Reading good fiction can be a challenge these days with so many small presses and opportunities for writers – good and bad – to publish their works easily. Here in this three-part series, I will share my opinions and synopsis of three short stories in Literature.
“Space” by Kevin Brockmeier
This story is about love and the feeling of exile from another person. In “Space,” written by Kevin Brockmeier, the narrator is recalling his memories of a recently lost spouse. The narrator has been widowed and left with a fifteen-year-old son; they are both trying to cope with or forget about their recent loss.
The story begins with the narrator looking out into the horizon and gazing off into the lights which he now often does. While showering, the lights and power go out. Both the son and father are left with no distractions; all they have is a candle in the apartment and the lights far off in the horizon of the city. We slowly learn about Della, the recently deceased wife, through inner dialogues that the narrator shares.
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All items and spaces within the house remind him of her. He thinks back to the funeral of three months ago which took place during the Winter. He recalls the “slow willowy hands” of the funeral guests comforting him at the funeral home. This is how we learn about Della and what it is that the two are grieving. Then a bird is heard outside, which is annoying to the teenage son but serves as a memory for the narrator. It’s the same bird that was heard when they first purchased the house. All the narrator recalls is his wife Della’s response to the bird: “Well, if there are holes in our tree, at least birds will be nesting in the.”
In reading good fiction we learn that it is these small memories and emotional energies associated with their living space which drive the story. This becomes extremely powerful during a blackout because there is no TV to distract the teenager. The narrator is aware of the inevitability of the human mind forgetting and moving on so this is also troublesome. The narrator doesn’t want to forget his wife so he recalls her childhood memories. The memory we are left with is Della’s imagination of sending light to a planet without light. Ou narrator finally let’s go at the end and imagines that her light of life has finally reached another planet without light and that her spirits in now filling the planet with hope. And this is how he learns to cope and let go – it has to be a happy memory.
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“Space” was powerfully written and imaginative in the sense that it uses the surroundings to transport the reader into past memories which come alive to these two mourning characters. The son is constantly complaining about not having power and not wanting to think about his mother, while the narrator cannot stop gazing out into space and forcing himself to recall her presence and energy.