By Kelli Beck @ 2013, from the short story collection Talking Walls and Cigarettes and Other Dark Tales.
I am still very interested in the short story form, so when I saw that fellow blogger Kelli Beck had just released a collection of short stories written by herself and Erin Beck, I had to get it.
The first story of the collection is “The Salesman.” I don’t want to give away the story, so I’ll just point out a few things that I especially appreciated. This story did a great job of setting a tone and a mood. I was transported into the scene. I had a sense that I was there.
When she was in front of the window a slight breeze slipped up her neck, caressing the small hairs that had fallen from her loose ponytail. She shivered, turned and faced the night. Fog started to wash its way across the street heavy like smoke creeping in from all directions, swallowing up first the hardware store and the small defunct movie theatre, moving in to the center until the entire parking lot was invisible behind the shroud of fog. A childish fear built up in her and she closed the window, securing it in place with the locks. She watched the haze, then, afraid of what might appear out of the mist, closed the shades, and turned her back on it.”
I thought the part where the protagonist turned her back on this scene was wonderfully creepy. It captured my attention and built suspense.
I think it’s important for stories to have a big idea. One of the big ideas of this story has to do with messes and responsibility. The protagonist ruminates over this and comes to the conclusion:
“Whatever mess you cleaned up, it always ended up somewhere else.”
I could identify with the protagonist and the guilt she felt at being put into a difficult situation and having to make some hard choices.
The pacing of the story is very effective, and I enjoyed the surprises that the author threw my way. These really added interest to the story.
“The Salesman” was a great diversion. I’m excited to read the rest of the collection.