Originally published in Willow Springs 83
From the author
Notes on “A Drop of Blue”
I wrote the first draft of A Drop of Blue after a conversation with my mother about the Me Too movement, how most women have a story to tell, whether big or small, of how their body was invaded or when a man used his power to get sex. Immediately, I began to think about this day in Springfield, Missouri when I was little girl. The words flew out of me, and I wrote the first draft in less than an hour. This is a rare occurrence. The last time this type of writing flow happened was in 2001 with a short short story called The Bees, Their Rising set on my grandmother’s farm. Both times, a similar thing happed: it was as if I was overtaken by some ghost or spiritual string, pulling the story out of me, as if the story was ready and waiting to be brought up and out. As I wrote, I was struck with how insignificant my “Me Too” story is compared to others and yet, the way it left a mark on me is palpable. That incident is one of my most vivid memories of growing up, along with the time when the class bully trapped me in the girls’ bathroom and said I looked like a cabbage patch doll.
After this day, described in my essay, a fear and suspicion of men settled on me, the whisper of which has remained. As I wrote that day, the string pulled up memories of my mother’s relationship to her body and even reflections about my daughter came up, how quickly she learned that part of being female means to find out what boys want and to alter oneself accordingly. As I write this reflection today, I am struck with how growing up strip mines our girls, and that even fear of walking down a street or a boy pleading for a hug from a girl so he can feel her breasts, is a drop of blue.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, etc…
I was a late bloomer when it comes to appreciating the joys of drinking. I don’t have stories of getting wasted at high school and college parties except for the one time my boyfriend and I decided, in college, to get drunk responsibly. I was housesitting for a couple from church and they invited me to help myself to the large wall of liquor. I ended up getting very drunk off a large mix of drinks including peppermint schnapps that resulted in me crawling around the floor like a dog, saying to my boyfriend, you know you want me? and then later puking in the bathroom. My, now ex-husband and the amazing Norwegian father of my three children, will probably tell you that he definitely did not want me in my doggy-style drunken state, which is part of why I married him. After that, we didn’t drink until our thirties and drank wine at restaurants. I progressed from White Zinfandel to Riesling to Pinot Grigio and now am firmly a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I like the occasional cocktail with fresh citrus or a cucumber flare or a dark and stormy.
Speaking of dogs, my family and I have a Bernedoodle named Lucy, and she is an intense pursuer of love. When I come home and sit on the couch with one of my kids, she will stand up on her hind legs and place her paw on my shoulder. She will look at me, her dark eyes barely visible behind her thick wisps of fur, as if to say, You know you want me. And I do.
Oh and food and music. Lately, I’ve been writing to a list on Spotify called, Coffee Table Jazz and my new favorite music to cry to is The Oh Hellos or Brandi Carlisle and to dance to, Matisyahu or Billie Eilish, my daughter’s new find. My favorite food to make is fresh tomato – flash-fried with tons of garlic, olive oil, salt, black pepper and basil tossed with angel pasta and topped with a handful of parmesan cheese.
About Anne Raustol
Anne E. Raustol received an MFA from Bennington College in 2001. Her stories have appeared in Rock and Sling, Rapid River Magazine, Florida Review as well as an essay in Literary Mama. Her story, The Bees, Their Rising, which was published in Florida Review, was first awarded second place in Glimmer Train’s Short Short Story award in 2003. She lives in Asheville with her family of three kids and a dog named Lucy. She is currently seeking representation for her young adult novel, The Pretenders, based on her father’s death of AIDS in 1989.