Yesterday on Twitter I was pointed to an excellent group portrait on Shorpy, one of my favorite sites around. One thing led to another, and the 1925 girls’ rifle team of Drexel Institute began talking. You know how it is when ladies get together. From left to right:
Then there was Tess. She was new to Drexel, and sometimes wound up jockeying for power. Dolly always came out on top, but Tess was a good sort, so we kept her around. She made things interesting, particularly with her sweaters. She was a ferocious knitter too.
Bitty, well. We called her that because she told us to. Something about her mother always thought she was too tall. We went along with her.
Alice and Bitty, they were always real close. Alice was old money, but she rebelled by wearing out all her old things until they fell apart.
One time we had to gag Eulalie up to get her to stop talking. You’d think it would be immaterial while shooting, but she was a distraction. She took it pretty well, though. Eulalie was always pretty cheerful about ropes. We blamed it on her being a Girl Guide. Rue wasn’t so sure.
Dolly, she was our leader. She was a natural, with a face that got your trust at once. A fine sniper with a fine coat and great shoes.
Fran rolled her own cigarettes. Her brother ran rum across Lake Superior. She was just in the rifle club for the socializing.
Rue never talked about her husband. We saw what she did to that line-up of soda bottles when Eulalie asked about her ring. Rue had a great laugh, though, when you got it out of her. She and Dolly could really cut a rug after practice.
We kept each other interesting.
All this happened at @magpiewhale. Follow along and see what else happens!
6 thoughts on “Flash fiction: The Girl Shots of Drexel Tell Us About Each Other”
Hee! I love the bit about Eulalie and ropes! Also, Fran is fantastic. Those three short lines speak volumes!
Thanks! Eulalie is just full of surprises. And Fran’s face is just so striking! There’s no way that lady hasn’t got things she’s not telling us.
So initially, my love of this came from your required format of the restrictions of twitter – 140 or 280 characters max, which instantly crams you into the flash fiction database. A form which I’ve always loathed, btw, and yet been enamored with at the same time. I’m a sucker for the way you did this – the in media res style of every statement, the implicit understanding that it’s someone’s memories, but (now that I see the picture) an unpictured someone. Maybe the photographer, or maybe a no-one-at-all, and that’s half the mystery and the fun.
But now that I actually *see* the picture, which I had no idea existed as I was following your tweets on my absolutely plodsome afternoon at work, I’m awed by how you took the absolutely subtle details in the photograph and worked them into each characterization. To be honest, I’m not sure if you’re describing what’s in the photo, or my eyes are forcing me to see what they want to see due to your descriptions. (Like: Bitty’s slouch due to her height, Eulalie’s recalcitrance to stand forward due to having been schooled by her Drexelles, Rue’s body langauge, Fran’s FACE.)
Frankly, I think you should be submitting the shit out of this (poets & writers has good flash fiction specific publications), but I’m completely torn on whether it stands better with the photo, or without. I’m leaning toward without since that’s how I was first exposed to it, but that’s probably going to be how everyone is: however they experience it first is what they like the best. JESUS CHRIST THIS IS SOME MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK UP IN HERE.
Hey. Wow. Thank you. That is my first comment, already iterated elsewhere.
On submitting: It honestly never occurred to me, and I have to say, I’m glad you’ve given me that little push. And now I’m thinking about other shop talk things, because the version above is different than the version that came out on Twitter; the girls are in the order I came up with them, rather than standing order, and I wonder what that does.
Third: You’re my favorite. Chris Van Allsburg FTMFW.
I have to say this is the most wonderful picture I have seen in a long while… sure its me and a few of my mates in an earlier life..totally love it . . . thanks
Hi Lucinda — thanks so much, and I’m thrilled you’re getting such a kick out of it!