Items Found in a Box Belonging to Jonas Connolly

By Laura E. Price

From the Detroit Free Press, Obituaries

Mrs. C. D. Connolly

Royal Oak, Michigan, November 15, 1930—Mrs. Colleen Delia Connolly died Monday night in her home in Royal Oak. She was 47 years of age. She was the wife of Dr. Franklin Connolly, who survives her along with their two children, Moira Vaughn and Jonas Connolly.


Notes, J. C./personal

June 10, 1935

They can't find the Stargazer. Allen wants an article about T.H.: facts, legend, memories from her daughter, and—he doesn't ask, but certainly implies—memories from me. If Mama weren't dead, I'm sure he'd want her memories, too.

I don't remember my mother without that necklace. That's the stumbling block for me; the proof that memories cannot be trusted, that we lose details. I know she didn't always have it, and yet she wears it in every memory of her that I have.

My father removed her jewelry when she died. He gave her rings to Moira; he gave her brooch watch to me. The necklace went in his top dresser drawer and, so far as I know, did not emerge again.

I found it there when he died. I had not known it was a locket. Two gears hinged together. Heavy: it was strung on a cord rather than a chain.

On top of the dresser, Dad kept a framed picture of the two of them; we took a formal family photograph when I turned eighteen, and my father asked for a separate one of himself and Mama. They posed respectably until my mother sneezed just as the camera snapped. And so they took a second one, but this time they were smiling. They'd caught one another's eye, as sometimes your parents do, and in this photograph they weren't mine or my sister's—they were each other's. I could see the link connecting them, even in the portrait.

In the picture, Mama has a high collared shirt on. But you can see the top of the locket, just under where she has a single button undone at the neck.


Notes, Holdstock profile

June 30, 1935

—Trinity Holdstock, also known as Lady Trinity of the Skies by the Detroit Free Press. Best known as captain of the dirigible Stargazer. Occasionally characterized as a pirate, though so far as I have been able to discover she never engaged in anything one might call piracy. She's a legend, of course, and as with any good legend the stories about her abound, but the facts tend to be scarce on the ground.

—Born in the Midwest, for certain, probably Michigan but perhaps Illinois, in 1880. Incomplete birth certificate, indicating parents were Andrew and Marian Holdstock. Only child, raised by father after mother died. Andrew Holdstock was a mechanic (perhaps engineer, as well) with Palmer Aviation and Airships in Boston after the death of his wife. He eventually retired and refused to speak to reporters or other interested parties regarding his daughter or her increasing fame.

—Legend 1: Trinity Holdstock, with help from her father, built her first flying machine in the yard of their Boston home. (No corroboration I can find.)

—T.H. spent time as a mechanic at PAA, but was dismissed when it was discovered she was a girl. Note in manager's log for June 15, 1893 states that he fired her under protest, as she was "a good mechanic, and promised to be an excellent one." T.H. vanishes from public record for several years at this point. (Send bottle of brandy to Allen's assistant for finding the log.)

—Legend 2: she dressed as a man, didn't get caught, and learned to be a pilot during those "lost years" (Also no corroboration I can find).


From the New York Times, June 29, 1935, A2

Holdstock's Daughter Thanks Gov't As Search Is Ended

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, June 28 (AP)—The search for the captain and crew of the airship Stargazer has been abandoned after 15 days of cooperative effort between the United States, British, and Swiss armed forces. Admiral Gerald Smithson of the U.S. Navy told reporters, "The disappearance of the Stargazer remains a mystery; we have found no trace of the ship or her crew."

Amelia Holdstock, daughter of the Stargazer's captain, Trinity Holdstock, said tonight that her mother "spent her life keeping herself to herself, so this is an appropriate end to her legend." Miss Holdstock added, "The ships and crews involved in the search for my mother and her people have gone above and beyond the call of duty; I cannot adequately express my gratitude to the men and women of Switzerland, the United States, and Great Britain for their help."


Notes, Holdstock profile

July 5, 1935

—Next appearance in the records is in 1898; the rescue of the 3 sailors from the Cecily Hood, when it ran afoul of a hydra. David Corbett Walker, head of the Oceanic Shipping Company, locked her in his office and called the press once he heard the full story. After that, she sent rescuees off the ship with members of the crew, rather than escort them herself, thus ensuring she was rarely interviewed.

—Quote: (when asked about killing a hydra) "Well, it's not easy." (See NY Times article 2—She must have driven them crazy, trying to get a good quote.)

—Though linked with a variety of men over the years, the only confirmed liaison was with Paulo Beignini in 1899, and that only confirmed in 1932 in Giselle Pointierre's A Life of Scandal.

—Daughter, Amelia Holdstock, born 2/28/1900. (Track down daughter—circus rumor?)

—By 1905, Holdstock had finished assembling the core of her crew, who would stay with her until the end. They spent much of their time hunting and killing hydras, though what grudge T.H. had against the animals was never known publicly. They also devoted a significant amount of their time to moving political refugees from one country to another (mostly to the U.S. or Great Britain).


Notes from: A Field Guide to Oceanic Life by Dr. Arthur Fritz. Cambridge, Harvard UP: 1930.

The animal usually referred to as the hydra is actually more akin in appearance to the traditional kraken; it is thought that the hydra appellation is due to the eye-like markings on the end of each tentacle, which probably serve to confuse predators and have also managed to confuse the sailors who have survived encounters with the beast.

Not many complete specimens have been found; like the giant squid, the hydra has never been captured alive, and the dead specimens have not been conducive to experimentation or autopsy due to the speed of their decomposition. Current thinking is divided: some researchers theorize that the hydra is related in some way to the jellyfish (though separate from the cnidarians also known, more appropriately, as hydras), while others think that the hydra is related to the giant squid.

Anecdotal evidence is plentiful, however; the sailors who have survived encounters with the beast have been very forthcoming about their experiences, and the general public seems fascinated with the hydra. Though the hydra is a deep-ocean dweller, it occasionally—perhaps for mating, but more likely for hunting—rises to just below the surface of the water, where it will float spread out, like an enormous blanket. At this point it is difficult to see except from the air; current theory is that the hydra can camouflage itself, somewhat like an octopus.

Unsuspecting vessels then sail directly onto a floating hydra, and then, as some of the survivors have put it, "all hell [breaks] loose."


Letter from Amelia Holdstock (Lady Fairuza de Toledo y Trinidad), August 2, 1935

. . . I was surprised by your letter; I've been asked quite a lot about my mother since she disappeared, but you are the only person thus far to contact me who knew her, even in passing.

Then again, all her family but me was on the Stargazer with her; she was so very private. And quiet—she fought sea monsters in near-perfect silence. Or that's what I was told, as a child. I was supposed to stay in my quarters, below decks, and usually I did—the crew on board were still working, keeping watch to reel everyone back up or to keep the Stargazer in the air and steady, and when I was small I knew I would only get underfoot, and so I stayed away. My worst fear, when I was a girl, was that my mother would not come back, so I did what I could to make sure she would.

Finally, though, when I was older—twelve, old enough for chores and work on the ship, but not old enough for the chores and work of a battle, according to everyone; growing up on the Stargazer was like having twenty parents—I refused to leave the bridge, ensconced myself among some boxes near to the port rail, and watched my mother attach her lines, draw her weapon, and swing over the side of the ship without making a sound. She knew I was watching, but she never looked at me; she only looked down, one hand clutching the rope above her head, kicking off and falling from sight.

The rest of the rescue team followed, one by one, much more noisily—cries of "Geronimo!" and "Allons-y!" and Ms. Martin's usual Shakespearean "Once more unto the breach!"—until the wind pulled their voices away, and when I looked over the side I could see them all swinging down after her, the pulleys clanking and whirring behind me. The bridge was full of subdued sound. Mr. O'Bannon and Charlie Stockdale called back and forth to one another as they manned the wheel and the bag; Becky Harrowgate sat in her crow's nest (which makes it sound as though it were perched above our heads rather than set out from the ship by fifteen feet) giving positions of the crew below to her harpooners; Mr. Tan and his rig-men grunted and swore as they worked the cranks and lines; the ship herself groaned and whooshed and creaked around us all.

Those were the only sounds I heard as I peered over the rail to watch my mother fight a hydra.

Her figure was small, as they all were, swooping over the monster and between its tentacles. Its flat, ocean-colored body lay just below the surface of the water, stretched out like some sort of vast rug. The sunlight wobbled over its skin, which was dotted with the remains of a ship and pieces of dead sailors. I couldn't see eyes or a mouth—from what I understand, the mouth is on the underside of the creature, but I've never been able to find out if a hydra has eyes or not—but the seven or eight tentacles did seem to track the crew as they shot at it.

There was one spot—its blind spot; I suppose every animal has one—where a large piece of the ship had lodged. My mother maneuvered over there, followed by Ms. Martin and Carmella Guntersdottir; then the poofing noise of Carmella's flare gun and the explosion of ribbons in the air told us to prepare for survivors.

Once everyone was back on board, we shot the wounded hydra one final time with the harpoon spike and let it sink. The woman and the boy we'd rescued were taken below decks, to the room we kept for passengers, but I stayed above. After that, Mum let me work the battles, as well. First pitching in wherever I was needed, then eventually manning the cranks and lines. Not hers, though. Around my 16th birthday she said I could, but I didn't want to be in charge of that. Some things your daughter shouldn't do for you.

That was your rescue, Mr. Connolly. Yours and your mother's.


Notes, J. C./personal

July 6, 1935

I remember knowing that we were going to die. Hoping we wouldn't, but knowing we would.

My mother had wrapped her arms around me, holding my head to her chest, one of her hands over my exposed ear. She told me we would be all right, and I believed her because she had been right every other time she had told me that, but she hadn't covered my eyes, so I could see that "all right" might not mean the same thing it had in the hospital.

The eyes on a hydra's tentacles do not look like protective coloration. I was seven, and terrified, but I would swear they move.

I remember things had calmed. The screaming, echoing hollowly from the shell of hull where we crouched and muffled by my mother's hand, had stopped. I couldn't see any bodies—I think Mama had my head turned in such a way as to keep me from seeing them—but the bloody water swelled up and down before us, lapping at our knees. All I could smell, though, was my mother's body: acrid sweat, wet wool, and perhaps some blood underneath it. Sailors talk about a hydra's "sweet spot," where you can float and it can't get to you; that's where we were. The hydra had stopped trying. Perhaps it was thinking. Resting. Letting its food digest. I'm quite sure the silence did not go on as long as I remember.

My mother jerked; her hand lifted from my head. I thought she was caught by the hydra, but she was merely shading her eyes and sitting up straighter to see.

A woman swung toward us out of the sky, a hand and her feet hooked into a knotted rope, a pistol in her free hand. There was a boom and the water—the hydra—shuddered. The ocean roared around us; the hull sunk away from underneath us; my mother's grip on me shifted and tightened around my waist, but only one arm held me. I wrapped my arms and legs around her torso and watched the hydra writhing under the surface of the churning water as we were lifted up away from it.

Then I looked up and saw Trinity Holdstock, her dark hair tied back, her face impassive. Her face was always impassive—she was not a person whose features naturally settled into pleasant or comforting expressions—and decorated with delicate white scars like single strands of spiderweb. She was strong, one arm under my mother's, holding her around the ribs just above where I held on. Mama had hold of the knot behind the other woman's neck, so that their heads were close together.

"Hold tight," our rescuer said to us. She glanced up at her ship. I looked, too, and caught my first glimpse of the Stargazer, floating above us, more like a flying sailing ship than what people called an airship. I think she saw me looking. "Not long now," she added, and smiled. Her voice was pitched higher than I would have expected.


From A Life of Scandal by Giselle Pointierre. Sarah Marsden, trans. Random House, 1932.

. . . And so, since we could not mourn together, Paulo took his paints and his camera and went to the little house Bruno owned near Chartres. He had told us, unenthusiastically, that he thought he might take photographs and see what he could make from them: perhaps a series of flowers; he'd never done anything with flowers. Bruno and I both thought flowers were an awful idea, but we also agreed that Paulo needed to start painting again.

I began my work on Persephone, feeling much the same about it as Paulo likely did about geraniums, but it gave me something to do besides remember Piet and curse at myself. I remember wondering how Paulo was, traipsing through the meadows with his camera. And then we got a letter: he had forgotten all about flowers; a dirigible had made an emergency landing in the fields outside town (Bruno and I had not thought to look at a newspaper in weeks, and neither were we inclined to socialize yet, so we were woefully uninformed about the events of the outside world). Paulo, of course, had gone running to help and found his newest inspiration, he wrote, "inspecting an engine and covered in dirt and grease."

Trinity Holdstock had just begun to be well-known in 1899. "She's that airship captain who saved those sailors from a hydra," Paulo wrote. "She is a solemn woman, very self-contained. I can never tell what she's thinking when she listens to me. But when she speaks, her face is transformed. She works on her ship with the ease of long experience and expertise, and she commands her crew with that same easy assurance."

Paulo, the open book, found her fascinating. And, I'm sure, a kindred spirit—he was always drawn to people who knew their calling and followed it. But he also found aspects of her frustrating. "She looks at the camera and she's an enigma. Formal portraits, candid pictures—none of it captures her and how she looks. And so I use them to paint from. Perhaps in oils I can show what refuses to come across on film."

When Paulo brought her to Paris, I could see what he meant. She was the most elusive woman he'd ever been with. And the least beautiful: beauty was like talent, and Paulo responded to those who were the pinnacle of both, but he tended to love women who were the pinnacle of the former. Trinity Holdstock, however, was arresting in a way that I have always associated with men. Men who run countries, or lead armies, or—yes—captain ships. You did not find your eyes drawn to her when she was in a room, but you found that you were aware of where she was in it for however long she decided to remain. Even Bruno, who usually resented (in his quiet, cautious way) the women Paulo occasionally introduced into our already unconventional marriage, found her agreeable.

All of Paulo's paintings of her captured something, but I do not think he ever quite caught her in them. My personal favorite was the one he called In Repose: she is caught mid-motion, getting off a bed, wearing a chemise, barefoot. Her head is turned to look out a window over the bed, where one can see storm clouds gathering in the distance. You can only see part of her face, and Paulo did not soften the muscles of her arms and legs or remove the tattoos from her shoulders and arm. But it's the arrested motion that I think comes closest to capturing Trinity Holdstock, at least as I remember her—poised, ready to move at a moment's notice, half-hoping that moment will come.

. . .

"We will part amicably," he wrote to me before she left, "and remain friends, I hope." Even airship captains have to land sometime, and I think Paulo did expect to see her again. But we heard nothing, and news reports of her exploits also became scarce for a time.

Then we began to hear the rumors of her daughter.

Paulo had sold some of his Trinity paintings, and so a reporter went to the village. Speculation began.

Paulo said nothing. In fact, when asked he danced away from the topic as though it were a cobra weaving its way toward striking him. Trinity Holdstock, as she was notorious for doing, spoke to no one. Nor did her crew. They flew above it all, chasing sea monsters and raising a little girl among the clouds.

I got him to answer me once. He did not look at me as he replied; rather, he spoke to the brushes he was washing. "Giselle, I do not think I could bear to have another child."

I did not agree, but I understood. And I left it at that.


Notes, Holdstock profile

July 7, 1935

They made the papers periodically:

1908: they rescued Henrik Haab, the son of Swiss Federal Council member Frederik Haab, from his kidnappers (the kidnappers were transporting Haab aboard a ship that was attacked by a hydra; Charles Stockdale told a reporter, "It's not like we set out to do it or anything." See NYTimes article 3).

1910: smuggled hotel heiress Genevieve Lyon to Italy, where she married her lover, Johann Schreiber, without the approval of her parents.

1915: refused to take part in the War.

Legend 3: the Stargazer stayed aloft for five years.

It's likely that the crew made its land base in Switzerland during that time, as the Swiss had unofficially adopted the Stargazer after the Haab rescue. They were certainly the only airship allowed in Swiss airspace during the War. Holdstock's U.S. citizenship was reportedly revoked over her refusal to fight, then returned after the celebrated rescue of the passengers and crew from the HMS Victrolina, when the ship sank in the North Atlantic in 1925. The Stargazer and other privately owned airships were credited with keeping the number of fatalities to only 12.

June 8, 1935: disappearance. The Stargazer was returning to the U.S. for Andrew Holdstock's funeral, but never arrived. The search got off to a slow start; the British and Swiss, who had long claimed Trinity Holdstock and her crew as their own, and who had ships near the area of the Atlantic where the Stargazer's last radio transmission originated, began searching for her without the aid or go-ahead of the U.S. In addition, several civilian airships and sailing vessels began searching as well; the result was mass confusion until the U.S. Navy took charge of coordinating the search.

No trace was found of the ship, the captain, or the crew.

Daughter: stage name, Lady Fairuza de Toledo y Trinidad, Halloran Bros. Circus.


Letter from Moira, July 5, 1935

Joe,

It was good to hear from you, finally! And I certainly appreciated the entire paragraph you devoted to small talk before you decided to ask me for something. It's all right, I don't mind—I will, however, torture you a bit before I reply to your inquiry.

Maddie is doing fine in school; she hates composition but loves math. She's also running track this year, which has scandalized her father—Nate is not the most sports-minded man in the world, and he is old-fashioned, so you can imagine how well he's taking having a sprinter for a daughter. She's doing quite well, though, and he can't help but be proud of her. I am merely proud, without reservations.

And I am sure you did not read any of that, except to be aghast that your niece hates to write, but I shall forgive you and answer your question.

Yes, I do remember the trip you and Mother took overseas when you were seven. Aunt Helene came to stay with Dad and me, which was fine if a trifle boring. I remember thinking it might be worth it to be sick all the time if it meant I got to go on a seaship to the Continent. Mum sent me postcards from Chamonix; I still have one of them, where she made you write me a note, and you wrote: "PS: cough, hack, spit, love J." on it.

My memories of when you were missing are less clear. I remember that it all happened so quickly: first we got the news that the ship had gone down, then we spent two or three days thinking you'd both been lost, and then we found out that you had been saved, and so spectacularly. But before that I remember . . . oh, goodness, I remember much bustling by Aunt Helene around the house as people came and went, like preparation for a wedding or a long trip, but much more muted. And Dad looked awful; it was as though someone had pulled his bones out of his body. He didn't forget me, though—you always read about the father who loses his wife and one child and forgets the other child completely. No, Dad and I clung to each other in much the same way as I imagine you and Mother must have. And this really didn't change once we'd found out you were both alive.

I remember feeling numb. And I remember thinking that you'd just gotten healthy again, been cured, weren't coughing.

Jonas, those days were truly the worst of my life. And not only because I thought I was stuck eating Aunt Helene's cabbage stew for the rest of it.

You said in your letter that your idea of how much time passed was vague. I feel the same way—most of my memories of my childhood are like that, summer lasting what seemed like years and so on—but I do know that you and Mother came back four days after we heard of your rescue. Aunt Helene stayed with us after that for a week, perhaps two; it was long enough so that she and Mother could argue at least twice that I know of, though I could never exactly figure out what they were arguing about. Now I have some ideas as to the topic of conversation, but I was nine then and too shy to put my ear right to the wall.

When I first realized . . . well, I was younger and so certain of everything, and I remembered how Dad had looked when we thought she was dead. I had this righteous sense of anger for him, and I was angry at Mother for leaving again right after she'd returned.

But now I think about what her life was. Her family was poor. "Genteel poverty," they called it. There was no trip to the Continent for her when she turned twenty, no chance for adventure, and no romantic notions of love. Dad was so much older than she was, but I do think that they were the best of friends. I know they didn't argue those three weeks she was home.

So, then, Mother left us and we didn't see her for another six or seven months. Dad's sister Grace came to stay with us while she was gone. Dad did get telegrams as to where she was and that she was all right, so we wouldn't worry. And Mother came back to us early the next year, and she never left us again, and she never spoke of those months she was away. At least not to me.

Do you remember climbing onto the roof the night the Stargazer was supposed to fly over the city? It was a rumor you'd heard, so we spent half the night up there, watching for it. I got tired and went inside, but you stayed out—you said there would be no way to mistake it when it went over. Did you see it that night? Or was it just a rumor?

When Maddie was seven, someone at her school did a report on Trinity Holdstock, and she came home and told me about it. She was so excited; a lady adventurer, riding the wind currents wherever she might want to go. I didn't say anything about your connection; she found out about that this year when the Times did that article about you. "Why didn't you tell me, Mom? How could you and Uncle Joe keep quiet about that?"

I gave her some answer about it not being my story to tell, but when it gets right down to it, it was because Mother never spoke of it that I didn't. I don't know why you didn't. Do you think, in return for my having answered your question, you might tell me about it, though? Those two days in the Stargazer? Trinity Holdstock? I'd like to know.

Love always,

Moira


Letter from Allen Gold, August 15, 1935

Joe:

As promised, enc. is a copy of the Beignini Holdstock photo. Had no idea the daughter (sword-swallower? really?) didn't have one. Am waiving processing fee. That said, the story you're working on re: her mother (hell, re: the sword-swallowing daughter of Trinity Holdstock, even) would be an agreeable payment.

Allen

Allen Mayer Gold

Gold Publishing Corporation


Letter from Amelia Holdstock (Lady Fairuza de Toledo y Trinidad) October 5, 1935

Mr. Connolly,

Thank you for the photograph, first of all. I was deeply touched at your thoughtfulness and the trouble you must have gone to, and I will treasure it.

I do, however, have some idea that your sending it was not entirely altruistic, Mr. Connolly, though I intend that in the friendliest way I can. Think of me as a fond older sister when I tell you that had you asked about your mother's time on the Stargazer in your first letter, I'd have answered your questions as readily as I will now, even without the gift of a photograph. She was your mother, after all, and I am not so much my own mother's daughter that I refuse to tell the stories I know to the people who have a right to hear them.

That said, I don't have that much to tell you. When your mother was part of our crew, I had recently begun to learn the ways of the ship—manning the lines and maintaining the engines and the gasbag. My mother always said that I could do with my life as I pleased, whether that life was captaining the Stargazer, working on another air or sea ship, or doing something entirely different (though I doubt she'd ever imagined my joining a circus); but she insisted on teaching me mechanics and the engines of an airship. She never missed a lesson.

Your mother was game for anything we asked her to do. She was shy but not afraid to make mistakes, and she laughed at herself when she did. I remember the first few days she was on board because she was wearing trousers and boots, and I could tell it was her first time in either from the way she walked. I thought it funny because my mother never wore trousers unless she was about to swing down to battle or the engines badly needed repair: she wore skirts around the ship, and usually no shoes, with her tool bag around her waist. The rest of us wore pants, though, so I thought perhaps your mother was trying to fit in.

She couldn't, though; not really. She was well-liked, but we all knew she'd be going aground eventually, and so it was impossible to create the same bond with her that we all had with one another. She was considered more than the usual passenger, though.

Looking back, I think she was very happy when she was on the Stargazer.

I did not speak to her very much, myself, as we were both busy learning—she her way around the ship, and me my new duties. And I think she may have been a bit shy of me, considering who we each were to my mother. One day, we set upon a male hydra with a clutch of eggs on its belly, which was too tricky for the two apprentices to help with, so we were sent to the galley to peel potatoes and stay out of the way. We sat across from one another, the voices and shots sounding through the hull, the room smelling of dirt and potato, and I remembered that she had a little boy, and they'd just been coming from specialists abroad when we picked them both up the first time. And so I asked her about you and whether you were still healthy.

"He was fine when I left," she said, tossing a peeled spud into the bucket with an echoing clunk. She looked at her hands and rubbed her fingers together, then wiped them on her pants.

"Do you miss him?" I asked. I realized my hands felt slimy and gritty with potato residue as well, so I put my knife down and wiped them on my own pants.

"I do, yes. And his sister."

It seemed that I ought to change the subject, so I asked, "And how do you like the Stargazer?"

She looked up at me, and then past me, thinking. "I like it quite a bit," she finally said. "But I cannot stop . . . I am always aware as I walk around the ship that there are only some very thin pieces of wood between my feet and the open air. And that wood is, for all intents and purposes, suspended from a balloon in the sky. It makes the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet tingle. Do you ever feel that?"

"No," I said slowly. But the idea stayed with me, and after that there were times when I would suddenly realize that I was hanging in the air, arrested in a fall.

My mother, sweaty and salt-crusted, sporting a new blister along one arm from swinging too close to a sucker, finally came down to find her. Mum kissed me, and then she and your mother left together, and it struck me how happily they looked at one another. Those were months when my mother smiled without thinking about it.

It was an odd day when your mother disembarked. Odd day and odd weeks after. We worked a lot, and flew as long as we could between landings.


October 30, 1935

I opened the locket twice. It didn't open easily. It's not rusted, just unused.

Inside, a lock of hair. Thick, dark brown hair, slightly snarled, wound about with embroidery floss that is still blue. On the back of the locket, around the edges of the gear: mea anima, mea stella. Trinity.

It is one thing to know your mother had a life apart from you, and quite another to hold part of that life in your hand, heavy and cool and bumpy, like a story beloved and kept from the tellings of others. Unchanging because no one will ever say it aloud.

She came back to us. This echoes in my head. It was the first thought I had when I saw that the locket didn't have our pictures in it. She came back to us, and she wore this every day without comment, next to her skin until the day she died. Not a scandal, or a footnote. A pendant. And now some papers and notes, along with it, in its box.


Laura E. Price lives in Florida with her husband and son. Her stories have appeared in Cicada and On Spec. She would like to dedicate this story to Tiffany Holtzkemper and Lorna Lee, whose respective choices in steampunk expo and prom attire inspired it. To contact the author, send her email at lauraeprice@gmail.com. For more about her and her work, see her blog.