Hannah Cajandig-Taylor

Self Portrait as Nancy Drew

I am twenty-three when I picture Nancy Drew watching Jaws at a drive-in, dark cyanotype of a tulip paperclipped to the sun visor, staring out the driver's side, arm resting on the sill. Lately, windows look more like mirrors. Nancy & I are both looking for clues. For a culprit. I know this because of her underrated computer game franchise. When I am Nancy & she is me, we take note of important facts: That the Mayans used umbrellas. Writing words for someone else turns you into a ghost. Clouds are only white because they reflect sunlight. Zippers did not exist until 1993.

When Nancy placates the criminal mastermind in Venice, she's wearing a feather boa with brand-new Mary Janes. Doesn't fear the masked man running his index finger along a stack of Scopa cards. Swims in the canals. Sometimes, she looks across the water & pretends there's nothing on the other side. Van-sized sturgeon darting through glass waves. Other impossible things. I am twenty-three when retracing the steps of Nancy's first case: The Secret of The Old Clock, in which everything is swell & Nancy is the bees knees, searching for the jewelry of a dead woman to help her distraught daughter. It is 1930. The Lilac Inn depends on her wits. She's never solved a case before, but who knows, maybe she'll be good at it. Her father, Carson Drew, is a lawyer. The Great Depression didn't change Nancy's life much. His business was just keen, as the lopsided banker puts it. This puts Nancy at the ripe age of 108, if she was eighteen when driving the iris blue cruiser around the dirt roads of Titusville. Correction: she would be 108.

She never ages. I am growing both younger & older, constantly looking for the answer to a case I wasn't assigned. The gyroscope in the wall. A glass gear in a hidden passageway. How are we supposed to deconstruct the mystery when sharks & sharp-tongued men & airtight chambers lurk in the foreground. When the closest thing to resolve is knowing the suspect has been temporarily apprehended. When I can't tell the difference between observations & excuses & distract myself with numbered lists of details disguised as possibilities.

When the screen cuts black before the unending.


Hannah Cajandig-Taylor is a poet & flash writer residing in the Upper Peninsula, where she reads for Passages North & Fractured Lit. Her work is forthcoming in journals like Milk Candy Review, Sidereal Magazine, Waxwing, & Sonora Review, among others. She has been nominated for a Best Small Fictions award & still plays Nancy Drew games on her computer. Her debut chapbook ROMANTIC PORTRAIT OF A NATURAL DISASTER will be released through Finishing Line Press this winter. Find her on twitter @hannahcajandigt.