She Could not be Happy By Julie Ann Wenglinski

portrait_interrupted By Anita Driessen

*Featured Image: “Portrait Interrupted” By Anita Driessen

She Could not be Happy

By Julie Ann Wenglinski

Diana could not be happy because her mother was a grizzly bear and Diana was a human and they could never understand each other. From the time she learned to speak, everything Diana said seemed to infuriate her grizzly mother.

Diana’s mother preferred her younger male cubs and thought they should get more salmon and tubers, rodents and carrion. She allowed them to stray farther from the cave and to play with the other cubs in the stream while Diana had to stay at home and sweep the cave. Her only escape was reading long Victorian novels. She loved Jane Eyre.

Her mother’s grizzly mind was always looking for traps and garbage and trails, and she imagined that things happened in the woods, things that Diana did that weren’t good. Diana’s mother scared her when she swayed her gargantuan head, huffing and popping her jaws, blowing and snorting, and clacking her teeth. Even the other grizzlies stared. Her mother would swing at her with her powerful arms and long claws, sometimes throwing rocks or sticks or People magazines. Diana tried to be still and quiet, invisible like the rabbit.

Sometimes for days at a time, Diana’s grizzly mother sheltered in the limestone room in their cave eating fermented berries and then she would emerge in a wilder state. If she saw a couple of bears joking around with a moose, she thought the jokes were about her. The animals fled when she bellowed.

There was a wise owl who lived in the pines and Diana went to see him. She asked him why her grizzly mother behaved the way she did. The wise owl said, “Your mother wants you to be her mother.” Diana asked how she could do that. The owl said he had no idea, that his mother had been great to him, and not even a mammal. He told Diana that she let her mother have too much power over her. Diana asked how she could get the power back. But the wise owl just shrugged and said, “Our time is up now.”

In the end, Diana found her own home and read her long novels alone. She could not be happy because she realized that her grizzly mother had kidnapped her and held her hostage her whole life and had never allowed her to meet her real human mother. For Diana, there would always be something missing. And if that weren’t enough, she would feel sad and apologetic whenever she saw a moose. There’s something so loose about a moose.


Julie Wenglinski moved from St. Louis to Florida in 1964 because her father worked for the space program. She worked 30 years in IT and now resides in Richmond, VA. She writes about struggle and humor, the meaning of things, the lack of meaning, the arbitrary, the absurd. She has had poetry and flash fiction published in Masque & Spectacle, Nonbinary Review, Inflectionist Review, The Switchgrass Review and Unmasked Anthology.

Anita Driessen is an illustrator, a storyteller and a painter into tiny worlds. Her layered style of found objects, old letters and whimsical characters invite you in to explore a new world and your own imagination. Overlooking hills and faraway house, Anita lives with her fiancee, her son Micah, and their two cats, Chili and Pepper.

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