From The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria

Diary

6 May 1941. We’ve arrived at last after months in Casablanca, which I once remembered fondly & now loathe. Sold all my good white linen bed sheets for Moslem shrouds to raise money for our sea passage. The Faithful must meet their Maker wrapt in the colour of purity, but I would’ve slept on straw, on mud, on a bed of nails to leave Africa.

Every day we were in danger. Everyone knows B.B. supported the Loyalists in Spain & wrote editorials for La Revolution Surrealiste & corresponded with Trotsky, for godssake. Fascists in every bar & café. Nazis, too, now that Rommel has taken over the Occupation & his officers carouse their days away. The Soviets will make mincemeat of you within the year, B.B. told anyone who would listen. Didn’t care a fig who listened in. Every night I feared the knock on our door, which thankfully never came.

As for our sea passage, I have little to record. I was sick, B.B. was sick. Everyone sick & absolutely grey with fear. We sailed on a Union Oil tanker, The Montebello. A favorite sport of Nazi U-boats, torpedoing a merchant ship with refugees aboard. No more than a rifle or two to defend us, should we be attacked. Every day the radio told of another sinking–in the Atlantic, in the Caribbean, & all hands lost. Nazi U-boats take no prisoners, save no survivors bobbing amongst the waves. I began to wonder what it must be like to drown. Your hair streaming up into sunlit waters, your feet plunging into blackness below. The fearsome struggle to breathe–would it be swift or slow? Would you notice fish? When would they start nibbling at the lobes of your ears?

I had to set this journal aside. Force myself to stop conjuring up horrors.

When we hobbled ashore at Tampico, I fell on my knees & kissed the beach. I mean literally. B.B. laughing & lurching about on his sea legs. I can still taste the sand on my lips. Filthy, but marvelous. The marvelous taste of our deliverance.

Nothing but the shirts on our backs & two little bags between us. We haven’t got a penny.

It’s completely true what Breton says of our destination.

Mexico is the Surrealist place par excellence. The land blazes with a savage golden light. A tiger light. The jungle spreads its tendrils to the very edge of town & the leaves of certain palms possess a clarified green the like of which I’ve never seen in Britain nor in Europe, save perhaps Tuscany. Blossoms have their wanton way in every window box, on every street corner, through every crevice in the ancient stone walls. Brick & mortar are no match for the lusty thrust of Life. I love the lascivious pinks, the regal purples. I spied a scarlet that actually throbbed, as if the colour of blood was pulsing from a newly opened wound. The natives wear their modernity lightly. As if civilization is but a garment to be donned or disposed of at one’s will.

I should like to feel that unencumbered of my past.

From The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria

Copyright © 2012 by Lisa Mason

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria is exclusively free on Kindle!

Inspired by the lives and friendship of the brilliant visionary Surrealist artists Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington.

A List of Sources follows the novella.

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria was published in Full Spectrum 5 (Bantam). Full Spectrum 5 also included stories by Michael Bishop, Karen Joy Fowler, Jonathan Lethem, and Neal Stephenson.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra on Nook and Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook and Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Kindle and Nook.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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Coming soon! Celestial Girl: A Lily Modeska Mystery. Romantic suspense!

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