I recently read the most beautiful collection of short stories by Alethea Black called I Knew You’d Be Lovely. It was such an assortment of characters and situations and I just loved it. For a while I couldn’t figure out what it was that I liked so much about these stories, besides the beautiful writing, but about halfway through I realized what it was: each story, no matter how different, gave this lovely view of sadness or sorrow and hope. Your heart wrenched for these people, but somehow you knew things were working out they way they needed to, that despite everything, there was yet hope.
I never liked short stories because of the way you just barely connect with a character before the story ends and they leave you. I hated the open endings, not knowing how things turn out, if there was a happy ending. The not knowing kills me.
But recently, through this book, I learned to like, maybe even love, short stories. They give this beautiful, intimate glimpse at a character’s life. You get just involved enough to care, to root for them, to want things to turn out right, but without much long-term resolution. It’s nice to connect with these people, even if just for a moment.
I’m realizing that’s kind of how life is. You meet people, learn to care for them, root for them, want things to turn out right, but you have no idea how the story will end, or, more so, when your part in the story will end. And so often, it does end. And it kills you and hurts like hell and you just have to move forward and hope against hope that things will work out in the best way.
The part that gets me, in short stories and in life, is that you never know how much time you will get with any one character. Sometimes you just don’t get enough time. Things feel like they were stopped short, ended too soon. And you can’t do anything about it. So you just have to hope that there’s a reason, that things are better this way. Even if it feels like it might kill you.
Photo by Joanna Lemanska via Modern Hepburn.