“On Reckoning and Living Despite”
The best manifestation of tension and reckoning shine through strong short stories. I am excited to share with you four stories that grapple with complexities of the human psyche, mortality, culpability, grief, and denial. They feel authentic, haunting, and ring true.
In Hannah Soyer’s “Skeletons,” the protagonist so beautifully states “I am trying to write a fictionalized story about the terrors of change for the short story collection my friend and I are compiling but I don’t know how to do this and so I simply tell the truth.” This work tackles trauma headfirst in this voice-driven experimental prose. Tayler Karinen’s “Bats in the Attic” opens with a grandmother obsessed with dispelling noisy bats who have taken “refuge from the Savannah heat that summer in the attic.” This witty, energetic work weaves together themes of grief, loss, and sanity. In Alice Hatcher’s “Dying Days” her protagonist grapples with how a family prepares for the inevitable loss of a loved one, and how the impending loss opens old family wounds. The reader is also suspended in the deliberate slowing down of time in the dying day. Darise JeanBaptiste’s “Altar Call” opens with the line “the morning after Philonia received the scariest phone call she never imagined, she prayed that her affair with a married man would remain a secret to her mother.” It’s a first line that packs a punch —but it is a guise. This is not merely a story about a woman having an affair with a married man and getting caught. This is a story about a young woman coming to age and reckoning with her decisions, acknowledging the flawed humanity within herself and her family, and claiming her agency.
The stories featured in this issue range in style. What drew me in the most to all these stories was how women characters were portrayed—as the driving force of action.
I hope you enjoy Hot Metal Bridge’s featured fiction.