Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Byall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Byall. Show all posts

17 May, 2016

Paul Byall, "Henry's Ghosts"

The latest issue of the December literary journal includes a poignant story about Henry. He's eighty-six years old and has just lost his wife, Martha. His two grown children do not yet know that he lost a child, Odin, many, many years before Henry met Martha. The ghost of Odin has begun to visit Henry and at long last Henry learns why Odin took the skiff out that day without waiting for his father. They were to go fishing but the impetuous boy changed his mind. For me, the theme is indeed that life goes on, "nothing ever unhappens."

lefser w/ powdered sugar
I like that Henry's story began in Norway and that he moved and Anglicized his name which contributes to the theme that life goes on and even changing a name or a locale doesn't undo anything. Our secrets go with us. Odin comes into Henry's life again, "as if Odin knew that Martha had died and had decided the time had come to visit..." Odin gives Henry a wonderful gift in answering those questions Henrik, Henry, had carried, silently, for over fifty years. The technical aspect of revealing the mystery of Odin and the details is handled deftly and at just the right pace to keep the reader engaged with suspense. I also think that the inclusion of Grant's possible "shady" dealings in his government position keeps the story from being maudlin. Also with Grant and Ellie, there is almost a subplot that while Ellie is so ready to minister to her father's every need, she doesn't see what's going on right under her nose. Definitely worth reading!