A Still Life by Ruth M. Harris #DealMeIn2018

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.

The story was:

A Still Life

by Ruth M. Harris

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.

If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here on my Free Reads page. I also have four collections for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page.

A PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about two friends facing a momentous situation for one of them.


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “A Still Life by Ruth M. Harris #DealMeIn2018

  1. joey

    July 16, 2018 at 8:40pm

    I’m sorry you have to miss Jane.
    The coffee line does read well. I feel like we all relate to a surprisingly good cuppa from a machine.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 17, 2018 at 11:30am

      I’m reaching the point at which missing her is beginning to sneak in a little happy, because missing her so hard means she was that powerfully good a friend. At some point, missing her will immediately trigger the happy. I’m not there yet, but I’ll get there, if I live that long. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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