Glad tidings arrived today in the form of my very first story published in the Philippines Free Press (the other magazine great that regularly publishes literary works, apart from Graphic.) I was notified via email by no less than literary editor Joel Toledo himself - whose Palanca-winning poems are simply lovely. The story, entitled "Fairy Tales", was an experiment in the use of the female voice which I actually found quite enjoyable, a refreshing departure from my usual writing style. Add to that my childhood fascination with fairy tales and presto - as I wrote in my cover letter - read the story "as you would read a fairy tale."
Here's an excerpt from "Fairy Tales":
The stories of my childhood come alive in my daughter’s mind, weaving in and out of her days, as only creative five year olds are wont to do. Seeing her engrossed in the intricacies of a fantastic tale, the rest of the outside world shut out at the corners, it occurred to me that Sam truly is her mother’s daughter, but that she might be only coping with her father’s progressively protracted absences. She pretends to be Thumbelina, impishly flitting among the flowers in the yard, with the glittery cardboard wings Elmer made her for a neighbor’s masquerade party. Other times, she is Goldilocks with a blue gingham frock and an abandoned blond wig she found in the attic, Esmeralda with dangling earrings and a hanky for a turban, the Little Matchgirl with a patched-up petticoat and some leftover matchsticks in the kitchen. She would indulge herself in the company of her animal friends from the forest – Simba, Bambi and Puss in Boots – “who are intelligent talking creatures, Mommy,” she would tell me with broad, enthusiastic eyes. “They make me happy when I am sad or lonely.” Sadness and loneliness, those two deadly foes, treacherous cousins that took me forever to distinguish.
(Postscript: At the time of the story's acceptance, Free Press went strictly online leaving me no chance to go out and buy copies of the magazine for keeps. Unfortunately, things didn't quite get a happy ending because Free Press - with all its online stories, including mine - eventually ceased to continue operations soon after. There goes my shot at a possible Free Press Literary Awards night. Sigh.)