Alice Rosenthal is an author based in San Francisco, California.


I am the afterthought that blooms

I publish my first novel. My second novel is written; now to publishing. It’s good—I like it, they like it. Even better than the first. Perhaps in this, my remaining time, I will accomplish a trilogy. And then there are those Grandma Bessie vignettes; they nudge, clear their throats, tap my shoulder for attention. They are engaging, witty, edgy, moving. That’s my style—I say, so, they say so. But still the struggle hidden beneath it all, the roiling energy screams for the light of day. "That’s you all over," It despairs for me, "still afraid. Gifted and full of potential and promise; lovely and loveable in those younger years—that beautiful girl with the lovely complexion!" They said it (even I said it sometimes, under my breath), but always stifled. Yearning to breathe free? Sorry, Emma. For that statue looming in the harbor carries for me a sword, not a lamp. It is the stone Commandatore who intones: hide your light under a bushel; never toot your own horn; don’t you dare self-promote.

And I obey. I marry a narcissistic bastard who is outwardly perfect (a doctor, of course) who summarily dumps me, and I bury myself in the the low-paying and unheralded book publishing world as a line and copy editor and distract myself with political movements and a succession of interesting and intelligent men, none of whom are what you would call marriage material or good potential parents. Well, neither am I. My loss.

I have to move three thousand miles away to the other coast to escape the stone commandments; to eventually stop shaping others’ voices and express my own. I have two voices, I discover. One is musical. I love to study a choral score, and I delight in the sense of community and spirit that ensemble singing brings. Here it isn’t the words—its’ the music that speaks. The other voice, my creative writing, steeped in family and social history—so many things—emerges as my solo, and I glory in it. From this, greying, slightly creaky me, I bloom.