Yours by Mary Robison, 1982
The magic trick:
Starting you thinking a certain way and then hitting you by surprise with the opposite
I’ll put this in sports terms. This story reminds me of when the basketball player catches his defender leaning. He’s back on his heels, expecting one thing, and the player with the ball recognizes the advantage and drives hard in the opposite direction, leaving the defender in his wake.
Robison gets the reader leaning one way here, pretty hard in fact. Then, just when you’ve been conditioned to expect one thing, she hits with the other.
Maybe it’s obvious? Maybe it’s melodramatic? I don’t know, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.
And that’s quite a trick on Robison’s part.
Late, late into this night, Allison and Clark gutted and carved the pumpkins together, at an old table set out on the back porch. They worked over newspaper after soggy newspaper, using paring knives and spoons and a Swiss Army knife Clark liked for the exact shaping of his teeth and eyes and nostrils. Clark had been a doctor—an internist—but he was also a Sunday watercolor painter. His four pumpkins were expressive and artful. Their carved features were suited to the sizes and shapes of the pumpkins. Two looked ferocious and jagged. One registered surprise. The last was serene and beaming.
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