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Short Stories 365:105

I've been a fairly lax bookcrosser over the past few years, but every now and then, a notice pops up that one of the many books I released into the wild has been found. Recently, one that I gave to my friend yumikid on my birthday ten years ago popped up. It had been released in Ottawa. It was found in Kingston and is now in Costa Rica.

This same sense of story made from something being passed from hand-to-hand is found in the first story in Saints + Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2011.

"Who the Hell is Rachel Wells?" by J.R. Greenwall

This was a contest finalist for the 2011 competition.

What at first seems like a casual point to touch off on a story - a mom and two kids pausing at a rest-stop for the bathrooms and a quick break - changes when the headstrong young daughter finds a makeup kid, and the soft and quiet brother wants her to make him up "like a model." There's a note in the make-up bag, from someone named Rachel Wells, asking them to 'take care' of the items in the bag (which includes a wig and some wadded up dollar bills, too). The bag is soon passed on, and passed on again - and the vignettes of the characters who intersect with the bag are charming.

As the bag and its contents touch the lives, the impact of Rachel Wells - whoever she might be - plays out in different ways. I liked that. It reminded me, somehow, of how a single act doesn't necessarily end with the person involved. How things, even innocent things, can move on and ripple out to change the world.

One piece of makeup at a time.

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