Touching the Velvet

by Donna D. Vitucci


Who can say what moves us to tell one story over another? Who knows what vein of emotion will slice a reader in half when she reads your words? Something shared, certainly, even though my childhood was not your childhood, your experience not mine, or even similar in detail. In the reckoning, I think, is where it lies, or thereabouts. In reflection, from the viewpoint of our hard-won adulthood, not exactly evaluating or trying to make sense of a particular episode or moment that has stayed with us like a scar—but more the mash of tiny sensory details that conjures for the writer exactly how that fourth grade classroom smelled and the harsh overhead lights that buzzed the air as she took up the Infant of Prague statue with trembling fingers, shouldering the weight of the moment (because she’d been steeped in so much ritual and religion and mystery, this privilege did mean something to her, though she’d never let on to her classmates) and because everyone was watching (not really, but she thought so), to see if she’d knock the thing to the floor or if her grimy fingers would stain the velvet green dress that a long-haired blond Christ-boy on the classroom radiator wore to rule the world, He one tiny emperor with a tiny globe in his tiny doll hands, and the center of that moment a tent-pole of unworthiness (or so she felt) at being chosen to change His clothes and crown in the first place. The girl’s touching the velvet was a mistake Miss Steigerwald would soon discover.

You had one of those moments, right dear reader? A moment deep in your history dovetails with my shameful moment, and that’s where we let blood, where we can both be fourth graders again, in all our knock-knee-ed naivete. The story ending is history, it is fixed in time, but reading it makes us buzz a bit like those fluorescent overheads, we are slightly charged and thus slightly changed, the story rearranges our elements. That’s why the writer chooses that particular story; that’s why the story cuts you open, too.

Donna Vitucci
Donna Vitucci

Donna Vitucci is Development Director of Covington Ladies Home, the only free-standing personal care home exclusively for older adult women in Northern Kentucky.  Her stories have appeared in dozens of print and online journals, including PANK, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, Monkey Bicycle, Juked, Watershed Review, Gargoyle, Hinchas de Poesia, Contrary, Corium Magazine, GERM, and Southern Women’s Review. Her unpublished novel Feed Materials was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize and is currently under agent representation. Three other finished novels wait in a trunk.

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