Tiny Shoes Dancing by Audrey Kalman is a collection of twenty short stories. Kalman selects significant elements from primarily insignificant lives, the lives that don’t get a mention in the supermarket tabloids. Short stories are great; they fill time and are portable. There is no guilt in not completing them because you can always put off the pesky routine tasks which you know you have to do … right after you finish the short story you are reading. The stories in this collection are great because they make the reader feel important. We have all had some variation on these normal, everyday challenges. Well, most of them. There are some tales which are weird.
Tiny Shoes Dancing ***** Jody was a “stage mother” for daughter Adeline as far as ballet. Adeline was completely dedicated to her talent; she had to get a new pair of practice shoes every month. Old ones never were thrown away; Jody spent time with the shoe collection under the stairs visiting the collection and revisiting the memories of Adeline at different stages of development. Jody also knew a legend that illustrated the power of shoes.
Forget Me, Forget Me Not ***** Lilah is a long-distance runner. She passed miles 18 and 22; they were the worst. Mile 36 should have been easy. High achievement can bring high consequences.
Back After a Break to Discuss the Decline of Civilization ***** Marilee was jealous of her husband’s desires. She may or not have had reason to feel jealous but if there was a reason it was not all her husband’s fault; Marilee had willingly participated in activities that sparked the jealousy.
Before There Was a Benjamin ***** Benjamin was a star child, a very special person who completely dominated Melinda’s life. His special abilities developed later than most children. Benjamin had a special affection for Aunt Tara, a rock music singer from Melinda and husband Peter’s past. Peter had picked Melinda and changed to a more conservative life but the three were still friends.
Everyone Is Gone ***** This is a very sad perspective on aging. Older readers should either skip it or be warned unless (the best alternative) they are experiencing happiness in their later years.
Untitled Erotica ***** Bored with her freelance writing assignments, Judy writes some soft-core porn. Surprisingly, it sells. An agent contacted her for more and now she was to meet him face to face. The contrast between the agent’s male model body and her husband’s more corpulent and aged one steers Judy to look at other humdrum routines and contrasts between her life and her desired life. As her writing career thrives, she contemplates how to reveal her secret life to her husband; a boring, stable, comfortable man with no secrets.
Pearls ***** Ingrid counts things, not in an OCD type of way. She just wants to keep count. First, she counts all the things that irritate her. There were five. Then she counted her blessings. Some of these will surprise the reader. This story is worth reading for the blessings alone.
The Appointed Time and Place ***** Lara was Christian’s makeup artist and old enough to be his mother. But what woman would not look at a male underwear model? It is a good thing she wasn’t involved with him.
Skyping with the Rabbi ***** Jake was getting better and better at computer games. He had begun at ten when he lied about being thirteen. Now he was near to becoming a man; his Bar Mitzvah was close. Over the same period, his parents developed in another direction by getting closer and closer to Divorce. Then the rat died.
Put the Sweater on the Dog ***** Carlo loved his grandmother and that made sense because she raised him after his mom ran away. Carlo didn’t really miss her and didn’t like his dope addict father at all. When grandma died and told him to take care of the dog, Donatello, Carlo had no choice but to do it even though he couldn’t have dogs in the apartment. Then he met the girl in the park.
So She Says ***** This is the story of a fast learning curve on falling in love and losing it all.
When All Else Fails ***** I think this is the best story of the collection. Here is the last line, (not a spoiler) “If anyone asks, she’ll tell them what comes after all else fails is another day.” (Kindle Location 1819).
The Boy in the Window ***** This is a story of a life lived twice through someone very close.
Pudding ***** We don’t know the age of the Main Character in this story, but she is a comparatively young girl in recovery. But is she recovering?
Mistress Mine ***** This is a story of cats and dogs told from a different perspective.
Bad Luck with Cats ***** Most people count the years of their lives in years. Margaret counted the years of her life in cats.
Dosed ***** This story is tied to the one above. Cats survive.
This Ain’t No Fairy Tale ***** There is a sense of inevitability that two very different worlds will come together as fairy godmother Lisa pulls fairy godson DeShawn back from the brink of disaster in a real world. Or maybe not.
If Only You Weren’t So ***** A mother’s love for her son triumphs. Take that, Anton.
The Bureau of Lost Earrings ***** This story presents another way to count our way to life’s exit; this time the measurement is earrings. It is certainly a more elegant way than contemplating the loss of one sock.
I look for selections of short stories on Amazon. This great collection sells for USD 0.99. I gave it five stars for its wide diversity and the author’s ability to give lots of meaning to everyday events. There is a hint of darkness in each story, something that appeals to my everyday mood.