Short Stories That Moved Me

I’m always amazed when I read a good short story especially since I know that they’re not easy to write. Despite their difficulty, short stories aren’t talked about as much as novels (or maybe I’m wrong?). So, let’s talk about them!

Whether they had me crying or cringing in fear, I’m going to share with you four short stories that moved me this year.

What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

31522415In Arimah’s story, global warming crippled today’s political giants causing them to flee to Africa for safety. It’s here where our gifted main character, Nneoma, lives. She’s a rare mathematician that uses a special formula to extract emotional pain from her subjects—for a price! Like most in her profession, she’s wealthy and only caters to the highest bidder. But there’s an unforeseen price for taking in all those horrible emotions.

While the world building, overall story concept, and Nneoma’s unlikable personality were interesting, what moved me was the people Nneoma encountered. She wanted to avoid a young girl, for example, because she could see the child’s pain–and it was a doozy: her family died in a flood, she was abused in refugee camps, and was hated because she wasn’t a full African citizen.

Heartbreaking, right? Nneoma came to tears when she extracted the girl’s pain into herself and, honestly, I almost did too.

Kin by Bruce McAllister

3149899Since Earth is overpopulated, a young boy’s unborn sister must be aborted by government decree. He reaches out to an Antolouian assassin, an alien from a complex culture, to kill the man who signed the order. As the story moves on, an unforgettable friendship form between the desperate boy and lonely alien assassin.

Their relationship starts off professional, but, as we learn more about the alien’s culture and that it’s an exile, the two begin to respect each other.

What makes this relationship moving is that everyone is afraid of the alien and for good reason. It’s kinda creepy:

Closing his eyes, the boy could see the black synthetic skin the alien wore as protection against alien atmospheres. Under that suit ropes of muscles and tendons coiled and uncoiled, rippling even when the alien was still. In the doorway the long neck had not been extended, but he knew what it could do. When it telescoped forward—as it could instantly—the head tipped up in reflex and the jaws opened.

But the boy shocks the alien when he ignores his fears and treats it like a person. Turns out the alien only wanted to be…well, wanted and treated with decency.

Don’t we all?

The Shadow in the Rose Garden by D.H. Lawrence

22587315We follow a not so happy couple on their anniversary: the wife is manipulative, the husband (Frank) is possessive, and both are emotionally withdrawn from each other. The wife decides to take a stroll in a local garden where she’s reunited with her long lost lover, Archie, who supposedly died in a war. Only he’s not the same because…well, he’s bat shit crazy. She runs home distraught and demands to be alone. Frank, however, has had enough of her disassociated behavior. The two argue and both walk away broken hearted.

The difference in how the couple communicated in the beginning (withholding their emotions) versus how they communicated in the end (explosive emotional argument!) is what grabbed my attention. Plus, Lawrence’s writing made me drool. His characters purposely try to hurt each other and the descriptions between their dialogue speaks volumes:

He shrank, and became white, impersonal. There was a long, paralysed silence. He seemed to have gone small.

“You never thought to tell me all this before I married you,” he said, with bitter irony, at last.

To Room Nineteen by Doris Lessing

1290402Susan Rawlings has a marriage that would make anyone green with envy (at least, that’s how her peers felt). Only it’s not so great. Her husband cheated on her and being a stay-at-home mom isn’t fulfilling. She decides to separate herself from her family by renting a motel room where, after discovering her husband cheated on her a second time, she commits suicide.

I thought it was sad how Susan felt so unsatisfied with her life. She couldn’t get the things she craved (like returning to her creative career at the advertising firm) because others depended on her for their happiness. To make matters worse, she was too prideful to express her inner troubles and this unwillingness to be vulnerable is what leads to her downfall.

 

There you have it: four moving short stories you should make time in your life to read.

Has a short story ever moved you in some way?

Book Review: Fine Wine by Scott Marlowe

Fine_Wine_200x320“Abelard ate a lot. That was why, after I’d slashed my knife across his belly, I half-expected his bulbous stomach, chock full of tender roast, broccoli, soft rolls, and the most delicate shiraz I’d ever sampled—all served just an hour before by his fat merchantship’s very staff—to come tumbling out like a too swollen jellyfish. But something about the cut didn’t feel right, and though Abelard clenched his hands to his gut and fell to his knees as I expected he would, there wasn’t even a single, glistening trickle of gastric juice seeping out from between his fat fingers.”

Imagine that you invited a guest over to your house and, after showering them with your best hospitality, they suddenly reveal that they’re there to kill you. A situation like that would make anyone desperate!

In a nutshell, this is Abelard’s situation in Scott Marlowe’s short, Fine Wine. The main character, who’s unnamed, is hired to kill Abelard for reasons unknown. The story starts off with Abelard being “assassinated” but something just isn’t right…

What’s wrong? Since this a very short tale I don’t want to ruin anything. BUT you can go find out for yourself, here.

One thing that I want to assure you is that Fine Wine isn’t as dark and gritty as it may seem. Marlowe uses humor to temper the grim aspects of the story, keeping it interesting and easy to digest. In fact, I found the main character to be hilarious!

Sound interesting?

 

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Book Review: The Unfinished Boy by Chrystalla Thoma

“Have you nothing to say?” Mother stood, hand fisted. She fixed him with her steel gaze. “You, Raven.” She pointed with a fine white finger, so much like his own. “Oh, I told your father he made a mistake, but he wouldn’t listen. He took you from your maker to soon.”

Raven tangled his hand in his black hair. This information was new. “I have a maker? Who is it?”

16112120I am happy to say that The Unfinished Boy was a pleasant surprise! The novel contains two short stories that could be read in one sitting (at least…that’s what I did). There’s the title story and another called The Truth.

 

The Unfinished Boy
Raven is a young clockwork boy who was stolen from his maker, Chryse, for the sake of the childless Queen. However, Raven cannot feel emotion because his maker didn’t finish him.

So when his “dad” dies he’s unable to feel any sadness. Actually, he spends more time worrying why his “mother” cries crystals then about the sudden loss of his “parent.” He understands the concept of death–but that’s it. In his eyes, life just means to breathe. This strains  his “mother’s” patience and she sends him off to the Crystal Mines, a horrible horrible prison, because she can’t have a son that doesn’t feel.

Great parenting skills, right?

I’m not going to spoil the story for you. But I bet you’re wondering:

  1. Does he eventually develop emotions?
  2. What does this Chryse person have to do with the story?
  3. Will he ever be finished?
  4. Am I going to stop numbering obvious questions?

Well that’s for you to find out.

All in all, I really enjoyed the steampunk feel that this short story had. Not only that, but I loved the overall question that the narrative asked: What is life without emotions?

 

The Truth

The Truth is the untold story of Rumpelstiltskin. Be it that this short story was…short…I don’t want to give away important tidbits. BUT! I will say that Rumpelstiltskin isn’t the ugly-villainous-green-goblin that we were all told. He’s actually a protector.

Of what?

Go figure it out.

 

Here’s Crystalla Thoma’s blog–you should check it out!