One of my side projects for this blog is to find independent bookstores, lit mags, cool authors, and other fiction-o-holics and connect with them. Platform #1: Twitter. Today’s discovery is Fictionaut. Their tag line: For adventurous readers & writers. I immediately added them to our Kindred Spirits Twitter list. Upon browsing their site, I stubbed my toe on this gem: “His Days” by Lauren Becker.
Simple details incite deeper understanding.
[Spoiler Alert: Read the story before continuing. It’s super short and worth it, I promise.]
Becker does a great job giving defining details about each character in this short short story through seemingly mundane facts. The “he” implicated in the title buys the narrator raspberries because he thinks she loves them. When faced with this minor mix-up, the narrator decides not to correct him with the attitude of someone not correcting a stranger who’s mispronounced their name: “I thought to tell him I do not love raspberries, but blueberries, but he did not attend to the things I loved. ” She accepts his neglect, loses her details in his own: “His bad days became mine.”
The beauty of the story is its simplicity. The narrator doesn’t dwell or drag out her emotions; she tells us what he does, what she does, and we feel them with her.
The ugliness in the story isn’t this man who pays little attention to her and who takes what he needs without returning. No, what made me want to recoil and avert my eyes was having to watch the narrator stay with him, return to him, notice that the other women he entertained looked like her. Those were the painful details, the moments when you wanted to shake her until she snapped out of it.
Then, toward the end of the story, she does. But it isn’t some pause-in-the-park-while-the-fountain-explodes-with-light moment. Instead Becker keeps with the story’s tone: “I made blueberry scones. They were the best scones I ever had.” This simple act comes full circle in the end, when she tastes the man’s scones again, and she realizes “[t]hey were not as good as mine.”
Now, I won’t go into some long diatribe about my philosophies or the lessons I’ve learned in the dating world, but I must say, she packaged it nicely. We don’t figure out that we’re content when we win the lottery or get into Harvard, it’s when we’re sitting on a bus with someone we love, laughing harder than we’ve laughed in a while or dancing in our kitchen, eating the most delicious scones we’ve ever made. Thanks for the reminder, Miss Becker.