Miriam by Truman Capote (1945)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, December 29, 2015
Let’s bring in the New Year with a ghost story. Or is this really a ghost story?
Mrs. H.T. Miller lives alone, a routine and dull life since her husband passed away. She’s gray-haired and friendless, smokes occasionally, and has a pet canary named Tommy. One night, with nothing to do she goes to the movies. There, Mrs. Miller meets a little girl named Miriam.
Mrs. Miller offered a peppermint. “What’s your name, dear?”
“Miriam,” she said, as though, in some curious way, it were information already familiar.
“Why, isn’t that funny—my name’s Miriam, too. And it’s not a terribly common name either. Now, don’t tell me your last name’s Miller!”
“But isn’t that funny?”
“Moderately,” said Miriam, and rolled a peppermint on her tongue.
It snows all week. Mrs. Miller loses track of time in her empty days, until one night the doorbell rings persistently and sends Mrs. Miller into a panic. She opens the door.
“Hello,” says Miriam. “I’ve waited so long, you could at least let me in.”
No sugar ‘n spice here. Try sinister n’ saucy. There are roses and almonds and a beautiful French doll. And a child who won’t go away.
Author Truman Capote is well-known for his darker tales; most readers know his most famous book In Cold Blood. While some readers might read Miriam as a ghost story, others will find it dreamy with psychological aspects: grief and abandonment themes or self-reflection and disappointment struggles … or a woman gone mad. Once you read this very short story, and enter Capote’s uncertain and eerie world of Mrs. Miller … you’ll know.
Miriam won an O.Henry Award in 1946, and was one of Capote’s first short stories. He was known as the “tiny terror” and a childhood friend of author Harper Lee.
[Truman at 23 years old. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, Reproduction number LC-USZ62-118429 DLC. WikiCommons.]
Read the short story Miriam at LiteraryFictions.com.
Watch the 12-minute film (posted by YeseniaBaygorriaH). Produced by Rowena Riley and Lilianna Greenfield-Sanders.
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