This was normal. This was normal.You kept repeating that to yourself as you played house with Big Michelle, the blond-haired plastic doll with the blue eyes that fell out, the doll that towered over you. When the meth addicts dropped by, raking their arms because of the itch, you colored in the lines of your coloring books with crayons that has exotic names like honeydew and cobalt."
and then later:
"Here on your desk is the stack of business cards that read Felicia C. Sullivan, Project Manager. This is 2001 and you work in a restaurant at a venture capital-backed dot-com. The cards' presence somehow comforts you. Why can't you stop shaking? You know logically that your body is here, but you can't feel it--your lips are numb, limbs slack, toes smothered in these crocodile shoes. And when you talk about milestones, forecasts, and budgets, you get your first nosebleed. Your boss winces and hands you his clean napkin and says, wipe here, wipe there."
But Felicia emerges the woman she was meant to be, the woman she always was: a strong, honest, vibrant, beautiful soul, and sober. I can't help thinking that Gus, "the man who is not my father but whom over the last fifteen years I've come to call my father," helped to save her life.
Beautifully written, with unflinching honesty, "The Sky Isn't Visible From Here" is a work of the highest art. A brave story, it underscores how a life can be devastating and hopeful in equal measures. Though it brought me to tears in several places, they were tears of admiration, admiration for the fine, strong spirit of the woman who wrote it.