Short Stories All the Time

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

24 June, 2017

Daniel J. O'Malley, "Bridge"

read story to find out about rabbit
The story is only four pages long and told in a very close third-person point of view. The narrator is evidently home-schooled. He takes notes in the morning of what his mother teaches and tells him. Then he's supposed to study in his bedroom in the afternoon so that he can recite to his father in the evening what he has learned. However, since he has a good memory he does not study but stares out of his bedroom window. He can see a bridge through the trees and watches an elderly couple, both wearing distinctive and matching hats, go to the middle of the bridge, pause, and take a photograph. One year later, he sees the same couple. This time they take off their clothes and disappear over the edge of the bridge. He tells his parents and they proceed to tell him that he's wrong. He knows he's not and there have been a couple of other instances in which he knows his parents are wrong. The story's theme, for me, is about how children, especially, but people in general, attempt to make sense of two supposed truths that contradict one another. The family appears to be religious because some of the things his mother teaches him seem to be Biblical, "...but also about the flood and locusts and frogs and other plagues that had happened before and could happen again..." The narrator invents a third explanation, a supernatural answer, to reconcile the diametrically opposed "truths" his parents insist upon. He imagines that the couple turned into birds as they went over the bridge. The boy is maturing and wants to feel better but he does not, "...he did not feel fine." The story is written in the "telling" manner and simple past tense. There's no backstory and there's no extra information about the mother or father or even the time period of the story. It feels to take place in an earlier age but I think that sense comes from the boy being home schooled and isolated.

"Bridge" was first published in Alaska Quarterly Review and then selected for inclusion in the 2016 edition of The Best American Short Stories.