I drew a heart for, I believe, the first or second time in this year’s Deal Me In short story reading challenge. That means I read a story from East of the Web online free short stories.
In this story, two women, life partners, learn that one of them has a malignant lump in one of her breasts. Since I went through this with my friend Jane, I was totally on board with this story. I even drove her to and from the surgery, since her sibs were otherwise engaged (her nearest brother was looking after their constant-care mother).
This is a “literary” story with no active resolution, just an utterly true-to-life interior journey for the narrator and, through her observation, for the woman with the cancer. It’s beautifully done, and leaves you hoping for the best. I’ve known several women who had breast cancer, and their outcomes were positive, especially if they did chemo and/or radiology. Jane’s outcome was not positive, possibly because she declined after-treatment.
ANYWAY, you can see that this story hummed along a delicate nerve for me. I can vouch for its mastery of the situation and the truth of its interior explorations. And Harris’ oblique brilliance in intimating mental states is stunning. For instance, at the clinic, where they wait for news from the biopsy:
There was a drinks machine. I bought coffee, quite decent coffee.
Was there ever a line written that so perfectly captured how the mind takes micro-vacations in tiny pockets of trivia when faced with something overwhelming? That bit: “quite decent coffee” is genius.
The website bio:
Ruth Harris lives in Brighton. She began writing about eight years ago and is currently studying for the MPhil in Writing at the University of Glamorgan. She is working on her third collection of short stories. Her work has won a number of prizes and has appeared in magazines including Quality Women’s Fiction, Peninsular, Cadenza, BuzzWords, New Welsh Review and the literary e-magazine The Richmond Review.
She doesn’t seem to have a collection out yet. If she does one, I want to be first in line to buy it.
A PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about two friends facing a momentous situation for one of them.