The Cheater Loses Again

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     Ever imagine being kidnapped by a skeleton made out of bones and wisteria vines? Well that happened to an angry and mean person named Charles. Having an affair and cheating on one’s wife some way or another seems to come back and haunt a person. “The Wisteria”* by Donna A. Leahey is an eco-horror story filled with wonder and excitement. An eco-horror story is “…a documentary dealing with the possible disastrous ecological consequences of human activity” (Wikipedia). “The Wisteria” is a story that definitely surprises one and can even make one’s heart rate rise as one continues to read waiting to find out what is going to happen next. 
      There is tension in the beginning of the story as married Charles and Gia are fighting over the wisteria vines on their house. Wisteria are flowering plants that run up stalks. These are thick and long vines that are starting to take over the house and destroy the siding. Gia said in regard to her husband, “Beauty is only skin deep, but handsome is even more shallow” (1). This quote stuck out to me and made me ask the question, does Gia even love her husband anymore? Charles yells and curses at Gia constantly. Gia wanted to pry up the deck so she and Charles could cut the vines and roots beneath the deck. There is foreshadowing in the text as Charles said to Gia, “Leave the goddamned deck alone” (2)! Charles tells Gia this because that is where he buried Melissa whom he murdered. 
As the story progresses, we see that Gia is more in love with her dog Roo than she is with her husband. This is also foreshadowing because Gia is more worried about saving her dog than she is in saving her husband at the end of the story. We know that Charles does not like Roo because he shoved Roo aside with the side of his foot. Charles has a cat named Snowbelle. Gia does not like Charles’ cat because it urinated in her $250 shoes.  
The next morning Gia wakes up early and decides to go out on the deck, relax, and drink some coffee. Charles will not be back till late at night due to a busy day at work. Gia lets Roo and Snowbelle into the backyard. Gia begins thinking about the past and how well she and Charles enjoyed being around each other. Gia starts thinking about all the women Charles went to school with over the years. These women fell in love with Charles just as she did. One woman that stands out is Melissa. Gia is right in believing that Charles had an affair with Melissa. Charles had a baby with Melissa as well. Charles then decided to kill both Charles and the baby so Gia could never find out. Charles buries Melissa under the deck that he built by the house. He also brought the little wisteria cuttings home and planted them right next to Melissa’s grave. Over the course of five years as the vines grew, the vines started receiving blood supply from the corpse of Melissa.
Gia all of a sudden hears a muffled meow and angrier howl. Snowbelle is trapped in the wisteria vines under the deck. Gia starts cutting the vines with the clippers and notices the liquid coming from the vines was dark, thick, and red as blood. This is beautiful visual imagery that reminds the reader how rich blood is. The blood also symbolizes life in the vines. Snowbelle ends up dying due to at least three puncture wounds from the vines in her belly.
After Snowbelle’s death, Roo ends up in Gia’s and Charles’ bedroom. Roo is crying for help, and eventually Gia is able to open the door to the bedroom. Roo escapes three vines that were able to puncture the screen in the room. Snowbelle dying from the vines and Roo escaping the vines both foreshadow the outcomes of Charles and Gia later in the story.
Gia finally decides it is time to start cutting all of these wisteria vines because they are out of control, and she is scared. Charles is still not back from work. She uses clippers and cuts multiple vines. Gia said the scene looked like a murder scene due to all of the blood. She then decides to start cutting through the deck with a saw. As sunlight hits the earth and vines that have not seen sunlight for five years, (hence five years since Charles buried Melissa) bones started coming out of the sun-warmed earth. A skeleton finally formed as the wisteria vines put all of the bones together.
The skeleton was Melissa who was looking for Charles. Gia finally realized that Charles did lie to her regarding Melissa. Melissa grabs a hold of Gia and Roo with her vines. Gia and Roo fight for their lives because they are terrified. Gia grabs hold of a sturdy pole and is able to start clipping vines off of her body. Charles eventually returns to the house, and Melissa’s attention turns towards Charles. This allows for Gia and Roo to return back into the house safely because Gia is able to use the clippers in her pocket and cut the wisteria vines off of her and Roo. Now Melissa has full control of Charles, and there is no way he is escaping. Melissa and Charles sink down into the ground and Charles’ wedding ring is left sitting alone in the dirt. I believe this symbolizes that Charles and Gia are no longer married together.
The Wisteria” eco-horror story contained foreshadowing and action packed events that kept the reader engaged with the reading. Charles was mean to Gia and did not treat her with respect. Charles also cheated on Gia with Melissa and had a baby with Melissa. He murdered both of them so Gia could never find out about the affair. People more often than not who are not truthful tend to lose in the end. In this story, Charles, who is the cruel husband and cheater, loses in the end. Gia can now enjoy her life with her dog and hopefully find a new husband that will treat her with the respect she deserves.
By Brad Groleau
I am a Division II baseball player and enjoy being around friends in my free time.
*”The Wisteria” may be found in the short story anthology Growing Concerns.

Learn More about Author Donna Leahey

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .

I don’t like tear jerkers, I avoid them – I don’t need help feeling sad, I need help feeling happy! When I watch Moulin Rouge (which, I admit, I love), I always skip past the opening scenes until he first arrives in Paris and I shut it off when the curtain falls, so it’s a happy love-conquers-all story. And yes, I know, that runs counter to the intention of the story to explore every aspect of love, but that’s ok with me. 
Describe your first kiss. 
My first kiss was nothing special, so I’ll tell you about one of my favorite kisses. I was giving a friend a ride home one evening and we were in the driveway talking.

He put his hand on my neck and leaned forward and then he kissed me. His lips were so soft, and his hands were so warm. It wasn’t the sexiest or the most passionate kiss, but a few decades later, it remains the sweetest kiss I’ve ever had.

He pulled away suddenly and laughed a little, looking over my shoulder. I turned and there was one of his young cousins – a little boy maybe six years old, hands clutching the open window frame, peering in like a Kilroy-was-here drawing.

I laughed, too, because it was adorable, this little kid’s wide eyes.

If I could go back in time, that would have been my first kiss. It’s a much better memory. 

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

I still love the Shel Silverstein books of poetry that I got for my son. Wonderful word play, wonderful messages.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .

The messages we send to young girls – and for that matter young boys about girls – bother me. I grew up before there was a pink aisle in the toy story and I don’t understand how we allowed this to happen to our daughters.

Pink sparkly toys and clothes, princesses, and sexualized images that start so very young.

Gender neutral toys – like LEGO, for instance, don’t need to be pink.

As in all aspects of a woman’s life, whether a girl wants to be a girly little princess or be her own hero should be a choice she’s able to make, but right now, being anything but a princess is tough for a little girl. If you want to be a tomboy, like I was, you’re going to have shop in boy’s clothes just for something to wear.

Add to that the lack of representation of good, strong role-models in books and movies, and it’s tough to be a girl. I am excited to see books like The Hunger Games and Divergent being published and becoming popular. These books feature strong, independent young women who deal with their own problems through determination and without a big, strong man coming along to save them.

We need more positive non-princessy images for our daughters, sisters, nieces. If a little girl actually wants to be a pretty-little-princess-in-pink, then more power to her. I hope she finds her prince. But if she wants to be her own hero, we should be making sure that’s possible for her as well.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?

That’s a tough one because my favorite books are all pretty hard on their characters. I enjoy Stephen King, for instance, and who would want to be in a Stephen King novel!

But, I’m going to go ahead and expand the definition of “novel” to include graphic novels and therefore comic books and say that I want to be a super hero! Someone who flies and fights for justice and saves the world. Maybe Storm or Rogue. Yeah, I think I’d like to be Rogue.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
I worked in a print screening shop. There was no air conditioning and in the summer the oven that cooks the ink onto the shirts would push the temp inside close to over 110 degrees. Among other things, my job included cleaning the screens with harsh chemicals that turned the skin on my hands so rough I could have sanded wood with my palms! Not to mention the ink constantly under my fingernails that just wouldn’t go away.

None of that was the worst though. I’m a geek, a nerd, I love science fiction and fantasy, and can quote Monty Python. Every single other employee there was what a friend of mine would call “bro-dudes.” We did not get along at all and felt a lot like being back in high school where I just didn’t fit in.

A quote that motivates you . . .

<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}–“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

That’s the opening line to Stephen King’s Gunslinger. I hope that someday I can write an opening line even halfway as brilliant.

The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .

I think it would have to be Bohemian Rhapsody. Though anything in The Beatles catalogue would do as well.

Three Wishes
1. I wish to be able to fly – preferably with big feathery wings, but that part’s negotiable.
2. I wish my son to be happy, to have the skills and the means to achieve his dreams and to live a long, healthy, and fulfilled life (I had to have one sappy one, right?)
3. I wish people everywhere learned to listen to each other, to understand each other. I think so many of our world problems come from a lack of ability – or a refusal – to understand.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
I grew up in the country. I can’t think of a particular game, but I ran wild, digging in the dirt, climbing trees, watching bugs. I learned so much about the natural world just from exploring it.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?

I was rather surprised to learn that most of my stories have some sort of moral to them. Good triumphs and bad things happen to bad people. I didn’t expect it and I didn’t particularly mean to do it, but I’ve learned to accept that I am that writer.

So I hope that my readers see that the right thing is always worth fighting for.

I hope that I write female characters that girls can look up to, that they can know they don’t have to wait for a man to save them.

And, finally, I hope that reading my stories leaves them wanting to read more!