Let the Show go . . . all Over the Place or Something

Amber Litviak, guest writer

January 24, 1946

My name is Anna Karen Sylvester, and today I’m turning nineteen years old. I get a lot of my physical traits from my mom, like my wavy, blonde hair and my emerald, green eyes, or so I was told. I don’t remember much about my parents, except for when I was little. However, that memory has faded by now. All that I remember is that I was the only one who survived.

February 15, 1946

Today, an entire year has passed since I have been married to James Sylvester. He has deep, brown eyes that he gets from his dad and curly, brown hair that he gets from his mom. He works in the coal mines most of the time, so I only see him in the evening while I prepare supper. Some days he doesn’t get home until dark, because he is working overtime, so I leave a plate for him in our refrigerator. He tells me that he is trying to work as long as he can so we can save up for a Dodge Custom.

I started preparing James’s favorite dinner, steak and potatoes, when he walked through the door.

“How was your day at work honey?” I questioned.

“It was . . . alright I guess,” he responded.

I proceeded to take his coat and hang it up in the closet.

“Dinner is almost ready, dear.”

James sat at the table while I served the hearty meal, and we began to eat in mostly silence. Something was off but I couldn’t really tell what it was, so I just decided to forget about it.

March 6, 1946

As I went to get the paper at the end of the driveway I noticed a new neighbor across the street. She wore a blue and white dress that was speckled like an egg. Her black heels matched her gloves, and she had a charcoal hat to hold her brunette locks out of her face. I saw her smile at me so I waved and said hello.

“The weather today is just marvelous isn’t it!” I exclaimed.

“Indeed it is! My name is Helen and I just moved here from California because of my brother’s new job relocation.”

“Well, it is very nice to meet you Helen, my name is Anna by the way.”

I got the paper and went back inside. How strange, I thought. Nobody has moved into this neighborhood for a long time so I don’t know why anyone would want to. I mean, it is the suburbs of Chicago after all. It isn’t the best place to live.

March 14, 1946

Today was a day I had been looking forward to for a long time. James finally had a couple days off of work and we could go on the picnic we had been planning for. I prepared a nice breakfast consisting of bacon, toast, cheesy omelets, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Once I set the table, I went to wake James up.

“Good morning, dear,” I whispered lightly, as though not to disturb him much.

“What is it?” he replied groggily.

“I made breakfast for us.”

“Okay, I will be out in a few minutes.”

I patiently waited at the table until he arose from hibernation, and when he came to the table he just stared at the plate for a while.

“Is something wrong?” I asked quietly.

“No, it’s nothing.”

“Are you sure?”


After we ate, I got together a picnic basket and we headed over to the local park. The birds were out chirping, and the trees were dancing in the breeze. We set up the blanket and started eating the sandwiches that I had brought.

All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone that stuck out from the crowd. It was Helen. She was wearing a vivid red dress with her long wavy hair draped over her slender shoulders. I looked back at James and caught him staring at her. I decided not to say anything because I didn’t want to start an argument. She is so much prettier than I am, I thought.

March 15, 1946

I arose from bed slightly later than usual; something was different. Then I realized, James didn’t wake me up. Once I got up, I walked to the front of the house and looked out the window. That’s when I saw James talking to Helen. I knew he was drifting away from me rapidly.

Suddenly, I remembered something I had seen in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago. I ran to my desk and turned to an article called Making Marriage Work. It says that “there can be little happiness without emotional security,” and that “the problem is directly related to financial difficulties.” (Walker 123).

I heard James walk in through the front door so a quickly hid the paper and climbed back into bed. I wonder if I would be able to get a job, I thought. Maybe that way I could help with our finances.

James walked into the room, and I got up and turned towards him.

“James, what would you think if I got a job?”

“Absolutely not!” he exclaimed.

“Don’t we need more money?” I asked quietly.

“No . . . I’m still working overtime. Everything will be fine.”

March 28, 1946

I was looking out the window and I saw Helen working in her garden. All of her flowers are bright and colorful unlike mine, which are dead. Her lawn is also perfectly mowed and green. I was starting to get jealous. Suddenly it clicked. I wasn’t jealous of her garden, although it was very nice, I was jealous of her figure. She is so perfectly skinny, and I’m not. I wish there was something I could do.

April 1, 1946

This morning, I decided to get up earlier than usual and get the paper. I flipped to the next page and something stood out to me. The article read “New: weight watchers program started!” (“Historical). I was ecstatic! This could be this way to get James back! I ran to the pay phone and threw a couple coins in. I dialed the number for weight watchers, and I waited.

“Sign me up!” I practically screamed.

May 26, 1946

My first shipment of weight watchers meals had finally arrived! All I was eating for weeks were the small portions of food they had sent me. However, it wasn’t working fast enough. I could still tell that James wasn’t interested.

I knew James would be home soon, so I decided to do something drastic. I walked to the bathroom and stuck my red polished finger down the back of my throat. I started to gag and then all I felt was burning and self-hatred. I hated what I had become. I took a sharp glance into the mirror and stared at my tear-stained reflection. Why was I going through all this trouble? I thought. It’s not even worth it anymore. It never was.

Suddenly, I heard James’s keys fighting to unlock the front door. I mustered all of my strength and pulled myself up. I opened the bathroom door and James was standing behind it.

“Are you okay?” James asked.

“I’m fine,” I replied.

I was choking back tears, and my face was hot. I didn’t know what to do anymore.

“James, is there something going on between you and Helen?”

“Anna . . . I’m so sorry.”

I couldn’t breathe. It felt like everything was shutting down. There was a deafening silence as tears rolled off of my cheeks. He wasn’t sorry. In fact, he was the opposite of sorry.

“Anna, I’ve been having trouble at work because of the Coal Mine Strike. All of the ‘railroad workers joined [us], threatening to bring the entire nation to a halt!’ You weren’t there for me, and Helen was” (“The).

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This isn’t the man I married last year. He would never do this to me, right?

            June 30, 1946

I couldn’t take it anymore. The voices in my head were getting even louder. I clutched my hands to my ears and started to scream. Was I going insane? I thought. My sobs were heaving as tears raced down my face.

            “Why? Why did this have to happen to me?” I cried aloud to myself.

I decided I was done. Everything seemed to be going wrong, and all I could do was blame myself. I’m not going to leave a note, he wouldn’t even care if I did anyway. I thought.

I got up and walked to the cabinet. I snatched the bottle, and struggled to twist off the cap. Once I released the cap, I was ready. I shook the bottle into my hand until I thought the pile of pills was satisfactory. I began to count down.

“Ten . . . Nine . . . Eight . . . Seven . . . Six . . . Five . . . Four . . . Three . . . Two . . . One.”

I managed to get all of the pills down, and I awaited the end. The end of suffering. The end of torture. The end of a painful marriage. Then, as I took my last breath, everything went black.


Works Cited

“Historical Events in 1946.” www.onthisday.com. Web. 4 March 2016.

“The Great Strike Wave of 1946” dailykos.com. 30 December 2007. Web. 1 April 2016.

Walker, Nancy. Women’s Magazines 1940-1960: Gender Roles and the Popular Press. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. Print.


“Baby Boom.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Ed. Thomas Riggs. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Farmington Hills: Gale, 2015. 107. Student Resources in Context. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

“Fashion in the 1940s.” www.retrowaste.com. Web. 27 March 2016.

“Full Employment Act of 1946.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Ed. Thomas Riggs. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Farmington Hills: Gale, 2015. 481. Student Resources in Context. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

“U.S. Timeline- The 1940s.” americasbesthistory.com. Web. 25 March 2016.