Apr 142012

Lindsay Norville was out with her family for Chinese food one night when she snapped open a fortune cookie and read the words “One day you will write a book.” She says she knew she was going to be writer when she was ten. She wrote and self-published her first novel — Cracked Up — when she was thirteen. She’s a woman in a hurry. She is from Albany, NY, just down the road from me, where she has been studying creative writing privately with my friend Gene Garber who brought her work to my attention.  This fall she plans to start in the MFA program at Syracuse University. But the plot thickens, as they say. Lindsay suffers from sickle cell anemia, she’s already had a liver transplant. You can read about this on her web site. I’m not revealing secrets. It makes my heart sore to read about this and yet see that smile on her face (look at her site — she smiles a lot) and to think of the struggle she has been through to get her words out. It’s a deep pleasure to publish her here. “The Artist” is a painfully real story of a child/girl/woman lapped in the doubtful bliss of a nuclear family from hell. The word “artist” is meant to be both true and ironic: the artist is the girl’s father, a musician who murders his wife in a spasm of long accumulated love-hate, a dramatic, intimate dance macabre of obsession. Victim and unwilling co-conspirator, the girl, as is the nature of such children, is a minute observer of her parents’ faults. Her telling is chilling and courageous — in our politically correct era you rarely see a woman’s self-obsessed evil dissected so carefully. We’re in Mommy Dearest country here. But the mother is a dream compared to the father who does his best to enlist his daughter’s sympathy and complicity, undermining her sense of self and reality from the padded cell where he lives, really and metaphorically.



When they questioned him, my father only said things like, “The first time I saw her there was a smile in her eyes.” Of course this frustrated the authorities, and later the doctors, but that was how my father talked. He was an artist.

They kept him in seclusion. He had padded white walls with a thin metal cot and a twelve-by-ten floor space to pace hour after hour, day after day. He could only leave to go to the bathroom down the hall, flanked by an attendant the nurses on the ward called Big T.

I smiled a little when I imagined my slim father taking on someone named Big T. My father didn’t even kill insects. He was the gentlest person I knew. “Violence is for animals and the unloved,” he would say whenever he caught me in my room punching pillows and stuffed dolls, picturing the girls at school who made fun of my brown skin and knobby knees.

He never fought them. He let them take him away. He let them lock him up. He never had to be sedated or tied down when they pointed their fingers and made their allegations. The lawyers said my father couldn’t even manage an eye twitch or an agitated tone when responding to the bailiff. It was his perpetual calm, his unwavering refusal to testify, the way he regarded his cuffed wrists and my mother’s weepy relatives with a slightly irritated indifference that convinced the members of the jury he belonged with the criminally insane. In their estimation, only a psychopath could methodically clean his reading glasses while blown-up photographs of my mother’s body were displayed and discussed at length.

During the trial, one of my favorite fantasies involved watching understanding ignite in each juror’s eyes as I stood before the court with my own evidence. I would pass around the blue bow tie my father wore to the spring formal his sophomore year of high school. As a shy and introverted musical prodigy, he disliked school dances, but he took Patricia Himmel that year because she had just lost her father to cancer, she wanted desperately to go, and the fact that she had Down Syndrome discouraged other boys from asking her. He paid for her dress, called her a princess, and didn’t skip out on any slow songs. How could such a gentleman be anything but cooperative and composed when confronting his accusers? He was ashamed when he found out I spit on Nurse Mason, the head attendant of the ward.

Nurse Mason was a massive woman with big, blonde, teased hair and a smile with many meanings behind it. She acted sympathetic toward me at first, patting my shoulders and slipping me cellophane-wrapped sweets from her pockets. She held my hand in the halls so I wouldn’t be afraid of the other prisoners and the bars that clanged shut behind us. Then one day, while she talked to another attendant behind the desk where the medications were kept, I heard her refer to my father as “that ape.” She said it softly and meanly, sliding the words out with disgust. I could tell by her tone that it was something she said often. The next time she came to take me to him she received a mouthful of saliva in thanks.

My father shook his head, looked at his idle hands and said, “Corinne, you are fighting the wrong people.” He never stopped talking in riddles, even when our situation became desperate.

I say “our” situation because I believed then we were one person. Whenever I visited I would find him sitting on the cot, body limp, looking as black as night against the backdrop of his white prison. He would be right where I left him the previous visit. I tried to savor that hour and took in everything about him. I noted the new lines in his face and how much weight he had failed to keep on his already thin frame. I studied the stubble on his chin and the slope of his shoulders when he heaved sighs of resignation. I watched how he absently shifted his wire-rimmed glasses and the way his empty hands shook. He was used to holding a guitar or a saxophone and plunking away on a piano, his fingers moving with such speed and agility my eyeballs grew tired trying to keep up.

When they weren’t making art, his hands had always been busy taking care of me. He practiced perfecting recipes for chicken piccata and beef stroganoff. He carefully shampooed my kinky hair during bath time, lining up his rings on the edge of the tub so they wouldn’t catch in the tangles and make me cry out. He remembered to surround me with pillows to keep away the boogies when he tucked me in at night. He taught me how to strum his favorite acoustic, promising my sore fingertips would harden over time. He used both thumbs to squeeze playground splinters out of my palms, wincing whenever I whimpered.

It was torture for me, watching his fingers twitch from lack of use. My skin felt each tremor and broke out in goose bumps, as if his hands were grazing the sensitive spot on the nape of my neck instead of tapping his knees.

I wondered all the time if musicians could lose their gift. I was too afraid to ask. I didn’t want to remind him. Instead I would go home and touch my lips to his mouthpieces, letting the pulpy taste of his wooden reeds linger on my tongue. I would run my fingers over the black and ivory keys of his ancient upright, memorizing the scars cut into the wooden sides by time and use. I willed him to fly out of the hospital and momentarily possess my body.

He was in everything I did, everything I felt. I talked to him in my head, believing if I concentrated hard enough, the message would reach him. That way he was the first to know my eleventh birthday wish was to kiss Ollie Coulsen on the lips. Even though I couldn’t explain it to the school psychologist, my father knew why I slapped Hannah Malone after her prosecutor father did a presentation in front of the class during career week. When I stuck a tampon in the wrong hole during my first period he was the only person I told. He agreed that I looked best in black or purple in dressing room mirrors, and he didn’t care that I failed freshman biology. I knew he understood when I took a scalpel to dissect the frogs and rats and how the memory of my mother’s smooth sandalwood coffin in the funeral parlor paralyzed me.

I only excluded him from my mind when I thought about my mother. If my father knew how much I thought about her, it would have killed him. When I wasn’t worrying about him in his blanched cell, I remembered the way she would smile at nothing, as if her happiness floated in empty air. If I closed my eyes, images of her dancing in our kitchen filled the spotted darkness. She wore loose linen pants, long skirts, and flowing dresses; anything that billowed out when she moved, giving her a majestic quality. She had the kind of beauty that hurt. The kind that made people stare after her in the street. The kind that is too rare for a daughter to inherit. She kept her cinnamon brown shoulders bare and rolled back. She loved to laugh and did often, even when things were serious. Even when my father caught her slinking in during the quietest hours of the night, his mouth stern, but his eyes melting.

“Don’t be so dramatic, Reginald,” she would say, fluttering her hand in mild annoyance, dispersing faint traces of a stranger’s cologne into the air. Then she would beam at him and saunter over. “Come kiss your wife hello. Or good morning. Whichever you prefer.” And he would. He always obliged.

Standing at the top of the stairs in my cotton nightgown, watching this scene play out over and over, I learned to take my cues from my father and kept my distance, at least as much as a needy child could but, “Come brush Mama’s hair” or, “Watch Mama sew this shawl” were words I craved. Though most of the time she would send me away. “You’re cramping my style, kid.”

One of her favorite games was copycat. “Do like this, Corinne. Watch Mama and be a copycat.” I would be eating breakfast or watching cartoons when suddenly my mother would call me over to perform with her. She would strike some elegant pose from her brief modeling career or break out a complicated move from her childhood dance training. She made it impossible for me to mirror her, but I was never allowed to give up until she was thoroughly amused. She criticized my form and my inflexibility. She pointed out how hard I strained in my clumsy efforts while her movements came naturally. “What an ugly face you’re making. You look constipated, Corinne.”

My mother would assess me with one long finger prodding her pouting bottom lip. “How did I end up with her? Would you guess she’s mine? If there’s a god, I must be on punishment—Ma always said my wild teenage years would come back to bite me in the ass.” She took special pleasure in making my father agree with her comments.

“She’s mostly me,” he would say, keeping his gaze on my mother. “That’s not so bad.”

“And what man wants you?” was a typical response my father couldn’t get around. But he was always there when I dissolved into tears later on, away from her scornful smile. He never explained her behavior or tried to make excuses, but the shoulder I leaned on was solid and the hand that rubbed my back felt sure. I was grateful for these things.

My father’s older sister, my Aunt Flo, moved in right before his arraignment. She took it upon herself to rid the house of my mother’s presence. After the detectives swept through for evidence everything went into cardboard boxes, sealed and stored in the basement. I couldn’t tell Aunt Flo that I longed for just one picture of my mother.

One day, when I should have been fretting over pimples and my first homecoming dance, Aunt Flo showed me an exercise one of the doctors had assigned my father. On a yellow legal pad, his doctor had written “Sacrifices” at the top in ink. Using a blue crayon, my father crossed out the doctor’s title and replaced it with “Tradeoffs.” Directly below it he had scrawled “1.) Freedom.” Number two read, “Sanity.” Then there was a rough sketch of a dancing figure, more a flame than a person.

Aunt Flo shook her head. “He’s delusional.”

I bit back the reply my father would have given: “Love goes with delusion. Love welcomes delusion. It helps make it effective.” Instead I tried to match my aunt’s disgust with indignation. “They could’ve trusted him with a pen.”

But as always Aunt Flo saw through my attempt. I made it clear from the beginning whose side I was on. The day after my mother’s funeral, when my maternal grandparents tried to coax me into a hug, Aunt Flo watched with an open mouth as I pulled away. I said I never wanted to see them again because they looked and sounded just like her. Before that, I had always been Aunt Flo’s Corinne-baby-doll. After, Aunt Flo started to watch me out of the corners of her eyes.

“I’m waiting for his kind of crazy to come out. I know it’s in her. I’ve seen it,” Aunt Flo confessed to a friend over the phone. Aunt Flo thought she was being discreet shut up in the spare bedroom, but I was accustomed to listening through doors.

Once, my mother had pinched my arm until she drew blood, attempting to scare me onto my tip toes to practice pointe with her. My father sat me on the lid of the toilet, my heels not quite touching the floor, and handed me a Band-Aid covered with Big Bird’s face. Sighing into his cupped hands, he frowned at his reflection in the mirror above the bathroom sink.

“She was the first thing I ever really worshipped. She isn’t even human. Your mama’s a…a creature. How can I tame that? How can I muzzle her spirit? I’m just so blessed to be a part of her world.” There was a longing in his voice I mistook for sadness at the time. I wanted to believe he was sorry for our fate—that he knew he cleared the way that led my mother’s path of destruction straight towards us.

“Our first date she asked me how I planned on making her happy—that day and every day after. She said I would need to come up with something new every morning if I wanted to wake up beside her. I was dazzled. We were in a coffee shop and she asked me this. Didn’t even know my last name. Her words were too big for that place. She was too big for everything. Always has been. If we’re snowflakes, Corinne, she’s blizzard. You’ve got to remember that.”

The way she treated my father served as a constant reminder. She called him “my little drummer boy” in front of his students who came to the house for private lessons. Whenever he hosted struggling colleagues for weekend long stays, she would interrupt their jam sessions, drinking too much wine and saying things that made my father cough and clench his teeth. If he was receiving an honor, she was impossible. When they couldn’t find a babysitter, I would become a spectator alongside my father. It would start with my mother leaving me alone, scared and shaking, among strangers while she filled up at the bar. My father would follow the sound of my sobs and come and gather me in his arms. He always knew.

“Don’t cry. Salt is for the sea, not little girls in pretty dresses. Did she leave you again? She must be off misbehaving.”

That’s what he called it: misbehaving. He made it sound so simple, but I was always confused by what ensued. Usually, as my shy and modest father did his best to work the room, my mother would find a man or two to spend the evening with. Pins and needles were in her voice when she told me to wipe my mouth or not to wrinkle my outfit, but her words were syrupy sweet with the men. Suddenly, her feet couldn’t support her. Instead of her usual poise, she swayed into them and clasped their arms. Everything they said was funny. If she wasn’t laughing, she was telling secrets, her mouth dangerously close to their earlobes. My father pretended not to notice, but once we were trapped together inside the walls of our home my mother became, “loose” and “a disgrace” and “a bad influence.”

“Why do you insist on sabotaging our happiness?” he would ask after his short-lived rage melted down to anguish.

“You say it with such feeling, as if our happiness was more than a myth. Cry a little next time and maybe I’ll believe there’s something for me to sabotage.”

Later, he would interrupt a bedtime story to insist her cold response was the effect of alcohol. “She only sounded sober,” he would say as if the Berenstain Bears needed convincing.

She was careless about who called the house when my father was home. If it was a strange man my father would confront her, sometimes with tears in his eyes and sometimes with a raised hand that she confidently ignored. More than once, I witnessed my mother crying and pleading, her lithe body collapsing into him in such a way that he had to hold her in his arms to keep her off the floor. She clutched at his neck and pushed her lips against his collarbone, talking into his shoulder. “I’ll go. Say you don’t love me and I’m not worth it and I’ll go. Say it, Reginald. Say it just once and I’m gone. No more wife for you, no more mother for Corinne. Either you say it or we move on from this right now.”

My mother rewarded my father’s silence by leading him to their bedroom. If he held back or flat-out refused, asking for time and space to think over her latest betrayal, he was irresistible. “Jesus, not in front of Corinne. How can you be thinking about that right now? How can you expect me to with all this sitting in our laps, weighing us down?” As my father scolded, she would start to undress, limbs playful, prancing out of arm’s reach if he attempted to cover her. To preserve my innocence my father ended up in the bedroom before too much skin was revealed.

Everything my mother attempted, she mastered. The first time she picked up a tennis racket she managed to play with the same amount of style and moxie that she put into posing for a picture. Her vintage sewing machine was a Christmas present and by Valentine’s Day of that same season she was putting the finishing touches on my Christening gown. When she decided she wanted to sing, only an award-winning opera singer would do for a vocal coach. My father was in constant awe of my mother’s inclination towards perfection, but she wielded it like a weapon against him. “Golf is not rocket science. I’m the one with the bad shoulder and look at my swing. You’re such an embarrassment, I almost want to tell people you have a defect.”

All the ways in which my mother was superior replaced nursery rhymes and bedtime stories and hand games. Instead of cookie recipes and the secret of where babies come from, my mother shared my father’s shortcomings with me. “Six years of Spanish in high school and college and that’s how he pronounced it! The first time I walked in France, the natives thought I was one of their own. And I picked up the language in the dressing and work rooms of designers.”

Her honey-do lists were usually composed late in the evenings after she had drained her fifth gin and tonic and filled an ashtray with butts. While brushing his teeth in front of the bathroom mirror the next morning, my father faced post-it notes with tasks like “Grow a pair” or “Ditch the nerdy tweeds” written in an angry scrawl.

If he had to travel for performances, my mother suddenly forgot how to take care of herself and a child. “You’re leaving me, again? How can you do this, Reginald? What do I do? What do you expect me to do?” During those trips, neglecting me served as his punishment for choosing to go. My mother didn’t seem to care that she was punishing me as well, but what bothered me more was that my father never ceased to be surprised when he came home to empty pantry shelves and the rank smell that wafted from my unwashed armpits.

If he needed to be alone with her—if he needed just one kind word or glance or touch to get him through the day—she became as frigid and dense as a statue. She pretended not to know how to read his body language or his thoughts. He became a stranger. “Don’t look at me like that, Reginald. You’re like a creepy old man at a dark bus terminal or something. If those are bedroom eyes then I’m the Virgin Mary.”

Everything he was passionate about she found fault with. “Reginald composed a piece the other day. It’s cute, I guess. Kinda long and drawn out.” A shrug and a smirk. “He tries.” This was her small talk when asked about her husband and his life’s work. If someone praised him she would tilt her head to the side and furrow her brow in mild perplexity until the person grew doubtful and trailed off. If they talked about his awards and titles and recognition, she looked away like she was listening to a buzzing in her ear until the subject changed.

Slowly and painfully, my father became as dull as she wanted him to be. The lively jazz compilations he was known for were replaced by somber marches and overtures suited more for high school bands than dance clubs. His friends dwindled and he spent his weekends shuffling through files that didn’t need organizing or using a good portion of the kitchen table for games of solitaire. His jokes became ordinary and obvious and when Aunt Flo came to visit she would say things like, “Are you taking your vitamins, Reginald? You look so flat.”

At the time, I didn’t see any danger in his deliberate retreat. Like an obedient daughter, I followed in his footsteps. We became mundane to make room for my mother’s brilliance. Our lives revolved around my mother and we accepted this. We accepted this because she would dish out her cruelty with a smile and a laugh. She made light of every pain she inflicted on us with a kiss and a broken promise. This was what my father chose for us. She was what he wanted, and I wanted everything he wanted. I would have lived out my life and perished in her shadow, but one day she never came out of her bedroom to make her morning espresso.

Instead, my father shook me awake when the light on my bedroom floor was still gray. As he helped me dress, his gaze kept trailing over to rest on the wall separating my room from the one he shared with my mother. After my sandals were strapped on, we stood by my window, taking turns imitating the early morning birdsong. Our whistles filled the air, replacing the heavy silence of new death. When the sun was higher in the sky my father sent me over to the next-door neighbor’s to play with their dog. The next thing I knew, I was attending my mother’s funeral. I was only nine and she would have been thirty the next month. Now I lie awake in bed at night—guilt strangling the deep breaths I struggle to take—wondering why I chose not to hear the sirens over the wooden fence as I let my hands become sticky with canine kisses.

My first therapist once asked if I missed my mother and I considered my last visit to see my father. I kept probing for details about the progress of his trial that I wasn’t allowed to sit in on. The adults that made the decisions in my life—Aunt Flo and the lawyers—felt it was too traumatizing for a ten year old. All my father wanted to talk about was juror number seven’s habit of smoothing the edges of her hair with the flats of her palms just like she used to. “It’s mesmerizing. I can’t concentrate on anything else.”

“Missing her would be a treat.” I tried to make my voice as deadpan as possible but the therapist told me not to resort to passive aggressiveness in our sessions. Then, remembering my age, she explained what passive aggressive meant. I told her I needed a new therapist.

“Your mother ages me,” he would say whenever she failed to come home in the evening. He was much older than her. At the time of her death he was in his late fifties. Even in my earliest memories, my father’s hair was pepper gray. He preferred expensive Italian loafers over sneakers and shaved with an old fashioned blade.

He was too old to put up with it all. He was too goddamn gentle. Every week I would visit my father. His eyes would lose their fear when they locked on mine. “Hello, cupcake,” he would say with gravel in his voice. It was probably the first thing he uttered on those days. Those two words and those eyes that he softened just for me left me speechless sometimes. I just stared as the unshed tears backed up in my throat. Several visits ended with me straining against the arms of the attendants. I considered myself more useful than the lawyers and so I welcomed the feeling of my muscles growing tired. I measured our success by how many bruises I collected from firm handgrips. On bad days they threatened to have me banned from the ward. I later found out he wouldn’t eat if they didn’t let me come. That was his only rebellion over the years.

I fought for him in so many ways. After he opted out of the appeal process I believed for a while the incident with the fire was a part of our crusade to clear his name. The thing with my wrists was harder to explain to my psychiatrists. When I told them I had to spill enough blood for my father to feel my love for him despite the distance, they suggested time apart. They considered keeping me away from him beneficial to my mental stability, but I saw it as another test.

“I did it, cupcake. I did it and nothing you do can undo it. We are all guilty of something in life and this is my guilt to live with. Stop trying to prove my innocence.”

His voice was even and steady, yet I had to clutch the cold metal of his cell door as the floor pitched beneath me. I couldn’t get over the shock of this contradiction. It distracted me as he searched my face, trying to gauge my reaction, as if it mattered anymore.

I was seventeen by then and my father was becoming frail. Aunt Flo and my doctors had kept us apart for almost a year. In preparation for the time of our reunion I chopped off my hair, using a razor blade so it sat on my head in nappy tufts. I spent hours in the sun, darkening my skin to a burnt black. I skipped meals to keep my hips and chest from filling out to match my mother’s curves, feeding my hunger with sugarless gum and cotton balls. My father would not find any traces of my mother in me.

“I would have believed in you forever,” I said. I would have believed you were innocent until I died,” I whispered, looking at my bandaged wrists. The gauze wasn’t necessary anymore, but I wore it like a name tag. Hello, my name is Reginald’s damaged goods. I forgot who I was without it.

“Well, now you can move on. We can move on.”

I touched the thick sleeve of his hospital robe with my fingertips and resisted the urge to ask him where he thought we could possibly go. I had learned long ago to synchronize my breathing with the hum of the radiator beneath his barred window.

On the long car ride to outpatient therapy later that day, Aunt Flo felt like trying to understand us. Occasionally, she would get homesick for a healthy family. “How did it happen? How did they happen? How did you happen, Corinne?”

I thought puzzling out reasons and searching for meanings was pointless. I still embraced my self-abasement like a swooning lover. Accepting that everything was partially my fault made it easier to bear the weight of his hand covering mine.

I could’ve told Aunt Flo about how my mother and father met. He spotted her in a crowded bar after his set and when he finally approached she gave him a once-over and said around her cigarette, “I’d ruin you.”

My father proposed eight times before she said yes. She was a year and a half into her modeling career and was already tired of the competition. She confessed matrimony was a way to pass time.

“Everybody had high cheekbones,” she used to say. “Everybody had a dancer’s body. Everybody, everybody, everybody—it got so that they were looking for the freaks among us. Who had the twiggy legs, the androgynous face structure, the fish lips? Plain old stunning wasn’t enough for those pricks.”

But maybe that wasn’t true. Maybe it was all in my head. Maybe these intricacies were created by time and for the love of my father.

I was eight and a half the day my mother decided she wanted to color with me. It must have been the middle of winter because more than anything, I remember the sound of her thick wool socks sliding across the wood floors. She ordered me to bring out my markers and crayons and set my father’s newest composition in front of me. It was one he had struggled over for months and his only full copy. My mother gave me her best and brightest smile but I smelled the trap. The excitement that lit up her face had a disturbing sheen to it. I refused and we argued until her sharp reproaches produced tears. Scoffing, she took up a marker and scribbled by herself.

When my mother grew bored with coloring she rooted in my toy chest until she found glitter, glue, and stickers. As the stiff black marks dotting the bars of music disappeared beneath her work, she hummed over the sound of my sniffles. When she had destroyed all fifteen sheets of music she placed them back on the piano bench where my father quickly found them.

She let him scream and rage at me for what seemed like an eternity before stealing into my bedroom and putting her color-stained fingers between me and his fury. “What do you think? Am I the next Matisse? Or maybe it reminds you more of a Picasso?”

My father said nothing. His chest heaved from trying to catch his breath and his eyes rolled everywhere around my room but in her direction. My mother’s presence used to captivate my father so much that watching her had been an occupation that absorbed him completely. Yet that afternoon he couldn’t study her collarbone and her calves to dodge the messy reality she threw in his face. The idea of her no longer served as his own personal oasis.

“Well, Reginald, what’s next? Are you going to punish me? Make me sorry?” She laughed. “You won’t be able to. You can’t make me feel responsible for your hurt feelings. You came to me with your internal weaknesses—batteries not included.”

I knew even then by the way she squared off in front of my father—her shoulders stanch while his sagged—that they had reached someplace beyond the damaged music.

The next week when I went to the hospital, I could tell he wasn’t present. I caught him standing by his window, looking over the grounds.

“I had a dream,” he said, “that your mother forgave me and you were better. You were better and it was beautiful.”

I didn’t respond. The suffering that usually tumbled from his slumped shoulders to sprawl across the space between us was missing.

“They let me out to use the piano in the rec room sometimes. It needs some tuning, but it’ll do. It’s going to get better. We’ll be okay. You’ll see, cupcake.” He smiled her smile—full of broken promises.

I donated his instruments to a local middle school and dumped his Oxford ties at a Goodwill. Now I dream of gangly boys with braces blowing spit into his trumpets and homeless men on corners causing the pedestrians to wonder why someone in designer loafers would need their spare change.

I have learned to converse with myself, think comforting thoughts when I can’t stop tugging at my earlobes, or after I realize I laughed too loud at something that wasn’t funny. When I remember to eat three solid meals a day my therapist smiles and says the equation is working: me + distance from the white cell = progress. But my heart throws up the word progress and grasps the memory of that day when he told me about the piano in the rec room with the same tenderness and need that dripped from his mouth whenever he uttered “cupcake.”

I never went back. I don’t know how to live with his truths. If people ask after him, I say, “My father is dead.” If people who read the papers and followed the news updates ask about what he did, I remember how important it is to look them in the eye as I say, “My father was an artist.”


—Lindsay Norville


Lindsay Norville received her B.A. from Emerson College with a concentration in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and a psychology minor. She graduated magna cum laude within three years. During her freshman year of undergrad, she self-published a novel entitled Cracked Up with a small local press, The Troy Book Makers. She wrote Cracked Up when she was thirteen. She recently had a short story published in PANK. This fall she will start in the MFA program in fiction at Syracuse University.

  5 Responses to “The Artist: Short Story — Lindsay Norville”

  1. Brilliant! So proud of you, Lindsay. Thank you for sharing a piece of you with us.

  2. Wonderful! Syracuse will be lucky to have you there!

  3. I couldn’t stop reading, Lindsay. Such vivid writing!

    Best wishes for your studies —

    Cynthia Flood

  4. This is a great story!

  5. Stunning Lindsay – your character development is inspiring!

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