Excerpt from The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel D. Huber, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Velveteen Daughter

by Laurel D. Huber

The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel D. Huber X
The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel D. Huber
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    Jul 2017, 416 pages

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Davida Chazan
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Print Excerpt

THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER

***

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day…. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept…."
From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

September 1, 1944

9 Livingston Place, Stuyvesant Square
New York City

Late Morning

MARGERY

It's a lost day, I'm afraid. Pamela's here. I hadn't counted on that.

Just one look at her this morning and despair flew into my heart. She had the look I dread, her eyes over-bright, shining with that queer mix of euphoria and terror. And she talked incessantly, a very bad sign. She was going to start painting again, she said, and went on and on about the large canvasses she seems to have had in her head for so long. I encouraged her, naturally, but I knew by the way she was acting that it was only talk, that she wasn't near ready. If she really meant it, we wouldn't see her at all, she'd disappear. She'd be too busy painting.

When she stopped talking it was mid-sentence, her thoughts trailing off into a dramatic yawn. She was awfully tired, she said. Did I mind if she just lay down for a while? I didn't need to answer, though of course I said, "Certainly, darling!"

She gave my shoulder a squeeze as she passed by. But I didn't look up. I find every way to avoid it but the truth will look me right in the face: there is madness in my daughter's eyes.


This heat's unbearable.

The fan blowing back and forth across the ice hypnotizes me with its jerky rhythm—the faint scriiitch as it hesitates at every rotation, the cool breath of air across my face. My manuscript sits in front of me on the kitchen table, but I know I won't touch it. The desire to work has fled, it ran off down the hallway along with Pamela. Worry occupies me now, and the same questions roil in my brain: Will it be a bad one? Will it go away of its own accord? Or—God forbid—will we have to bring her to the hospital again?

When Francesco left for the printer's studio at dawn, saying he'd be back by suppertime, I was quite glad to have the day to myself, all the time in the world, I thought, to do a final reading of Forward, Commandos! A nice, long stretch of solitude….

I suppose you could say I'm alone now, here in the kitchen, but somehow it's not the same, not with Pamela just a few feet way, asleep in her old room. We heaved a sigh of relief when she moved into an apartment of her own a few years ago, but her "independence" has been tenuous at best. Little has changed. Her place is only a stone's throw away. Inevitably, she shows up on our doorstep when she is feeling not quite herself.

She'll sleep the day away, I can count on that. Another bad sign. There's trouble ahead when the little genius takes to bed.

The little genius. Why on earth did that pop into my head? We haven't called her that in years.… I suppose it was Pamela's attempt to discuss the past, her childhood. I had to cut her off.

Excerpted from The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel D Huber. Copyright © 2017 by Laurel D Huber. Excerpted by permission of She Writes Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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