Kira waits for Louis in the bar at a Radisson hotel. She's being fondled and disrespected by a
pilot, a lawyer, and two businessmen. She sits on a swivel stool and they feed her drinks and make fun of her, while she thinks she's creating a fun scene for Louis to witness when he finally arrives. Even when Louis arrives, the four men still flirt and touch Kira as Louis keeps his back to her. This woman, Kira, is pathetic and lacks any shred of self-esteem but in the end, it's about the men and their harassment of Kira. We learn that most of Kira's childhood she's dreamed of her own tragic beatings and the men who wanted to rescue her but were unable and their attendant guilt.
The story is about ten pages long and written such a close third person point of view that it feels like a first person story. Van Etten captures the nuances in behavior and the slow way in which some men will take down their female prey and they way some men behave when they are in the majority, four men against one woman. Through the story, while Kira is waiting for Louis to appear, we learn how Louis keeps Kira strung along. It's in slow motion; you see it coming and cannot look away.
"To the Holidays" was published in Crazyhorse, Number 79, Spring 2011.
Theme: Prey and preyed upon. Victim and savior.