‘Polaroid’ by Sally Wells

Polaroid by Sally Wells, 1982

The magic trick:

Highlighting the start of a potential affair, but only hinting at it

Who is this Sally Wells?

I can’t find anything about her online. She published this one story in The New Yorker. It reads like the work of someone who enjoyed Mary Robison, Ann Beattie, or Bobbie Ann Mason. And it’s good.

It hints at a possible affair between our protagonist, Didi, and the friend of her husband’s friend. Crucially though, it’s only a hint. If the two do in fact eventually have a relationship, this is the story they will tell about the night when the idea first struck them.

That’s a fairly interesting place in the timeline then to take a relationship snapshot – pun intended.

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

The selection:

“Whew!” said Ted. “Well, I think it was a good party. Don’t you?”

“Mmm,” said Didi, nodding.

“Jeff Watson’s sure a wild guy. I didn’t realize he had that crazy side to him. I’m sure he’s not like that at work. Must be the way he lets off steam. Anyway, I really liked him. How about you?”

“Sure. He seemed kind of compulsive. You know, always the clown. But I liked him.”

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