‘The Shorn Lamb’ by Jean Stafford

The Shorn Lamb by Jean Stafford, 1953

The magic trick:

Adding a second, even more hurtful, layer of bad parenting for a child to learn hard lessons from

We’ve highlighted many stories over the years on SSMT that find children learning hard lessons about the world through observing the adults around them acting poorly.

Today’s Jean Stafford feature almost falls into that category. Almost but not quite. She uses a twist on the mode.

Here, the child doesn’t simply observe her father’s bad behavior; she also overhears her mother talking on the phone about her father’s bad behavior.

It’s a double whammy of bad parenting.

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

The selection:

“Why did he do it?” Her mother’s question into the telephone was an impatient scream. “Why do men do half the things they do? Why does Arthur treat you in public as if you were an enlisted man? I swear I’ll someday kill your rear admiral for you. Why does Eliot brag to Frances that he’s unfaithful? Because they’re sadists, every last one of them. I am very anti-man today.”

“What is anti-man?” whispered Hannah.

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 )

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