My husband’s ninety-two year old aunt Adrienne lived in a northern Manhattan apartment some distance from the rest of the family, all of whom lived in Queens. She was a young, strong ninety-two, that’s the only way I can explain her, and since she lived to be 108, and only stopped cooking for the family members home with a cold or flu when she was about 106 or 107, perhaps you can believe it.
On her way into her apartment one afternoon, she was robbed by a child in exactly the manner this story describes. She didn’t tell anyone in the family what had happened to her for more than a month. And when she finally felt she had to tell, she told it like a confession, to one person at a time. Over weeks, she told it over and over again, to each of us, young and older.
Of course, she’d been afraid everyone would be nervous about her going on living alone. And I guess that’s why we did ask her to move to another apartment closer to us, in a building where other family members lived. So she was right to worry about that. But as I say, she was there for anyone who was sick, and in the end, she helped us more than we helped her.
I wrote this story to help myself figure out how a child could do such a thing. It took courage as well as need, and so, as in the wild, she preyed on an elderly person. Someone she might overcome, or trick, and certainly, outrun. But in the end, I couldn’t leave that child out there. I wrote her as rescued from her fate. As one reviewer said,
Sylvia's mother, carrying her Lord & Taylor shopping bags, turns up in time to save both Casey and Paulie from the abusive super and the law, and to help heal the rift between Casey and the warm-hearted and loving, if also weak and needy, Sylvia.
Rather than drawing clear lines between villains and heroes, Couloumbis reveals the effect of fear and desperation on the choices her characters make.