Radioland - by Susan Giles - On evenings when Samuel is gone - which is most evenings - Elizabeth, filled with dread, sits in anticipation of his return. The days are hard enough trying to stay on his good side. Alone in the house, cut off from friends and family, Elizabeth lives with foreboding.

Samuel has changed from the eager, considerate man she had married into a hard, sadistic stranger. Knowing she is partly to blame does not help the bones heal nor the bruises disappear.

Recently, Elizabeth has found a respite from her hard life. Last month Samuel graciously allowed her to sell some of her knick-knacks at a local rummage sale to bring in some money. While there she finds a used RCA radio from the 1930’s which still works 20 years later.

It is a life saver. Evenings that had been spent in tense dread are now shared with Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounties in the Canadian Rockies or with Slim Pickens and Robert Taylor in Death Valley Days. These programs unlock a life outside of her small world. Elizabeth is thrilled!

When this becomes routine, Elizabeth turns the dial to Cafe Istanbul and thrills to Marlene Dietrich and her international intrigues.

Are there truly such adventures available in the world?

Nightly she listens, nightly she ponders. When Samuel comes home Elizabeth quickly changes the station to Big Band music which he at least tolerates.

One evening, the daily pain becomes too much. Knowing he will eventually kill her, Elizabeth decides to take control.

Sounds of soft music, clinking glasses, and bubbling laughter swirl around her. Eyes closed, she whispers, “This is where I belong.” With music dancing in her head and Marlene’s German accent whispering in her ear, Elizabeth steps into the comfort of Radioland.

When Kate Smith sings, “I’ll be seeing you . . .” in the background, Elizabeth no longer hears Samuel’s car pulling into the driveway nor his opening the door.

“Cut off that blasted music!” he drunkenly growls.

Samuel grabs for the radio, furiously slings it against the wall, then looks across the room. Elizabeth is sitting on the couch, eyes opened but unseeing, forever out of his reach.


Susan, I love the magical quality you show us in radio in this story. You create the real sense of a portal for Elizabeth, a magical place to escape as well as an entrance to the wider world. “Elizabeth steps into the comfort of Radioland” is a beautiful image, one that prepares us for the powerful conclusion. Wonderful!

Susan I find this story so sad on numerous levels. First, it is pathetic that she feels obliged to walk around on egg shells rather than seek help. Or perhaps it is not that easy for the victim and I am being insensitive? As the victim of an abusive husband she escapes into the magical world of the radio.
By numbing her mind and becoming a vegetable, her mind is beyond his harm.
Intriguing writing, Susan, intriguing writing!

Wow. I really love it, Susan. The radioland is indeed a magical place to explore in my imagination. What a wonderful piece!

Music can indeed transport us to another world and you describe that perfectly, Susan. I loved how Elizabeth found happiness and comfort from the radio but how sad that she saw no escape from her brute of a husband other than taking her life. Such a bittersweet story.

All of us need a place of escape. Temporary escape is found in such places as books, movies, or radio broadcasts. Luckily, most of us can find a refuge which is not as extreme as the one Elizabeth found. Thank you for reading and responding to my story.

Margarida, I do not see you as being insensitive because you view Elizabeth’s situation as pathetic; each victim of abuse has a different story and each respond in a different way. Hopefully, you will never be faced with such a dilemma. Thank you for reading and responding to my story.

One fun part of writing this story was researching radio programs that were broadcast in the 1950. I found many series which my family listened to and thoroughly enjoyed and am thrilled to be able to share them with others. Some of our favorites were Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen, Paladin, Have Gun - Will Travel. I chose programs which best fit Elizabeth’s situation. Unfortunately, we were never able to listen to Cafe Istanbul.

Thank you for reading and commenting on my story.


Music is, to me, the best compilation of all emotions. In Elizabeth’s case the positive aspects of the music were not enough to compensate for the horror in hir life.

Thank you for reading and responding to my story.

What a powerful story, Susan, and very close to home to those of us who lived through similar situations. Abused wives become progressively more isolated until they have no support group, no community, no one to trust. They spend most of their time trying to survive, keep their sanity, and protect their children, and have no inner or outer resources left to plan their escape.

I didn’t think Elizabeth “took her life” as one commentator said. The key word in this story is “magic”! I think she’s very happy in her new home, surrounded by creativity and exciting adventures. Such a great allegory for the many kinds of escape people find from lives filled with drudgery or pain.

Thanks for your comments, Julie. I appreciate your interpretation of the ending. Elizabeth should be happy with the choice she made, even if Samuel’s actions never change. Perhaps eventually she will find strength to stand up to him. That is easier in today’s society than in the 1950 world. ELizabeth lived too soon.