“Elodie” By Jennifer Christman

   Originally published in Willow Springs 86

From the author

Notes on “Elodie”

“Elodie” came about as a result of two other stories I wrote. One is about the Roseclaire character (her mother), in which she is living through the drama of her marriage ending and her friends ghosting her in her uptight suburb. That she has a little girl is barely mentioned. The other story is about the Old Lady character (her name is Avis in this story), who is loosely based on a real-life but now deceased grand dame of theater. Old Lady reminisces about her theater days and spends her time talking to Peanut (also inspired by and named for a real living being of a dog). Not long after, I wrote a shortie about a grungy, hovel-loving girl, Elodie, who works as a projectionist, at which point I thought, hmmm, I think she might be the daughter of that Roseclaire person. Then – I swear this is gonna come together – I read a memoir written in present tense and admired the ongoing sense of loss conveyed by the narrator (it’s about the death of her sister), and knew that Elodie would surely have experienced tremendous loss because of her mother’s withdrawal. So, I worked on Elodie as daughter of Roseclaire in the present and it just kind of rolled out. (This rarely happens to me… it’s usually a slog.) Oh, and I knew that Elodie would find her way to Old Lady and Peanut, because I loved them and wanted them in the story.


 

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I love to cook, it’s relaxing, and Tracy Chapman has been my go-to for kitchen listening for the past year or so. Maybe the era we are in? Her soulfulness, her activism. 1970’s folk and classic rock are my defaults, though. I also love ska and reggae. Since a tune or tone often helps me conjure characters, I create playlists for them. Right now, a character I’m working on plays banjo, and his daughter, long after he passes, listens to it, too, to feel close to him. So, I’ve had a lot of Old Timey playing to help me feel closer to both of them.

Food and booze. I eat huge quantities of popcorn. When I don’t have popcorn, I eat corn chips. All day. Writer friends introduced me to a craft beer that I’m obsessed with – Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine. The yellow can brightens my day.

I don’t have tattoos. Or kittens. But Teddy, my dog, is my constant companion – as in glued to my side. He’s fluffy, black and white, and mildly arthritic at 14, but still pretty spry.

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About Jennifer Christman

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Jennifer Christman (she/her) is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College. Her debut fiction can be found in New Ohio Review 24. She lives in New York City.