You buy them hotdogs and try not to be disgusted when Sweetheart pincers hers into bits and tucks them into pouches on her sides. Pax trumps her by mashing his entire dog into his cheeks and opening his mouth to display it.
They whisper to each other the whole bus ride home. You realize you don’t even know if Sweetheart is a girl.
back in 2010, before these newfangled novelettes started being all the rage, tor shorts were actually wicked short! short but bittersweet, as they say, and this one in particular manages to pack quite a wallop into just a few paragraphs. yes, some backstory is sacrificed, and other events are more suggested or hinted at than spelled right out, but all the parts you need to know to fall for this story are right there on the (half a) page. the concept of a mother’s protective impulses kicking in regardless of the implications for the larger world, and despite making her tacitly complicit in horrible things is universal, and needs no additional padding.
it’s so much harder to deliver emotional impact and clarity in a shortshort story than in one where there’s more room to sprawl out and develop every little detail and this story wins bonus points for being in second person because who even does that? “you” do, apparently.
it will honestly take you less time to go read this story yourself than for me to try to convince you to with my words, so go on and read something well-written instead of this garbagetown review.
read it for yourself here: