‘Mother’ by Grace Paley

paley-grace-1985

Mother by Grace Paley, 1985

The magic trick:

Using only a few quick memories to make a point about appreciating the present

Happy New Year! It’s the year we’ve all been waiting for, 2020, when we will all see all things with perfect vision. Every decision will be made with total clarity. No mistakes and no regrets!

Today’s feature story is a sad one, but it’s appropriate because its message is very clearly to take full advantage of the precious present. Paley presents a few quick memories of her mother, including a poignant one from New Year’s Day. The most affecting is a scene in which the husband is too tired to sit down and enjoy an evening conversation with his wife. Twice, the anecdotes are punctuated with “Then she died.” If that isn’t a stirring call to maximize your time while you have it, well, I don’t know what is. And that’s quite a trick on Paley’s part.

The selection:

She stood one day, just so, at the front door, the darkness of the hallway behind her. It was New Year’s Day. She said sadly, If you come home at 4 a.m. when you’re seventeen, what time will you come home when you’re twenty? She asked this question without humor or meanness. She had begun her worried preparations for death. She would not be present, she thought, when I was twenty. So she wondered.

READ THIS STORY ONLINE

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s