Lana’s Voice

shy_girl_by_lordmezry-d30lihfI always knew I was shy. It began when I started school. At home, I sat in the corners and tried to be invisible, out of sight, out of mind. No one bothered me that way. It was comfortable for me. At school, I did the same. It was all I knew. I didn’t expect the teacher to try to make me talk.

She wanted me to talk about my family. That was the last thing I wanted to do, talk about them. How my father came home drunk and starting yelling at everyone. How my mother would cry at times and take her hurt out on us kids. When the teacher asked me those questions, I would just look down. 

Then she wanted to know about my pets. I just shook my head. To keep my teachers from noticing me, I did all my work. I made good grades, even in math. My report card was perfect, almost always, expect for one mark: “Does not participate in class discussions.” Not that my parents would notice. 

The silent years went on and on. I often watched the other kids playing and laughing at recess. They stayed away from me and called me spooky. Ignoring them, I lost myself in books, reading everything I could. I read Nancy Drew and Harry Potter, and all the Narnia books. The characters and places in those books were more real to me than my everyday life. Was I escaping? A coward?

Who would ever notice me?

Katy Keene: My Superhero

61108-10950-94103-1-katy-keeneWhen I was a girl, my favorite superhero was Katy Keene. I was in second grade when I first saw her comic books on the rack at our corner grocery store. This was in a small town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where kids could play the slot machines anywhere.

All we needed were a few nickels and a footstool to reach the slot machine handle. I went to that store looking for three lemons in a row instead of the milk and eggs my mother sent me to the store to buy.

One day, I was kneeling by the magazine rack and I spied KATY KEENE comics. When I saw my very own name on a comic book, I hit the jackpot! My childhood nickname was Katie, but I forgave Katy Keene for not spelling her name like mine. 

I imagined Katy Keene had super powers, though I don’t believe she ever did. It’s just that she had the “world on a string,” was glamorous, and wore clothes that only superheroes like Wonder Woman wore. Looking back, I have to admit Katy was a career woman, a movie star, just with a bigger than life image and super self confidence. 

But for me, a scruffy kid with worn out Buster Browns and tattered shorts, she was a role model beyond my dreams. Her name lit up my own. Those bright letters on her dime comics were a marquee for me, too. Even when she became pals with Archie and Jughead, she was always KATY KEENE, a world apart, but as close as my battered comic book.