This fall, I got a new book about Elizabeth Short. Not too many people know that’s her name—she’s better known by the moniker the Hearst newspapers anointed her with: The Black Dahlia. There are dozens of books about her, movies, ripped-from-the-headlines television shows. But of course none of them are about her, really. She’s much more interesting as a murder victim than as Elizabeth, the girl with bad taste in men. More interesting as The Black Dahlia than as Betty, the girl who couch-surfed for months after she stopped being able to pay her rent.
And this story isn’t about Elizabeth Short either. As much as I would like to tell her story.
This story is about a girl who wanted to make it big and didn’t. It’s about a girl who died. It’s about how she isn’t known from her death, how she is lost in it, how she is recreated as something understandable to the masses. It’s about what she has left behind.
It’s about looking for the lost and never knowing if you have found them.
This story is from my Murdered Ladies series (I wish I had come up with a better name, but it is what it is: stories about women [or girls] who have been murdered). Every story is looking for the lost girl from the title: the Extra, the Babysitter, the Wife, the Lover, the Teacher. Every story is their story. Every story is mine.
I am looking for the lost in these stories.
I don’t know if I will ever find them.
CATHY ULRICH knows a recipe for a drink called a Black Dahlia: it’s got vodka, creme de cassis, and raspberry liqueur in it. Her work has been published in various journals, including Passages North, Black Warrior Review, and Longleaf Review.