One Saturday Morning by Tessa Hadley, 2014
The magic trick:
Showing a young girl’s remarkable day of growth, as she begins to understand the nuances of adult interaction
The distance traveled in one day by Carrie in today’s story, it’s remarkable. She never leaves the house. It’s not physical distance. It’s emotional growth. When we meet her, she’s a 10-year-old sulkily practicing piano. She can’t even bear to be in the same room as Dom when he visits the house. She runs upstairs to avoid conversation.
And by the story’s end?
Well, she’s still 10 of course. But she’s seen and processed so much throughout this story that she’s now able to interpret and analyze very nuanced adult interactions.
It’s a massive day of growth for her. Entirely believable for the reader, too. The story never gets too dramatic or moves too fast, yet we have every reason to see that Carrie’s character has altered.
And that’s quite a trick on Hadley’s part.
Their happiness in that moment was almost too much – its precariousness squeezed Carrie’s chest like a tight band. A breeze stirred in the horse chestnut trees beyond the casement windows, and a street lamp glowing through the foliage was a glassy lozenge, like a sucked barley sugar. Already Carrie hardly knew if she’d actually seen Dom dancing on the balcony with her mother, or if that had only happened in her imagination, a vision of what consolation might be – something headlong and reckless and sweet, unavailable to children.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.