The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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CONTEXT: This scene came from an interview with my mother, Cindy. When she was younger, every summer, she went to the beach at Wildwood, New Jersey with her family and a few other families. At night, the men would stay in, drink, play cards, and watch whatever baseball game was on the television, and the women would take all of the children to the boardwalk. Although some of this information may not be accurate, I used the characteristics of my mother—her wit, playfulness, and general cluelessness—to construct some characteristics of her younger self. One night, she did, in fact, get lost on the boardwalk at Wildwood when she was around six or seven years old and used Dracula’s Castle to find her way back to her motel because she was so afraid of it. Her mother and the group of people she was with on the boardwalk had everyone on the boardwalk looking for her, even the police. (Original artwork by Erica Wessner.)

Cindy gripped her mother’s hand even tighter as they passed Dracula’s Castle on the Wildwood boardwalk. Although it wasn’t the first time she’d seen the eerie grey brick fortress, she couldn’t help but hide behind every step her mother took.

The group sauntered along the boardwalk for an eternity while ignoring highly necessary stops: ice cream shops, candy shops, and about a million gift stores. Finally, the adults decided on watching a man in a window. He blew into a long tube and made a bright orange ball on the other end grow. He twisted the tube, and the bursts of glowing orange grew deformed with every twist. Fully immersed in the man’s fascinating process, Cindy barely noticed her hand slip away from her mother’s, as she clapped in excitement with the crowd.

In no time, the man presented the finished product to the swarm of people outside of his shop window. Disappointed and underwhelmed in what only looked like a vase after the intense effort brought forth by the man, Cindy decided it was time to convince her mother to get her a cone of ice cream. However, when she turned to find her mother, Cindy only found foreign faces, none of which matched the beauty of her mother’s. In a panic, she shoveled her way out of the crowd surrounding the glass blower’s window, scanned every nearby bench, light post, and shop but only saw the obnoxious gargoyles bulging out of the very peak of Dracula’s Castle that rested down the boardwalk. With every regretful and shaky step, Cindy reminded herself that her dad was watching the game in their motel right next to Dracula’s Castle.

As Cindy neared the castle she could faintly hear the ear-deafening shrieks, grumbles, and hideous laughs that gushed out. Her small hands suctioned to the sides of her head prohibited any noise from creeping into the ears behind her delicate, light blonde pigtails.

Don’t look.

Cindy plastered her eyes shut and impressively made her way past Dracula’s Castle, having most of the characteristics of Helen Keller.

About fifteen clumsy steps down the boardwalk, her eyes peeked open. The lights illuminating from her crummy motel seemed to glow an even brighter neon. Cindy rushed up the stairs and into the only room with her favorite purple towel hanging on the ledge outside.

As Cindy swung the door open, a pungent scent of cigarettes, liquor, and sweaty men struck her just as her dad laid down a royal flush— a usual Thursday night at home. The telephone rang shortly after her father praised her for the bravery she possessed, considering the frightening events of the night she explained earlier. From the stern screams beating out of the telephone headpiece resting against her father’s face, her mother took a different approach to the situation.

“SHE’S WITH YOU?!? I LOOKED EVERYWHERE! I GOT THE COPS INVOLVED!”

All that for a lousy glass vase and no ice cream?

Lost Near the Castle

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September, 1978
Wildwood, NJ

CONTEXT: This scene came from an interview with my mother, Cindy. When she was younger, every summer, she went to the beach at Wildwood, New Jersey with her family and a few other families. At night, the men would stay in, drink, play cards, and watch whatever baseball game was on the television, and the women would take all of the children to the boardwalk. Although some of this information may not be accurate, I used the characteristics of my mother—her wit, playfulness, and general cluelessness—to construct some characteristics of her younger self. One night, she did, in fact, get lost on the boardwalk at Wildwood when she was around six or seven years old and used Dracula’s Castle to find her way back to her motel because she was so afraid of it. Her mother and the group of people she was with on the boardwalk had everyone on the boardwalk looking for her, even the police. (Original artwork by Erica Wessner.)

Recorded by Erica Wessner on June 6, 2018
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