Road’s End by Alexis Smith, 2018
The magic trick:
Giving the story a poetic turn by sharing the protagonist’s rather lyrical consideration of things at the end
Today’s story takes us biking through northern Washington. It’s very well done. There’s midlife crisis. There’s a hate crime. This one packs a lot into a small word count. The narration takes a literal approach, telling us the events that happen. But near the very end, we’re taken inside our protagonist’s head for a thought that bears a far more poetic stamp. “Some roads just end, she thought, giving Cass a sidelong glance. And you find another way.”
This opens up the entire story – and any thought the reader wants to give to what might happen with these characters after the story ends – to interpretation. And that’s quite a trick on Smith’s part.
Once on the road, steadily moving her legs, with the wind and her own labored breath in her ears, there was no conversation. Her mind was quiet, her body working intensely to find a rhythm. For awhile, she struggled, losing and gaining distance behind Cass, who glanced behind every so often, measuring Maggie’s progress. Eventually until they fell into a comfortable pace together.
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