‘I Am Twenty-One’ by Mary Robison

I Am Twenty-One by Mary Robison, 1983

The magic trick:

Elegant sadness

“I Am Twenty-One” on February first. 2-1 on 2-1. Yeah? All right.

This story transitions seamlessly from a first-person panic attack about a college exam that doesn’t go well into a childhood memory into the facts of a tragic family loss and back to the stresses of college. Makes it look easy, too.

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

The selection:

I wish that I wouldn’t, but I started wondering again just where – with my parents so totally in love – had I fitted in. I wanted to know, but probably I’d never know. I was eighteen, so I should have figured it out by now.

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