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Short Story Month, Day 13: Lydia Davis


Photo of author Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis

"The Child" by Lydia Davis

Note: You're going to have to scroll down to the second page of this to view it. Be warned: It's all of one paragraph, so it's easy to think you're missing something, but you're not.

It's Mothers Day, and had I done any planning whatsoever for Short Story Month, maybe I would've found a story that celebrates moms. But since I've chosen to fly by the seat of my pants here, I instead have a story about a mother and her dead child, which is probably the most inappropriate story for today. Oops. Seems like the only stories about mothers that I am prepared to discuss are fairly unpleasant. Don't read too much into that.

Lydia Davis, though, is basically the godmother of flash fiction, so I'm just going to use this as the reasoning behind sharing this microfiction piece that I absolutely adore because she uses all our preconceived notions of motherhood and grief to punch us in the gut. I think this is what people miss when they say they couldn't ever pare their work down to so few words. They forget that so much of what we write doesn't need explanation because it's universal. I also like the subtle uses of language and meaning, like the shift from "her child" in the first sentence to "the child" every time after. Given the day, though, maybe it's best to not talk about that stuff and just let you be affected by the story.

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