Five Stories for Five Years: Like a Second Skin

Fictive Dream, the online magazine devoted to the short story, is celebrating five years of publishing with a special event, Five Stories for Five Years. Editor Laura Black commissioned new stories by several authors from the beginning days of the magazine and they are being presented the week of May 17-21, 2021.

I illustrated each story, and I’ll be showing the art each day during the run of the event, right here.

Today’s story is Like a Second Skin, by Sandra Arnold.

I made two versions for editor Laura Black and she picked one of them to accompany the story. But which one? Go to Fictive Dream, read the story, and find out!

16 thoughts on “Five Stories for Five Years: Like a Second Skin

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I found that story to be heartbreaking. I love your use of complementary colours in both pieces and the divisions between areas of the composition and those long, thin tendril shapes (the fingers of the gloves?). I cannot decide which illustration I prefer and I imagine the author had a hard job choosing. I like the swirls in the top illustration, especially since those seem to reflect Harmony’s overwhelming thoughts about the puppy, but I like the way the yellow gradually melds into the purple in the bottom illustration, the warm glow of hope and excitement fading into a more sombre hue.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I really felt this story was one ofthose universal human stories – hope and disappointment that we have all felt in one way or another.

      1. Laura (PA Pict)

        That element was certainly universal and identifiable but the part that really got to me was the idea of the child who does not fit in and suddenly has this opportunity to find a connection to others. As the parent of weirdo kids, some of whom struggle socially, that really got under my skin.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          I certainly could identify with the child myself even if I have usually gotten along ok with people – it takes planning and effort. Doesn’t come naturally.

  2. Laura Black

    Thank you to Laura for reading Like a Second Skin by Sandra Arnold. It really is a heartbreaking story. Both of the illustrations would have worked well but because I feel there’s a good deal of tension in the piece I decided to go for the first option with the deep red background. This also reflects the dog collar and leash that the child buys. Also, I liked that the pencils were emphasised, perhaps more than in the second option. Thank you very much, Claudia, great image.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      This story is about hope and disappointment and I chose the colors that fit those emotions (to me). I was taken by the detail of lining up the pencils and cleaning. When I am upset myself, I clean or arrange things in order and this girl does. I feel a lot of kinship with her and I think the author gets the reader to empathize, not just sympathize, with her. I think that is hard to do.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I tried to think of different “vocabulary” of marks to express the different emotions in this story. There has to be something more than just color, I thought, to get the point across in depicting the path of hopes and disappointment the young girl has.

  3. memadtwo

    Maybe Aunty Belle will bring the puppy….
    I think we have all known this heartbreak. For a child– the image of the dead hands is perfect. What kind of a gift is gloves, even without the hope for something alive, something personal? (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Now that is a great thought. Maybe there is hope after all if someone else sees this girl rather than glossing over her as her parents do. And you are right. Gloves are the lamest gift in this circumstances. Appropriate for your elderly aunt who you do not know, maybe. Ans I also liked the dead hand description. It was kind of frightening, when you think about it, how the gift appeared. Like disappointment reaching out.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I like to talk all right, I guess! It keeps me focused to know I will be presenting work to an audience, doesn’t matter if it is one or a million.

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