Mr. Parker by Laurie Colwin, 1973
The magic trick:
Separating the story’s driving forces: the mother’s fears and the daughter’s reality
This is a short, seemingly story. The real trick is the way the mother’s fears and the daughter’s reality are kept separated. Physically speaking, they are separate. The mother does not attend the piano lessons so she can only imagine what might happen there. But of course the separation also lies in difference between a child and an adult. When the two worlds do finally intersect, it is left for the reader to determine the meaning. And that’s quite a trick on Colwin’s part.
When I got home I found my mother in the kitchen, waiting and angry
“Where were you?” she said.
“At my piano lesson.”
“What piano lesson?”
“You know what piano lesson. At Mr. Parker’s.”
“You didn’t tell me you were going to a piano lesson,” she said.
“I always have a lesson on Wednesay.”
“I don’t want you having lessons there now that Mrs. Parker’s gone.” She slung the roast in a pan. I stomped off to my room and wrapped the robin’s egg in a sweatsock. My throat felt shriveled and hot.