Tell me a story.

wide unclasp the tables of their thoughts
these same thoughts people this little world

These words stretch across two stained glass windows at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, a house I often wandered during the time when I lived a few blocks away. The significance and context of these two phrases – quotes from two different Shakespeare plays and the only words to be found inside the house – remain an enigma whose meaning went to the grave with Sarah Pardee Winchester.

Unlike Mrs. Winchester, I am very much alive, and my sojourn in San Jose only lasted two years. My name is Tamara (rhymes with camera, three syllables), and my surname, Siuda, has a silent i. I am no rich hermitess plotting unending construction out of grief or a canny desire to keep my fortune from the unworthy. Instead, I live in a modest space in Portland, Oregon, with a polydactyl cat named Seamus and far too many books. You could call me a hermitess – aren’t we all in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t want to end? But my privation is less Mrs. Winchester and more in the mold of the Coptic martyrs I studied for the Ph.D. dissertation I completed in 2018.

Few things miss my interest if they have a story attached. I’m lucky: the world is filled with stories, and I’m out to read them all and write a few in the process.

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