Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Something Amazing"

I picked up the new issue of Zoetrope: All-Story over the weekend and turned to the first story, "Something Amazing," by Elizabeth McCracken. I think she titled it "Something Amazing" not necessarily because something amazing happens in the story (although it does), but because the story itself is something amazing.

It opens with the ghost of 6-year-old Missy Goodby—once the town's little hellion—knocking a plastic jack o' lantern bucket against her knees, and ends with her VERY off-kilter mother...

1) ...bathing a 5-year-old neighborhood boy she's just met. Said boy's sadistic older brother locked him in a steamer trunk in their attic, but being a spunky little thing, he managed to kick free.

2) ...unsealing her dead daughter's room, which she shut up because she believed it was rife with allergens.

3) ...and letting the now naked boy, who is already being searched for by the police, ride Missy's old rocking horse.

Into this final scene walks Missy Goodby's older brother Gerry who, having shouldered the emotional burden of his sister's death, his crazy mother's existence, and his father's abandonment, is somehow still sane. "Look," his mother says.

Inside Missy Goodby's room, Gerry obeys his mother: he looks at the little boy. He wonders how to sneak him back home. He wonders how to keep him forever.

*shiver* I hope the rest of the issue is this good.

P.S. Hey, you can read it online here! I adores the internets.