Short Story Review "Next to Nothing" by Stephen O'Connor
This story centers around two sisters, Ivy and Isabel Soros, whose “eyes are the blue of lunar seas, complexions cloud white, and identical pageboys well-bottom black.”
The people in town no longer bother talking to the sisters when visit their parents who’ve retired to this vacation village. They know they’ll only get cold responses, as if the interaction is interrupting something important in the sisters’ lives. Their father, Dr. Soros, is limited now in what he can do after his stroke. But the people like the older couple. It’s their daughters who make them say: “Something is not right.”
The sisters are married and have children, but their husbands can’t stand each other. In the summer, they stay without their husbands in their parent’s house.
When the news comes that a hurricane is on its way and they roll their eyes at what they see as the hysteria of those around them. Hurricanes in this part of the country mean dead maple leaves get blown around. A few basements get flooded. A block gets its power knocked out.
When Ivy’s youngest son, frightened by the winds, asked if they’re all going to die, Ivy tells him, “Of course we’re going to die. But not in the hurricane.”
This is, at its core, a morality tale. The people you’d like to see get slapped, but the innocent also suffer. There are also ruminations on free will and illusions of free will. This is not a fun read, and though the ending is not a surprise, it is worth the read.
According the Contributors’ Notes, author Stephen O’Connor teaches the MFA program at Columbia and Sarah Lawrence. He has written two collections of short stories, a memoir and a nonfiction book, Orphan Trains.
Title: “Next to Nothing”
Published in: The Best American Short Stories 2014
First Published: Conjunctions 60
Author: Stephen O’Connor
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/twins-children-girl-sister-s-now-632429/ by atomicqq