Aftermath by Mary Yukari Waters, 2001
The magic trick:
Personalizing a large-scale cultural transition
This is a beautiful story. The key is taking a historically dramatic moment – in this case, Japan’s transition from American enemy to American ally – and personalizing it. You can learn the history and get a feel for what it meant as a socio-political event. But you can’t really understand the situation until you get down on the ground level and see how those socio-political events affected everyday people’s everyday lives. Fiction, and stories like this, give you that opportunity.
And that’s quite a trick on Waters’s part.
In the old days, she tells him, they used to put something inside the rubber balls – maybe a scrap of iron, she wasn’t sure – that made a rattling noise. Toshi, too old now for this sort of amusement, sighs with impatience.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.