Featured Story - October 2008:
Lucky or Grace (excerpt)


"The dog is not going to come back."

[Her neighbor] said this as a fact, and Grace stopped in her track as if that statement were indeed infallible. But inside, she was confounded by the certainty with which people around her led their lives, a certainty that she had tried to build for herself in isolation. She, who had invested her life in others and was now alone, had learned to avoid the unpredictability of other people, but certainty, the conviction of one's place in the world, was still as unfamiliar to her now as ever.

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About the story

This is one of those short stories that began as a writing exercise. I was having a hard time at a writing session at a friend's one morning many years ago. We were sitting on her porch, and I literally started describing the house across the street on a blank page. I just kept thinking about things farthest from my own experience, and that was how I came up with a protagonist who is a septuagenarian white woman in a small town. Nevertheless, I kept drawing on my experience. The small town was based on Cambria, a coastal town in Central California that I had visited. And the theme of solitude reverberated this story like in my others. I ended up writing one of my longest story with a heavy emphasis on the woman's internal thoughts. Really, there are only two characters in this story; the rest functions as her memories. Initially, I was not very confident about the story. But as time went on, and I was getting pretty positive feedback from my writing groups, it had become much more comfortable with it. Now I like it for being a little different.