An Excerpt from The Woman Inside Her: A Novel In Progress by Martta Karol

Red-orange rosebud on dark background.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 

                                                              —Anais Nin

An Excerpt From Chapter One . . . 

She walks, she talks, she sings a little song.

KRISTA ADJUSTED THE CONCHO BELT angled across her hips and stepped forward, chin up and Vogue chic, confident no one would guess she was a jittery mess inside. She handed her suitcase to the Negro skycap and tipped him a quarter, then hugged the accordion file containing the combo charts for her vocal arrangements to her chest and returned to the curb where her mother, her face lined with worry, waited with Krista’s train case full of cosmetics and toiletries at her feet. When Krista reached down to pick up the case, her music file slipped from under her arm. “Oh, no!” she cried, as it broke open and spilled, scattering pages of staff paper marked with chord and rhythm notations on the sidewalk.

Her mother huffed a breath. “I don’t know why you didn’t pack that in your bag.”

Krista frowned. “It could get lost. Sometimes suitcases get lost.” She stuffed the charts back into the file, clutched it to her body and said no more. Her mom’s agitation wasn’t about her music, anyway; it was about her sudden decision to up and move half a continent away, a shock to her mom, and though the two of them had thrashed her reasons to tatters, there were still dangly threads. The explanation she wove, that she’d have more chances to advance a singing career in San Francisco than in Minneapolis, didn’t make total sense. Given her local connections, it seemed like she was throwing away existing potential for a lot of unknowns, and maybe she was. But she had no choice. Lord knows, she couldn’t tell her mom the truth. She couldn’t stay either, not after all that happened.

Her mother sighed. “Well, I need to get going. You’ll be all right waiting by yourself, won’t you?” She looked up at Krista, her eyes pleading. “You know how your father will be if I’m gone too long.

“I know, Mom,” Krista said, a subtle knit in her brow. “I . . . I’ll be okay.”

“Just be careful, Krista. Remember what I’ve told you. Men will

“Right,” Krista cut in. “I get it.” She twitched a weak smile, and her mom glanced away.

They hugged, a bit awkwardly, and said their goodbyes. Krista watched her mother drive off until the family Pontiac was out of sight. She inhaled a deep breath and headed inside. Her flight was delayed an hour. Fog in San Francisco, the Northwest agent said. She looked around, then stretched to her full statuesque height and strode across the terminal lobby to the airport gift shop.

She’d be on her way soon. For now, she busied her mind at the magazine rack, thumbing through Look and Harper’s Bazaar. After skimming an article on the growing acceptance of women wearing pants to workshe adored Yves Saint Laurent’s CityPants collectionshe made her way to a tiny artisan gallery at the back of the store and began browsing the artwork: watercolors and pastels, black and white photographs, blown glass animal figurines and colorful ceramics, some macramé plant hangers and metal sculptures.

Two small, bronze and leaded glass statuettes drew her attention. She halted, staring at the sculptor’s unique winged Venus. As angelic as it was sensual, her beauty seemed almost transcendent. Krista recognized the young goddess immediately, depicted with the same naked innocence as in the painting by Botticelli she loved so much, The Birth of Venus, the one with Venus rising from the sea aided by Zephyr, the west wind, and Thallo, goddess of spring and blooming, who rushes to cover the virgin sylph in a flowered cloak. But something wasn’t right with this Venus. To Krista, she seemed in pain. “The one with the broken wing . . . ,” she whispered.

A salesclerk stood nearby. “Did you say something? Miss?”

“The broken one,” Krista mumbled. “I’ll take it.”

“Oh? Don’t you want the one that isn’t damaged?”

Krista tucked some long, loose strands of her auburn hair behind her ear and squeezed out a polite smile.”It’s okay. I can mend it.”

“Well, I’ll give you a discount. It’s worth less like this.”

Worth less. Worthless.

Having made her purchase, she hurried off to board her flight, feeling oddly disarranged, shaken. Like a lightning bolt, the wounded, winged representation of the goddess of love had cracked open something hidden deep inside her, something restless, almost feral.


Learn more about The Woman Inside Her plot, characters, and the setting and times in which the story is set, and see an image of the Botticelli painting, The Birth of Venus, which the statuette that Krista finds in the art gallery is modeled on (though in the painting the young goddess is not winged).

Copyright 2020 Martta Karol, All Rights Reserved


1 thought on “An Excerpt from The Woman Inside Her: A Novel In Progress by Martta Karol

  1. Pingback: People ask me why I write . . . | Martta Karol

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