Compression Scars: Stories
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The eleven stories in Kellie Wells's debut collection cover a wide range of eccentric characters―from a young girl experiencing her friend's strange demise to a set of opposite-sex conjoined twins. Forced to deal with the debilitating confines of the physical world―usually manifest in some kind of deformity or affliction, from compression scars to mysterious blue skin―Wells's characters struggle to transcend their existential disappointments and find some way and someone to love.
In the title story, Ivy and her best friend Duncan struggle to understand their mortality as Ivy learns of his potentially fatal internal scarring caused by a moped accident. As Ivy says, "Things can get so strange so fast," and they frequently do in Wells's stories. But Ivy and Duncan help each other escape their frightening, difficult world, if only momentarily, through imagination, good humor, and closeness.
"Godlight" addresses most specifically the questions that are evident in all the stories: Do you believe in God, and do you believe in reincarnation? Jonas, the Hyatt Regency Hotel's live-in light bulb replacement man, encounters two different characters―a child who lives in the hotel and a woman who claims that her identity has been altered for the Witness Protection Program―who ponder these questions. Meanwhile, Jonas is left wondering what has really become of his missing daughter, Emma.
The physical world is brought into question frequently in this collection, and in "My Guardian, Claire," we see what can happen when someone tries to transcend it―and succeeds. During a séance to reach the narrator's late mother, Claire reaches the spirit world and never truly returns. The narrator tries desperately to retrieve Claire through a hilarious trip to the Exotic Animal Drive-Thru Paradise.
Compression Scars is an eloquent and original collection that vibrantly captures the oddities of both the everyday and the out-of-this-world.
wearing glasses with springy, drooping eyeballs capers in front of a camera. Alison feels her mouth begin to water and runs to the bathroom. Alison remembers her mother’s leaving. Her mother’s hand shook as she smoked a cigarette, sprinkling ashes on the carpet. She positioned Alison on the divan and kneeled in front of her. She put her cigarette out and clutched both of Alison’s hands. “I have to go away, Alison,” she said. “It will be the best thing all around. I’m just not very good at this
address the Word. I will see the ghosts dangle and clink like acoustic shingles hung from the ceiling to help my message resonate more clearly. The bodies below will slump and shake with affect, but it is only their own organs and arteries ticking away. They cannot escape the thump of the pulse in their ears. These bodies and attendant souls will not be drawn by notoriety, by the tongues of flame of my oratory, curled back and forth like a beckoning finger, but by the fragile hum of vowels that
building D. I see him watching me from his living-room window. I see his mother pull the drapes on his adolescent yearning. On Valentine’s Day this year, he gave me a card with a poem on it: I like noodles, I like toast, I like bananas on my pot roast. I like peas, I like taters, I like chocolate on my tomatersl But, Valentine, I must confess, with a cherry on top I like you best! On the card, a child balances on a large cherry and a halo of food floats above him the way cartoon bluebirds circle
lilted out of the cave on waves of air. He flew up and clung to the sky. The medicine man left this world and when he came back, he knew how to navigate pain. It took all of time to do this. “Go and dream, Hallie,” the professor said. “Fly.” I recently tried my hand at love connecting. I am o for one. It’s not as easy as it looks on television. I thought I had a sureshot match. Willette Mertz lives in building C. Hierarchically speaking, building C is the one we all strive for. If this
Castle for Christ’s sake! They serve hamburgers that fit three to a mouth. Who gives a rat’s ass?” My father was asked to leave, but it was too late, the seeds of dissent had been sown. The White Castle now looms pleasantly out of place, like Lincoln Logs among Legos, in the parking lot of Loehmann’s Plaza.) Willette and I went to this White Castle for chocolate shakes and she cheered “Hoo-hoo!” when I told her the story behind it. It was this that gave me the Cupid bug in the first place. She