‘Sybil’ by A. Manette Ansay

Sybil by A. Manette Ansay, 1993

The magic trick:

Startlingly unsettling events that somehow still find the reader laughing

“Sybil” is the kind of story that makes your skin crawl. It’s startlingly unsettling the way its characters do startlingly unsettling things in a way that somehow still has you laughing. You wonder what’s wrong with them at first but wind up wondering what’s wrong with yourself.

And that’s quite a trick on Ansay’s part.

The selection:

Sybil tries to form words and strange sounds come from her mouth. The stroke has garbled her speech. When she’s calm, she can write the words, gripping a pen with her fist. But Sybil is not calm.

“I’ve got a date! Can you believe it?” Margie says, brushing past Sybil and twisting on the cold water faucet in the sink. The smoke-grey cat hops out onto the counter top. It flicks its paws, one at a time. Margie splashes water on her face. She hasn’t had many dates since Victor left four years ago, but she makes the most of what she gets.

“God, this heat, can you believe it? Ninety-five downtown, hotter tomorrow I bet. Johnny Hecht asked me to dinner at The Gander. They got air conditioning and big-screen TV.”

Sybil says, “H-H-Hair!”


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