‘Other Women’ by Stephanie Vaughn

Vaughn, Stephanie 1981

Other Women by Stephanie Vaughn, 1981

The magic trick:

Using a plot twist at the end to flip not only the narrator’s perceptions upside down but also those of the reader

It’s a pretty common thing in a story for a character’s world to get turned upside down by a revelation late in the plot. That happens here to our narrator. What’s truly surprising about this story is the way that the plot twist rocks not only the characters but the reader’s perceptions of the characters.

The narrator announces that she worries she is losing what she considers to be her good qualities before listing three qualities that she has not demonstrated at all heretofore in our brief, storylong friendship. It is a remarkable change. And that’s quite a trick on Vaughn’s part.

The selection:

I feel that all my good qualities – restraint, perceptiveness, and the ability to handle bad luck – are being stripped away in a violent wind, and I am trying to hold everything together with a joke. I look toward Harvey, but he has slipped into another room. I sit on the edge of the tub and lean against the wet shower curtain. “It was my pal Lila,” I say. “Wasn’t it?”

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