‘Happy’ by Jayne Anne Phillips

Happy by Jayne Anne Phillips, 1979

The magic trick:

Every sentence provides a crucial clue as to the story’s meaning

This was published, I believe, as a poem in The Paris Review in 1979. It works just fine as flash fiction.

It’s one you’ll likely need to read four or five times before any potential meanings reveal themselves. Each sentence adds a clue, with the story’s title tying it all together.

And that’s quite a trick on Phillips’s part.

The selection:

She knew if she loved him she could make him happy, but she didn’t.

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