The Secrets of the Dashboard Hula Dancer

by erika

Not Your Mother’s Mary

Eleanor was fixed on finding the perfect Mary and hurried along to the big display that housed a hundred different varieties of The Virgin. Most of the Marys held one of two stances, head inclined, hands on heart or head inclined, palms open. If Eleanor were to be honest, she was of the “open palmed” persuasion. She saw the gesture as an entrance into the folds of a Divine Mother, one who didn’t criticize, turn all conversations back to herself, or introduce her as “the daughter with bad hair.” Her mother’s Mary, as much as she had loved her, held her hands close to her breast, a gesture that at times felt shut off and riddled with guilt. “Oh, look how you’ve wounded me, look how you’ve broken my heart,” her mother’s Mary sometimes seemed to say. She knew this time she would go for a Madonna whose embrace would hold her, even on her worst hair day.

Then there, out of the sea of Blessed Mothers shone her very own Stella Maris, her personal Queen of Heaven. It was the statuettes imperfections that tugged at Eleanor, as if this pocket-size Mother of God had Her own tidal pull.   One slightly wonky eye gave the impression that She was not looking down in judgment upon the “sinners of the earth,” but just off, somewhere towards the better parts of human nature. The small dab of blue on the front of Her white gown made Eleanor think of the years of parenthood she spent covered in food and thought to herself, this is a Mary who knows. Without stopping to consider the full ramification of shoplifting a saint, Eleanor snatched the figurine from the display, pocketed her, and walked out the door into the light.


a little literary snack from e’s upcoming novel, The Secrets of the Dashboard Hula Dancer

hula dancer